Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Redistricting -- disturbing developments UPDATED

The most recent disturbing development with the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is that during today's meeting in Tucson, the streaming video has not been working most of the time today. But yesterday, Mathis proposed a Congressional map she called the "Everything Bagel" around which she hopes to get her fellow commissioners to coalesce.

This new map features two exclusively rural Congressional districts (completely without reaching at all into Pima or Maricopa Counties), three districts along the border with Mexico, and four yet to be determined districts in the Phoenix area. Mathis specified that she believed that would allow for ONE (and only one) competitive Congressional district in the Phoenix area.

From the deliberation during yesterday's meeting, it's clear and obvious that McNulty and Herrera find Mathis' proposal highly problematic. And as has been pointed out previously, the only way to draw three CDs along the Mexican border is to extend those districts far to the north (in order to include enough people to comply with equal population requirements). This dramatically dilutes the voice of voters actually living near the border (including ranchers).  In order to connect with enough voters to get elected (and re-elected) Congressional candidates and representatives would have to reach more voters farther away from the border.

Throughout the summer, Rick Stertz and GOP activists have been calling for this configuration. Throughout the summer, tea party and GOP activists have been verbally attacking Mathis, passionately making false accusations, even if they are not always coherent. So, when the "Everything Bagel" proposal emerged yesterday, it was immediately apparent that this could be an effort to lift the release valve on the pressure cooker.

Consistently, I have been supportive of Mathis' efforts as AIRC chair, even if sometimes surprised (like I was when she advocated for contracting with Strategic Telemetry).

But I cannot and will not support her effort to flip the release valve on the pressure cooker by selling out the entire concept of competitive districts. And that is what I understand the "Everything Bagel" will do. Ever since she voted with Herrera and McNulty to hire Joe Kanefield instead of Lisa Hauser to serve as Republican legal counsel, it has been blatantly apparent that Mathis' single vote would decide any contentious, partisan issue.

Political concession by Mathis today will have long-term ramifications likely to play out in an increasing number of scenarios with marked by extreme partisanship. Need I recite the number of times Arizona has been the focus of national news for divisive politics lately?

How much effort has it taken just to try to push back extremism that has caused such bitter division among neighbors in communities throughout Arizona? One need look no farther than LD18 in Mesa.

It is truly time to Rise UP! Let the AIRC know you demand the fair and competitive districts voters mandated in passing Prop 106 in 2000.

PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF ARIZONA; AMENDING ARTICLE IV, PART 2, SECTION 1, CONSTITUTION OF ARIZONA; RELATING TO ENDING THE PRACTICE OF GERRYMANDERING AND IMPROVING VOTER AND CANDIDATE PARTICIPATION IN ELECTIONS BY CREATING AN INDEPENDENT COMMISSION OF BALANCED APPOINTMENTS TO OVERSEE THE MAPPING OF FAIR AND COMPETITIVE CONGRESSIONAL AND LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS.
For Ms. Mathis to capitulate to GOP and tea party demands could undermine the entire process.

Because the streaming video has not been working today, I only found out during the AIRC lunch break that they voted 5-0 to adopt Mathis' "Everything Bagel" map as the working map, after 2-3 votes on two other CD map versions.  In those votes, Mathis sided with Stertz and Freeman.

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Agendas have been posted for AIRC meetings the next three days (Sept. 28, 29 and 30), each of which will be at the Fiesta Resort and Conference Center in Tempe with scheduled start times of 9am.

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This morning, the AIRC filed suit in Maricopa County Superior Court seeking Injunctive and Special Action Relief.

After declaring the purpose for the lawsuit, namely,
This action seeks a judicial declaration as to whether the IRC is truly independent, free from interference by politics and politicians, except as specifically provided in the [Arizona] Constitution. 
Page 19 of the lawsuit pdf file lists the relief the AIRC seeks from the court. Basically, the commission wants Horne to back off.

We'll see where all of this leads. Stay tuned.

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UPDATE:

The AIRC meeting for Wednesday (tomorrow) September 28 has been CANCELLED.

I'm hoping to be able to listen to today's hearing tomorrow, and hopefully will get more of an idea of what's been going on today.  But I did see Lynne St. Angelo criticize the everything bagel map. It's intriguing, if nothing else, to see her on the same page as others who have reasonable perspectives.

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Also on Monday, when Gila County Supervisor Tommie Martin testified before the AIRC, she specifically named GOP taxpayer funded political operative John Mills as the source of her information. Mills knew he was busted and was overheard telling Ms. Martin during the next break/recess to tell people he only provided information to her when he was on his own time. That is, as opposed to when he's on the clock as a Republican legislative/political operative. I wonder why Tom Horne hasn't investigated Mills' time sheets over the last decade.

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