Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Friday, July 1, 2011

Redistricting -- more on yesterday's meeting in Tucson

One of the concerns people have with the AIRC right now has to do with the fact that the first round of public input hearings has not yet started, apparently putting this year's work behind schedule.

Reflecting on this concern, it is important to recognize what is actually the most important part of the scheduling.  Is not the actual completion of the final district maps ultimately the goal?

Honest consideration of the work this year's IRC is doing must go beyond comparing the start times for certain phases of the work.

Did everything go smoothly with the IRC in 2001 after the mapping consultant started its work? (hint: NO!)

Based on the public record, we know delays occurred because the initial set of maps dead ended when the Bush Administration Department of Justice refused to issue preclearance.

Based on testimony given by former AIRC Commissioner Andi Minkoff last week, it is very clear that the mapping contractor (NDC) had time management problems then.  And according to a Republican and a Democratic member of Yuma County's 2011 Redistricting Advisory Commission, NDC (Yuma County's current year contractor) is NOW having dramatic time management problems.  NDCs proposal for the AIRC contract, according to all of the commissioners, was sloppy, contained numerous typographical errors and lacked sufficient detail to engender confidence by any of them. This, despite what Commissioners Freeman and Stertz said about their votes.

Both yesterday and the day before, AIRC Chair Mathis said her preference would have been to have proposals from two competent, qualified Republican firms and two from Democratic firms.  As it happened, only one Republican firm with adequate experience submitted a proposal.

Years (decades) ago, I saw a sign in a workplace that read, "if you do not have the time to do a job right, when will you have the time to do it over?"  In 2001, NDC was rewarded with a higher aggregate total of fees earned from its engagement with the AIRC because it did sloppy work the first time.

The 2011 AIRC is wise from having five strong minded commissioners who, I think, want to do the job right the first time, regardless of
Either or both bodies of the legislature may act within this period to make recommendations to the independent redistricting commission by memorial or by minority report, which recommendations shall be considered by the independent redistricting commission. (Arizona Constitution, Art. IV, Part 2 Section 1, Paragraph 16)
what the body represented by John Mills recommends.

Many people expressed their concerns yesterday over the mapping consultant decision.  Based on the information available to them at the time, those concerns are reasonable.  Because Rick Stertz and Scott Freeman have gotten beyond their concerns with Strategic Telemetry, I am confident that when Ken Strasma begins his work here, those concerns (of the public) will be reasonably addressed.  Certainly, Freeman and Stertz will continue to be very watchful regarding Strasma's firm.  It still boils down to "trust, but verify."


  1. Steve, Wanted to make sure you were aware of the article in today's Arizona Daily Star on page A2. See below.

    Pete Bengtson

    (27) Comments
    Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services | Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2011 12:00 am | (0) Comments
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    PHOENIX - A Tucson Republican lawmaker wants a special election to ask voters to scrap the Independent Redistricting Commission and return the power of dividing up the state politically to legislators.
    Rep. Terri Proud complained that the current commission is biased toward Democrats. She said Tucsonan Colleen Mathis, the independent member of the panel, did not disclose her husband worked on the unsuccessful re-election campaign of a Democratic legislator, and complained that Mathis voted with the two Democrats on the commission to hire a Democratic-leaning consulting firm to draw the final maps.
    Proud said the commission has shown little interest in getting public input before it redivides the state's 30 legislative districts and draws the lines for what will now be nine congressional districts.
    Proud conceded what she wants would return Arizona to the days when the lines were drawn behind closed doors by lawmakers, whose prime goals included preserving "safe" districts for themselves.
    "That may be (the intent of) other lawmakers," Proud said. "But that's not mine."
    Anyway, Proud said, voters would make the final decision on whether having legislators draw the maps is preferable to the current system.
    House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, said he and other Republicans share Proud's frustration because there is reason to believe the commission is hostile to GOP interests. But Tobin stopped short of saying the system should be scrapped in favor of going back to the way it was done before.
    "I do not believe the voters want the legislative model," he said. Changes to ensure the independence and neutrality of the commission might be more well-received, he said.
    The 2000 constitutional amendment, approved by voters on a 56-44 margin, set up the Independent Redistricting Commission, with four members appointed by the top Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate. Those four then choose a fifth person who cannot be a member of either party.
    Commissioners consider population shifts, communities of interest, visible geographic features and existing political boundaries in redrawing district lines.
    Mathis has conceded she neglected to mention her husband's work as the treasurer of last year's failed re-election campaign of Tucson Democratic Rep. Nancy Young Wright when she applied to be the independent member of the commission. But she said her husband also has done work for Republicans in the past.

    Read more:

  2. I am aware and have been working on a post related to it. Thanks, AE