State Capitol News
4:56 pm
Fri November 18, 2011

Brewer and legislative leaders work to try to oust Independent Redistricting Commission chairwoman

Governor Jan Brewer and legislative leaders are weighing whether to once again try to fire the chairwoman of the Independent Redistricting Commission.

The state Supreme Court ruled late Thursday that Brewer acted illegally in ousting Colleen Mathis. In their brief order, the justices said that the letter from the governor to Mathis -- quote -- does not demonstrate substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, or inability to discharge the duties of office. Those are the only reasons a governor can fire a commissioner. Senate President-elect Steve Pierce, whose chamber would have to approve any new firing, said work already is underway to find another way to get Mathis out.

"The lawyers are working on it. And I think there is a solution there. We just have to doodle it out and get it done," Piece said.

At this point, though, neither Brewer nor the senators who need to ratify her action are sure exactly how to act in a way that would satisfy the court. It's possible the ruling means the court believes the offenses Brewer alleged do not fit within her power to fire Mathis. But Pierce said he reads the ruling to mean only that the letter from Brewer to Mathis did not sufficiently detail the grounds for firing.

"I believe it could be fixed with a better letter, Pierce said. "However, I don't know. They're working on that right now. We don't know what we're going to do and we don't know which direction to go until we get together."

And Pierce said the fact that next week is Thanksgiving does not preclude a special session. For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.