Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Friday, July 22, 2011

Redistricting -- Public hearings

Last evening, at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission held its first Public Outreach Hearing, with more than a hundred and twenty (one person counted more than 220, excluding staff and commissioners) people in attendance.  Because of concerns raised by Tea Party chatter, including an action alert email sent out on Tuesday, several uniformed and plain-clothes Phoenix police officers and detectives were on hand.

Likely because of the police presence, the crowd was nowhere near as unruly as it was at the June 30th meeting in Tucson.

Despite the fear-mongering and attempts to organize an effort to "scare the heck out of them!" (the leftists), I saw only ONE person wearing anything with Tea Party yellow and having any Tea Party images -- during the meeting.  Apparently, there were a few people just outside the Student Union bldg with signs before hand, but they were set aside, not being waved with any enthusiasm.

AIRC Commissioner Jose Herrera did a fine job chairing the meeting.  For the most part, there was balance in alternating viewpoints by members of the public.

Two state senators presented their testimony first. Sen. Leah Landrum-Taylor (D-LD16) went first because the hearing was held in the district she represents.  She presented a map on behalf of the Minority Coalition. Several other members of the public expressed support for her plan, including Phoenix City Councilman Michael Johnson, former Phoenix Councilman Calvin Goode and community activist Rosie Lopez.

One of Landrum-Taylor's seat mates, Rep. Ruben Gallego (also D-LD16), apparently either watching the online video or my live tweets from the hearing, told me that there is not universal support among the minority community in South Phoenix for her proposal.  Gallego told me Landrum-Taylor's plan is part of an effort by current state Rep. Richard Miranda (D-LD13) to get back into the state senate.  Miranda "wants to be separated from [state Sen. Steve] Gallardo (D-LD13) who is further north." I suggested Gallego present the alternative plan at the next Phoenix area AIRC hearing (see below).

Next up, state Sen. John McComish (R-LD20) -- of whom I have mixed feelings (on Clean Elections he's a villain, on other issues, he presents as much more reasonable, thoughtful and intelligent than some of his notorious Republican senate collegues) -- was respectful and made a simple, perhaps even reasonable case for Ahwatukee as a "community of interest." Citing that LD20 elected a Democratic lawmaker (to the Arizona House of Reps) in 2008, he hoped that could be "at least part of" the definition of competitiveness for his community.  Later, long-time Ahwatukee Democratic activist Mike Williams noted that in the 20 years he has lived in what is now LD20, only one term of one Democrat does not constitute a legitimately competitive district.

The meeting continued until 8:50 pm, with the recording posted today.  I'm not sure whether it's my computer or the recording, but I could not get it to play past the 28 minute mark.

Numerous people, citing the need for Arizona lawmakers to be much more accountable to the voters they represent, made the case for competitive districts.  Most of the Tea Partiers who spoke simply regurgitated lame talking points from the action alert.  Those arguments were dramatic in their lack of sound reasoning or compelling logic.  Their common theme -- now very familiar to Arizona Eagletarian readers -- AIRC chair Colleen Mathis is "corrupt" and the contract with Strategic Telemetry should be cancelled.

This is a pic from the hearing last night.  I'm the goofball with the reading glasses looking at the camera.  To my left is Stu Robinson, newly hired AIRC Public Information Officer. At the far right, looking down at his notes, Lorenzo Sierra.  Taxpayer funded GOP operative John Mills is in the red shirt on the far left side of the pic.  Before the meeting started, Sen. McComish took issue with my point out these facts about Mills.  McComish suggested Mills was "off-the-clock."  Of course, McComish was only speaking wishfully, since he is NOT the person who signs Mills' time sheets (and does not even work in the same chamber of the legislature). 

Phoenix New Times reporter and blogger Stephen Lemons' write up on last night's hearing is worth a read.

Mark B. Evans, editor of posted a poignant commentary yesterday that every Arizonan interested in this redistricting process should read and heed.    

At 6 pm tonight, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission convenes in Nogales, AZ for the next Public Outreach Hearing.  Tomorrow, the Commission convenes at 1 pm in Yuma at Arizona Western College with remote access video conferencing at AWC facilities San Luis and Parker, AZ. 

On Monday, July 25, the next Phoenix area Public Outreach Hearing convenes at 6 pm in the Palo Verde I Building B, Mesa Convention Center, 325 N Center St., Mesa 85211.

Be there or be square!

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