Editorial: Political squabbles pollute redistricting process, again

Even before the proposed map of legislative districts was a draft or discussed publicly, politicians were calling into question the Independent Redistricting Commission’s efforts.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer added a new chapter Wednesday when she accused the redistricting commissioners of violating constitutionally mandated criteria and processes for drawing a new map of congressional districts, according to the Associated Press. Brewer said in a letter sent to all five commissioners - two Republicans, two Democrats and one Independent - that she wants them by today, Oct. 31, to submit written explanations of their actions. “Failure to respond will be taken as an admission,” she said.

The letter cited a constitutional provision that allows the governor to remove commissioners with consent of the state Senate, but the letter didn’t specifically say Brewer would do that. She said the commission improperly put too much emphasis on creating competitive districts at the expense of other criteria such as creating districts that are geographically compact. The state Constitution says competitiveness is a goal, but only if it doesn’t significantly detract from the other goals.

We previously criticized the legislative draft map for splitting most of the Verde Valley from the Prescott-area communities - serving no good purpose for Yavapai County and its residents.

The latest news on the redistricting, Friday, had the Legislature invoking a constitutional provision allowing legislative chambers to make recommendations to the commission, which is holding its own hearings on draft congressional and legislative district maps it approved earlier this month. Also on Friday, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge removed Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne’s office from investigating the commission for possible open meetings law violations involving private discussions between members. To have the attorney general’s office investigate the commission after advising it on the same general subject “can be justly regarded as a changing of sides,” the judge said.

All told, a 2000 ballot measure took redistricting out of the hands of the Legislature in an attempt to take politics out of the mix.

No matter what side you are on, it certainly has not worked.

-- The Daily Courier

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