In Sierra Vista, 50 Arizonans took the opportunity to tell the AIRC what was on their minds. Again, most of them had comments directly on point, providing the AIRC with the necessary input. This time, however, the tea partiers had a slightly different script than at the previous hearings. One woman, Iris Lynch, limited her comments to blaming Thursday's dramatic drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on competitive districts. Lynch apparently is a Jesse Kelly fan.
The handful of other tea partiers clamped down on Christian Palmer's attempt at prophecy claiming the speculative story as historical fact, hoping that AG Tom Horne would become the savior in their passion play. The analogy is not misplaced. In his closing comments, Republican AIRC Commissioner Rick Stertz made a point to reflect on how Doug Martin, owner of Christian radio stations in Tucson had asked him to apply for a seat on the Commission.
That point may also be significant because Martin provides Stertz with a bully pulpit. Stertz is listed as host, along with Jesse Kelly, of Spotlight Arizona at 10am on Saturday mornings. No doubt Stertz shines with his charming persona in that time slot. But to my knowledge, no one has shined a light on his broadcast activity to see whether there are any conflicts of interest with his AIRC responsibilities.
By the way, he also made a point, likely in response to tea partiers who attacked Herrera at the hearing, referring to and partially reciting Justice Louis Brandeis' famous quote,
"Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman."Of course, Stertz has NOT made any attempts to shine the disinfectant spotlight on David Cantelme, Mike Liburdi or their masters at UNfair Trust. It would seem reasonable for a man (Stertz) who has emphasized that concept several times publicly to be willing to set the example himself by fully disclosing the extent of his ties to Kelly and Martin and making recordings -- of all of his radio shows since becoming a Commissioner -- available for public scrutiny.
Should he not also, if his claims about sunshine are sincere, demand the same of UNfair Trust (Andy Tobin and the others) and the Cantelme/Liburdi (dog and pony) show. Unless, of course, Stertz only wants to use the spotlight as a weapon against his fellow Commissioners and the mapping consultant. I'd prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt. For now.
Responding to those in the audience who had pooh-poohed the concept of competitive districts, Stertz went on to mischaracterize a 2009 Arizona Supreme Court ruling as having simply restated the exact language of Prop 106, listing competitiveness last.
Previously, Stertz has made a point of saying that competitiveness is the only listed criteria that has a "contraction" in it. I'm pretty sure he didn't mean a shortening of two words using an apostrophe. No, he has emphatically suggested on numerous occasions that competitiveness is subordinate in priority to all of the other criteria.
If public testimony is to carry any significance in the process, one thing it will accomplish is to demonstrate -- for litigation purposes -- that the people of Arizona are sick and tired of the lopsided domination of the GOP in lawmaking in OUR state. Because the message of the people has been LOUD and dramatically clear, perhaps it already has accomplished that goal.
Since AIRC vice-chair Herrera facilitated the hearing, he gave his comments last. As he has, also on several occasions, he this time made clear his belief that the people of Arizona want as many competitive districts drawn as possible without SIGNIFICANT detriment to the other criteria. He made a distinction between significant and insignificant detriment.
So, my prophecy -- since I do not pretend to be writing a news story -- is that on substantive decisions to be made by this Commission, there will NOT be ANY unanimous 5-0 votes. Today's verbal crossing of swords between Herrera and Stertz was similar to posturing between the two during yesterday's AIRC business meeting, and foreshadows many debates to come.