A Tucson Republican lawmaker wants a special election to ask voters to scrap the Independent Redistricting Commission and return the chore of dividing up the state politically to legislators themselves.

Rep. Terri Proud complained that the current commission is biased toward Democrats. She said Tucsonan Colleen Mathis, the independent member of the panel, did not disclose that her husband had worked on the unsuccessful reelection campaign of a Democratic legislator and that Mathis voted with the two Democrats on the commission to hire a consulting firm with strong links to that party to draw the final maps.

And Proud said the commission is showing little interest in getting public input before it redivides the state’s 30 legislative districts and draws the lines for what will now be nine congressional districts.

Proud conceded that her move, if successful, would return Arizona to the days when the lines were drawn behind closed doors by legislators themselves -- and when one of the prime goals of those who drew the lines was to preserve “safe’’ districts for themselves.

“That may be (the intent of) other lawmakers,’’ Proud said. “But that’s not mine.’’

Anyway, Proud said, voters would make the final decision of whether having legislators draw the maps is preferable to the current system.

House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, said he and other Republicans share Proud’s frustration. He said there is reason to believe that the commission, as it is currently operating, is hostile to GOP interests.

But Tobin stopped short of saying the system should be scrapped in favor of going back to the way it was done before.

“I do not believe the voters want the legislative model,’’ he said. Instead, Tobin said it might be possible to instead ask voters to revamp the commission to ensure the independence and neutrality that was promised.

The 2000 constitutional amendment, approved by voters on a 56-44 margin, set up the Independent Redistricting Commission, with members appointed by the top Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate. Those four then choose a fifth person who cannot be a member of either party.

Commissioners then come up with districts of equal population that are supposed to respect communities of interest, follow visible geographic features and existing political boundaries. And, to the extent possible, the panel was directed to create as many politically competitive districts as possible where the candidate from either party has a chance of winning.

The five commissioners appointed earlier this year are not the same ones who drafted the lines a decade ago. More to the point, Republicans contend Mathis is tilting the process in favor of the Democrats.

One example, Tobin said, is the selection of Strategic Telemetry as the mapping consultant.

Tobin acknowledged consultants often do work for political parties. But he said the commission could still have chosen some firm with Democratic leanings without selection on that had worked for John Kerry and Barack Obama, and is helping a union recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

Gubernatorial press aide Matthew Benson said his boss has “no imminent plans’’ to call a special session. But he said Jan Brewer, a Republican, “is aware of the concerns of some of the legislators and she shares some of those concerns.’’

Benson said, though, Brewer believes any talk of overhauling or reforming what voters approved “is purely speculative at this point,’’ saying she instead wants to be sure the current system “is executed fairly and in accordance with the law.’’

There is a long history of politics -- on both sides of the aisle -- in drawing lines.

In 1981, for example, the Republican-controlled Legislature voted to split the southern Arizona congressional district of Democrat Morris Udall, with the line drawn right through the middle of Tucson. Bruce Babbitt, who was governor at the time, responded with a veto.

But Babbitt’s veto was undermined by four senators from his own party with their own political agenda: They voted with the 16 Republicans to override the governor in exchange for the GOP majority agreeing to preserve their safe rural legislative districts.

Mathis has conceded she neglected to mention her husband’s work as the treasurer of last year’s failed reelection campaign of Tucson Democratic Rep. Nancy Young Wright when she applied to be the independent member of the commission. But she said her husband also has done work for Republicans in the past.

Tobin said one solution might be to revamp the commission to require two political independents instead of just one. He pointed out that the number of independents in Arizona now exceeds the number of Democrats, saying they should get at least equal representation.

(1) comment

FairRedistricting
FairRedistricting


(1) Strategic Telemetry (ST)
• ST’s clients- Nat’l Director for 2008 Obama for President Campaign
• Main ST clients: MoveOn.org.,SEIU, AFL-CIO, and various State Democrat Parties (56 page application)
• RedistrctingOnline: ST-"groundbreaking work for Obama presidential campaign 2008
merging voter info w/ other demographic & marketing data. Helped Jerry's Brown's gubernatorial …by mining through 800 data points on info about voters. RO 7-01-11
• Policy Director for the DNC redistricting, extremely partisan group
• Recall effort Wisconsin-Governor and Republicans Legislators
• ST’s website states that they work for progressive candidates
• President of ST: former Director Natl Committee for Effective Congress (NEC). Website states “one of the most influential political organizations having helped elect hundreds of progressive candidates to congress”. NEC is a progressive LOBBYING GROUP and the president, Ken Strasma, NOW heads targeting efforts for Barack Obama’s campaign.
• ST worked on John Kerry’s campaign.
• Daily Kos 3-1-11: ST - Pres O’s 2008 campaign micro-targeter now working on Wisconsin recall
• ST’s Facebook page: “strategic advice ….to progressive organizations and campaigns”.
• ST is not a Mapping Consultant-they are Progressive Campaign Managers/Advisors/LOBBYISTS for the DNC and Obama
• Sources: Sonoran Alliance and Cholla Jumps


(2) STRATEGIC TELEMETRY’S CONTRACT
• AZ State Procurement Office resigned from working on the contract with ST so the Executive Director,Ray Bladine, wrote the contract.
• At Friday’s meeting, Blandine said he has the authority to write and execute the ST Contract even though SPO is the correct agency.
• Blandine was Phil Gordon’s former City Manager
• The two legal firms selected as co-counsel for the IRC represents Democrats. Mathias refused a counsel for each party. Associated Press 7-9-11
• Previous IRC commission keep the money in Arizona using Glendale's National Demographics Corp. ST has to spend a week learning how to use the mapping software, which is a standard in the industry. If ST truly was a mapping consultant and not just a "tracker" (read "mines" info)
then why are they not expert's on this software?


(3) CHAIR COLLEEN COYLE MATHIS
***Mathias lied on #1, #6 and #8 on her application. Please see the completed, signed Mathias application on the Sonoran Alliance blog 6-29-11article “AZ ‘Independent’ Redistricting Commission Picks Leftist Progressive Firm to Map Arizona Lines”.
• #1-“independent and impartial”-yes FALSE
• #6-“possible conflict of interest”-no FALSE
• #8-List parents, spouse, siblings-only siblings mentioned FAILED TO MENTION HUSBAND
• Husband not mentioned on Application: Husband, Chris Mathias was the PAID Treasurer for a Tucson Democratic candidate
• Husband is an attorney and Democrat activist
• Both contributed to Andrei Cherney (head of AZ’s Democratic Party)
• Both contributed to Arizona List PAC-progressive PAC
• Husband gave $500 to Barack Hussein Obama’s 2008 campaign
• Above on Sonoran Alliance blog 6-29-11 plus reader comments from
Campaign Finance Reports
• Colleen (Chair) current occupation is the Government Funding Manager
for University Physicians HealthCare. Her job is to get
Funds from the ARR Act-stimulus funds. Colleen was given her position at University Physicians in 2009. (last page Application)
• Colleen hand-picked Strategic Telemetry. When the Commission split 2/2 along party lines, Colleen was the deciding vote for ST.
.


(4)COMMISSION HAS PROVIDED NO M INUTES-2 MONTHS LATE

(5)NO AGENDA FOR FRIDAY’S MEETING ON IRC’S WEBSITE.
http://www.azredistricting.org/

(6)MEETINGS NOT OPEN AND TRANSPARENT
• More than half are behind closed doors
• Chair refuses to agenize some items commissioners requested
so public may not be allowed to respond
• Chair changed format so Public Comment put at end of meeting instead of the beginning as the norm. Few activists can wait 4-5 hours.
• Meetings should be in the evenings or weekends for working people
• IRC should be on Facebook and Twitter to receive comments from the public

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