Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Redistricting -- every day this week

At noon on Monday, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission meets in Casa Grande to continue deliberation on Congressional and legislative maps.

Last Friday, the commission met for roughly two hours, listened to a "coalition" presentation by state Rep. Richard Miranda, took public testimony, briefly discussed that the mapping consultant had not been able to work up any new "what if" maps after Thursday's meeting, and decided to adjourn early. The idea was to allow each of the five commissioners the time to work in Maptitude on their own. I provided a link to Arizona citizen public access to Maptitude which is similar but not configured exactly the same as what the commissioners use.

The most notable part of the day, in my view, is that Miranda claimed the commission needs to ensure a 70 percent HVAP (Hispanic voting age population) for compliance with the Voting Rights Act for central and west Phoenix legislative districts. His justification was a traditionally low voter turnout in those districts.  He's right about the low turnout, but he completely missed the mark on cause and effect. In other words, he doesn't realize which came first, the chicken or the egg.  A major factor in the low turnout is the fact that voters in those districts do not feel like their vote matters. If the election races were closer, it's very possible community leaders would find it easier to motivate people to vote.

Miranda also claimed to be representing a coalition. He dropped a long list of names of elected officials and community leaders. Miranda also claimed there had been extensive community outreach to support the maps that he presented. But not one person accompanied him to support his presentation and his claims. NOT ONE. By the way, Miranda also talked about where lawmakers and prospective candidates live.  AIRC legal counsel Mary O'Grady had to interrupt to remind him and the commissioners that they must disregard any such information.

To me, the significance of that scenario is in that throughout the summer, lawmakers and community leaders have told me, off the record, that they do not have a great deal of respect for Richard Miranda. To get any more specific, I would have to have people willing to go on record. However, that not one person showed up to support him provided a stark underpinning of skepticism to his claims. So much so that even Rick Stertz, after Miranda's presentation, asked questions to try to get an idea of what outreach efforts had been made. Miranda indicated there was no website for people (in the community) to go for information about his coalition and their proposals.

Then there was UNFair Trust mouthpiece David Cantelme. He praised Miranda's outreach efforts, even though Miranda presented NOT ONE bit of evidence to support his claims of extensive outreach. How shallow can Cantelme continue to be?  How stupid does he really think the commissioners and the people of Arizona are, to take anything he says before the commission at face value?

On Thursday, DJ Quinlan and Luis Heredia, both of whom work for the Arizona Democratic Party, testified before the commission. One point they both made is that several people who recently addressed the panel, claiming only to be representing themselves, actually have long-standing ties to state and national GOP groups. They apparently struck a nerve. On Friday morning, Lee Miller, general counsel for the Arizona Republican Party attended, testifying that nobody has been speaking, up to that point, on behalf of the AZ GOP.

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On Thursday, a crew from Tucson's KUAT, Channel 6, Arizona Public Media, came to the meeting at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel.  They interviewed Commissioner Scott Freeman as well as legal counsel O'Grady and Ex. Dir. Bladine.  They all did great.  It's worth your time to watch the clips online if you haven't already seen the show, which aired on Friday night in Tucson.

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On Tuesday, the commission meets at 9am in Tucson. If you're planning to drive down from Phoenix that day, plan for heavy morning drive traffic in Tucson, from the I-10 over to Alvernon, unless someone in Tucson can give you tips on how to get around the traffic.

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