Republican Commissioner Rick Stertz cast the only Nay vote on the motion to approve. Over the last several days, the commission made tremendous progress, primarily guided by the bipartisan cooperation of Republican Scott Freeman and Democrat Linda McNulty. Several observers indicated to me that it's reasonable to infer that the progress would have been far less likely had Stertz attended the meetings in Tempe on Saturday and Sunday. While he asks probing, usually very good questions, he also adds a level of contentiousness to the discussion that has often played a significant role in extending the time it takes to work anything out.
On the other hand, I believe Stertz' contributions to the depth of the discussion and ultimately to the quality of the end result are also very important. Anyone who knows me knows I usually do not shy away from contentiousness. So, I say that with genuine appreciation for what he brings to the table. That is, when he's actually at the table. As noted in previous posts, there is evidence that Stertz has also done some things that can arguably be seen as efforts to undermine the work of the commission. And if the Arizona Democratic Party, in its public records request made to the Attorney General last week, uncovers anything tangible along those lines, I hope to be among the first to find out (and pass it along to you).
In the meantime, both the Congressional and legislative draft maps have been posted to the AIRC website, along with related data files.
As to the question of changes to the draft maps subsequent to the 30 day comment period, all five commissioners have indicated they will be open to making substantive changes. Those changes likely will be based on the public comment (significant patterns that emerge), as well as on analyses that will be made by consultants pursuant to the Voting Rights Act and competitiveness analysis. Today's discussion, even after the vote, showed unresolved issues among commissioners regarding which sets of data should be considered in the competitiveness calculations.
Nevertheless, the time has come for Arizona citizens to examine the draft maps and, as Freeman has said a few times, show them the error of their ways. He, of course, invoked the concept lightheartedly. Doing so, hopefully will help people to realize nobody (on or working for the commission) is trying to harm any voters in our state. So, tell the commission what you want changed, but do it cheerfully and assertively. Chances are very good, that if you and enough of your neighbors make the case, they will work to accommodate your concern.
Perhaps this is also a good place to mention that the AIRC, along with every staff member and consultant, emphatically works diligently to do the best possible job according to the mandate given by voters in 2000. There still are, however, people who continue to come before the commission to mischaracterize that mandate, for whatever reason. The fact remains the purpose, as stated at the beginning of Prop 106,
PROPOSITION 106(emphasis mine)
AN INITIATIVE MEASURE
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.
Oh, and when you go to one or more of the Public Outreach Hearings, remember, you can attract more flies with honey than with vinegar. Or, as Dog Whisperer Cesar Milan teaches for dog owners, use "calm, assertive energy."