Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

"We're gonna give you a fair trial, followed by a first class hanging." – Cobb, Silverado (1985)


The Arizona Daily Star today goes with this old West justice theme in criticizing Governor Jan Brewer and her Tea-Publican Senate Star Chamber for their abuse of power in removing Chair Colleen Mathis from the Arizona Independent Redistricitng Commission. Brewer deals out injustice to redistrict panel:

The Wild West is alive and well at the state Capitol. Gunslinger Gov. Jan. Brewer and her posse at the Legislature needed just six days to corral and send packing Colleen Mathis, the chair of the Independent Redistricting Commission.

No need for a judge, a jury, testimony or a trial. No sirree. This was a political hangin' plain and simple.

We say that because there were far better ways to proceed if the governor and her fellow Republicans truly believe that Mathis was guilty of "substantial neglect of duty" and "gross misconduct in office."

The governor has the power to remove Mathis on those grounds. But Brewer's hasty process produced no smoking gun, no evidence to prove Mathis was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Brewer herself admitted as much in a statement in which she said Mathis "has created a cloud of suspicion that will not lift."

So now "suspicion" is the standard our governor uses to remove someone from office? That's frightening.

In a case so important and so saturated by politics, Arizonans deserved to hear all of the facts before judgment was cast.

* * *

There's no way to completely remove politics from redistricting, but Brewer and the posse didn't even try. Their decision was precipitous and unfair.

Let's examine what is known about Mathis' actions.

The governor alleged that Mathis, a registered independent, violated the Open Meeting Law by calling the other four commissioners to line up votes to select a mapping consultant ahead of a public meeting.

The two Republicans say Mathis did that. The two Democrats and Mathis say there was no violation. Does "no violation" mean they never spoke, or that they talked but didn't say how they'd vote?

Attorney General Tom Horne contends that sequential calls to more than one commissioner violates the law, period. We're not sure about that. Commissioners can talk to one another outside of a public meeting, but they cannot do it for the purpose of making secret agreements.

It was stupid at best if Mathis talked in private with any commissioner about any matter of substance. And she certainly didn't need to directly ask – How will you vote? – to violate the law. It's possible to glean from the tenor of a conversation how someone is likely to vote.

There's only one way to find out if Mathis violated the law. Attorney General Horne should file suit.

[He has. Horne was disqualified fom the case due to a conflict of interest. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery is proceeding with the case].

If Mathis violated the law, there's also a question about the penalty. Phoenix lawyer Daniel Barr, who has practiced media law in Arizona for 26 years, said he couldn't remember any case in which a judge threw a violator out of office.

The usual punishment is for the illegally made decision to be overturned. No do-over for Mathis, though. Straight out the exit door.

* * *

We don't see any evidence that Mathis exhibited "gross misconduct."

It's true that she pushed for a vote on a draft congressional map over the objections of the Republicans. The vote was 3-1-1, with Rick Stertz voting "no" and Scott Freeman abstaining. They protested that they'd seen the latest version for the first time that morning and needed more time to examine it.

Mathis said she wanted a vote because the hour grows late. The draft is subject to public hearings, then the commission can make revisions before it submits the map to the Justice Department, which will review it for voting act compliance.

If history holds, Justice will take several months and ask for changes. Ultimately, local elections officials need time to create precincts and determine where we'll all vote next year.

It appears that Mathis' real misdeed is putting out for public comment a map that the governor and fellow Republicans think is wrong.

What Brewer should have done was to show up at the public hearings and state her case against the draft map. Show the commission the error of its ways and bring public pressure to bear for a revision.

If that doesn't work, Gov. Brewer could sue and ask a court to overturn the final maps. That's what Democrats unsuccessfully tried after the last redistricting.


Instead, the governor and Republican legislators mounted up and showed Arizona voters that they're the law in this land. That's injustice, Old West style.

Actually, I think what we are seeing in Arizona more accurately resembles Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton adaptation). Remember when Jan Brewer went nuts because someone "stole her tarts"? Brewer says draft redistricting map favors Democrats – East Valley Tribune:

Gov. Jan Brewer blasted a draft redistricting map that virtually guarantees at least four of the state's nine congressional districts to Republicans like her and makes three others competitive.

"It's like thievery," Brewer told Capitol Media Services. "It's certainly very political. It's absolutely egregious as far as I'm concerned in reference to how they adopted these maps."

"It's obvious how it's favoring the Democrats," she said without providing specifics. "It's absolutely blatant."

Brewer said the IRC map ignores what she sees as the political reality. "Arizona is a red state," she said.

And the Red Queen ordered "off with her head!" for stealing her tarts.