Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Redistricting -- nitty gritty time

Last Friday, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission met in Tempe for more deliberative action getting to the nitty gritty of what to do about Congressional and legislative district maps. As I've noted before, until anything concrete comes out of those deliberations, it will be difficult to tell you how the political climate may change or what any of it will mean to you as individual voters.

That does not mean there is nothing to report. Sparks flew on Friday between two commissioners and attorney David Cantelme, who has spoken frequently -- on the record -- to the AIRC on behalf of the clandestine lobbying group (UN)Fair Trust.

The Yellow Sheet Report reported on it last Friday, saying Cantelme took fire from AIRC Dems on Friday because he has never been willing to disclose who his client, (UN)Fair Trust consists of.  The Yellow Sheet reported that Herrera interrupted Cantelme to object to the fact that Cantelme has never publicly disclosed to the commission exactly who he represents. According to YS, the group includes some of the AZ GOP Congressional delegation and Republican legislative leaders (YS, 6/24).

Cantelme told Herrera, “We’re not going to play this game. We’re not lobbying anyone. This has been settled by the Secretary of State’s office.” (In response to a complaint filed last month against FAIR Trust by Tucson Libertarian activist Jim March, the SoS concluded that state lobbying disclosure laws only pertain to the Legislature.)

Of course, Cantelme’s parsing words when he does that. Nobody in their right mind thinks Cantelme’s doing anything OTHER THAN lobbying the commission when he speaks on the record at AIRC meetings.

McNulty told Cantelme that other people who address the commission do so to represent “real people with real concerns,” and that she views his testimony and advice with skepticism because he won’t disclose his backers. Cantelme responded that he has no hidden agenda.

McNulty wasn’t fooled. Since Cantelme could be “picking and choosing arguments to advance the interests of whoever you represent. The weight of your testimony is very thin because of that.” McNulty also told him that she has listened patiently to all of his comments, and that “the time has come [to address] some of the elephants in the room.”

Cantelme later put on a show, calling for civility. Herrera replied, “Tell me who you are and who you represent, that’s all.” That's the same Cantelme who was far less than civil when he couldn't get me to take his bait at the Public Outreach Hearing in Mesa

However, there's more to the story. Early on in the meeting, Herrera asked Flagstaff lawyer Brandon Kavanagh, a member of Flagstaff 40, to describe the group and its membership. Kavanagh said they cross all political affiliations; are a group of committed business leaders; and want to promote what makes Arizona good, because that will make Flagstaff good. He said his group is concerned about a report showing that Arizona is 49th in the US in economic outlook.  He believes the AIRC redistricting work can impact the state's ability to attract entrepreneurs. As a registered Independent, Kavanagh appreciates the idea of competitive districts.

Herrera thanked Kavanagh for his candor in describing the Flagstaff 40. When Cantelme's turn came to address the commission, Herrera used the Kavanagh's testimony to segue into asking the UNFair Trust mouthpiece to tell them about the group he represents. Ever the consistent one, Cantelme wouldn't tell them. When pressed, he said that weight should be given to his testimony because his points are always logical and intellectually honest. The operative expression there being "he said." Also, despite his protestations, Cantelme's purpose for appearing and speaking to the AIRC clearly is and has been to lobby.

This day he claimed one of his allegedly "logical and intellectually honest" points was that you cannot have competitive districts and still protect minorities pursuant to the Voting Rights Act.  Needless to say, I later took the opportunity to thank Herrera and McNulty on the record and point out that there is already documentation available demonstrating that the two things are not mutually exclusive.

By the way, Cantelme also recently collaborated with AIRC Republican legal counsel Joe Kanefield for an article in Arizona Attorney magazine. Cantelme and Kanefield chat informally also before meetings and during recesses. Cantelme also regularly confers with John Mills, who has been the chief political operative for Arizona House (GOP) Speaker Andy Tobin (and Tobin's predecessors) for more than a decade.



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The AIRC meets next on Thursday at 9am at the Wild Horse Pass Resort.
Tentatively, the commission will also meet:

  • Friday, also at Wild Horse Pass at 9am
  • Monday (9/26) in Casa Grande at noon
  • Tuesday (9/27) in Tucson 9am
  • Wednesday (9/28) in Casa Grande 9am
  • Thursday (9/29) in Casa Grande 9am
  • Friday (9/30) in Casa Grande 9am
Of course, times and locations for tentatively scheduled meetings are subject to change.

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Tonight, at 7pm MST, AIRC mapping consultant Strategic Telemetry will conduct a webinar (online) for people wanting to contribute suggestions on where to draw lines. The training event will cover how to use Maptitude software.  To register, go to the online mapping page on the AIRC website.

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