Thursday, August 11, 2011
Redistricting -- reflections on Tucson hearing; next meeting
Over the last few days, it has become increasingly apparent that the outrage over perceived missteps by the Commission is nothing more than astroturfing, most likely originating in the devious mind of Nathan Sproul. And Sproul has gotten quite the cast of characters to play along.
Self-described political organizer Lynne St. Angelo has been at nearly every meeting of the AIRC since sometime in late March or early April. She was one of, if not THE, first to publicly attempt to undermine the Commission. St. Angelo hails from LD26 which has been Ground Zero for complaints about AIRC Chair Colleen Coyle Mathis (because her husband performed campaign related services for LD26 Democrat Nancy Young Wright in 2010).
LD26 is also currently home to the community of Saddlebrook Ranch which is in Pinal County. However, it is right on the border with Pima County and lots of tea partiers from Saddlebrook apparently like being represented in the Arizona House of Representatives by St. Angelo's puppet, Terri Proud, a truely mindless reactionary.
The LD26 attack on the Commission has been two-fold. First, people have stated in public testimony that the Commission plans to put Saddlebrook Ranch in a legislative district with Maricopa County. Of course, it does not matter to them that NO plans have been announced, or even discussed, by the AIRC for where ANY district lines will be, even on initially proposed (Draft) maps.
There has also been more people say they are from Saddlebrook Ranch in prefacing their public comments before the commission than from any other place in Arizona. And they have done so at business meetings as well as in several of the Public Outreach Hearings throughout the state. Aside from slamming the Commission about those fictitious plans, they have consistently indicated that as a Community of Interest, they want to be kept with Pima County and Northwest Tucson in what ever LD26 ends up being for the next ten years. And for that, I find no fault. They have every right to tell the Commission what they'd like the new districts to look like.
Just last night, I listened to the first hour of the Tucson hearing held on Saturday. Several state lawmakers addressed the AIRC at the beginning of the public testimony. Sen. Al Melvin, from LD26, repeated the "communities of interest" mantra for keeping his district intact (with Saddlebrook Ranch); Proud Terri (keeps on rolling) continued her not so funny comedy tour, attempting to slam Mathis and Commissioner Herrera; and Sen. Paula Aboud (D-LD28) said that freshmen lawmakers likely do not have much perspective on the redistricting process.
Aboud, who represents a district that is heavily Democratic, said she believed voters in LD28 would be better served in election campaigns with a closer balance of Democrats and Republicans. It would be difficult to credibly suggest that any politician's motives are altruistic, and I do not see that in Aboud's intent. But I do see someone who is thoughtful and confident enough in her own skills and abilities to suggest that her voters would benefit from more vigorous debate. And that would naturally result from having Republican candidates willing to run against Democrats in LD28. That's a much more noble position than Proud Terri projected immediately before her.
Due to difficulty arranging to get all five commissioners scheduled for the same time next Monday, the next business meeting of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is now scheduled instead for Wednesday, August 17 in the Phoenix City Council Chambers.
Obviously, until formal notice is issued 48 hour prior to the meeting, it is subject to change. The address for Phoenix City Hall (and the Council Chambers) is 200 W Jefferson Street, Phoenix. Start time is yet to be determined.
Likely agenda items include remarks by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (in person) and submission of the Grid Maps by Strategic Telemetry for approval and adoption by the AIRC. Note, Grid Maps are only the STARTING place for redistricting, they do not represent what anyone's district is expected to look like when the process is finished.