Friday, January 27, 2012

Redistricting -- UNfair Trust re-emerges

Conventional wisdom had Arizona's GOP legislative leaders displeased with the final maps approved by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission but figuring there would be no point taking them to court.

So, apparently acting on his own, keeping his Senate counterpart (and LD1 seat mate) Steve Pierce in the dark, Speaker Andy Tobin introduced a series of bills today to undermine the AIRC maps as well as the commission and process itself.

According to the Yellow Sheet (Jan 27),
The IRC has asked for more money to continue operations in the wake of a series of expensive legal battles, but instead received a package of legislation that includes an effort to seek a special election aimed at nullifying the commission’s districts. The legislation was introduced late yesterday by Tobin, who earlier this month asked JLBC to audit the commission’s spending. Four of Tobin’s measures deal with a May 15 special election on maps he had a legislative staffer draw, while a fifth would ask voters in November to make serious reforms to the IRC. HCR2052 and HCR2053 seek to ask voters whether they would prefer to use Tobin’s legislative and congressional maps.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell issued the following in response to Tobin's latest misadventures:

“All of Arizona’s voters should be outraged that self-serving politicians desperately continue to try to control an independent redistricting process so they can fulfill their own self interests of controlling the state with their rigid, extremist ideologies and making Arizona the laughing stock of the nation. 
“Speaker Andy Tobin’s introduction of bills to put his own secretly concocted redistricting map on the ballot just to get his way is a legislative power grab that thwarts a voter-approved, independent process.  It is the epitome of a self-serving politician who will do anything to desperately hold on to power and protect his own job — even if it means overthrowing the will of the voters and possibly the state constitution itself. 
“We all know what is happening here — certain Tea Party extremists who control the state capitol didn’t get their way in the redistricting process.  They now might have to go out and actually campaign in competitive, balanced districts.  They don’t care about compromise or making government work for the people; all they care about is protecting their own jobs.  Speaker Tobin’s bills underscore that once again.
“This is a pitiful display of partisan, self-serving politics at its worst. Voters have had enough.  They created an Independent Redistricting Commission in the first place to prevent politicians from drawing self-serving maps.  Speaker Tobin doesn’t seem to care.
“Even though the IRC’s citizen volunteers listened to public comment and created fair maps that still favor Republicans, Speaker Tobin and certain Tea Party lawmakers want their way or the highway. This is a waste of taxpayers’ time and millions of dollars, and it does nothing to stop the partisan bickering, create jobs, fix our economy or help our children get the education they deserve.  
“The IRC’s map is our one shot at fixing this so we can get Arizona on the right track with the benefit of competition. That’s how America works, that’s how it was built. And that’s why I hope both Republican and Democratic lawmakers will join me in rejecting the Speaker’s obvious attempts at a self-serving power grab. Let the independent process work for the people of Arizona, not for self-serving politicians.”

The Yellow Sheet and the Arizona Capitol Times often display a bias that protects their access to the inside workings of both chambers of the Arizona Legislature. However, in this case, it appears they set at least some of that aside.

YS interviewed unnamed lobbyists who expressed serious reservation and dismay over Tobin's apparently ill-conceived plans.
The special election route eliminates the costly risk of litigation that has so far kept lawsuits aimed at changing the IRC’s maps on the backburner – and it gives Republicans the ability to continue beating a drum the public is already familiar with. But the plan also presents a significant risk, said one Republican lobbyist. First and foremost, it will require private money in order to wage a campaign, and the source said it is unknown who would be willing and able to raise the cash. “If we had an organized, respected and trusted Republican Party structure in Arizona, it could raise a million bucks,” said the lobbyist, adding that many conservative interest groups could also have a hard time coalescing around such an endeavor – especially on short enough notice to influence a May election. A GOP political consultant told our reporter that Tobin’s effort was “just silly.” 
YS also expounded on Tobin keeping his senate colleagues in the dark as well as drawing comparisons and contrasts with the charges the legislature had leveled at the AIRC in 2011 about ignoring public testimony.

Tobin apparently had his taxpayer funded political operative, John Mills, draw the maps without consulting anyone. But did he? Apparently Mills did use hearing testimony from the Joint Legislative Committee on Interfering with Independent Redistricting last October and November to guide his project. However, that plan is flawed for multiple reasons. And who else did Mills consult?

First, the Joint Committee was attended primarily by Tea Partyists. Though the first person to testify expressed consternation over the action of those GOP lawmakers, subsequent testimony was dramatically skewed in the favor of the proceedings that can safely be characterized as a kangaroo court.

Second, with it being blatantly obvious neither Tobin nor the Joint Committee did any outreach of consequence to minority populations or coalitions. The implication of which is that there is little chance DOJ would legitimize a May special election.  

A final point from the YS analysis of Tobin's misadventure, why would he be wanting to mandate the state and counties spend millions of dollars on a special election:

A quick analysis of the maps and limited demographic information that was provided by the House shows that Tobin’s proposal helps Republicans. On the congressional side, the IRC’s map boasted 4 GOP districts, 2 Dem and 3 competitive; Tobin’s has 5 GOP, 2 Dem and 2 competitive. On the legislative side, the IRC’s 16-10-4 split favoring Republicans becomes 17-9-4. 

Tobin’s plan seems likely to run into preclearance problems with DOJ. While Tobin said he analyzed statistics on minority voting that would make his maps better than the IRC’s for Voting Rights Act purposes and claimed his maps are “very close to what the IRC has actually submitted,” there’s a bit more to preclearance than that. (emphasis mine)

Have we not wondered -- since the Arizona Supreme Court reinstated Colleen Mathis to the AIRC -- What is Fair Trust (the UNfair Trust) up to and what will it do next?

David Cantelme, the primary lobbyist for the UNfair Trust repeatedly claimed anyone who suggests that coalition or influence districts can be created for the sake of drawing more competitive districts, we respond that doing so violates voting rights and must be rejected. This is not what Arizona wanted when its voters passed Proposition 106. The voting rights of our minority citizens are sacred and cannot be sacrificed for other ends. (emphasis mine)

So, to maintain the certainty of ONE Congressional seat and ONE legislative district (one state senator and two state representatives), Tobin declined the counsel of multitudes for an ill-conceived effort to exploit the current GOP supermajority for another ten years.

Today's effort by Andrew Tobin to blindside Arizonans has Cantelme's fingerprints all over it.

Will it be worth the cost, in taxpayer dollars or political "goodwill?" Will you let Andrew Tobin get away with this?


Not quite the same approach, Capitol Media Services' Howie Fischer reported that

Senate Republicans, however, have a more radical approach: They want voters to dissolve the Independent Redistricting Commission entirely. That would allow lawmakers themselves to once again draw the state's political lines, the way it was before voters took it away from them in 2000 and created the commission.
Senate Majority Leader Andy Biggs, who is leading the effort, said he believes voters can be convinced they made a mistake, calling commission members "unaccountable'' and "unelected.'' And he said many residents in communities which have been split by the commission's maps are ready to try something else. (emphasis mine)

 So, the assault on the will of the voters continues.

1 comment:

  1. Someone needs to grab Cantelme and Tobin by the balls and tell them that the IRC was created to prevent the very same bs that they are urging. Politely.