Could the Arizona Republican Party be any more obvious in its desire to quash the efforts of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, mainly because of that one word, "Independent"?
What the heck are they afraid of? It's unlikely the GOP will lose its majority hold on this redder than red state of ours. However, the Rs are desperate to retain the GOP's supermajority in the state legislature.
Never mind that about two-thirds of all active Arizona voters are either Indies or Dems, or that the state's population has grown and shifted considerably, or that the AIRC has a mandate under the Arizona Constitution.
The battle to discredit the AIRC began from jump, with state Senate President Russell Pearce's attempting to dictate who could be on the commission, to bogus allegations against the AIRC and its Independent chair Colleen Mathis, to Republican Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne leading a legal crusade against the AIRC, even though his office has a serious conflict of interest: The AG's office was once the AIRC's legal counsel.
Now, with draft maps on the table that are not to the Rs' liking, the AZ GOP wants to rig the AIRC, and is now conspiring to remove AIRC chair Mathis.
The preliminary move in this gambit is a Joint Legislative Committee on Redistricting, on which sits far-right, pseudo-intellectual GOP Senate Majority Leader Andy Biggs.
Biggs is a rich guy, but not rich by the sweat of his brow. He's rich because he won $10 million in the American Family Sweepstakes. You know, the one the late Ed McMahon and the corpse-like Dick Clark used to shill for.
Which allows Biggs to have the, um, "courage" of his convictions. Among these is an irrational hatred of the poor.
One of his genius ideas in the last session was to completely eliminate AHCCCS, the state's medicaid program, though in doing so, he would have caused Arizona's hospitals to go out of business and plunged this state into a economic morass worse than the one we're already mired in.
The bill he sponsored to do that was voted out of the Senate Appropriations Committee he chaired at the time, but didn't make it to the Senate floor.
Though no Democrat, he resembles in statement and action the Ds' mascot: i.e., common parlance for a male donkey. Which is worrisome because now he's vying for Pearce's Senate Presidency, should Pearce fail to survive the November 8 recall.
Like Pearce, who blacklisted certain activists he didn't like from the state Senate building, Biggs has a problem with freedom of speech, particularly that speech which objects to his autocratic style.
Actually, on Friday, it wasn't even speech that got Biggs' dander up. It was Arizona Eagletarian blogger Steve Muratore mouthing the word "bullshit" as Biggs harangued a member of the public audacious enough to criticize Biggs, the JLCR and its transparent effort to mess with the AIRC.
Muratore is a citizen journalist of the highest order, one who has painstakingly documented the redistricting process better than any other reporter in the state, bar none.
Yet, all it took was for Muratore to mouth the aforementioned (and very apt) word for Biggs to have him removed from the room. Quite convenient, as Muratore had signed up to speak, and Biggs' action prevented his from doing so. Muratore has a full description of the incident on his blog, here.
Gee, what's next, will Biggs be ejecting citizens because they look at him the wrong way?
The joint committee is scheduled to reconvene Monday at 1 p.m. Muratore vows to be there, and he's been told that he will be allowed in.
"I called Sen. Steve Pierce's office about whether I will be allowed in on Monday. I was told that I would, but I must adhere to the rules of proper decorum...I think that means they'd rather I not tell them the truth."
Because, as the line goes, Biggs, et al. can't handle the truth. And the truth is that this committee is as big of a sham as was Olivia Cortes' erstwhile candidacy in the Legislative District 18 recall.
The Dems boycotted the committee on Friday, refusing to participate in the sham. I give them props for doing so, though that also means the committee will have to be cross-examined by the citizenry, the same citizenry for which Biggs has such contempt.
Hey, not everyone can win the Lottery, Andy, or luck out on a $10 million sweepstakes. So ease up. Because of you booting Muratore out, you can now be sure that there will be even more scrutiny of the joint committee's monkeyshines by the press and the public.
And as we watch you on Monday and beyond, be thankful that you are not blessed with ESP. Because I can assure you that we'll all be thinking about a mental image of what you euphemized as "a certain bovine excrement type of swear word" with your priggish mug on it.
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