Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Redistricting -- fiasco in the pines UPDATED

Last night, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission held a hearing in Arizona's high country town of Payson. Streaming video was not available but the recording has already been posted to the website.

The mood of the audience was apparent from the start as, immediately after the translator declaring (in Spanish) he would be available to provide assistance to anyone needing it, someone in the audience blurted out that they wanted to know what he had said.

The Payson Roundup published for free, a call to the tea party the day before the hearing:

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is holding public hearings for the express purpose of allowing citizens to tell the commission how they would like the new legislative and congressional districts to be drawn.
It is very important that we pay attention to the redistricting these final two weeks. The loudest voices will prevail and the “loudest” voices so far are the Democrats who are traveling all over the state to give their input. If we do not act, we will have six Native American tribes having minority majority status and all our natural resources will be controlled by the tribes and feds.
Our way of life will be negatively impacted if “they” win as our legislative district will be cut into three districts.
We also lose any hope of getting the Resolution Mine up and running while finding that we have a Native American environmental candidate supported by Raul Grajalva (remember he got kicked off the Natural Resources Committee in Congress?).
We must rally. There will be a redistricting meeting at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 12 at the Best Western Payson Inn.
In the meantime, you can fill out their questionnaire at www.azredistricting.org.
If you have questions about the questionnaire or redistricting, you can contact the Payson Tea Party and/or the Republican Club.
Judy Oconnell

By all accounts, the Payson Roundup and Ms. O'Connell accomplished their goal.

In contrast, the Arizona Daily Sun, ran an editorial yesterday calling for citizens to take the high road in tonight's hearing at the Flagstaff City Council Chambers.

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.
Criticism indeed. Led most rambunctiously by largely uninformed tea partiers whose expertise consists largely of spewing narcissistic vitriol. Sadly, normally thoughtful people seem to be jumping on a bandwagon being driven most recently by Wes Harris. Arizona Republic columnists E.J. Montini (last night) and Laurie Roberts (last week) have both expressed disapproval of the AIRC without any credible thought supporting their claims.

Constructive criticism is certainly warranted, as the current draft maps provide FAR to little competitiveness. But I have to figure the best way to get your point across is to speak in a way that will get the commissioners to listen. If I were in their shoes, given my personality, I seriously doubt I would be interested in the ramblings of belligerent people who lack the ability to make a cogent argument.

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Yesterday, Roll Call published a story on Arizona Republican Congressman Trent Franks saying the "Department of Justice has overstepped its bounds collaborating with Arizona mapmaking officials. The proposed Congressional map favors Democrats." Of course, anyone claiming the Congressional Draft map favors Democrats either has not been following very closely or believes the GOP propaganda or both.
Franks refused to provide details when pressed for more information about his concerns, saying, "I'm not sure I can tell you any more than that." But he criticized the proposed changes to the map as the "worst-case scenario" for the GOP.
Really? Four safe seats for Republicans (44 percent of Arizona's seats in Congress guaranteed when they have barely 35 percent of the registered voters) is a worst case scenario? Is it possible Franks is only repeating talking points that have been given to him by, oh, say, the UNfair Trust?

To me, it looks more like a worst case scenario for Democrats.

When I call Franks' DC office, communications director Ben Carnes suggested that the matter was campaign related. However, since Franks is chair of the House Judiciary subcommittee on civil rights, and DOJ involvement in Arizona's redistricting is limited to scrutinizing proposed maps for compliance with the the federal Voting Rights Act, and the map does not make anything more difficult for Franks in the future, that claim seems specious at best. The bottom line at the moment is that Carnes declined to speak about the issue and told me to send my request to him by email. Thus far, the Congressman has not gotten back to me. If he does, I will update this post accordingly.

AIRC staff told me that Chairwoman Mathis had been in DC last month on personal business when she met with Bruce Adelson (consultant to the AIRC on DOJ matters). Apparently, Adelson thought it would be a good idea to meet with DOJ officials to give them a heads up on a data issue that came up early on. There were issues related to voting precincts not matching census tracks, or something like that. Some kind of cross reference had to be accomplished in order for the data to be comparable.

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From Prescott E-news:
The Yavapai TEA Party is scheduled to host a Town Hall meeting on redistricting at 6:30 tonight.  Representatives note the purpose of this meeting is to update citizens on the proposed redistricting as it impacts Yavapai County and to instruct them what must be done personally to take part in the battle to prevent rural representation from being eroded away.  Among the guest speakers is former Prescott Valley Town Councilman Mike Flannery, who has recently made presentations on redistricting to the Prescott Valley and Dewey-Humboldt Town Councils.  On Monday, the State Independent Redistricting Commission approved a draft Legislative District map, which has most of Yavapai County in District 14 with such Maricopa County communities as Surprise, Wickenburg and Glendale.  

In the meantime, tonight's hearing in Flagstaff should be streamed live here at 6pm. Last night's (10-12-11) Payson event can be viewed here anytime. Since the hearing is in the Flagstaff City Council chambers, streaming should work. STREAMING VIDEO AVAILABLE ON Flagstaff's website HERE.

Tomorrow afternoon, the AIRC holds a hearing in Window Rock. Today, they sent a note out saying they will not have the capacity for streaming video at the Window Rock event. It's also likely hearings in rural northern and eastern Arizona over the weekend will not have streaming available.


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