Josh Brodesky: Brewer, GOP like a greedy kid at piñata

2011-10-30T00:00:00Z Josh Brodesky: Brewer, GOP like a greedy kid at piñataJosh Brodesky Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 30, 2011 12:00 am  • 

It's funny how life repeats itself. When I was maybe 5 or 6 years old, I found myself standing in my parents' backyard as we celebrated my older sister's birthday.

It was a hot May day, and we were all high on sugar. One by one, the kids stepped up to swing at the piñata as it went up and down, and rocked back and forth. We were filled with anticipation until finally - pow! - someone smashed that piñata and candy rained.

But just as the candy hit the ground, a little girl swooped beneath the piñata, threw herself down and fanned out her dress to cover almost all of the goodies.

Stunned silence followed.

It was an amazing display of honesty. That girl didn't just want some of the candy. She wanted it all.

Which brings me to redistricting.

Every single time Gov. Jan Brewer and Republican lawmakers complain about the state's Independent Redistricting Commission, it revives the memory of the little girl and the piñata. Republicans, with their manufactured rage, simply can't get enough of a good thing. They insist they are getting the short end of commission's stick even while they batter the commission, Democrats and the rest of us with the long end.

State registration numbers between the two major parties are fairly close (for Arizona) - 35.5 percent Republicans to 31.1 percent Democrats - and yet the proposed districts don't reflect that spread.

Of the nine congressional districts, Republicans have four locked up versus two for Democrats. At the state level, Republicans have a registration advantage in 17 districts, which leaves 12 for Democrats and one pretty nearly split between the major parties.

And still, Brewer feels ripped off.

"It's like thievery," she said earlier this month. "It's absolutely egregious as far as I'm concerned."

Forget calling 911 for this fallacious felony, our rock star governor took a break from her book tour to take matters into her own hands. Scorpions for breakfast? More like redistricting commissioners for lunch. First up, Colleen Mathis, the independent chair of the commission whose husband worked for Nancy Young Wright's campaign in 2010. Terri Proud, who has castigated Mathis' role on the commission, defeated Wright in that race.

Brewer sent a letter to the commission last week, the possible first step toward removing one or more members. She has questions about bid rigging, violating the open meetings law and believes their proposed congressional maps are unconstitutional. She wants answers from each of them by 8 a.m. Monday.

Her actions fall in line with Proud's outrage and Attorney General Tom Horne's failed attempts to investigate Mathis for possibly violating the state's Open Meetings Law. A judge recently barred Horne from pursuing the case because he represented the commission last go- around. The case has been kicked over to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. (Thanks?).

We'll see where all this political pressure goes.

Stuart Robinson, the commission's spokesman, said there will be a response, but Brewer's tight deadline is creating headaches.

"There is a real time crunch here," he said. "I don't know how nimbly they can come up with a response."

It's ironic, of course, that everything the commission does results in political interference. Voters created the commission in 2000 with the idea it would take state lawmakers out of the process, but they just keep injecting themselves into it. Whether it's Proud's outrage over Mathis, Brewer's sharp tongue, Horne's investigation or the special House-Senate committee formed to make recommendations on the draft maps, they can't leave well enough alone.

They complain about pitting incumbents against one another, even though the commission is not supposed to pay attention to where incumbents reside. They complain about the shape of the districts even though the committee must protect minority voting rights and have equal populations. They complain because there is a sprawling rural district, even though it's only a slightly bigger form of the current sprawling, rural district.

Maybe having open primaries is the antidote.

Back to the memory: After the little girl took all the candy from the piñata, my parents had to intervene. They talked to her about fairness.

But at this year's redistricting party there are no adults - and the children have a skewed concept of fairness. The biggest kid has stuffed her dress with candy, and she still wants more.

On StarNet: Read more articles about elections and voting at azstarnet.com/election

Contact columnist Josh Brodesky at 573-4242 or jbrodesky@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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