Thursday, November 29, 2012

Redistricting -- Federal court trial schedule

Last night the Associated Press reported that the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission told a federal court that it cannot properly prepare for trial before the proposed March 2013 trial date for the lawsuit challenging the new legislative district maps.

Arizona's redistricting commission is telling a federal court that it'd be too much of a rush to schedule a late March trial on a lawsuit challenging the state's new map of legislative districts.
A three-judge panel had said the case should go to trial by late March so it can be resolved in time to avoid disrupting the 2014 elections.
But the commission says there are critical pretrial issues that first must be resolved, making a June or July trial more realistic.
The case filed on behalf of 11 Republican voters contends that population variances between some districts dilute votes in violation of constitutional protections for equal protection under the law.
Today, I obtained the joint case management plan filed by counsel for both sides along with a proposed Scheduling Order they hope to have Judge Roslyn O. Silver sign.

The case management plan sets forth succinctly (well, 21 pages succinctly anyway) the positions of both the plaintiffs (GOP whiners) and defendants (the AIRC) as well as issues that apparently must be proven in order for plaintiffs to obtain a favorable judgment. It's actually pretty interesting, if you're into legal stuff (and redistricting).
Plaintiff's position:
This action is brought by Plaintiff Arizona qualified electors to challenge the final map of Arizona legislative districts (“Final Legislative Map”) approved by the IRC on or about January 17, 2012, on the grounds that the legislative districts created by the IRC violate the one-person/one-vote requirement of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and violate the equal population requirement of ARIZ. CONST. art 4, pt. 2, § 1(14)(B), by systematically overpopulating Republican plurality districts and systematically under-populating Democrat plurality districts with no lawful state interest justifying such deviations from equality of population among Arizona legislative districts. Plaintiffs further adopts by reference the positions and arguments it made in the briefing of the motion to dismiss the amended complaint.
Defendant's position:
The basic nature of the case was briefed, with legal citations, and argued to the Court in the Commission’s Motion to Dismiss, and reflected in the Court’s ruling on the motion. The Court succinctly states the issue for trial in the first paragraph of its Order, November 16, 2012.

Current issues and defenses in the case are set forth in subsections (3) and (6) below. The Commission contends that the Final Legislative Map neither violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, nor the equal population “to the extent practicable” goal in the Arizona Constitution. The Commission meticulously followed the four-step procedure prescribed by the Arizona Constitution, and carefully considered each of the factors set out in the Arizona Constitution. The manner in which the Commission conducted itself is detailed in lengthy transcripts of public hearings, with numerous opportunities for public comment. Judgments that the Commission made with respect to each of these factors--including judgments made as to the Voting Rights Act, policy determinations as to the practicable extent to which each factor could be furthered, and policy considerations as to the creation of competitive districts that would not create a significant detriment to other factors--present political and non-justiciable questions to the federal courts.
Each side also sets forth what it believes it must prove in order to win a favorable judgment.

Plaintiffs believe they must (and can) prove:
Accordingly, Plaintiffs must prove (A) the legislative districts deviate from equality, (B) the adjustments the Arizona Constitution authorized did not cause the deviations from strict equality, (C) deviations from equality are not the incidental result of adjustments made to attain legitimate state interests, and (D) no legitimate State interests justify or warrant the IRC’s deviations from equality.
Plaintiffs [also] must prove (A) it was practicable for Defendants to draw legislative districts with equal population (which is what they did with the Grid Map and with the Congressional Map), and (B) Defendants failed to carry out this duty.
In the first paragraph (above), while it might be a simple thing to prove the legislative districts do not have the same population (pursuant to the 2010 Census), it's an entirely different matter to prove population adjustments were not for purposes allowed by the Arizona Constitution.

In the second paragraph (Plaintiff's second claim for relief), proving whether it was practicable for the AIRC to make all legislative districts of equal population seems even more subjective.

On the other hand, Defendants believe:
Accordingly, to make out an Equal Protection Clause challenge, Plaintiffs must show that the Final Legislative Map was “arbitrary or discriminatory.” To meet that burden, Plaintiffs must show that any deviation is “an arbitrary or discriminatory policy,” and that the asserted “unconstitutional or irrational state policy is the actual reason for the deviation.” 
On the facts alleged in the First Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs must prove that “the Commission systematically overpopulated Republican Districts and under-populated Democratic Districts for the sole purpose of maximizing Democratic strength in the state legislature.” Id. at page 5. Plaintiffs must prove that the “Commission added to some people’s votes and diluted other people’s votes based only on their expected party preference.”
Defendants contend that the Second Claim for Relief is barred from being heard in the federal courts by reason of the Eleventh Amendment.
Defendants contend that the equal population requirement of the Arizona Constitution is coextensive with the requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause with respect to state legislative maps. Compliance with the Arizona Constitution’s requirement that state legislative districts have “equal population to the extent practicable” is as flexible as the federal constitution and the federal requirements permit.
“[G]oals (A) and (B) either expressly or implicitly mirror the requirements of the United States Constitution or federal statutory law, and compliance with these goals can be decided as a matter of objective law."
To make a claim, Plaintiffs must show that the Commission adopted a final plan that did not comply with substantive constitutional requirements. Id. at 596 ¶ 24, 208 P.3d at 685. As the procedural requirements of the Arizona Constitution were complied with, the issue requires that “the party challenging the redistricting plan demonstrate that no reasonable redistricting commission could have adopted the redistricting plan at issue.” Id. at 600 ¶ 45, 208 P.3d at 689.
Plaintiffs misstate the elements of a claim. “[T]he fact that a ‘better’ plan exists does not establish that this plan lacks a reasonable basis.” Id. at ¶ 46.
To read more and get the entire context, the links are provided (above).

For icing on the cake, the Eastern Arizona Courier yesterday published an op-ed column specifically critical of the Republican plaintiffs in this lawsuit. It begins:
Arizona Republicans raise the cost of government more than they save taxpayers’ money.
The proof to that statement was further evidenced Monday when a federal judge agreed to listen to Republican arguments that the most recent redistricting was unfair. This is a waste of precious federal court resources, paid for with tax dollars that shouldn’t be spent on an argument that has no merit.
Republicans being unfairly treated due to the work of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission in 2011? Republicans losing elections due to district boundaries that were drawn through a process tainted by allegations of conspiracy?
Let’s look at the recent "losses" of a party that still hangs a red flag majority over the State Legislature and state administration.
Quite poignant for a paper whose readers are mostly Arizona Republicans.

But don't expect the plaintiffs (which include former state Rep. Ted Carpenter and the wife of Senate President-elect Andy Biggs(hot)) or plaintiffs counsel (David Cantelme) to be at all concerned with what a community newspaper in rural eastern Arizona says about them.

Frankly, it would surprise me if any political pressure from newspapers or citizens in general would make these Arizona Republicans give way to common sense on this matter.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

There must be a bug someplace! UPDATED 8:10pm MST 11/27/12

It's not just your computer!

It appears that somehow text from a letter published by the Arizona Republic was inserted into the main page of the Arizona Eagletarian blog. I am working on figuring out how to fix it.

In the meantime, you should be able to read the entire text of any post on this blog by clicking on the blog post title/headline and bringing it up on its own page.

I apologize for the inconvenience.


Who ever hacked the Arizona Eagletarian did not succeed in keeping it down. 

We are back to normal. 

Arredondo saga continues

Republished from last night.

I just caught wind of the "latest update" regarding the vacant seat in the Arizona House of Representatives for the old Legislative District 17, in the wake of the Ben Arredondo's October resignation.

The Arizona Capitol Times reported today:
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has decided not to appoint a temporary replacement for former Rep. Ben Arredondo, who resigned on Oct. 9 after pleading guilty to federal criminal charges.
The board, which comprises four Republicans and a Democrat, was prepared to select Rep.-elect Juan Mendez to finish the last few weeks of Arredondo’s term in Legislative District 17. But the item was pulled from the board’s Nov. 26 scheduled meeting after Mendez, a Tempe Democrat, had second thoughts, realizing the short-term appointment would be considered a full term under Arizona’s term-limit laws.
Board spokesman Richard de Uriarte said although there were two other nominees for the appointment, the board’s consensus was to pick Mendez, since he won election Nov. 6 to the House in the new Legislative District 26, which includes large parts of LD17.
De Uriarte said the Legislature will save money without the short-term appointee and there is no urgency to choose Arredondo’s replacement since there is no special session.
“You have to wonder what’s the point,” de Uriarte said.
Arizona statutes say the Board of Supervisors “shall” pick a replacement from three nominees, but de Uriarte said there is no time limit.
However, de Uriarte told me this evening that when he spoke with the Capitol Times (last Wednesday), the Board was still undecided even though the item had been pulled from the agenda for the Monday (earlier today) meeting. The Board spokesman says that status remains unchanged this evening.

He did tell me that the Board has "no enthusiasm" for making the appointment, but the door remains open at this time. 

State Sen.-elect Ed Ableser (D-LD26), who currently holds the other LD17 seat in the Arizona House has said he would like to see someone appointed to assist with constituent services in the interim.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving -- the fight resumes momentarily

Indeed, I (we all) have plenty to be thankful for right now.

Here's some of what comes to my mind when I think thankfully:

  • Wonderfully imperfect but still wonderful family, not the least (wonderful) of whom are my daughter and son-in-law Amy and Travis, their daughter Abaigeal and my soon to be first grandson (due in March 2013) Connor. I'm thankful Travis and Amy love each other as well as Abaigeal. There are plenty more (family members) but I don't think any of them read this blog anyway. If they tell me they do, I will update by making the list of names longer.
  • An extended family of sorts with whom I advocate for egalitarian public policy, especially Democratic friends in Arizona's Legislative District 26, as well as the numerous people I've come to know and admire as a result of the 2011 Independent Redistricting process.
  • For an open and egalitarian internet/world wide web with and by which it is available (because of Net Neutrality) to publish essays and other writings widely (notably via the Arizona Eagletarian blog); and for social media that connects millions of activists and enables movements like Occupy Wall Street to get the word out in spite of the efforts of Corporate Media worldwide to stifle progressive populism.
  • For the re-election of Barack Obama. He is an imperfect President but the best available choice this year. And for the social media that will hold his feet to the fire so as to encourage him to do the best he can for all of America.
  • For the election of Elizabeth Warren to the U.S. Senate. It was a symbolic victory and holds the hope, along with election of other women to that chamber of Congress, of a more fair and egalitarian economy and society so that America's REAL Job Creators, the Middle Class, will revive and again thrive.
  • For election of three Democrats from LD26 to represent me and others in our district in the 51rst Legislature. Those three are Senator-elect Ed Ableser and Representatives-elect Juan Mendez and Andrew Sherwood.


A reminder of why the fight resumes "momentarily" (after a day to give thanks, then to live thankfully during the ongoing fight) is in a letter published by the editors of the Arizona Republic in its Thanksgiving day edition:

So now, Arizona, which has a large majority of conservative Republican citizens overall, is being represented in the House [Congress] by five Democrats and only four Republicans. This is a direct result of the underhanded gerrymandering pushed through earlier by the so-called Independent Redistricting Commission.

The commission was headed by a longtime Democratic Party activist who falsely filed as an independent when she was certainly not nonpartisan. She then banded together with the two Democrat members to ram through all the redistricting maps and decisions by a party-line 3-2 majority in all cases.

The redrawn maps, which greatly favored the Democrats in the election process, ended up with the desired result of having a Democratic Arizona majority in the House, even though this does not represent the desires of the majority of Arizona citizens.

The worst part is that this farce cannot be remedied for another 10 years. I guess crime does pay, as long as you're a crooked politician.

-- Brian Callahan, Sun City


Thirty-six percent of those registered affiliating themselves with the Republican party does NOT constitute anywhere near a "large majority" of Arizona voters.

I suspect the reason the Republic published such a blatantly false letter is because the editor believed he had to balance (politically) other letters in the same edition. Otherwise, he would offend (and not be able to answer for offending) a large portion of the paper's subscribers. Those letters include one explaining a vote for Obama because he respects Americans; another criticizes Republican Secretary of State Ken Bennett and another says that raising taxes on rich Americans won't hurt them.

Nevertheless, Mr. Callahan's letter is outrageous in its claims.

And even though the Tea Party was dealt a likely lethal blow in the November 6 election, its members are not likely to stop squawking anytime soon.

The change in the partisan composition of the new state legislature (still with a GOP majority) MIGHT make it more difficult to pass RWNJ bills, but we still can expect a full assault on the Middle Class because ALEC is still over represented. And the Arizona Corporation Commission, which will have FIVE Republican commissioners (out of five available seats), becomes a "wholly-owned subsidiary" of ALEC as soon as Bob Burns and Susan Bitter Smith take office in January.


Some might think I'm exaggerating by calling the 2013 Corporation Commission a "wholly owned subsidiary." Consider, however, the following:


The speedy execution of strategic priorities is another advantage of a wholly owned subsidiary. For example, a parent company could ask one of its foreign wholly owned subsidiaries to dedicate all of its resources toward a new product launch. Faster execution means faster market penetration. Synergies in marketing, research and development and information technology mean cost efficiencies and long-term strategic positioning. The strategic disadvantage is that cultural differences often lead to problems integrating a subsidiary's people and processes into the parent company's system.


When the opposition is completely obliterated, ALEC priorities, such as repeal of the Renewable Energy Standard and implementation of various crony capitalism related projects (i.e. the Trash Burner) can proceed expeditiously. ALEC's model bill, called the Electricity Freedom Act provides the marching orders for the ACC in 2013.

Republican former ACC chair Kris Mayes appeared on Arizona Horizon last week to discuss sustainable energy issues in Arizona. Mayes, faculty director of the Program on Law and Sustainability at ASU, was instrumental in the original adoption of the Arizona's RES.

Less than two minutes into the video, Mayes says she thinks the Corporation Commission is not likely to change our state's renewable energy standard. However, it is not clear as to whether she is aware of this latest ALEC model legislation. She has to be aware, however, that the three Republican members of the current ACC are ALEC members (as is incoming commissioner Bob Burns) and that Susan Bitter Smith, having been a utility lobbyist for many years leans the same way even if she has not yet become a member.

So, be thankful and gear up to continue the fight.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Redistricting -- Federal Court litigation

On Monday, news broke that US District Court Chief Judge Roslyn Silver had issued an order denying the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission's motion to dismiss the lawsuit challenging the legislative district maps.

The Associated Press and Capitol Media Services have both reported on this story.

Exerpts from Silver's order:
Plaintiffs allege that the adopted legislative map violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by diluting the Plaintiffs’ votes through unequal population distribution in legislative districts for an impermissible purpose. A challenge to state legislative apportionment under the Equal Protection Clause presents a justiciable controversy.
...states may exercise some flexibility in constructing legislative districts. “So long as the divergences from a strict population standard are based on legitimate considerations incident to the effectuation of a rational state policy, some deviations from the equal-population principle are constitutionally permissible.” Id. at 579. Any divergence from equality among districts must therefore result from “factors that are free from any taint of arbitrariness or discrimination.” Roman v. Sincock, 377 U.S. 695, 710 (1964).
A “maximum population deviation under 10%” does not, without more, make out a prima facie case under the Equal Protection Clause. Brown v. Thomson, 462 U.S. 835, 842 (1983). There is a rebuttable presumption that a population deviation less than 10% was the result of an “honest and good faith effort to construct districts . . . as nearly of equal population as is practicable.”
If the maximum population deviation in a legislative apportionment plan is less than 10%, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to prove that the apportionment was arbitrary or discriminatory. Daly, 93 F.3d at 1220. To meet that burden, a plaintiff must show any deviation is “an arbitrary or discriminatory policy.”
Further, the plaintiff must prove that “the asserted unconstitutional or irrational state policy is the actual reason for the deviation.”
Plaintiffs allege that the Commission systematically overpopulated Republican districts and under-populated Democratic districts for the sole purpose of maximizing Democratic Party strength in the state legislature. Their only federal challenge is that bare partisan political advantage is not a rational state policy justifying population deviation under the federal constitution and is a prohibited policy under Arizona law.
And here is the bottom line in all of the language in the 12-page order:
On a motion to dismiss, the facts alleged must be taken as true unless conclusory or implausible. Plaintiffs have alleged data, details, context, and motivations arguably inferable from conduct. Regardless of what they can prove at trial, Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that the Commission added to some people’s votes and diluted other people’s votes based only on their expected party preference. (emphasis added)
Silver also discusses the court's rationale for denying the Navajo Nation to participate in the trial as an intervenor (while inviting its participation as amicus curiae).

Silver also addresses scheduling issues:
Time is critical in this action, as it must be concluded with relief implemented or denied, and appellate review taken, without disrupting the 2014 elections. Six months have already passed, and the pleadings are not even closed. A trial must be had by March and a prompt ruling thereafter.
Therefore, all of the motions ruled on in this order, were denied.

Plaintiffs (represented by Cantelme) were allowed to amend the complaint with respect to allegations regarding Legislative District 8. Which they did (last Friday). I remember a good bit of consternation on the part of the Republican commissioners and Republican leaning members of the public who commented at IRC hearings and meetings about this district.

Right now, it appears that the LD8 senate seat is going to be won by Democrat Barbara McGuire. The race for LD 8 House seats appears to be going in favor of the two Republicans, Frank Pratt (an incumbent for the old LD23) and T.J. Shope. 

Distinguishing issues for those races include the fact that Republican senate candidate Joe Ortiz tried (unsuccessfully) to get assistance (Independent Expenditure money) from the PAC that outgoing Senate President Steve Pierce was raising money for; and that Shope leads Democrat Ernest Bustamante (who served one term in the House representing LD23 2003-2004). In 2010, he ran again and lost by a margin of several thousand votes. Right now, it appears Shope leads Bustamante by 844 votes. So, that's why Cantelme is all a twitter (so to speak) over LD8.

Anyway, Cantelme and friends filed a 43-page second amended complaint with 116 pages of exhibits hoping to bolster their claims, which still have to be proven in court in order to make anything change.

I've not gone through the second amended complaint or the new exhibits filing, but on first glance, the exhibits appear to again have plenty of non-relevant material.

Judge Silver's order sounds sufficiently non-committal but appropriately forward thinking about the need to not unduly disrupt future elections in Arizona. And again, legislative election results seem, on the surface, to indicate that it will be pretty difficult for Cantelme and friends to prove dilution of voting strength.

Ultimately, it appears the real issue Cantelme wants to argue -- the Prop 106 language of the Arizona Constitution (establishing the AIRC) specifying that COMPETITIVENESS is a required objective/goal of the process -- is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

If he succeeds in doing that, does he plant the seeds for voters to repeal Independent Redistricting? 

Replacing Arredondo -- the saga ends? UPDATED 4:20pm MST 11-20-12

This morning, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors' spokesman Richard de Uriarte told me the Board has learned Juan Mendez intends to submit a letter to them formally indicating his intent to decline the appointment. The Supervisors, therefore, will take NO action to name a successor to finish Arredondo's term. That term ends when Mendez (along with Andrew Sherwood, the other new state Rep. for LD26) are sworn in at the beginning of the 51rst Legislature in January 2013.

As I noted in prior posts, if Mendez were to accept the appointment, term limits would kick in sooner, preventing him from running in 2018 if he serves consecutively (and is successfully re-elected in 2014 and 2016).

When I asked Mendez about it, he was surprised to learn about "his intent."

To me, this indicates the Board 1) doesn't want to appoint either Randy Keating or Kristin Gwinn (the other two names on the short list nominated by Democratic precinct committeemen; 2) the Board wants political cover in the event anyone questions why they will have chosen to not appoint anyone to finish Arredondo's term and; 3) they want me to be the one to get that message to Mendez.

The practical impact of this series of events, from the perspective of Tempe/west Mesa Democrats and Mendez is simply that taxpayers will not be paying legislator salary to anyone for the position vacated when Arredondo resigned and term limits will be normal for Mendez once he actually takes office. He is already (along with other House Freshmen) seeing about setting up his office in the House and working with other lawmakers to get familiar with the process of submitting proposed legislation.

UPDATE 4:20pm MST 11-20-12

I heard (again) from Maricopa County spokesman Richard de Uriarte. This issue is still OFF of the agenda for Monday, but MIGHT be put on the agenda for next Wednesday. Also Supervisor Fulton Brock's chief of staff has been in touch with Randy and Kristin to request resumes and bios. So, it is again possible for one of them to be appointed to take the seat vacated by Arredondo. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Redistricting -- Don't get too comfortable...

With your new legislative districts. Federal court Judge Roslyn Silver today issued an order denying the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission's motion to dismiss the challenge to the legislative map. The claim that the AIRC diluted the impact of Republican voters by over populating them into districts solely for partisan purposes will, as it seems now, be heard in a trial tentatively scheduled to start in March 2013.

I'll have more to post about this later.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Redistricting -- Results of the Long Tedious Process

Within the last thirty-six hours, the Arizona Republic and Associated Press called the last of our state's federal office races, declaring that Democrat Ron Barber had an insurmountable lead over Republican Martha McSally for the seat representing Arizona's new Second Congressional District.

Republican challenger Martha McSally on Saturday conceded defeat in her hard-fought race against Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, bringing closure to Arizona’s final pending congressional election and giving Democrats a five-to-four advantage in the state’s House delegation in the next Congress.
Barber’s narrow victory in southern Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District helps him emerge from the shadow of his former boss and predecessor, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, by giving him a full, two-year House term of his own. It also means that for only the second time since the mid-1960s, Democrats will outnumber Republicans in Arizona’s new nine-member U.S. House delegation. Republicans overall, however, are in the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and will continue to control the chamber. (emphasis added)
The five Democrats represent the two Voting Rights Districts (Raul Grijalva CD 3 and Ed Pastor CD 7) and the three competitive districts (Arizona's First, Second and Ninth).

Here's how the voter registration numbers compare to the latest vote tallies for CD 1, 2 and 9 (unofficial vote count updated 12/2 with totals last updated by the Secretary of State on 11/28):

Arizona's First Congressional District:

Ann Kirkpatrick (D) -- 122,216 122,774 (48.75 %)
Jonathan Paton (R) -- 112,868 113,594 (45.10 %)
Kim Allen (L) -- 15,161 15,227 (6.05%)

Registered Voters:
Democrat -- 142,137
Republican -- 114,303
Other -- 110,285
Libertarian -- 2,334
Green -- 582

Arizona's Second Congressional District:

Ron Barber (D) -- 143,173 147,338 (50.32 %)
Martha McSally (R) -- 141,771 144,884 (49.48%)

Registered Voters:
Democrat -- 132,562
Republican -- 136,587
Other -- 119,972
Libertarian -- 2,647
Green -- 968

Arizona's Ninth Congressional District:

Kyrsten Sinema (D) -- 115,808 121,881 (48.66 %)
Vernon Parker (R) -- 107,387 111,630 (44.56 %)
Powell Gamill (L) -- 15,608 16,620 (6.63%)

Registered Voters:
Democrat -- 107,123
Republican -- 118,077
Other -- 115,532
Libertarian -- 3,232
Green -- 761

The voter registration numbers are the latest update published by Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett. His website also prominently proclaims that the official canvass will be published on December 3.

After the official canvass is published, more analysis will be possible. At minimum, I plan to compare voter registration with election results for all nine Congressional districts and all thirty legislative districts.


I would be remiss if I failed to mention that the GOP in Arizona still is grousing and expressing sour grapes about the maps drawn and approved by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission last January (and precleared by the US Dept. of Justice for compliance with the Voting Rights Act).

In contrast, Arizona Competitive Districts Coalition co-chair Ken Clark told the AP:
But Clark said he’s convinced the commission was too cautious and went overboard in creating minority-dominated districts to satisfy the federal Voting Rights Act.
That meant voters registered as Democrats couldn't be placed in another Phoenix-area district to make it more competitive, he said. “That was a lost opportunity for voters to have more choices.”
Nevertheless, litigation is still pending which challenges the legislative district map in federal court. The Congressional map challenge, which was conditionally dismissed in Maricopa County Superior Court last month was refiled on November 9.

Whether the "second amended complaint" is any more substantive than the first is still a question. On first glance, the first allegation in this latest brief still seems dubious at best.
Although the constitution requires that the AIRC begin the mapping process by creating districts of equal population in a grid-like pattern across the state before making any adjustments to accommodate the six constitutional goals, the AIRC violated the constitution by considering factors other than equal population in selecting the Congressional Grid Map. (Congressional Grid Map (Ex. 5, First Am. Comp.)). 
By considering the merits of each of the two proposed Grid Maps instead of arbitrarily choosing one, the Commission's constitutional violation was inevitable as it considered various other, non-population features of the proposed Grid Maps under consideration. (emphasis added)
To me, this claim seems specious right off the bat. Indeed, looking back at the proceedings, I described them here and here. The only thing that could possibly be considered NOT simply arbitrary is that after Commissioner Stertz's motion to adopt one particular set of grid maps over the other is opening the floor to citizen testimony/public comment prior to taking the vote on which to adopt.

But let's digress for a moment.

In the midst of the machinations leading to adoption of grid maps and the initial development of draft maps, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor addressed the AIRC. This is a good time to reflect on what she had to say to encourage the five IRC commissioners as they began deliberations on map drawing:
Citing the increasingly polarized political climate in our country, former US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on Wednesday encouraged members of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission to work together to develop consensus on fair and appropriate redistricting.
Other highlights of her talk included telling the commissioners to expect a lot of criticism and unwanted publicity. But, she said, this is not a popularity contest.  "Arizona is fortunate to have the law it now has on redistricting, and it looks like a good one to me," O'Connor said.
"I think voters sent a special message that we want to take partisan politics out of the redistricting process and create fair representation in our legislative and Congressional districts.  The citizens of Arizona have confidence in you that you will draw boundaries that will not favor any particular elected official, political party or special interest.  Don't give up.  Do it well. We'll thank you later. Good luck to all of you."
Of course, her words were, indeed, prophetic. There had already been a good deal of controversy and criticism by that point in the redistricting process. Yet, a hell of a lot more was on the horizon, coming down the pike, so to speak, like a runaway locomotive. Okay, how many more metaphors can I mangle in trying to describe the chaos the GOP intentionally stirred up hoping to derail Arizona's 2011 redistricting cycle?

Nevertheless, during these meetings in particular, UNfair Trust counsel (and attorney for the plaintiffs in the federal court lawsuit) David Cantelme testified several times appearing to do his best to muddy the issues and provide springboards from which to launch litigation. Arizona House of Representatives' paid GOP political operative John Mills was also doing his best to distract, not as often by direct testimony, but his presence at IRC meetings and his private conversations with people who now are named plaintiffs in lawsuits challenging both maps.

Cantelme and Mills definitely disrespected Justice O'Connor by their actions.

Whether or not any of the litigation succeeds in forcing changes to the district maps or in starting the process over again from scratch is yet to be seen. But I can say, as a close observer of the process as it has unfolded -- now more than two years since it began (when commissioner applications were submitted) -- it seems completely implausible, to me anyway, that either court will disqualify the maps that were used in this year's election. Of course, I'm not looking at it as an attorney.

Now, the five commissioners who bore the burden of drawing the maps, listening to and reading the testimony of patient and impatient Arizona citizens, working with consultants and staff, can finally see the fruits of their (volunteer) labor. For this post, I have not yet obtained feedback from any of the five. But Rick Stertz did promise that he would chat with me and share his thoughts once the final vote tallies are in. No doubt you want to hear from each of them. I will work on that and get back to you, hopefully before mid-December.

Ultimately, the bottom line is that voter registration numbers (and actual election results) as they were used by the 2011 AIRC are fairly reflected in the results of 2012 legislative and Congressional races. While I would have been more pleased with different outcomes for statewide races (US Senate and AZ Corp Comm), those offices were not subject to redistricting. That Republicans won them all is not inconsistent with the outcomes of the non-statewide races.

Make no mistake, these results will not stop the GOP or its Tea Party fanatics from grousing. And they will likely not stop putting effort into subverting the will of the voters of Arizona. But as long as we have an internet that provides egalitarian access, and as long as I draw breath, I will do my best shine the light of accountability on them.

By the way, in the category of -- Be Careful What You Wish For -- wouldn't Cantelme and Hauser be as shocked IF, in the slim chance that a court would order the map drawing process to be redone, what Competitive Districts Coalition co-chairs Ken Clark and Roberta Voss had advocated for -- even MORE competitive districts end up in the maps used for 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020. Wouldn't that be a sweet and gentle touch of poetic justice? Given the current voter registration numbers, it's certainly in the realm of probability.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Replacing Arredondo update

Pursuant to an email sent on Friday to each of the three candidates by Peggy Allen VanCamp, executive assistant to Supervisor Fulton Brock,
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will vote for the appointment to replace Ben Arredondo for the Legislative District 17 Arizona House of Representatives position during an informal board meeting on Monday, November 26th at 10:00 a.m. in the Board of Supervisors Conference Room, 301 W. Jefferson St. 10th floor.
Board spokesman Richard de Uriarte told me that he was not authorized to disclose the name of the appointee, but that a person has been chosen for the appointment. He suggested to me that Brock would be in contact with the person he intends to appoint, but as of this posting, it appears that contact has not yet been made (other than the email cited above).

Friday, November 16, 2012

Trash Burner saga -- litigation update

In September, I reported on one of Arizona's prime examples of Crony Capitalism, the Trash Burner project authorized by a 3-2 party line vote on the Arizona Corporation Commission.

In July 2012, the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club petitioned the ACC to rehear the case. After the ACC declined to reopen the decision, Sierra Club sued the ACC in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Last week, the ACC filed a response to the Sierra Club suit this month along with a joint motion for briefing schedule.

Both of these documents are merely a technicality. The deadlines for the ACC to file its substantive response and attempts to rebut the claims in the Sierra Club complaint (which is essentially the same as the petition for rehearing) are as follows:

  • January 18, 2013 -- Sierra Club motion for summary judgment; its supporting memorandum is not to exceed 35 pages.
  • March 5, 2013 -- ACC combined response and cross-motion, also not to exceed 35 pages.
  • April 18, 2013 -- Sierra Club combined reply and response; supporting memorandum not to exceed 20 pages.  
  • May 9, 2013 -- ACC reply; supporting memorandum not to exceed 15 pages.
Both sides stipulated to this briefing schedule and requested oral argument in Superior Court.

At this stage of post-election reflection, I'd love to have seen the Solar Team of Democratic candidates for the three seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission be more aggressive in campaigning on the trash burner issue.

One source told me back in late September or early October that polling had shown Arizona voters not being aware of the issue. It's difficult for me to believe that if they had known about it, they would have been indifferent. 

Since we cannot change the election results, what do we do now?

First, we hope that the Sierra Club prevails in Superior Court. Second, we pay as much attention as possible to the now (well, in January, anyway) entirely GOP populated Corporation Commission. Third, we hold those ACC members accountable. That's an ongoing process. It does not lay dormant between elections.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Replacing Ben Arredondo -- the saga continues

On Wednesday, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors met to address a wide variety of agenda items, NONE of which involved an appointment to fill the Arizona House of Representatives seat vacated by Ben Arredondo in early October. For nearly a month, the Board has had a short list of candidates nominated by elected Precinct Committeemen.

Wondering about the delay in naming a successor to Arredondo, I contacted Board spokesman Richard de Uriarte before the general election.
He told me today [Nov 1] that the Board does not want to be in a position to pick winners and losers for next week's election. Further, they expect to put this item on the agenda for the Board's first meeting after next Tuesday, tentatively scheduled for November 13. If Mendez wins next week, the Board expects to then name him to fill the vacated seat right away.
After posting on November 1 that the Board expected to appoint Juan Mendez, several people brought up the issue of term limits.

Pursuant to the Arizona Constitution, Article IV, Part 2, Section 21,

The terms of office of the members of succeeding legislatures shall be two years. No state senator shall serve more than four consecutive terms in that office, nor shall any state representative serve more than four consecutive terms in that office. This limitation on the number of terms of consecutive service shall apply to terms of office beginning on or after January 1, 1993. No legislator, after serving the maximum number of terms, which shall include any part of a term served, may serve in the same office until he has been out of office for no less than one full term. (emphasis added)
Well, according to unofficial election results, Juan Mendez was the leading vote getter (21,369 votes) in the Legislative District 26 House race. Mendez' closest Republican opponent, Mary Lou Taylor trails, at this point, by 6,060 votes.

State Rep.-elect Mendez told me over the weekend that he intends to decline the appointment to serve the remaining two months of Arredondo's term. I relayed that information to Board spokesman de Uriarte. So far, it appears no one has contacted either Kristin Gwinn or Randy Keating -- the other two people nominated to represent the old LD17 for the last two months of the 50th Legislature -- about the potential appointment.

When I receive any updated information, I will let you know.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Biggs(hot) new Senate President -- wacky media writers blame Democratic voters

Just when I thought I had seen it all... the GOP caucus of the Arizona Senate moved quickly today to appoint Andy Biggs(hot) its President for the term of the 51rst Legislature which begins on the second Monday in January, 2013.

Well, that is not a surprise as much as the twisted logic Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts invokes to lay blame for Biggs(hot)'s ascension on LD 26 Democratic voters properly exercising their franchise. Last night we found out that my fellow voters and I elected Democratic candidate Ed Ableser to represent us in the Upper Chamber -- instead of Republican Jerry Lewis.

As important as yesterday's legislative elections were, today's were equally as crucial when it comes to determining what kind of a Legislature we will have next year.
Democrats picked up four seats in the Senate but Republicans still hold the advantage, 17-13.
The question is, what sort of Republicans will lead the chamber?
A mix, as it turns out.  Andy Biggs -- leader of the Senate's ideologues -- defeated the more pragmatic Senate President Steve Pierce for the top spot, on a 9-8 vote. (Note to Dems who were pushing for Ed Ableser over Jerry Lewis. This is why it was important to get Lewis in there.)  But John McComish won as majority leader and Adam Driggs as whip. McComish and Driggs are from the more pragmatic wing of the GOP.

In response, friend Michael Keith Stevens opined:
Yeah, that's a pretty stupid comment on her part. It's kind of like saying it was important for Democrats to vote for Romney so that the Super Pacs would quit dumping millions into anti-Democratic campaigns. 
Fellow blogger (Democratic Diva) Donna Gratehouse told Roberts:
It's a contest between the ideologue with the 100% Center for Arizona Policy voting record or the pragmatist with the 100% Center for Arizona Policy voting record. Both of whom are ALEC members.
Roberts replied to Gratehouse:
What can I say, I'm an optimist. Given that it's a choice between the two, I'll take the more pragmatic one over the ideologue. 
Now, I have to point out the obvious. Gratehouse laid out the argument for choosing an identical can of beans (or tuna fish, or sauerkraut or whatever you'd like it to be) based SOLELY on which label you prefer. Gratehouse goes on to say:
If you're going to claim that guys like Driggs and McComish are forced (the poor dears) to vote for that stuff and don't believe it deep down inside, at some point you're going to have to acknowledge they can't be trusted to stand up to the hateful and bigoted elements of their base whenever it goes against their self-interest. That is, if you really believe they are closet moderates, which I don't. I see them as true believer radical reactionary conservatives. Like Oprah says, when they show you who they are, believe them. 

To accept Ms. Roberts' conclusion -- that a KOOK flavored Arizona Senate can be blamed on voters who elected a Democrat (in this case, Ed Ableser) -- one would first have to accept that it's my responsibility to vote for a candidate for reasons other than who is the better of the candidates in a given election race. Or, that I must decide for whom to vote based on what someone ELSE thinks is most important.

I suspect there are people in my legislative district who chose to vote for Jerry Lewis for the reason Ms. Roberts thinks should have taken precedence. It is THEIR vote and they got to choose on what basis to make that decision. They voted, that's honorable and I applaud them. Of course, besides Roberts, the Phoenix New Times put a lot of effort into influencing the outcome of this race. Brazen electioneering by reputed journalist Stephen Lemons. THAT I consider despicable.

On the other hand, despite local media efforts to subvert their franchise, the MAJORITY of voters in LD26 (at the latest count 4:46pm today, Ableser has 16,455 votes; Lewis has 13,186 and the Libertarian has 1,671 votes) have spoken loud and clear. The ten percent (10.44%) differential between Ableser and Lewis is very close to the same margin by which Lewis beat Pearce last year.

I found an interesting story on Canadian news website the Orangeville (Ontario) Citizen from 2008, since it's Canadian, their system is a little bit different than ours, but the concepts still apply:

10 good reasons why you should exercise your franchise
1. The importance of a constitutional guarantee. For good reason, Section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms proclaims: "Every citizen in Canada has a right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein."
In today's world, where dictatorships seem to keep springing up just about everywhere, that's a right that ought never to be diminished.
2. There's no such thing as a vote "thrown away." Ultimately, every vote counts. Even in cases where an election result is a foregone conclusion, the winner will watch closely just how many votes went the other way.
3. We have plenty of choices. Thanks to our parliamentary system, voters can have starkly different reasons for how they vote. Some will base their vote on the attractiveness of a party platform or the party's leadership, while others will base theirs on local issues or their opinions of the local candidates.
4. There are good reasons to vote Conservative. If you're a traditionalist and/or a supporter of the status quo, there's surely no better local alternative than a vote for Mr. Tilson.
5. There are good reasons to vote Liberal. Although St├ęphane Dion may be the weakest leader we've seen for a long time, he has a strong team and must be seen as courageous in promoting the party's unpopular Green Shift.
6. There are good reasons to vote NDP. Under the strong leadership of Jack Layton the party has moved toward the middle of the road, with little evidence it's controlled by socialist ideologues.
7. There are good reasons to 'Go Green.' Although all parties portray themselves as concerned about the environment and climate change, the others seem mainly to be adopting policies long espoused by the Green Party.
8. There are even good reasons to vote for the Canadian Action Party. If you're a strong Canadian nationalist, this is the party that best reflects your views.
9. The exercise is pretty effortless. Unlike the task faced by electors south of the border, who are called upon to vote for a multiplicity of would-be office holders ranging from the presidency to local dog catchers, we have a super-simple ballot, which in the case of Dufferin-Caledon has just five names in alphabetical order and spots for you to mark your 'X'. What could possibly be simpler?
10. Not voting is the ultimate 'copout.' Although, as we've said earlier, there's no such thing as a wasted vote, there's also nothing positive to be said about not voting.
It sends no message at all, since it can reflect anything from ignorance to pure laziness. So this time, please . . .
Vote as you like, but VOTE!
The Orangeville Citizen promotes citizenship, at least in this piece. On the other hand, the Arizona Republic's Laurie Roberts promotes God knows what, and Phoenix New Times' Stephen Lemons promotes hero worship... that and accusing people who disagree with him about Jerry Lewis of committing homosexual acts. (This happened, Lemons made that accusation to and about me)

People who know me know I can be passionate about the things I write. But I try to keep it fact based, even when using figures of speech.

But I digress.

I'll grant Roberts' sincere desire to root out the kookiness of RWNJs like Andy Biggs. It would be nice, however, if there was more actual political insight behind her ideas.

Glass Half Full -- (Some) Election Results UPDATED 2:30am 11-7-12

By now you know that President Barack Obama has been re-elected and may know that Richard Carmona -- a tremendous Democratic nominee for the US Senate from Arizona -- lost; to a FLAKE.

However, I'm pleased to report that, according to Maricopa County's Elections Dept., voters in Tempe, west Mesa and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community have elected Ed Ableser to the Arizona Senate as well as, Juan Mendez and Andrew Sherwood, to represent our district in the Arizona House of Representatives.

In so doing, LD26 voters overcame obstacles put in the way by GOP activists. Namely, efforts to suppress ASU students' votes, determination to undermine the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission and the federal court challenge to the AIRC legislative district map.

I'm tremendously proud of LD26 voters and Democratic organizers and activists, who would not take NO for an answer -- not to mention (again) the three candidates.

By the way, LD26 was cited by David Cantelme in his arguments before a federal court last week, as one of the main reasons he believes GOP voters' votes have been compromised and diluted by the AIRC.

However, overall results reflecting changes to the 51rst Arizona Legislature will become more clear over the next couple of days. The Arizona Capitol Times is already reporting that the GOP will still dominate the state legislature but lost its ability to override a gubernatorial veto. To me, that's much of a consolation.

Yet, if the assessment by the Capitol Times holds, it would seem that Cantelme's argument doesn't hold... water. Again quoting reporter Howard Fischer:
In this case, though, attorney David Cantelme contends the Independent Redistricting Commission drew the lines solely to create Democrat-dominated districts with less population and Republican districts with more. He said that means those in the overpopulated districts have less individual effect on the outcome.
A legislature still dominated by the GOP should represent prima facie evidence that Republican voters' ability to influence public policy at the state level in Arizona has NOT been substantially diluted.

Regardless of the intensity of the questioning by each of the three federal judges last week, it seems quite apparent to this non-attorney observer that the AIRC motion to dismiss the challenge to the legislative district map should be granted.


At this time, the races for Congress, in CDs 1, 2 and 9 race are too close to call. In CD 1, Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick faces Jonathan "Payday" Paton; CD 2 has Democrat Ron Barber against retired fighter pilot Martha McSally; and the CD 9 contest is between Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Vernon Parker.

That those three Congressional races are so close is a testament to the problematic nature of the Citizens United ruling opening the floodgates for Corporate America to overwhelm the airwaves, cyberspace and voters' mailboxes with literally BILLIONS of dollars worth of propaganda. Well, that and the work of the AIRC. We'll get vote total results eventually as well as reports on the amount of SuperPAC money spent on those races.

So, if you need a day or two to decompress, take it. But we MUST Move to Amend the United States Constitution NOW more than ever -- to overturn Citizens United.


UPDATE 2:30am MST 11-7-12

According to Maricopa County Elections, with 100 percent of precincts reporting, Kyrsten Sinema has won election to represent Arizona's Ninth Congressional District. CD 9 is entirely in Maricopa County.  Sinema has 76,967 votes, Vernon Parker 74,866 votes and Libertarian Powell Gamill 10,293 votes.

That pretty well shows CD 9 to be legitimately competitive, with the Libertarian significantly influencing the outcome.

That link also shows results for CD 1, with Ann Kirkpatrick leading, but because most of the district is outside of Maricopa County, we cannot rely Maricopa County's results for this district.

According to Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, at this time, Ann Kirkpatrick leads Payday Paton 99,903 votes to 93,552 votes with 337 of 339 precincts reporting.

Also according to Bennett, in CD 2, McSally leads Barber 110,868 to 109,556 with 216 of 216 precincts reporting.

Without knowing how many provisional ballots remain outstanding (not yet counted), we do not know if an unofficial winner has been declared for either CD 1 or CD 2.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Poll watchers in Tempe report problems

At one precinct (Mitchell Park) in Tempe, Arizona, poll observers reported the precinct ran out of Provisional Ballot forms. County elections workers that address issues on election day took two hours to come up with more. Numerous potential voters left with no indication they would return before polls close at 7pm.

Other poll observers posted on facebook that Arizona State University students are being told they must bring a screenshot of their MyASU account showing their local residence or dorm address to prove identity before being allowed to vote.

These problems come after reports last month that Maricopa County Elections was holding more than a thousand voter registration forms, filed by ASU students, in suspense.

According to ASU website,
The 1998 Higher Education Act requires all postsecondary institutions to make a good faith effort to distribute voter registration materials to each degree or certificate seeking student.
As a service to ASU students, Arizona Voter Registration materials are available at any [ASU] registrar location.
From the Arizona Republic:

Arizona's two-track system for voter registration risks leaving hundreds of otherwise eligible voters unable to cast a ballot in the Nov. 6 election.
That has sent elections officials and advocacy groups scrambling to find a solution in the closing weeks of the election season.
In Maricopa County, officials Friday said that they will send letters to the 1,344 people on their "suspense" list and issue them a formal letter and certificate that will serve as a piece of identification at the polls. (emphasis added)
That should remove the barriers that have, up to now, prevented some first-time voters who registered using a federal form from getting the go-ahead to vote this fall.
Regular Arizona Eagletarian readers may recall that during hearings before the Independent Redistricting Commission in 2011, Tea partisan agitator Wes Harris testified about his concern that college students should NOT be allowed to vote.

It's looking more and more like Harris is getting his wish, though Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell appeared on Arizona Horizon last week to deny her office would EVER do anything intentionally to disenfranchise any voter. The seven minute interview was arranged because of errors in voting information materials published by her office.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

GOP/ALEC Corp Comm Candidates Coordinate with Outside Committee?

As you may remember, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has been in the news quite a bit over the last month for his "extra-legal" hijinx. Well, that's what wants us to believe anyway, that nothing he has done is illegal. One of the big claims is that Horne's 2010 election campaign coordinated with an Independent Expenditure committee to raise obscene amounts of money to buy television ads. He "won" the election by a 52 to 48 percent margin. Given his propensity to prevaricate, it's not unreasonable to speculate that if not for extra spending by the IE committee, we would have Felicia Rotellini as AG now.

Jump ahead to November 2012. One of the most important races of this year's general election is for three seats on the five-member Arizona Corporation Commission. The Solar Team, comprised of Democratic candidates Marcia Busching, Sandra Kennedy and Paul Newman are solid advocates for the interests of Arizona citizens and utility ratepayers.

Their opponents are Stump (Trash Burner Bob), B.S. and Burns (utility lobbyist Susan Bitter Smith and ALEC Legacy member Bob Burns)
image courtesy Bob Sloan
Imagine my joy when, in yesterday's mail, I received a mailer from the trio some have affectionately dubbed the Trash Team. Well, let me explain.

The mailer says it was paid for with major funding by Exelon Corporation, among others. But Exelon is the most conspicuously dubious of the funders.

But really, WHOSE priorities are we looking at here? Do we expect Exelon to simply say, because we love you, we want you to be happy and successful in office and expect nothing in return?

FAT CHANCE. So, WHAT does Exelon want?

First we have to understand what Exelon IS.

A public relations document apparently posted last weekend says:
Exelon Generation's three nuclear power stations in Pennsylvania are well prepared for Hurricane Sandy as it moves up the Eastern Seaboard. (emphasis mine)

Operators at Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station , Limerick Generating Station and Three Mile Island completed a host of pre-storm inspections this weekend and remain fully staffed to monitor and respond to changing conditions.
The same puff piece says this about Exelon:
Exelon Corporation (NYSE:EXC) is the nation's leading competitive energy provider, with approximately $33 billion in annual revenues...  Exelon has operations and business activities in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. Exelon is the largest competitive U.S. power generator...
Competitive energy provider is CODE for Big Money wanting to gobble up all of the UNREGULATED electricity generating assets (Investor Owned Utility companies and their generating facilities) to build UNREGULATED MONOPOLIES.

Think REincarnation of ENRON. Of course, Exelon will tell you they will not be quite as reckless as ENRON. And with ALEC Legacy member Bob Burns at the helm of the Arizona Corporation Commission, they will get their way until Exelon becomes too big to fail.

By the way, WHAT does any of this have to do with Tom Horne?

Well, the mailer I mention (above, with part of it shown) QUOTES Burns, B.S. and Stump without any attribution. In other words, it LOOKS LIKE Burns, B.S. and Stump coordinated with the organization that designed, printed and mailed out the advertisement.

Coordination between Independent Expenditure committees (which is what The Taxpayers' Voice Fund and the other groups ARE) is ILLEGAL. The three GOP candidates have already been busted for violating Clean Elections rules during the 2012 campaign. 

The language in the mailer doesn't prove coordination took place, but it certainly suggests direct conversations.

Burns is quoted, "We need a balanced energy portfolio;" 

B.S. said, "Low energy prices are good for families and good for Arizona;" 

And Trash Burner Bob said, "We must have affordable and reliable utilities, jobs depend on it"

None of those quotes distinguishes them from the Solar Team candidates in any meaningful way, other than to imply that these three are the only ones who can deliver on those issues. But the banner says these three have "the right priorities." That can ONLY be rightly understood as meaning the priorities that the funding organizations want.

All of the text and the images on the ad, outside of the required disclosure of who paid for it, are designed solely and exclusively as SUBTERFUGE

The images, besides the smiling faces of people who very obviously have the interests of Big Business and ALEC first and foremost, on the mailer include those of solar and wind powered electricity generating devices. We've already exposed those three as being brazenly disingenuous with regard to their claims to be in favor of renewable energy resource development. (see


Anyway, we CAN and DO know that Exelon is extremely interested in expanding its share of the "competitive energy" market. They have extensive holdings in nuclear generating facilities.

We ALSO know that one of the ways they are seeking competitive advantage (what capitalist organization does NOT seek competitive advantage?) is to BUY ALEC members' favor. Nonprofit news provider ProPublica's database on corporate political giving shows Exelon donations during the 2002 through 2010 election cycles totaling more than $144K for 10 candidates (or incumbents not up for re-election) from Illinois and Texas, all of whom apparently either won or were already in office at the time. 

What did Exelon expect to receive for its investment?

We do not know specifically what Exelon expects from Burns, B.S. and Stump. But we do know they are very interested in electric generation industry deregulation and expanding availability of nuclear generating facilities and buying up other Investor Owned Utilities (Arizona Public Service and Tucson Electric Power are both IOUs).

Texas, one of the states where Exelon has invested heavily in purchasing elected officials has some intriguing insight for Arizona voters.
A prolonged August heat wave in Texas produced two periods of very high wholesale prices in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the wholesale market operator for most of the State. Day-ahead, on-peak wholesale power prices for August 2011 rose far above the range of prices seen during the previous five Augusts.
The increase in wholesale prices may appear in retail bills more quickly in Texas than they would in other states, as Texas mandates that most retail customers choose a competitive electricity supplier – thus removing the traditional cost-of-service retail rate regulatory process which often delays the blow of high wholesale prices.  
During the California power deregulation fiasco in 2000, that state experienced very serious crises as a result. I had as close to a front row seat as someone in Phoenix could have to view that situation. For six months, I worked on the bulk trading floor at Arizona Public Service doing accounting analysis for that utility's (imports) purchases and (exports) sales with the now defunct California Power Exchange and still in business California Independent System Operator (the organization responsible for the transmission grid in that state).


We also know that in order to accomplish its capitalist goals, Exelon has to get approval from state level regulators for most of the things they buy or build. So, it takes little or no stretch of the imagination to know that Exelon Corporation is up to no good by getting involved in the Arizona Corporation Commission election race this year.

We may not be able to do anything in the short term about Tom Horne, but we sure as the dickens can do something about Trash Burner Bob, Susan B.S. and ALEC Legacy member Bob Burns.

VOTE NO on Burns, B.S. and Trash Burner Bob.

Vote YES for the Solar Team of Marcia Busching, Sandra Kennedy and Paul Newman.

Replacing Ben Arredondo

In case you've been wondering, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has been sitting on the short list of candidates nominated by precinct committeepersons of the old Legislative District 17 for about two weeks now with no sign of taking action to make a selection.

Recall that Ben Arredondo, the longtime Republican conveniently decided to become a Democrat to facilitate election to the state House of Representatives in 2010. Last month, not long after federal prosecutors publicly announced (last Spring) they intended to indict him on corruption charges, Arredondo pleaded guilty to multiple charges and resigned from the House.

Pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes §41-1202, Tempe Democrats met on October 18 to nominate current House candidate Juan Mendez along with LD26 chairman Randy Keating and Kristin Gwinn (who is working on Master's Degrees in Public Policy and Public Administration at Arizona State). The three names were then forwarded to the Board of Supervisors which will select one of them to finish Arredondo's term (until the 51rst Legislature is seated on January 14, 2013).

Of course, Tempe Democrats had hoped the Board of Supervisors would make the appointment right away, choosing Juan Mendez. A day or so ago, having heard no news, I began asking around. Scuttlebutt had RWNJ (and Tempe Republican activist) A J LaFaro putting pressure on the Board to delay the appointment until after the November 6 general election. I've been unable to verify that claim. The statute sets specific time frames for Precinct Committeemen to meet and nominate the three people but sets absolutely no time limits for the Board to make the selection.

Therefore, I contacted Board of Supervisors' spokesman Richard de Uriarte to get the straight scoop. He told me today that the Board does not want to be in a position to pick winners and losers for next week's election. Further, they expect to put this item on the agenda for the Board's first meeting after next Tuesday, tentatively scheduled for November 13. If Mendez wins next week, the Board expects to then name him to fill the vacated seat right away.