Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Redistricting -- Tea Party doesn't care that it's a holiday weekend UPDATED

On Friday, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission met in a ballroom at the Fiesta Resort and Conference Center in Tempe. At the opening gavel, barely twenty members of the public were there.

Attorney Bob Lynch, on behalf of the Pinal County Governmental Alliance, presented proposed Congressional and legislative district maps. He was the only such presenter today.

During the meeting, commissioners discussed and deliberated on Congressional and legislative district maps and proposed adjustments to the grid maps for a couple of hours.  Strategic Telemetry showed what would be necessary to have three Congressional districts along the border with Mexico.  The primary ramification, from a mapping standpoint, would be to extend those districts as far north as Maricopa County.

Among the items discussed, Freeman and Stertz both indicated that they'd like to not have to split cities unless the cities are so large they have to be split.  No decisions, however, on where lines will be drawn for draft maps, were made today.  And likely will not be made in the next couple of meetings.

During a recess, Stertz was wound up and had lots to say.  He mentioned that he thinks today's meeting should be a "jeans and t-shirts" work session.  Citing his background as a trained architect, he described having a design charrette. Basically, it sounds like a brainstorming session to work out design solutions.

Legal counsel, on another agenda item, recommended contracting with Harvard Professor Gary King to consult on racially polarized voting issues.  Counsel was given authorization to contact Prof. King to try to negotiate with him but not to enter into a contract.

A notable future agenda item will be discussion of prison populations.  All five commissioners, in informal conversations, indicated interest in having counsel brief them on their legal options to handle the issue.

An agonizingly drawn out time was had discussing dates and times for meetings over the next three weeks or so.  Right now, besides today's meeting at 1:30pm (again at the Fiesta Resort and Conference Center in Tempe), they tentatively will meet:

  • Sept. 8 (Thurs) 2pm in Casa Grande
  • Sept. 9 (Friday) 3pm in Tucson
  • Sept. 12 (Monday) 9am in Casa Grande
  • Sept. 14 (Wednesday) 9am in Casa Grande
  • Sept. 15 (Thursday) 1pm with the Tribal Council, Heard Museum in Phoenix
They talked about other dates afterward, but let's see how these play out first. As always, until legal notice is issued by the commission, the dates, times and locations are subject to change.

During his executive director's report, Bladine had Kristina Gomez present each of the five commissioners a framed 8x10 photo of themselves with Justice O'Connor.  The photos were each a still capture from video taken at the meeting in the Phoenix City Council Chambers by Judy H. (aka Right-wing Housewife).  It was a nice gesture and I'm sure each of them appreciate it, though Judy was not at this meeting.

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They number only a handful, but they are nothing if not persistent.

Wes Harris, who has been to several AIRC meetings (and was the guy with whom Ann Heinz was disrupting Wednesday's meeting), was first to give testimony during the Call to the Public. He, and several who followed him, took turns citing fault after perceived fault with the commission.

Harris said he was a water commissioner and that if his commission meetings went like this one, it would drive him crazy.  I don't know which commission he claims to be on, because I could not find any such reference in a google search.  His Linked In profile, however, says he is founder and chairman at the Original North Phoenix Tea Party.

While Harris is obviously very active politically, he's apparently not universally respected in the tea party community. Certainly, comments (posted after news stories and blogs) on azcentral are likely to be suspect. Those posted to a blog by Republic reporter Lynh Bui about Jennifer Wright, a former tea party candidate for Phoenix mayor, raise significant questions.

In that blog, Bui writes:

     “I do not believe there is a divide within the tea party,” Wright said. “I think there is a divide between Mr. Harris and all of the other tea party groups in Phoenix.”
     The Original North Phoenix Tea Party formed by Harris is not part of the official Tea Party Patriots group, Wright said.
A comment after that blog post says Harris had "a conviction and jail time for aggravated assault involving a gun." If that comment is untrue, one would think Harris could rightfully demand editors at azcentral.com remove them. (and if he tells me it is untrue, I will update this blog post to reflect that fact).

A few other tea partiers, some familiar names and faces, also appeared and made just as tired and lame comments as usual, including Lynne St. Angelo.

One has to wonder if these people have some specific goal in mind that does not require them to make any sense.

When the meeting adjourned, the five commissioners each left with a big box of paper that included more than 1,500 public comments (submitted manually at meetings, as well as online or delivered to the AIRC office). 138 suggested district maps were included in that total.  The commissioners have their work cut out for them.  Homework, enough to keep them busy for many hours. 

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Just before the start of today's (Saturday) AIRC meeting, Wes Harris acknowledged to me that he was, in fact, convicted of aggravated assault with a gun.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tentative dates for future meetings. Betty and I will be attending some of them and will be trying to get other folks to join us.

    ReplyDelete