Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Redistricting -- how much will they change draft maps?

Maybe not much of a lede, but there are a few brief points the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, staff, consultants and interested observers should consider during the transition from development of a draft Congressional map to working on legislative districts for the coming decade.

First, I certainly cannot discern the reason, but when I've made suggestions about labels for links to working maps and related data files, those suggestions have not been particularly welcome. As if I'm a bossy know it all.  I left the know-it-all attitude behind sometime ago.  Sure, as a child and as a teen, like many, I "knew everything." As a young adult, people began telling me that seemed condescending. I don't know how long it took, or if it still returns from time to time, but I definitely believe I do not know as much as I want or need to know. I cannot learn from a person I view condescendingly.

Which takes me back to my concern about labels for links on the AIRC map page. Many people wanting to understand what the commission does will try to open the map files. KMZ files give one the ability to zoom in very closely to figure out which street a line is drawn along). They will also open some of the data files.  Yet, I'm guessing plenty of those folks, even if they know that an ".xlsx" file opens in Microsoft Excel and Open Office Spreadsheet software, do not necessarily know the difference between a "comp report" and a "competitiveness report." Then, when such a person opens the "comp report" does he or she necessarily know what "plan components report" means? Since I still do not know what "plan components report" means, even though a Strategic Telemetry staffer showed me that's what "comp report" is, I'm going to figure there are people wanting to know -- that are still confused.

What's the solution? Well, I'm guessing it's not very difficult for the person who posts the links to use abbreviations that minimize ambiguity and confusion -- and that the AIRC public information officer might work up a list of definitions to help people understand what a "plan components report" tells us and how we should interpret them.

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Regarding the issue of whether the AIRC even has a way to measure competitiveness for a given proposed map, I expressed my concern during yesterday's meeting, before the vote to adopt the Congressional draft map. Later, McNulty explained before the vote that there was a competitiveness report.  LATER, I (and others) learned or figured out that they did have some competitiveness measures to consider. That does NOT mean, however, that they have agreed on an acceptable degree of competitiveness or even a definition thereof for judging any given map.

What it DOES do, is provide, at THIS stage of the process, a way to compare one map with an other (of the same district type, Cong or legislative).

It does NOT pigeonhole the commission into something the dastardly David Cantelme can use to go to court to attack the AIRC in UNfair Trust's incumbency protection scheme. More about that scheme later.

The competitiveness analysis takes voter registration into account but also considers certain election result/performance data.  Right now, Strategic Telemetry has been able to incorporate 2008 and 2010 general election data. Republican commissioners Freeman and Stertz would also like to include 2004 and 2006 election results. The rationale for doing so is that 2008 and 2010 election data, because of national trends in those years, would skew the analysis. Party preference comparisons now, they say, would not present a fair picture of the genuine or practical reality of a given district. Republicans argue that including more years would minimize statistical variations.  However, ASU Political Science Prof. Jennifer Steen, whose research focuses on political statistics said, before the yesterday's vote, that the older data becomes stale and less reliable for other reasons. In other words, it's not cut and dried.

Cantelme, when his turn came, said he actually agrees with me. That, naturally, signaled that I had to re-examine my position.

First, I am NOT interested in having the AIRC put themselves into a box from which Cantelme can sue them. Therefore, I'm NOT demanding, or even recommending they adopt a definition of competitiveness.  What I did want and do want is to empower citizens to be able to get a reasonably fair idea of how competitive any given proposed maps may be. As to the Congressional draft map adopted yesterday, they CAN do better.

As an aside, Prof. Steen told me she agrees with Freeman's position that a draft map issued by the commission should be its best effort to present a final map.  However, she pointed out, there were significant and substantial differences between the 2001 AIRC draft Congressional map and the final map that was adopted.

Nevertheless, the anti-competition forces (and UNfair Trust) are already at work characterizing the work of the AIRC as gerrymandering.

An email being circulated on behalf of UNfair Trust lays naked its entire raison d'etre, promoting Republican incumbent protection by hook or by crook.  And David Cantelme still has both hands. One tactic has been to have a snake of an attorney do his best to obscure the facts as they relate to the interests of everyday citizens and to co-opt minority coalitions. Cantelme has blatantly endeavored to do both.

Note that in the email copy (posted below), anything and everything UNfair Trust doesn't like about maps adopted (already or in the near future) will be characterized as gerrymandering. Expect professional prevaricators like Cantelme to make lots of money trying to subvert the efforts of the Arizona INDEPENDENT Redistricting Commission. This will take the form of propaganda and litigation (including Tom Horne's partisan witchhunt in Maricopa County Superior Court).

Speaking of litigation, Arizona Competitive Districts Coalition co-chair Ken Clark testified yesterday that if citizens submit Congressional or legislative district maps that meet all required constitutional criteria and produce more competitive districts than the AIRC, he believes that will be reasonable grounds for a legal action (lawsuit).

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After adoption of the Congressional draft map yesterday, Commissioners Freeman and McNulty presented proposed legislative district maps. They are posted on the AIRC website (the top two maps, I think, again, they are not clearly marked as having been proposed by either commissioner).

When they finished, during the Call to the Public, David Bushman presented a set of legislative district maps. Bushman alluded to working with or for a coalition but specifically indicated he was representing only himself. Having spent time working in Maptitude, he had developed a full set of 30 legislative districts. He spoke at length describing each district. My attention span at the end of the meeting last night was not long enough to grasp even the essence of his overall proposal. But I give him kudos for putting in the work.

He specifically indicated he could not speak to the degree of competitiveness of any of his proposed districts. The reason? The AIRC online mapping tool did not provide the data to use to develop that analysis.  I'm confident he would have spoken to the issue if it had been available.

Well, who is David Bushman? As a matter of consistency, Herrera made it a point to ask, since he alluded to a coalition, to tell him (them) who was in the coalition.  He declined.  However, a Linked-In profile for David Bushman in the Greater Phoenix area indicates he works for Boeing (a defense contractor) as a computer based training developer. It also says he has a passion for making the complex understandable and achievable. I can very much relate to that.

Bushman apparently is also, involved to some extent with the East Valley Tea Party. Which I do not necessarily relate to.  However, given that some tea partiers dislike both major political parties and would like to see competitive districts, I do not discount Bushman's proposal at this point. I would be very interested in seeing, IF the AIRC and Strategic Telemetry can get the problems with Maptitude fixed, a competitiveness analysis for Bushman's map.

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In the category of Men Behaving Badly, Andy Tobin's not-so-secret agent John Mills was again observed in questionable conduct. This time, it involved Flagstaff mayor Sara Presler. Ms. Presler has been to several recent AIRC meetings and has presented herself and the interests of her constituents with grace and dignity every time. She did not want to go on the record but was observed letting Mills know she did not appreciate how he conducted himself during and after her testimony yesterday. Personally, I find Presler to be an incredibly charming (in a sincere, straightforward way) public official who should have a bright political future in whatever office she may pursue.

While Mills does not necessarily emulate the typical crude behavior on that old television sitcom, he has -- too often -- done rude, inappropriate things that would reflect poorly on any elected official, let alone the Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives.

BUT -- with Republican Senate President Russell Pearce facing recall because of his confrontational approach to legislation and Republican former Maricopa County Attorney Andy Thomas facing potential disbarment because of decisions issued forth from his belligerent, extremely confrontational approach -- will Speaker Tobin allow his agent at AIRC meetings to continue to harass people with whom he disagrees?

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The UNfair Trust email:

In 2012, we face a crucial crossroads election.  It can take us irreversibly down a road of ever increasing government that stifles innovation and prosperity and penalizes the hard working and industrious.  Or it can point to the Founders’ path of optimism and prosperity for all, based on a return to limited government, reward for work and investment, and respect for freedom and responsibility.  

This Hinge of Fate may turn on one or two seats in Congress. Congressman Steve Israel, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said “It’s going to be razor close,” and he predicted a Democrat [sic] two-seat victory.

How do the Democrats get there? In a word -- Gerrymandering.  Illinois gerrymandered  six seats to the Democrats.  California shifted five more seats to the Democrats.  New York and other Blue States will follow.  The Liberals are hard at work pushing Arizona’s redistricting Commission to gerrymander three Arizona seats to the Democrats.  That will provide the Democrat [sic] edge that Congressman Israel claimed. 

We cannot let this happen in Arizona.  The Arizona Constitution prohibits gerrymandering.  It requires districts to be drawn using neutral criteria.  Right now this isn't being done by some members of the Independent Redistricting Commission.  They have proposed a horrible map that violates all of the neutral criteria. 

Help us stop this subverting of the Arizona Constitution.  Neutrally drawn districts will be good for Arizona.  They will respect communities of interest, follow county and city lines, and reflect Arizona’s actual voter registration and its conservative values.  Let's stop the attempt to seize control of Congress by using gerrymandering right now.  Senator Jon Kyl, Senator John McCain, Congressman Trent Franks, Congressman Jeff Flake, Congressman Paul Gosar, Congressman Ben Quayle, Congressman David Schweikert, Congressman John Shadegg, Senate President Russell Pearce, Speaker of the House, Andy Tobin, 44th Vice President Dan Quayle are all unified in backing the FAIR Trust which is a group of Arizona voters who are committed to ensuring a fair redistricting process. 

Please join us for an intimate briefing with Speaker Andy Tobin and others:
When:  Thursday, October 13th
Time:  12:00 – 1:00 p.m. 

Note (by the Arizona Eagletarian):

This explicitly shows WHO the group is and that it's bald-faced intent is INCUMBENT Republican protection.

If you would like any assistance in translating the propaganda in UNfair Trust's message into English, send me a note or submit a comment for this blog post.

I welcome even dissenting viewpoints, especially if they are well thought out.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your comments on how hard it is to get and use the maps the IRC is working on. I've tried, but have not been able to get the various competitive and split reports that the IRC members get and seem to understand. The public affairs folks really should put some effort into making the reports and maps easier for the general public to get.

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