Mapping consultant Strategic Telemetry held one-on-one training sessions with the individual commissioners regarding the Maptitude software. This is a dramatic contrast between 2001 and the current AIRC. In 2001, only the mapping consultant (NDC) worked directly (hands-on) with Maptitude.
Since the five commissioners have been trained, they are now better equipped to give intelligent direction to ST. And given that deliberation and discussion is taking place in open session, those meetings should be delightful for GIS (geographic information systems) nerds. Everyone else, however, may find them tedious and boring. Well, almost everyone else. A good bit of the detail in those discussions will be difficult to retain, but I keep my eyes and ears open for the nuggets of political meaning.
Speaking of political nuggets, the next meeting of the AIRC is scheduled for Wednesday, August 31, 1:30pm at the Pharmacy Board Hearing Room (State Capitol Tower, 3rd floor). Agenda items of note include approval of minutes from a couple of previous meetings, a presentation and discussion on how Competitiveness and Compactness are measured, and discussion (and possible action) on contracting with an analyst/expert in racially polarized voting issues.
Now that the five commissioners have been trained on Maptitude and the AIRC has authorized a contract for that software to be made available for public input, I wondered when it would be rolled out. Ex. Dir. Bladine told me he understands it could be ready within two weeks. They will then figure out the best way to handle training for the public. The two week time frame still puts it ahead of publication of DRAFT maps and the second round of Public Outreach Hearings.
Attorney General Tom Horne's partisan witchhunt continues this week. On Saturday, Horne's predecessor Terry Goddard, along with former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson, had an op-ed run in the Arizona Republic (quoted in part).
Unfortunately, from the moment the current commission began its work, it has been under attack by a highly partisan coalition that is throwing roadblocks in its path.
At the moment, the bulk of complaints are directed at the commission's selection of attorneys and a mapping firm. Several Arizona politicians who didn't like those choices want to undo the contracts that were awarded.
Unfortunately, the attacks are not limited to accusations and outbursts at commission meetings. They also come from the highest levels of state government. Some legislators have threatened to remove the independent chair of the commission if she doesn't do exactly what they want.
And Attorney General Tom Horne recently announced an investigation of the commission - breaking a longstanding attorney general protocol of never discussing pending investigations before a lawsuit is filed or a grand jury has returned an indictment.
As a former Arizona attorney general and as former mayors, we both know how easily investigations can become politicized. The power of the Attorney General's Office must not be or appear to be subverted for partisan purposes.