One of the Republicans who served on last summer's ill-fated redistricting commission is speaking out — and suggesting that Republican redistricting commissioners Randy Hansen and Dolores Crow do not deserve the "'rock star' treatment" given them by the media.
Boise Republican Lou Esposito defended attempts by state GOP Chairman Norm Semanko and House Speaker Lawerence Denney to boot Hansen and Crow from the second version of the redistricting commission. This second commission was formed after Esposito and his five colleagues failed to agree on a new legislative map.
A new wrinkle: Esposito says Hansen and Crow failed to keep Semanko and Denney in the loop about the remapping process.
Wrote Esposito, Denney's appointee to the first redistricting commission: "For reasons known only to them, neither Crow nor Hansen ever met the terms of this agreement and all attempts by the speaker to contact them were rebuffed. While (Statesman editorial page editor Kevin) Richert admonishes Denney, the speaker is simply too much of a gentleman to go public with exactly how Crow and Hansen blatantly ignored their word and commitment to the people."
Esposito's guest opinion will appear in Tuesday's Statesman. But here's a preview of it:
“If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed. If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.”
— Mark Twain
The column by Kevin Richert on Feb. 2 was an example of how the Statesman has ignored the facts and its responsibility to the public for truth in reporting. Several inaccuracies would include:
The first map submitted by the second commission (L87), is a textbook example of gerrymandering at its worst. While evidence clearly demonstrating this egregious violation of the law by the second commission was presented to the Idaho Supreme Court, and is a matter of public record, reporting accurately upon it was apparently too much for the media. The simple truth is that a dozen Idaho counties filed complaints before the court. This points to a serious problem with the map, and is the real reason an attempt was made to remove commissioners.
Dolores Crow and Randy Hansen were appointed to the Redistricting Committee only after agreeing to a very direct and difficult assignment — follow the law, serve the citizens of Idaho, ask for help when needed and keep House Speaker Lawerence Denney and GOP Chairman Norm Semanko informed of any attempts to interfere with committee business — including the progress of the committee and the eventual approval of the maps.
Unfortunately, for reasons known only to them, neither Crow nor Hansen ever met the terms of this agreement and all attempts by the speaker to contact them were rebuffed. While Richert admonishes Denney, the speaker is simply too much of a gentleman to go public with exactly how Crow and Hansen blatantly ignored their word and commitment to the people. They are responsible, either for willfully voting for a blatant gerrymandered map or too ignorant to know when to ask for assistance.
We would do well to recognize that their so-called “rock star” treatment was only possible by willfully ignoring their legal and moral responsibilities aided and abetted by the media.
Relative to the Supreme Court ruling, although the court had a technical basis for acting as it did, there was no precedent in this case for the filing of a brief with the petition that was filed, as a court-ordered briefing schedule had always been part of the procedure. As a result, the ruling was inconsistent with three previous filings. It was therefore reasonable to assume that the court would notice a briefing schedule in this instance as well. Furthermore, while Christ Troupis a top constitutional attorney, did in fact, file the petition; he only did so after Chairman Semanko received a concurring opinion from Jason Risch, the Idaho GOP attorney, restating that two Idaho Supreme Court decisions supported their right to fire commissioners Crow and Hansen.
Finally, it was disappointing that the state attorney general’s office was so obviously out of its depth throughout the process, with a consistent pattern of ill and bad legal advice. The A.G.’s opinion on the power to replace commissioners ignored the two decisions, but instead cited two out-of-state cases that had no bearing on the issue at hand.
The final redistricting map (L93) was negotiated in two days with a 6-0 vote. This was based almost entirely on map L76, a plan submitted by the first republican commissioners last September.
Finally, the section of Richert’s article that assigns “win” status to former Gov. Phil Batt’s generation might seem like good journalism, but in fact, it is nothing more than pedestrian fiction. With all due respect to the former governor, if he had been in possession of all of the facts, I would hope that he would have offered a much different opinion on the matter.