Colorado's Redistricting News
(October 2-October 29, 2001)

 

 Roll Call: "Between the Lines (excerpt)." October 29, 2001
 Rocky Mountain News: "For Redistricting, Theyíve All Hired Mouthpieces." October 27, 2001
 Pueblo Chieftain: "Redistricting Again Before Lawmakers." October 26, 2001
 Rocky Mountain News: "Judge Prepared to Draw Map." October 26, 2001
 Denver Post: "Remap Suits See Minor Progress." October 26, 2001
 Denver Post: "Webb Enters Remapping Fight; Denver mayor joins legal tussle." October 25, 2001
 Pueblo Chieftain: "Attorney General Salazar Bows Out of Federal Redistricting Suit." October 20, 2001
 Rocky Mountain News: "Redistricting battle heads for courts." October 11, 2001
 Pueblo Chieftain: "Judges Could Decide Pueblo's Congressional District Future." October 11, 2001
 Pueblo Chieftain: "Redistricting Undecided as Session Ends." October 10, 2001
 Denver Post: "Session Ends in Stalemate." October 10, 2001
 Denver Post: "Special Session's End Put on Hold." October 6, 2001
 Rocky Mountain News: "Redistricting Battle Moves South." October 4, 2001
 Denver Post: "Senate OKs Redistrict Plan." October 3, 2001
 Denver Post: "Senate Redistrict Bill Anointed; Passage still unsure; House OKs 3 versions." October 2, 2001

More Recent Redistricting News From Colorado

Colorado Redistricting News from February 19-September 27, 2001

 

Roll Call
Between the Lines (excerpt)
By John Mercurio
October 29, 2001

One Denver

Denver Mayor Wellington Webb is going to court to challenge fellow Colorado Democrats who want to split the Mile High City into two House districts. Rep. Diana DeGette (D) currently represents all of Denver and some northeast suburbs.

"To have Denver represented by two individuals who don't even reside in the city of Denver, I think that's not in Denver's best interest," said Webb.

Rocky Mountain News
For Redistricting, Theyíve All Hired Mouthpieces
By Peter Blake
October 27, 2001

Can 100 lawyers, more or less, succeed where 100 legislators failed?

The drawing of Colorado's seven new congressional districts depends on this dubious hypothesis.

The General Assembly went home recently after deadlocking on their constitutional duty to do the job.

So now the map will be probably be drawn by Denver District Judge John W. Coughlin, in whose court state Democrats filed a lawsuit last spring in anticipation of the legislative fiasco. The Republicans are hoping against hope that a federal court, where they filed suit later, will claim superior jurisdiction.

But Coughlin, or whoever, won't be working in a vacuum. Oh no. He's going to get far more "help" than he could ever want from intervenors.

Coughlin held a hearing Thursday to outline his schedule. "A lot of white men in suits are here," observed Mary Alice Mandarich, one of the few women -- and few nonlawyers -- in the room.

It was like a wedding, she said, but instead of having a groom's side and a bride's side, there was a Republican side and a Democratic side.

Not every lawyer involved was present, but here's the legal lineup to date:

Secretary of State Donetta Davidson spurned help from the attorney general's office in favor of hiring private attorneys Jim Kilroy and Matt Mayer.

Gov. Bill Owens, also going without the AG's help, has hired Rob Witwer and Sean Gallagher.

House Speaker Doug Dean: Tim Tymkovich and Richard Westfall. Tymkovich has been nominated for a federal judgeship, but there's no chance he'll be confirmed by the Democratic Senate before this case is over.

House Minority Leader Dan Grossman: Tom Downey.

The Democratic Party: Former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Jean Dubofsky and Dean Neuwirth. Dubofsky is also representing Senate President Stan Matsunaka.

The Republican Party: Chris Paulson and Richard Kaufman.

U.S. Rep. Mark Udall: Cole Finegan, Ted Trimpa and Lynne Hufnagel.

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette: Ed Kahn.

U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis: Former GOP chairman Don Bain.

The congressional delegation can't pay these lawyers with federal funds. And Udall isn't even sure whether he can use campaign funds. It may require a separate drive.

McInnis is the only GOP congressman with a lawyer. Reps. Joel Hefley, Tom Tancredo and Bob Schaffer are going without -- so far.

The City of Denver: Mark Grueskin and Assistant City Attorney David Broadwell. Mayor Wellington Webb wants to make sure the city isn't divided. Some of the other lawyers are grumbling that the city has no standing to intervene, but Broadwell disagrees and the city will pay the lawyers.

Would-be Congressman (now state treasurer) Mike Coffman: Former U.S. Attorney Mike Norton, a volunteer.

Would-be Congresswoman Ramona Martinez: Leonard Martinez, her son. He's working for little more than an extra piece of pie at Thanksgiving.

The rest of these lawyers don't come cheap. "The only good thing is it takes money away from TV advertising for candidates," said DeGette's Kahn. "That's the silver cloud in this lining."

Peter Blake's column appears Wednesdays and Saturdays. Reach him at (303) 892-5119 or at [email protected]

Pueblo Chieftain
Redistricting Again Before Lawmakers
By Tom McAvoy
October 26, 2001

A judge Thursday gave the Legislature until Jan. 25 to reach agreement on congressional redistricting, but said if it fails the courts will be ready make the decision.

Denver District Judge John Coughlin gave interested parties in the case until Nov. 26 to submit redistricting plans. He also scheduled a trial in his court on the issue for Dec. 17.

Coughlin indicated he will take the trial evidence under deliberation and prepare his own decision in the event legislators fail to reach a compromise by his Jan. 25 deadline.

His scheduling order allows time for an early-February appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court, which could become the final arbiter if a redistricting plan doesn't pass the Legislature for Gov. Bill Owens' signature by Jan. 25.

The lawsuit was filed in state court by the Colorado Democratic Party, represented by former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Jean Dubofsky.

Republicans countered with a federal court lawsuit in an attempt to move the dispute out of state court. They are represented by former House Majority Leader Chris Paulson and a member of his Denver law firm, Dick Kaufman.

But Dubofsky has filed a motion to stay the federal case.

She cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Minnesota redistricting case, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, that evidently gives state courts first jurisdiction over political redistricting.

A three-member panel of U.S. District Judge Zita Weinshienk and 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Judges John Porfilio and Dave Ebel has set a Nov. 16 deadline for legal briefs in the federal case.

Dubofsky said the Democratic Party wants the state court to adopt a redistricting plan sponsored by Colorado Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut, D-Pueblo.

Thiebaut's plan calls for creating a new 7th congressional district in Southern Colorado. It would be centered in Pueblo and fan out to the rest of the Arkansas River Basin, San Luis Valley and southern El Paso County.

Republicans object to splitting El Paso County in downtown Colorado Springs. They have drafted several congressional maps of their own, some splitting Pueblo County instead.

For a different reason, Denver Mayor Wellington Webb wants to intervene through his lawyer, Mark Grueskin, in opposition to the Thiebaut plan. The mayor objected to it for splitting Denver into three or four congressional districts.

"If other parties want to submit a plan, they should intervene or submit it through someone who has intervened or is a party to the state case," Dubofsky said.

"What encouraged me the most was Judge Coughlin saying he would handle the case himself and not assign it to a master. This expedites the issue tremendously," Dubofsky said.

"We're going to submit the Thiebaut plan."

Democrats named Colorado Secretary of State Donetta Davidson, the state's chief elections officer, as the lone defendant in state court.

Until recently she was defended by Attorney General Ken Salazar's office. But Davidson asked for independent outside counsel - Jim Kilroy and Matthew Mayer of a Denver law firm - and the attorney general agreed to the substitution.

"Normally, the AG's office represents us on everything. They've been doing a good job. But it's awkward for the office to be represented by an elected official in redistricting, which is the most political of processes," Deputy Secretary of State Bill Hobbs said on behalf of Davidson.

"Probably no matter what we do, somebody is going to impute political motives. As long as the attorney general's office is headed by Ken Salazar, someone will suggest he is controlling redistricting," Hobbs said.

"We will never submit a redistricting plan," Hobbs added of the secretary of state's office.

Colorado law requires county clerks to adjust local precinct boundaries to accommodate the new districts so county commissioners can meet a March 11 deadline for adopting them.

He said the secretary of state has two goals - to leave redistricting to the Legislature as the Colorado Constitution provides and to keep the 2002 election on schedule.

If precinct lines are completed by March 11, county clerks have four weeks for public notice of April 9 precinct caucuses, beginning the process of electing delegates who eventually nominate the major parties' candidates for office.

Hobbs said the secretary of state still believes it's premature for the courts to intervene.

But if they must, he said, "Judge Coughlin's scheduling order seems appropriate. He did give us seven days to file a new motion to dismiss the case and the plaintiffs (Democratic Party) seven days to respond."

Rocky Mountain News
Judge Prepared to Draw Map
By John Sanko
October 26, 2001

Denver District Court Judge John W. Coughlin told Colorado lawmakers Thursday he'll draw new boundary lines for the state's seven congressional districts if they don't do the job themselves by Jan. 25.

"I have absolutely no desire to take the place of the legislature," Coughlin told a courtroom filled with lawyers. "But it is imperative that a plan be in place for the November 2002 election."

Reacting to a lawsuit brought by Colorado Democrats, Coughlin set a trial date for Dec. 17, but said he'll delay ruling on a plan until Jan. 25 to give the legislature one last chance to draw a map.

Colorado lawmakers will convene their 2002 session on Jan. 9, but chances of their reaching agreement on a map appear slim. At a 20-day special session that ended earlier this month, they didn't come close.

Colorado must redraw the boundary lines for its six existing districts and add a seventh based on population growth over the past decade. Republicans now hold a 4-2 advantage and both sides have been jockeying to pick up the new seat.

Coughlin set a Nov. 2 deadline for other parties who want to intervene in the case. All sides were given 30 days to file maps with the court.

Republicans have filed a case in federal court involving congressional redistricting.

But former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Jean Dubofsky, representing Democrats in the district court suit, told Coughlin a 1993 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court indicates state courts are a more appropriate venue.

"We're very pleased," Dubofsky said afterwards. "He left room for the legislature to act. But if they're still stalemated, he'll proceed with his ruling."

There were more attorneys in court representing potential interests who might want to intervene than the parties themselves, including lawyers for Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and Gov. Bill Owens.

Attorney Dick Kaufman, who represented the Republican Party as an intervener, told the court the constitution is clear that the legislature -- not the court -- has primary responsibility for drawing the lines. After the hearing, however, he said he was pleased the court was willing to give lawmakers another chance.

House Speaker Doug Dean, R-Colorado Springs, said he hoped Senate Democrats would get the message and negotiate seriously when the regular session began. But if a court makes a decision, he said he hopes it's in federal court rather than the state system.

That was also the message of former House Majority Leader Chris Paulson, who filed the federal court lawsuit. He said the federal court has set a Nov. 2 deadline for filing briefs in that suit.

"This isn't necessarily a done deal in the state court," Paulson said. "I don't think it's over yet. Just from a workload standpoint, it makes more sense to be in federal court (where there already is a three-judge panel and a magistrate assigned to the case)."

Tom Downey, a lawyer representing House Democratic leader Dan Grossman, said he thought it was an appropriate ruling.

"It gives the legislature the opportunity, but also has the court prepared in case the legislature doesn't do it," Downey said. "The legislature will have its opportunity again in January."

Denver Post
Remap Suits See Minor Progress
By Fred Brown
October 26, 2001

Two lawsuits that could affect the way Colorado draws its congressional district boundaries finally began to show signs of movement this week, two weeks after the legislature abandoned its most recent attempt to untangle the knotty political issue.

A state court Thursday set a preliminary trial date of Dec. 17 in a case filed May 31 by the Colorado Democratic Party on behalf of six residents.

Denver District Judge John Coughlin gave parties to the case, including a half-dozen intervenors, until Nov. 26 to offer their ideas for dividing the state into seven congressional districts.

On Wednesday, Republican leaders responded in U.S. District Court to Democrats' argument that the federal court should defer to the state court in redistricting matters. That case originated Sept. 26 with the GOP, which wants federal judges to take jurisdiction.

Both parties are jockeying for advantage in the redistricting battle. Each went to court arguing that the legislature was unlikely to get the job done.

Democrats say that, if all else fails, the state court should draw the district boundaries. Republicans say the federal court should be the map-maker of last resort.

Coughlin said that while the trial in state court will begin Dec. 17 - subject to being delayed - he won't issue a ruling until Jan. 25, to give the legislature time to make one more attempt. The 2002 regular session begins Jan. 9.

The job falls to the legislature every 10 years, after each U.S. census.

Denver Post
Webb Enters Remapping Fight; Denver mayor joins legal tussle
By Mike Soragham
October 25, 2001

Denver Mayor Wellington Webb is going to court to fight his fellow Democrats' plans to split Denver between congressional districts.

City attorneys filed papers Wednesday intervening in the Colorado Democratic Party's redistricting lawsuit, arguing that Denver should be kept within one congressional district.

"To have Denver represented by two individuals who don't even reside in the city of Denver, I think that's not in Denver's best interest," Webb said Wednesday during a visit to Washington. "They don't have the same values as we do. They're not going to support the more liberal causes that the people of Denver have been fighting for."

Currently, Denver makes up most of the 1st Congressional District, represented by Democrat Diana DeGette. But a redistricting plan passed by the Democratic-controlled state Senate would split Denver between two districts. The legislature finished a special session earlier this month without reaching final agreement on any plan, likely kicking the matter to the courts.

Many Democrats like the plan because it spreads Denver's wealth of Democratic votes, giving the party a better shot at picking up more of Colorado's seven congressional seats in the 2002 election. DeGette, however, favors keeping the district as is.

"It gives us a shot at four Democratic seats," said Democratic Party Chairman Tim Knaus. "I hear from suburban Democrats who say, "You need to share.' "

Knaus said he was not surprised by Webb's legal move, calling it common in redistricting cases. But he said judges should recognize that the Denver-splitting plan was supported by all Democrats in the state Senate and two Republicans.

Webb said that Denver is a "community of interest," which redistricting law says should be preserved when drawing district lines. Webb also notes that the last time a court drew districts for Colorado, after the 1980 census, the court ruled Denver should stay whole.

Webb said he had talked with party officials about plans that would split off portions of Denver into other districts. But he said he could not support a plan that made Denver residents the minority in both districts.

"There could be some that could be sliced off the edges," Webb said. "But you don't split it in half."

Another argument for splitting Denver is that one of the districts would be more likely to elect a minority candidate, but Webb noted that the city has elected several minorities to citywide office, including himself, former Mayor Federico Pen~a, Auditor Don Mares and District Attorney Norm Early.

Democrats filed the case in May in Denver District Court. A hearing in the case is scheduled for today. Colorado Republicans have also filed a case, in federal court.

Pueblo Chieftain
Attorney General Salazar Bows Out of Federal Redistricting Suit
By Tom McAvoy
October 20, 2001

Gov. Bill Owens and legislative leaders are defendants in a congressional redistricting lawsuit and will be represented by outside lawyers, not by Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar.

The attorney general normally would defend the governor in the federal court action. But in this instance, Salazar already is defending Secretary of State Donetta Davidson in a separate redistricting lawsuit filed earlier in state court.

Democrats filed on May 31, asking state judges to take congressional redistricting from the Legislature. Republicans responded with a Sept. 26 filing in a bid to move any decision to federal court.

Salazar sees a potential conflict of interest if his office were to defend both Owens in the federal court and Davidson in state court.

"Given potential conflicts that could arise in these lawsuits, the governor and attorney general have agreed that the governor will retain outside counsel of his own choosing for the federal district court case," Owens and Salazar said in a join statement.

Owens will be defended by Rob Witwer, a Denver lawyer, in the federal case. He is the son of state Rep. John Witwer, R-Evergreen, and husband of Heather Witwer, a governor's appointee to the Colorado Reapportionment Commission.

House Speaker Doug Dean, R-Colorado Springs, and Senate President Stan Matsunaka, D-Loveland, are the other two defendants in federal court.

Dean will be defended by former Colorado Solicitor General Tim Tymkovich and Matsunaka by former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Jean Dubofsky.

Dubofsky, a lawyer living in Boulder, also is the Democratic Party lawyer suing the state - technically, Davidson is Colorado's chief elections officer.

Salazar will defend the secretary of state in Denver District Court, squaring off against Dubofsky. Denver District Judge John Coughlin has scheduled a status conference for next Thursday.

Coughlin is not expected to rule right away on two pending motions - the attorney general's motion to dismiss the state case and Republican Party lawyer Chris Paulson's motion to intervene in the case.

A three-judge panel has been named to hear the federal case. The panel includes U.S. District Judge Zita Weinshienk and 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Judges John Porfilio and Dave Ebel.

"We filed a motion to stay the federal case. The federal court has given the parties through Nov. 16 to file briefs on whether the federal court should defer to the state court," Dubofsky said.

"My best guess is this will not proceed in federal court," Dubofsky said, citing a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court decision giving states first jurisdiction over political redistricting.

Dubofsky said the Democratic Party's role in court is to promote a congressional redistricting map sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut, D-Pueblo. Thiebaut's plan would center Colorado's new 7th Congressional District in Pueblo, combined with the San Luis Valley, Arkansas River Basin, surrounding areas and southern El Paso County.

"Our basic approach is that the new boundaries would be at least 3-3 with a competitive district most likely in Pueblo," Dubofsky said.

Republicans rejected the Thiebaut plan during a recent special legislative session, though the two parties can try again in January.

Rocky Mountain News
Redistricting battle heads for courts
October 11, 2001

Republicans and Democrats were gearing up Wednesday for the battle over congressional redistricting in Colorado to shift out of the legislative arena and into the courts.

The switch became inevitable after lawmakers closed out a special session Tuesday at an impasse in drawing new lines for six existing congressional districts and adding a seventh.

Democrats filed suit in Denver District Court last May. Republicans filed in federal court in September.

Democratic Party State Chairman Tim Knaus said Democrats will file a motion this week urging a conference meeting with the district court judge, attorneys and other parties involved in the lawsuit.

But critical questions still pending include which court will have jurisdiction and whether the court will undertake the job of redistricting or will kick it back to the legislature.

Complicating the picture is a resolution approved by Republicans in the House urging that the courts stay out of the battle and let the legislature resume the fight when the regular legislative session convenes in 2002.

Pueblo Chieftain
Judges Could Decide Pueblo's Congressional District Future
By Tom McCoy
October 11, 2001

Colorado's new congressional district map may be drawn by judges unless the Legislature bridges the wide gulf between Republicans and Democrats in January.

Legislators still have a chance to resolve redistricting when they convene in regular session on Jan. 9. They failed to break their deadlock during a recent 20-day special session, which included 10 days of meetings and 10 days in recess. Gov. Bill Owens convened the special session on Sept. 20 and was disappointed it didn't achieve a redistricting compromise.

The Democratic-controlled Senate passed Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut's plan for a Pueblo-centered Southern Colorado district. It was rejected by the Republican House.

Six plans other plans passed by the House but were killed in the Senate. Thiebaut's plan may become the basis for lawsuits already filed in anticipation the Legislature won't resolve redistricting.

The plan would create Colorado's new 7th Congressional District in Pueblo, the San Luis Valley, the entire Arkansas River Basin and southern El Paso County, including downtown Colorado Springs.

Republicans strongly objected to the El Paso County break, as well as changes in the Denver area designed to elect a Democrat, perhaps Sen. Ed Perlmutter or former Sen. Mike Feeley, both of Jefferson County, to replace GOP Congressman Tom Tancredo in the 6th District.

Owens said he sees the long arms of Thiebaut, Perlmutter and Feeley in the design.

"I think Senator Thiebaut feels his best bet is in the court, so there's been very little effort made by him or his party in the legislative process," the governor said.

"I've watched with interest how Democrats have tried to diminish Congressman Tancredo's base. Oddly enough, it often seems to be done in a way to help a Perlmutter or Feeley candidacy," Owens said.

"All they care about is electing their people - Bill Thiebaut and, if they can get it done, Ed Perlmutter," state Republican chairman Bob Beauprez said.

"What's been behind this from the beginning is Bill Thiebaut's congressional district," Beauprez said, noting that the two Democrats already in Congress - Reps. Diana DeGette of Denver and Mark Udall of Boulder - don't want their metro districts altered as much as the Thiebaut plan proposes.

State Democratic Chairman Tim Knaus laughed at the Republican allegations, saying it's no sure thing Thiebaut can win in a Pueblo-anchored district where the Republican candidate may be state Sen. Ken Chlouber of Leadville or some other strong campaigner. "We've got an uphill road to win that thing," Knaus said.

"I find Beauprez's statements offensive. His party has asked federal judges to draw the districts. We haven't even asked the state court to go that far yet. The threshold issue is whether the state court determines that the Legislature has exhausted all efforts on redistricting."

The Democratic lawsuit, filed May 31, has been assigned to Denver District Judge John Coughlin.

The Republican countersuit, field Sept. 26, has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Zita Weinshienk, although the party's lawyer, Chris Paulson, has requested appointment of a three-judge federal panel to hear the case.

Those appointments would be made by the 10th U.S. Circuit's chief judge, Deannell Tacha of Lawrence, Kan., unless Democratic lawyers are able to get the federal case dismissed in the first place.

James Lyons, a Denver lawyer and adviser to former President Bill Clinton, said the Democratic argument is that jurisdiction should be left in state court, rather than federal court, based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Minnesota redistricting case in 1993.

It's possible - some say probable - that both the federal and state courts will order the Legislature to try again in January. Time is short, however.

Congressional district lines must be redrawn by mid- to late-February if county officials are to adjust precinct boundaries in time for the 2002 election cycle to begin in the spring.

Legislators will have less than two months after convening in January to deliver a new congressional map that the governor is willing to sign.

Republicans want it to happen, thus keeping the state case from reaching the Colorado Supreme Court on appeal. They note that Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey is a Democrat and, like five of her six fellow justices on the court, an appointee of former Democratic Gov. Roy Romer.

House Speaker Doug Dean, R-Colorado Springs, went so far as to accuse Senate Democrats of "acting like the fix is in - that they and the chief justice have drawn the lines."

The governor offered a more diplomatic way of expressing it.

"I am very concerned about the chief justice's partisanship with her four appointments on legislative redistricting. She put four partisan Democrats on the commission," Owens said. "If that is any indication, we have every reason to be concerned about decisions the court might make in the future."

Mullarkey was unavailable to respond to questions about it.

For his part, Thiebaut said it was inappropriate to implicate Mullarkey in any political "fix."

"It's irrelevant whether I'm going to run or not," Thiebaut said. "The important thing is the editorial comment and other sentiment expressed across the state in favor of a unified Southern Colorado district."

Thiebaut said his plan is good for the Pueblo region's future representation in Congress and for Democratic chances to win the new 7th District seat.

Pueblo Chieftain
Redistricting Undecided as Session Ends
By Tom McCoy
October 10, 2001

Colorado's special legislative session wasn't so special on congressional redistricting, ending Tuesday in acrimonious deadlock on the hot political issue.

Unless they can break it when the next regular session opens in January, Colorado's congressional lines, including the shape of the new seventh district, may be drawn by judges, either in state or federal court.

House Speaker Doug Dean was angry that Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut's pro-Democratic plan was the only one forwarded to the House, which had sent the Senate six pro-Republican plans.

Dean, a Colorado Springs Republican, accused the Pueblo Democrat of holding out for a congressional district that Thiebaut could run in and win.

"He wants the (Colorado) Supreme Court to draw his own district," Dean charged.

The House speaker went so far as to suggest Thiebaut and House Democratic Leader Dan Grossman have influenced Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey, who eventually may preside over the redistricting court case.

"The Senate Democrats are already acting like the fix is in - that they and the chief justice have drawn the lines," Dean charged.

Thiebaut and Grossman replied that the met with Mullarkey last spring, but only on her appointments to the Colorado Reapportionment Commission, which deals with legislative and not congressional redistricting. Grossman said Dean's allegations were reckless and, besides, Mullarkey didn't even choose the Democratic commissioners they had requested.

"It's outrageous he would implicate the chief justice of the Colorado Supreme Court or that the fix was in," Thiebaut said.

"It's irrelevant whether I'm going to run or not," Thiebaut said. "The important thing is the editorial comment and other sentiment expressed across the state in favor of a unified Southern Colorado district. It's the right thing to do and at the same time gives Democrats a chance to win."

Thiebaut's plan would create Colorado's new 7th Congressional District, using Pueblo as an anchor surrounded by the San Luis Valley, the entire Arkansas River Basin, the southern half of El Paso County and downtown Colorado Springs.

Some of the Republican plans would split El Paso County north-south, but not east-west as the Thiebaut plan proposes.

One GOP plan, proposed by Rep. Richard Decker, R-Fountain, would keep El Paso County whole in the 5th Congressional District, while extending the new 7th District from Pueblo through Crowley and Elbert counties into the eastern part of fast-growing Douglas County.

"I think it's unfortunate that the Democrats would rather litigate than legislate," House Majority Leader Lola Spradley, R-Beulah. "They submitted one map and it was. 'My way or the highway.í î

Despite their partisan differences, Spradley and Thiebaut worked as majority leaders on key bills that did pass during the special session.

The two Pueblo County lawmakers teamed on a bill helping state employees, especially those living in Pueblo, with rising health insurance premiums. Rep. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, sponsored another bill designed to give Pueblo state workers an alternative to high-cost insurance.

Spradley teamed with Sen. Peggy Reeves, D-Fort Collins, for state matching funds for federal grants to provide poor women with treatment of breast and cervical cancer.

They also counted as a special session plus the fast-breaking effort to balance the state budget in the face of a $350 million revenue shortfall.

"I think we got 80 percent of what we expected done," Spradley said. "I'm disappointed we didn't fulfill our constitutional duty on congressional redistricting."

In the final analysis, Thiebaut said, the impasse on redistricting was the outcome most Democrats and some Republicans predicted from the outset. Thiebaut said the session was not a total loss because legislators were on hand to deal with unforeseen health insurance and state budget problems. They also approved the governor's growth and cancer treatment requests.

"We didn't do too bad. It probably could have been better," Thiebaut said.

Because of the revenue shortfall, Owens withdrew his request for $1.5 million to assist local governments to draft land use master plans.

The governor also lost regional planning for the Denver metropolitan area and ways local governments can enforce master plans.

Owens got four growth bills from the Legislature:

HB1006 by Rep. Joe Stengel, R-Littleton, to require 30 Colorado counties and 76 municipalities to adopt master plans controlling commercial and residential development.

Pueblo's city and county governments are included separately for meeting population thresholds in the bill. Other area governments covered are Chaffee County, Fremont County, Buena Vista, Salida, Canon City and Florence.

HB1020 by Rep. Alice Madden, D-Boulder, to require mediation before local governments take master plan disputes to court.

HB1001 by Rep. Ken Kester, R-Las Animas, to put restrictions on "flagpole annexations" by allowing intervening property owners to join an annexation originally intended only to capture tax-generating shopping center or other development.

SB15 by Sen. Rob Hernandez, D-Denver, to extend home rule cities' authority to impose developer impact fees to smaller statutory cities and to counties.

Denver Post
Session Ends in Stalemate
By Fred Brown
October 10, 2001

Unable to agree on its most basic political issue, a special session of the Colorado legislature ended Tuesday without a congressional redistricting plan.

Adding a seventh congressional district was the principal reason for having a special session, which cost taxpayers about $150,000, but the Republicans who control the House and the Democrats who control the Senate couldn't settle on a map that was acceptable to both parties.

House Speaker Doug Dean, R-Colorado Springs, said Senate Democrats "have drawn a line in the sand," just as they did over growth legislation last spring, refusing to pass redistricting bills. Three more House-passed bills died Tuesday in the Senate Public Policy and Planning Committee, where Democrats have a 4-3 majority.

The issue could end up in court, as it did 10 years ago. But House Republicans said there's still a chance the legislature could reach agreement early in its regular session next January.

"I am confident the courts will kick this back to the legislature. . . . It may be in January, but we'll do that job," said Rep. Don Lee, R-Littleton, one of the main authors of redistricting plans.

The legislature did make progress on other issues.

On Tuesday, it gave final approval to budget trims reacting to a downturn in the state's economy and revenue.

It also killed a bill designed to make master land-use plans enforceable as a matter of law, but earlier it had passed three growth measures.

"We accomplished a lot," Dean said - except for the main issue facing the legislature. Dean and other House Republicans called a news conference before lawmakers went home for the evening - and, apparently, home for the year - to accuse Senate Democrats of rejecting every compromise attempt.

While Republicans were offering 14 maps for new congressional districts, Democrats put forth only three. Dean said the Democrats' insistence on a 3-3-1 split, with one swing district and the others split between the parties, was "extreme," given the Republicans' edge in elected officials and a 5-percentage-point advantage in voter registration.

"The Senate Democrats have not bargained in good faith," Dean said.

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, accused the Republicans of continuing to put forward plans that gave their party either 5-2 or 6-1 advantages in congressional districts.

"The House has told us from day one that they were going to send us their extreme position," said Senate President Stan Matsunaka, D-Loveland. "Why should I vote for a 5-2 plan?"

Dean accused the Democrats of working behind the scenes to get redistricting into state courts, where most of the judges were appointed by Democratic governors.

"The Senate Democrats are already acting as if the fix is in," Dean said. Republicans also have filed suit, but in federal court. Dean said he doesn't support that action, either.

"I would be delighted if the Republican Party would drop its lawsuit, as well," Dean said.

Lawmakers met a total of 10 days over a 20-day period that began Sept. 20. The session cost taxpayers roughly $15,000 a day.

"I would say we have not done anything here we could not have waited until January to do," said Sen. Ron Teck, R-Grand Junction.

Denver Post
Special Session's End Put on Hold
By Julia C. Martinez
October 6, 2001

State lawmakers Friday abruptly adjourned a special session until this week after Republicans and Democrats hit a stalemate over how to redraw the state's congressional map.

Lawmakers had originally planned to stay past midnight to complete their work and adjourn until January, when the regular session convenes.

But the redistricting debate bogged down and House Speaker Doug Dean said he didn't want to end the special session until another attempt is made to agree on a plan.

The dispute meant that lawmakers left without completing work on an emergency plan to cut nearly $400 million in spending for roads and buildings to deal with a critical budget shortfall. But the measure appeared headed for passage: the Senate already passed it and the House gave it tentative approval before heading home.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut said the legislature will reconvene Tuesday morning, but he held out little hope that a compromise will be reached on the congressional re-mapping issue.

He said Republicans were insisting on drawing district boundaries that give the GOP an overwhelming - and unfair - political advantage.

"We have presented a fair map with many competitive districts," Thiebaut said. "The Republicans don't want a competitive map."

Dean accused the Democrats of refusing to compromise and shirking their responsibility. "They don't want to do their job," Dean said. "They want the courts to do it for them. We offered five compromises. They voted them all down."

Gov. Bill Owens convened the special session Sept. 20 to deal mainly with redistricting and growth management.

Since then, lawmakers have reached compromises on several growth bills, a breast and cervical cancer measure to help uninsured women and legislation to help state employees in Pueblo pay for health insurance.

However, they killed the governor's plan to shift $877 million from other spending priorities to transportation.

As expected, redrawing the state's political boundaries turned out to be the most contentious of legislative issues. The process is necessary every decade, after the U.S. Census Bureau announces new population figures, in order to reflect shifts in population. The latest numbers show that Colorado is entitled to another seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Colorado now has six districts and the current legislative battle is how to squeeze in a seventh.

Each party wants the new district to be drawn in such a way that it gives them a political advantage at election time. The Democrats currently have two members in Congress. The Republicans have four, and when it comes to voting, registered GOP voters outnumber Democrats by more than 160,000.

Rocky Mountain News
Redistricting Battle Moves South; Hefley demands El Paso County not be divided
By John Sanko
October 4, 2001

The fight over carving Colorado into seven congressional districts shifted into a new arena Wednesday.

Sharply divided Republicans and Democrats created a conference committee to search for a compromise acceptable to both the House and the Senate.

No one is betting that will happen, but the six-member committee hopes to have something in hand by Friday, when lawmakers are scheduled to end their special session.

There already is pressure for a variety of plans, including one by Rep. Lynn Hefley, R-Colorado Springs, who insists that El Paso County be kept in a single district. That's similar to a request Denver Mayor Wellington Webb made for his city.

Hefley, whose husband, Joel, is a congressman from the 5th District, planned an 11 a.m. news conference today at the Capitol with military experts to make the argument for keeping her county intact. "Especially with the war on terrorism, it is critical that the five major defense installations in and around Colorado Springs be kept in one congressional district," Hefley said.

The battleground for redistricting is Senate Bill 20, which was approved in vastly different forms in the Senate and House.

The House, in an unusual move, named its conferees within minutes of approving the bill. House Speaker Doug Dean, R-Colorado Springs, and Rep. Rob Fairbank, R-Littleton, will be the GOP House negotiators with Rep. Todd Saliman of Boulder representing Democrats.

Senate Democratic leader Bill Thiebaut of Pueblo will join Sen. Terry Phillips of Louisville in representing Senate Democrats with Sen. Mark Hillman, R-Burlington, the GOP appointee.

Denver Post
Senate OKs Redistrict Plan
By Fred Brown
October 3, 2001

A plan that could form the basis for a legislative compromise on congressional redistricting won final approval Tuesday in the Colorado Senate, despite Denver Mayor Wellington Webb's opposition.

Webb paid a rare visit to the Capitol on Tuesday morning to make his feelings known to the Democrats who hold a slim 18-17 Senate majority.

Webb, a Democrat, and several other city officials sat around a conference table in the office of Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut, D-Pueblo.

That morning meeting followed a visit to the City and County Building the previous evening by Senate Democrats. Webb has made no secret of his objections to any congressional map that splits Denver.

But state party officials, and some Democrats in the legislature, want to divide the city in an effort to spread its heavily Democratic voting majority into more than one district. That would give the Democrats a better chance at winning an additional seat in Congress.

As expected, the Senate-passed bill, SB 20, was rewritten thoroughly later Tuesday in the House State Affairs Committee. The full House gave preliminary approval after replacing the Senate map with a plan more favorable to Republicans.

A plan worked out by leaders of both parties on Monday was to make SB 20 the vehicle for negotiations between Republicans and Democrats in a conference committee later this week.

Redistricting, the most political of legislative issues, is necessary every 10 years, following the U.S. census. Because of its population growth, Colorado is entitled to a seventh seat in the U.S. House, and new boundaries must be drawn to reflect population shifts.

Opponents of SB 20 pointed out it not only splits Denver, but also puts El Paso and Pueblo counties in the same district, puts 140,000 Jefferson County residents into a Western Slope district, and splits the Eastern Plains.

Thiebaut is the bill's sponsor, and critics claim the new district resulting from all of the splitting is designed to give him a better shot at winning a seat in Congress when his legislative term ends next year.

One senator who disagrees with that assessment is Leadville Republican Ken Chlouber, who believes he could defeat Thiebaut in that district. Chlouber joined Hooper Republican Lew Entz in voting for the Thiebaut bill Tuesday.

The final Senate vote was 20-13, with two Republicans absent and all 18 Democrats in agreement.

Legislators are doubtful the two chambers, controlled by different parties, can agree on a plan. The legislature is due to adjourn Friday.

Denver Post
Senate Redistrict Bill Anointed; Passage still unsure; House OKs 3 versions
By Fred Brown
October 2, 2001

The Colorado Senate gave preliminary approval to one congressional redistricting bill Monday, while the House gave final approval to three others.

Leaders of both chambers agreed to make the Senate bill the survivor in this highly partisan battle.

That doesn't mean SB 20 will survive intact - far from it. Nor does it mean all other bills have been abandoned.

In the unabashedly political sparring that surrounds the crafting of political districts, anything can happen. The most likely outcome is that the issue will end up in court, or at least take a side trip through the judicial branch before the legislative branch is forced to reach agreement.

Bipartisan agreement

House Speaker Doug Dean, R-Colorado Springs, and Senate President Stan Matsunaka, D-Loveland, agreed Monday that SB 20, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut, D-Pueblo, should be the vehicle for conference committee negotiations later this week.

It is the only bill that has a majority party sponsor in each chamber: Littleton Republican Rob Fairbank will carry it in the House.

But it splits the Eastern Plains, puts 140,000 Jefferson County residents in a Western Slope district and lops off a major chunk of El Paso County for a southern Colorado district.

"I don't think this gets us any closer to getting a bill adopted," Dean said. Matsunaka said the Senate Democrats expect that House Republicans "will add their stuff back on to it."

Further diminishing the chance for agreement is that the conference committee - six members appointed to work out a compromise - will have three Republicans and three Democrats.

Leadership made a small concession in allowing each chamber's minority party leader to pick one member, instead of leaving that decision to the majority party, but that still leaves a 3-3 split.

The Thiebaut-Fairbank plan, due for a final Senate vote today, can be interpreted as a 3-3-1 map, with each major party having a voter registration edge in three districts, and one a "swing" district.

The plans the House approved Monday are regarded as favoring the Republicans either 5-2 or 6-1. Fairbank's HB 1004 had a 36-29 vote; HB 1003, by Rep. Don Lee, R-Littleton, passed 37-29; and HB 1023, by Rep. Joe Stengel, also a Littleton Republican, passed 38-27.

"All of the maps . . . are unacceptable to the state Democratic Party," state chairman Tim Knaus told House Democrats at a caucus before the floor votes.

House Republicans also had a party meeting, to reinforce the need for party discipline - for the sake of President Bush and a Republican Congress, Dean said.

"We get used to voting on the issues. This is different," said Majority Leader Lola Spradley, R-Beulah. "This is politics. That's why we all feel kind of uncomfortable about it. . . . We have to do the right thing and support our party."


 

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