Doing a Few Lines

You hear that?

Yeah, I can’t either. I’ve been straining myself trying to hear Republican complaints about how the Independent Redistricting Commission is a Star Chamber run by puppeteers in a White House sub-basement, taking orders from Rahm Emanuel, Van Jones and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Hmm. Can’t hear anything.

That can’t have anything to do with the release of the legislative maps yesterday, can it? You know, where the Republicans got more than they could have hoped for?

Well, maybe not all they could have hoped for: Rick Stertz still voted against it. He heard that the draft map would allow a Democrat to win an election somewhere, I guess.

Before I set my phaser to “rant,” I should tell you a little bit about what I think “competitive” means.

It doesn’t mean thirty districts that are even politically. Such a map would be just as gerrymandered as a map to benefit one or the other party would be. What it means is that a change in the overall political wind would result in a change in the legislature. The current map doesn’t do that: a strong Democratic year in 2006 elected Janet Napolitano by a large margin and replaced Republican congressional incumbents with Harry Mitchell and Gabrielle Giffords. That year, the Democrats made gains in the legislature, but didn’t tip either house. The math made changing the legislature impossible.

This could still mean there are safe seats. A district drawn in Mesa will be strongly Republican, one drawn on Tucson’s south side will be strongly Democratic, and that makes perfect sense. But, will there be enough seats in play that the legislature changes when public opinion does?

If you ask that question of this map, the answer is no.

The commission is claiming eight competitive districts, which would have to include districts with as much as 55 or 56 percent Republican registration. It’s a bit of a stretch, to be sure.

I’ve gone over the numbers, performance and registration, with two people, and the conclusion is the same: nine solidly Democratic districts and fifteen solidly Republican districts. Democrats could run the table, and the best they can hope for is a tie. In other words, it is near impossible for the people of Arizona to change the face of the legislature.

Well, there’s one good thing about this. It will put an end to the tired and whiny trope that the commission is working at the behest of Democrats.

Hmm…I think I do hear something. It’s the Republicans celebrating yet another decade of guaranteed legislative control, no matter what the people want.

Sauce for the Goose Department

I’ve been wondering for a while when there would finally be some attention paid to Rick Stertz. There have been attacks on IRC chairman Colleen Mathis supposed connections to the Democratic Party that are, at best, tenuous. The press has been more than happy to buy into the partisan attacks on Mathis and the commission process, but have let allegations against Stertz go unaddressed (I’ve been writing about them since before he was appointed). Something else unaddressed: Stertz is a key source of information for Tom Horne’s ongoing jihad against his fellow commissioners Mathis and José Herrera.

With him pulling this sort of monkey wrenching, I wonder if Stertz is as disinterested in the IRC process continuing the way the voters intended as Terri Proud and Andy Tobin are.

Well, that probably ends today. The Arizona Democratic Party has sent a letter to the Attorney General, Pima County Attorney and Maricopa County Attorney, alleging that he:

[W]ithheld information regarding his political affiliations, employer and business disclosure from Mr. Stertz’s spouse and children, tax information, accusations of fraud, and judgments. A sworn statement was submitted to the Commission of Appellate Appointments where the facts where omitted.

Bill Montgomery and Horne will ignore it, and the Star will run an editorial blaming both sides for Stertz’s omissions.

The Beam in Rick Stertz’s Eye

I missed out on the marathon meeting of the Independent Redistricting Committee meeting yesterday. I got a tweet from a friend that was there announcing that the meeting had gone into a sixth hour. It made me glad I had better things to do than make the trip.

Republicans are still making attacks against Colleen Mathis for being biased against them (Republicans are an oppressed political minority in Arizona, after all). The press has given extensive coverage of their beefs with Mathis, namely that her husband’s political activity was unreported on her application for the committee. The similar concerns with commissioner Rick Stertz has been largely ignored. Heck, the guy employed, at least at the time that he was appointed, Jesse Kelly, an all but declared candidate for congress, and has asked the IRC to schedule its meetings to make it more convienient for him to broadcast his partisan radio show.

Anyway, Frank Bergen testified to the problems with Stertz before the committee yesterday. His comments after the jump.

Continue reading

I Don’t Know. I Usually Remember “Racketeering.”

There’s been an airing of Rick Stertz’s moldering drity laundry.

Stertz is Russell Pearce’s favorite for the redistricting committee. So much so that he stomped his feet and held his breath until Stertz’s name was placed back on the list for consideration. The funny part is, another candidate, a man by the name of Benny White, is also available. White has extensive connections to the local Republican party down here (his wife was Pima County chair) and there is no doubt that he’d speak forcefully for the interests of his party. Unfortunately for him, he fails whatever RINO test Pearce is applying these days. So, Stertz it is.

There is a problem with Stertz though. He seems to have been, um, less than complete in the application for the redistricting committee. Both Mary Jo Pitzl of the Republic and Rhonda Bodfeld of the Star have reported that Stertz didn’t disclose several legal difficulties he had. Bodfeld managed to get a response from Stertz, and his defense seems to be, “Oh, you mean THOSE leins and lawsuits?”

One of those lawsuits, by the way, involves copyright infringement, fraudulent scheme and racketeering. Most of us would tend not to forget being the target of a racketeering charge.

Some of these cases were from a while back (the one above was from 1992). Hey, the man may have changed between then and now. His covering it up and now claiming that this wasn’t about him “personally” (as he is quoted in the Bodfeld article) tells me he hasn’t owned up to this yet. It’d be hard to take a “I’m a new man” claim from a guy who won’t admit what he was doing before.

But hey, his ideology is correct, so we can let bygones be bygones, right?

Even funnier is his continuing claim that he doesn’t have any connection to once and future candidate Jesse Kelly. He can pooh-pooh the fact that Kelly works for the organization that he heads up all he wants, but his connection with Kelly seems to be his only qualification for the commission. Hard to believe that the guy is asking, as the bumper stickers once said, “Who is Jesse Kelly?”