Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Friday, October 14, 2011

Redistricting -- favorable economic climate?

If the civic engagement and political involvement are any kind of reflection of how desirable it is for businesses to either relocate to a community, or for successful start ups, Flagstaff this week outshined Payson by a factor of thousands.

During Public Outreach Hearings this week, both locales featured a number of vocal citizens presenting a wide range of opinions. The audience, however, in the two hearings could not have been more different than night and day. In both, citizens were candid in expressing their opinions. In both, citizens freely expressed concerns with the current draft maps presented by the AIRC. But in Flagstaff, the commission was addressed with respect, even by those who felt compelled to emphatically disagree with what they saw on the maps.

In Flagstaff, dissent was presented with assertive civility. Not so in Payson.

The crowd (mob) at the Payson hearing was rude and unruly. In Flagstaff, on the other hand, audience expression was limited to clapping at the end of each person's comments. From the video, it was not clear whether the same people applauded disagreeing comments. Nevertheless, the contrast between the two events was stark.

In Flagstaff, one person testifying about a community of interest engaged the audience by turning and asking for those similarly impacted by the Schultz fire to stand up. She was surprised there were so many. Her innovative method of demonstrating that she represented many people dramatically increased the credibility of her comments.

The most obvious emphasis in Flagstaff was demand for more competitiveness than is evident in the draft maps. A notable disagreement however, arose over whether to include Flagstaff in the eastern or western rural Congressional district. Flagstaff 40 members generally approve of the arrangement (as it stands on the draft map) to include Flagstaff in the eastern district. Joy Stavely, a small business owner, made a point to say not all Flagstaff and surrounding area businesses agree.

By the way, if Payson's civic leaders do not want to be branded by the incivil tea partiers that disgraced them on Wednesday evening, perhaps they need to be vocal as LEADERS. Consider, compare and contrast the voices in the respective newspapers. In the Payson Roundup, Judy O'Connell implored her community with an "us versus them" mentality that claimed the loudest voices will win.

The editor of the Arizona Daily Sun, on the other hand, said:
Whatever local testimony comes forth Thursday, it had better make a lasting impression on the commissioners -- and, it is hoped, a favorable one.
We suggest that Flagstaff leaders take the high road in front of the commission and accept the fact that two rural districts in Arizona that each attempt to cobble together 700,000 residents are not going to be compact and aren't going to be able to respect every county or city boundary. Like the new state legislative District 6, the new eastern congressional district gives the Flagstaff region nearly everything it asked for. The commissioners will hear enough criticism at the other 25 hearings. Let's give them credit for a creative and credible approach to rural congressional representation and urge them to stick to their guns throughout what is sure to be a month of criticism that we don't think they deserve.
Agree or disagree with the specifics of what anyone wants the AIRC to do with district lines, the editor of the Daily Sun both presented his community in a much better light AND gave his readers something to live up to.

After the last person testified Thursday evening, City of Flagstaff staffer Daryl Melvin -- on behalf of AIRC executive director Ray Bladine, presented Mayor Sara Presler a poster sized picture of Commissioner Herrera's head. Bladine had the poster made to commemorate the mix up during the first round hearings in which none of the commissioners appeared in person (but AIRC staff was able to connect Herrera by Skype) at the Flagstaff event.

Presler appreciated the gesture, held up the poster for the audience to see and said she would put it on her office wall at city hall. The only problem was she didn't hold it up for the camera to broadcast the image online. So, Mayor Presler, please take a picture of the poster after you hang it in your office. I'd love to post the pic to this blog.


This afternoon, the AIRC conducted a hearing in Window Rock. Live video was not available and may not be available for the upcoming meetings in Eager, Springerville or Pinetop. When recordings are posted, I'll take a look and see what interesting things come up.


  1. Nice comparison between the Flagstaff and Payson hearings. I watched most of the Payson hearing, but couldn't get Flagstaff to work. There are lots more to watch.

  2. They couldn't stream the Payson meeting live and got the recording posted the next day. However, the Flagstaff recording has not been posted yet. I was able to watch that one live. :)