Elevating their dispute with the state's redistricting effort, the top two Republicans in the Legislature are asking three nominees for the Independent Redistricting Commission to step aside.The third nominee, Sossaman, did not respond to inquiries from Pitzl.
So far, they've had mixed results: One nominee declined their request, another dropped out, and the third has been silent.
The letter went to Republicans Mark Schnepf and Steve Sossaman, as well as Paul Bender, an independent.
Bender, a former dean of the Arizona State University Law College, replied in a letter to Pearce and Adams that he would not withdraw. He said he studied the constitutional requirements for serving on the commission and believes he meets them.
Schnepf on Sunday wrote to Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch, who chairs the vetting panel, saying that he believes he is constitutionally qualified to serve. But he is withdrawing from consideration, he wrote, because it's clear neither of the lawmakers would name him to the redistricting panel.
It's interesting and heartening to note that a number of Arizonans are paying attention to this process and Pearce's and Adams' attempt to subvert the independence of the "Independent" Redistricting Commission.
The letters regarding the latest kerfluffle sent to the Arizona Commission on Appellate Court Appointments are here and here and here.
That last link includes a letter that was sent to Appellate Courts Commission supporting the existing pool of 25 applicants, a letter that was signed by 12 people, current and former electeds and community activists, including:
State Sen. Carolyn Allen
Fmr. State Rep. Jennifer Burns
Fmr. AZAG Grant Woods
Fmr. State Sen. Sue Gerard
Fmr. State Rep. Pete Hershberger
Fmr. Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson
Others who submitted letters of support include Lattie Coor, retired ASU President, David Schapira, Democratic leader-elect of the incoming state senate, and one of the candidates who didn't make it this far.
A quick look at the three .pdfs of comments submitted to the Appellate Court Appointments commission showed 177 pages of emails and letters, the overwhelming majority of which express support for the Commission, its process, and the pool of applicants. A few, perhaps three out of the more than 100 comments submitted, directly stated that they wanted the nomination process reopened because of the controversy over one of the excluded candidates.
Having Russell Pearce serve as one of the front-men in this ploy by the Rs may not have been wise.
Many, perhaps even most, of the letters submitted in support of the current pool of applicants referred to Pearce and/or Kirk Adams by name or title and urged the Appellate Court Appointments commission to stand up to the attempt to strong-arm the process.
There were a number of commenters who desire to stop the redistricting process entirely. Apparently, they are unaware of the U.S. Constitution and Arizona law on the matter, nor do they seem aware of the ballot measure that was approved by the voters in 2000 with over 56% of the vote that created the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (Prop 106 on page 16 of the linked .pdf).
Wednesday's meeting of the Appellate Court Appointments commission will begin at 9 a.m. in room 101 of the Arizona State Courts Building, 1501 West Washington, Phoenix.
Be there early to get a good seat. Popcorn recommended (but building security probably won't allow it :) ).