Senator Steve Pierce: Redistricting chief’s actions overtly partisan

By Steve Pierce

When voters approved Proposition 106 in 2000, creating the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, they included a procedure for removal of a member of the commission. A member could be removed from the commission for “gross misconduct” or “substantial neglect of duty.” The determination is to be made by the governor, and the state Senate must sign off on the removal by a two-thirds vote.

Prop. 106 set a high bar for a person to be removed, but with all the evidence piled up, Colleen Mathis soars over that bar, and must not serve on the IRC.

The priority of the IRC and its chair is to produce constitutional maps every 10 years. Mathis presided over a process that produced unconstitutional maps. In fact, they were unconstitutional in all six criteria used to measure the validity of the maps.

Part of the sales job for the original passage of Prop. 106 was that it would take the redistricting process out from the closed doors of the Legislature and into the open for all of the public to see. Instead, the IRC faces allegations of open meetings law violations, and Mathis admits to taking the maps home with her on a weekend, making key changes to the congressional maps and then springing them on commissioners the following Monday for a vote. That is hardly the transparency Arizona voters wanted.

Mathis also apparently held clandestine meetings with Strategic Telemetry, the mapping company from D.C., without the knowledge of other commissioners. This partisan firm had no track record on mapping, never in Arizona, but Mathis made an aggressive pitch for ST outside the IRC meetings. Her husband also has reportedly attempted to broker side deals with Republican commissioners in blatant violation of constitutional transparency requirements.

The IRC allegedly shredded key bidding documents. The procurement process was so bad that the Arizona Department of Administration pulled out of it, sending a letter to the IRC saying that it was not complying with basic requirements.

Even in her application to the IRC, Mathis wasn’t completely open with information. She now admits she should have disclosed that her husband was campaign treasurer for Democratic Rep. Nancy Young-Wright.

When the IRC hired attorneys for each party, Mathis sided with the Democrats in hiring the Democrats’ attorney, and sided with the Democrats in hiring the Republicans’ attorney. That’s right – Republicans weren’t even allowed to hire their own attorney.

The Constitution requires that mapping be done by “adjustments to the grid.” Mathis appears to have ignored that requirement and used a mapping method she called a “doughnut hole.” It was an unconstitutional plan that left Arizonans looking to clean up the crumbs of that doughnut.

The evidence is overwhelming that Mathis has committed “gross misconduct” and “substantial neglect of duty.” And no matter what the Arizona Supreme Court justices may think, Prop. 106 makes it clear the determination is to be made not by men and women in black robes, but by the governor with the approval of the Senate. That has happened, and Colleen Mathis should no longer serve on the IRC.

In our own Yavapai County, we have the population to be our own district. It fits perfectly, and we are a community of interest. We all have the same issues in front of us. This commission saw fit to chop us up so we wouldn’t have the voice we now have. After all, we are a political powerhouse, and it is clear the opposition doesn’t want us to have the clout we currently have.

There is a long list of ways the Constitution has been disregarded and broken. I won’t go into further detail. The simple fact is, this extremely important redistricting exercise has been done in a very poor manner and its effects will last for at least 10 years – especially here in Yavapai County.

Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott, is the Arizona Senate President-elect.


Comments

  1. So, Senate President Pierce, if you really believe this

    “The evidence is overwhelming that Mathis has committed “gross misconduct” and “substantial neglect of duty.” And no matter what the Arizona Supreme Court justices may think, Prop. 106 makes it clear the determination is to be made not by men and women in black robes, but by the governor with the approval of the Senate. That has happened, and Colleen Mathis should no longer serve on the IRC.”

    and are willing to put your legislative power where your mouth is, then you should ask the Speaker of the House to impeach those justices and get your fellow senators to convict them to remove them from office. Then you should have the governor resubmit Mathis’ removal or get the new court to reverse the previous decision.

    You can talk about justices exceeding their authority all you want, but it is just more hot air unless you are willing to do something consequential about it.

  2. “The simple fact is, this extremely important redistricting exercise has been done in a very poor manner and its effects will last for at least 10 years – especially here in Yavapai County.”

    Why, that sounds like surrender.

  3. Mathis should resign. Prop 106 only afforded Arizona another layer of corruption, repeal it.

    • Well, maybe ANGRY CONSERVATIVES should force the Republican state legislature to refer a measure to the ballot in February to repeal Prop 106 to the ballot.

      Tick, tock, tick, tock.

  4. I must say I am disappointing that lying, secret meetings, rigged votes, open and blatant violations of the Arizona Constitution is deemed unacceptable by by brewer and the Az legislators!

  5. First off, as a former Sec of State Brewer, now Governor, ought to know you can’t amend the constitution unless it’s a general election. Duh. Need there be a second?

  6. Another Mesa Voter says

    –Allegations of open meeting law violations
    –Apparently held clandestine meetings
    –Allegedly shredded key bidding documents
    –Wasn’t completley open
    –Sided with the democrats in hiring the Republicans’ attorney
    –A long list of ways the Constitution has been disregarded and broken.
    I won’t go into further detail.

    Just one question, would that long list start with allegedly or apparently?

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not alleging that you brought that long list to your attorney’s office and you sat down to write this and it’s not apparent that he told you what you could say as that list got shorter and shorter…

    • True Conservative says

      The weasel words bother me as well.

      He’s in the Senate, he voted to remove the Chairwoman. As a matter of law, he can only do so upon a finding of “gross misconduct” or “substantial neglect of duty.”

      If he is convinced she did these things, then he should simply say that, after all, he must have voted to remove her for some factually demonstrated event.

      If not, if he voted to remove her for “allegedly” doing something, then he failed to live up to his Constitutional duties.

      Pick a side, Senator, and stick to it. Demonstrate principle-based leadership. Hunter, above, is right. If you believe the Supreme Court acted beyond its purview, then either ignore the ruling or impeach the justices.

      • Another Mesa Voter says

        What’s really disturbing to me concerning that list, is that’s what they used to convince 20 republicans that she needed to be fired?

        No wonder, under the table, was an alleged promise to have a special session to repeal Proposition 106.

        http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2011/11/23/senate-republicans-say-brewer-broke-commitment-on-irc-ballot-referral/

        Pearce (not Pierce) and Adams were involved in bringing a lawsuit because they didn’t like the choices that were presented to them.
        Pearce chose Richard Stertz, and reports surfaced that he had back-taxes owed to Pima County. Records showed he owed $7,800 for two properties near Tucson. Stertz called the tardiness an “oversight”.

        It’s been too tough, having to bring lawsuits, deals under the table, coming up with viable reasons to fire the independent, having the Arizona Supreme Court get involved and rule against the decision.

        Yes, I can understand why you would want to campaign to make it look like the independent chair or the Proposition itself are the negative aspects so you can have a special session to repeal.

      • Conservative American says

        NOTICE: The above poster, “True Conservative”, is a same-sex marriage liberal posing as a conservative.

        • Another Mesa Voter says

          I look forward to reading True Conservative’s posts. He makes valid points relevant to the article and his post’s are very well written.

  7. Why trust the words of anyone who owes his position to radical-backed Jerry Lewis?

  8. http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2011/06/29/redistricting-panel-hires-dc-based-democratically-connected-mapping-firm/

    Vote 3-2 on using Obama campaign’s guy. Check out the clients of this company.

    If the company had been a led by a former Republican President’s campaign guy with almost entirely Republican clients, I’d feel the same way. The votes should not be 3-2. Find a company that can by agreed upon and is NOT partisan.

    • True Conservative says

      I agree with you and I think it points to a problem with the entire IRC process.

      These companies, even when they want to be neutral, end up working more for one side than the other. In so doing, they get exposed to the procedural biases of that side, and over time co-opt them as their own.

      Further, in a system such as IRC that has a laundry list of non-weighted elements for examination, the “independent” chair becomes the swing vote in determining which company is likely to give additional weight to the criteria the chair prefers. Here, the (R) considers common community important, the (D) want competitiveness, to the sacrifice of both the common community and the geographic shape.

      We can’t find neutral companies and we can’t find truly independent chairs.

      It simply begets a mess.

      • Conservative American says

        NOTICE: “True Conservative” is actually a true liberal posing as a conservative.

        Define “marriage” for us, TC.

  9. https://thechollajumps.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/the-arizona-redistricting-commission-took-the-wrong-path/

    A well-written article by a JD concerning the IRC and legal issues.

    I am NOT a lawyer, however I did take, post BS degree, 36 hours (semester credits) of Law classes. This was not a difficult read.

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