Choose your idiom. Dog and pony show or kangaroo court, either one is an apt description of the second day hearing of the Joint Legislative Committee on Interfering with Independent Redistricting in Arizona.
A familiar cast of characters addressed the committee, this time in a House hearing room with Jim Weiers presiding. As I tweeted earlier, there were too many people between me and Sen. Biggshot, so even though I tried to mouth "olive juice" to him, he probably either did not notice or wisely ignored it.
Gila County Supervisor Tommie Martin (who graciously disclosed to the AIRC that she had been advised by GOP (taxpayer funded) political operative John Mills) and a host of others made outrageous statements about how the commission has irreversibly harmed them and their communities. Tucsonan Christine Bauserman relayed accusations people had made that Commissioner Jose Herrera is racist. And our old friend, tea party organizer Lynne St. Angelo read a resolution that she said had been adopted by the Pima County GOP. That resolution sounded like a verbatim copy of that read by nutjob A.J. LaFaro Friday on behalf of the LD17 GOP.
St. Angelo also repeated the long ago debunked claim that the AIRC was given $10 million to accomplish the redistricting this year. Appropriation documents and briefings from the finance officials from the Arizona Department of Administration have clearly shown that the appropriated amount was $3.5million. Nobody, not legislative staffers in attendance nor lawmakers themselves -- all of whom KNOW that St. Angelo dramatically overstated the actual appropriation amount -- corrected her.
Whether or not the ultimate outcome of this committee's "fact" finding was predetermined before the first hearing, it's clear that Tonya Norwood-Pearson nailed it when she told the members of the panel that they were acting with a mob like mentality.
Given the weekend to organize, the GOP/tea party filled the House hearing room. Now watching the streaming video for the AIRC hearing taking place in Tucson, some of the people who harangued the commission this afternoon made it a point to appear and speak tonight also.
During the Tucson hearing, one gentleman even accused the AIRC of being a surrogate for DOJ and of violating the civil rights of MILLIONS of Arizonans by complying with the Voting Rights Act.
Doris Klatinoff, from Saddlebrook, called the proposed CD1 a travesty (for being so geographically large), as have many others. Oh, the pain of it all.
This is also just one example of independent redistricting detractors grabbing onto something they don't like and abusing the commissioners ad nauseum thereafter. Rather than recognize that the commission had made a good faith effort to address the overall (aggregated) input that they had received during the first round of Public Outreach Hearings, they get people crying foul. Sometimes, literally crying.
Anyway, the AIRC, two hours into tonight's hearing, took a break to allow the court reporter to stretch. Mathis said she had 42 more requests to speak to go through before they adjourn.
AIRC hearings coming up this week:
Oct 25 (tomorrow) Sierra Vista
Oct 26 (Wednesday) Mesa
Oct 27 (Thursday) Thatcher/Clifton
Oct 28 (Friday) Nogales
Oct 29 (Saturday) Yuma
By the way, is it just me, or does anyone else see the IRONY in my ejection from the legislative committee hearing for SILENTLY mouthing a single word, BUT the five redistricting commissioners (especially the chairwoman) have had to endure LOUD, vitriolic, abusive haranguing from GOP, tea partiers and other malcontents for months? With NO end in sight.
That also makes it incredibly difficult to criticize the AIRC draft maps where and when appropriate with the cacaphony of BULLSHIT coming from the hostiles.
Christine Bauserman had the audacity to dump on the AIRC at the Kangaroo Court this afternoon and ended up being the last speaker tonight in Tucson, deciding to make nice nice to the commission.
Then Rick Stertz had the audacity to tell Tucson citizens who had complimented the commission while calling for more competitive districts that they were reciting someone else's talking points. Rick, how could you be so rude?
Then again, I called a friend in Tucson during the recess just after 8pm who told me you had been observed being in a sour mood from the start of the meeting. It's just sad that you would make such an impolitic comment about concerned citizens while speaking AS a COMMISSIONER.
On the other hand, while it's obvious there is plenty of room for improvement to the draft maps, the one thing I admire most about any of the five commissioners is that Colleen Mathis has managed to stay focused on the job at hand. In light of the tremendous pressure being unfairly aimed at her, she's doing a wonderful job.
I only hope the noise doesn't keep the commission from making appropriate adjustments to the draft maps after the 30 day comment period has passed.