AIRC Chair Colleen Mathis called at least another half-dozen names of people that left before their turn to speak came. The Prescott Daily Courier notes that the hearing room was standing room only.
Here's the text of the tea party's fear-mongering message this time:
There’s a big problem brewing in Arizona with the current redrawing of voter-district boundaries.-- snip --
Our friends from other tea party groups have reported actions by the current redistricting commissio...n that show a definite liberal/progressive bias for chopping our State up into revised districts that would water down our ability to elect representatives who subscribe to our conservative, Constitutional, less government, free-market, secure borders principles and positions.
IMPORTANT DATE: This same commission will be holding a public-input hearing in our area:
This Thursday, July 28th, 6 p.m.
Board of Supervisors Hearing Room (1st Floor)
1015 Fair St. in Prescott
WE NEED OUR PEOPLE AT THIS MEETING: We need our people to show up and speak up!
Of course, the possibility exists that the claim in the tea party blast is correct. But ONLY if -- in the words of those testifying tonight -- that's what we'd get by restoring COMMON SENSE to the legislative and Congressional districts. Several people stated they want to see that none of the districts are so SAFE elected lawmakers continue to be indifferent to the majority of voters AFTER primary elections.
This may well be the most important issue Arizonans will face right up to the 2012 elections.
Our Federal and State voting districts cannot afford to be fooled with by the radical change-mongers.
Be on board with your fellow patriots...Be aware and informed...and Be at the hearing this Thursday!
United We (must continue to) Stand...God Bless America! (emphasis mine)
Among the common themes tonight was to establish two rural/greater Arizona Congressional districts (outside of Maricopa and Pima Counties) and to ensure new legislative and Congressional districts do not split counties. Many expressed preference that competitiveness be HIGH on the list of priorities for drawing the new lines.
Several also mentioned "communities of interest." However, a number of those people described the concept noting it is NOT at direct odds with competitiveness. This is significant because AIRC Commissioner Rick Stertz has, in numerous public meetings, on the record, posed that these things are either/or as opposed to and/both. In other words, he has suggested that competitiveness can only be had at the expense of communities of interest. Several people disagreed with that notion.
Pursuant to a public records request I filed with the AIRC, I obtained a letter that UNfair Trust attorney David Cantelme submitted on July 18 to "emphasize and amplify several points" he made during his testimony at the July 8 meeting of the Commission. However, I believe Cantelme's five page letter was intended to blur and obscure his underlying motives and message. Citing the Arizona Constitution and case law, Cantelme, on the surface set forth the only valid definition of competitiveness he believes the AIRC must use when drawing the new lines.
Cantelme also says,
A certain conventional wisdom has developed that your predecessor commission failed to develop an adequate number of competitive districts after application of the state constitutional criteria. As is common with conventional wisdom, the facts prove it to be in error, belied by actual election results.After listing the number of Democrats and Republicans elected in Arizona races for the U.S. House of Representatives, Cantelme offers:
I venture to say that few if any other states can match this record for competitiveness in the last three general elections.Translated into English, the underlying meaning to this claim is that "I want you to believe my claim without me even offering to provide any evidence to back it up." THIS is the ESSENCE of Cantelme's message. Provide a dramatically verbose recitation of case law to DISTRACT and DECEIVE.
Cantelme's UNfair Trust manifesto further says:
Since 2002, I have argued that, to proceed fairly, evenly, and transparently, the Commission must define communities of interest and competitiveness and apply the adopted definitions equally around the state. It will undercut the public's confidence in the Commission if it adopts an I-know-it-when-I-see-it-approach, in lieu of definitions evenly applied statewide.Does ANYONE in their right mind believe that Cantelme represents the broad view of the public? He has declared with boldness and impunity that he represents a group he claims is a "Fair Trust" but STEADFASTLY REFUSES to disclose who is paying him to write that bulls*it.
If the AIRC follows Cantelme's advice -- and I'd bet dollars to donuts that Rick Stertz and Scott Freeman will try to get the Commission to do just that -- the ONLY thing it will accomplish is to buttonhole the Commission and give Cantelme something tangible to use in developing the inevitable lawsuit challenging the end result (maps) of this entire process.
On the issue of the Voting Rights Act, Cantelme cites several court cases before getting to the essence of his scheme.
We further urge the Commission to determine in open hearing what level of voting-age population it will require in minority districts to ensure the rights of minorities to elect candidates of their choice.-- snip --
...to anyone who suggests that coalition or influence districts can be created for the sake of drawing more competitive districts, we respond that doing so violates voting rights and must be rejected. This is not what Arizona wanted when its voters passed Proposition 106. The voting rights of our minority citizens are sacred and cannot be sacrificed for other ends. (emphasis mine)This, dear reader, is the ESSENCE of what Andy Tobin (reportedly one of the key drivers of UNfair Trust) is up to. FEIGNING concern for the voting rights of minorities only to use them as justification to continue the GOP dominance of the Arizona legislature that they have ENJOYED over the last 10 years. Before Prop 106, it was SO much easier to manipulate the redistricting process. However, now they have to get resourceful and play word games trying to pull the wool over the eyes of five commissioners and the Arizona public.
But if YOU, concerned Arizona citizens, take a stand, they will not succeed in continuing to disenfranchise so many of us. Go to a Public Outreach Hearing and tell the Commission you see through the schemes of the UNfair Trust.
According to Flagstaff resident Matthew Capalby, representing a bi-partisan coalition rural/greater Arizona interests called Greater Arizona Success (Matt attended the Prescott, Casa Grande and Bullhead City hearings this week),
by a two to one margin the more moderate area of the Verde Valley asked to be split away from Yavapai County both legislatively and congressionally. That is a huge issue in the heavily dominated Republican area of Prescott and the rest of Yavapai. It appears that Tobin, Pierce and the Republicans are losing their iron grip on Yavapai County.I should also mention that NOT ONE member of the LD1 delegation (which is includes Prescott, Yavapai County and other areas surrounding Yavapai) to the Arizona Legislature showed up last night to address the Commission. In contrast, LD3 state Sen. Ron Gould and Rep. Nancy McLain addressed the AIRC in Bullhead City.
Further, the next hearing takes place at noon today (1pm Window Rock time).