December 1, 2011
I have stayed largely quiet during the course of the reapportionment commission proceedings, publicly expressing my hopes for a fair process. While I am completely shocked at the way in which you conducted yourself during the final meetings of the commission, I am appalled after reading the Denver Post article this morning in which responsibility for the commission’s unfair process was laid at the feet of non-partisan legislative staff.
As Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, and a member who, along with Senate President Brandon Shaffer, is responsible for the operation of the Legislature and the oversight of our non-partisan staff, I refuse to allow you to hide your failures as chairman behind our legislative staff. Regardless of whether you had separate deadlines for Democratic and Republican plans, you had the opportunity to correct that at the commission meeting on Monday morning. Not only did you make the conscious decision not to correct the unequal process where you created two separate deadlines, you and the Democratic commissioners slammed the door on allowing Republican commissioners the opportunity to present alternatives to the Democratic plan that was submitted late Sunday night on a holiday weekend well past the deadline you set earlier.
Instead of recognizing the unfairness of the situation that had been created, you chose to go back on your earlier direction of November 15th that amendments would be considered at Monday’s meeting. On Monday, as the full view of this duplicitous process was coming to light, you sided with the Democrats to railroad this process and end public discussion and input.
This is not a question of partisan politics or poor staff work, this is a statement on your failure as chairman to conduct fair hearings and to allow all members of your commission to be heard and their amendments offered.
As chairman of the commission, you have the obligation to take responsibility for the inequity and unfairness of the process you controlled. You could have delayed the final vote on any proposed maps for a day or two while still meeting the Supreme Court deadline, or at a minimum voted to let the minority express their proposal through a report from the commission. I will not allow non-partisan legislative staff to take the fall for your failure. Take responsibility for your decision not to correct the unfairness you created in the final days of this process.
You failed in your most important task: To oversee and chair a fair and open process. Ultimately, it is not the commission staff or even the Republican members who are harmed by your actions; it is the people of Colorado.
Speaker of the House