Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, October 24, 2011

Redistricting -- minority voting rights and day 2 of the lege cmte to interfere

Demographer and redistricting expert Tony Sissons is not the only person working to dispel the false myth about minority voting rights and competitive districts.

During last Tuesday's round table discussion on minority voting rights, former House Minority Leader John Loredo said this:
When we talk about competitive districts, we typically hear them spoken about in the context of being the polar opposite of minority voting rights districts. Typically, you can't hear one without hearing about the other and people claim you can't have both; that if you have one, you can't have the other. And that's simply not true. It wasn't the case ten years ago and it's not the case now. You can have peaceful co-existence between competitive districts and districts protecting minority rights. You just have to figure out a way to get there.  
Of course, getting there is a very complicated process. In Maricopa County, outside of central Phoenix, there are more Republicans than Democrats, but in the rest of Arizona, they run just about even.  Loredo went on to say:
Now from a Democratic Party point of view,  everybody talks philosophically about the need for the maximum number of competitive districts... When you factor in geography and communities of interest, it's a complicated mess...  [but] the first challenge for Democrats is to learn how to be competitive...   From our perspective, reflecting back on 2003, the issue was, "how do we pick up seats?" We learned that you have be strong on issues. You have be able to overcome the numbers in some districts. You do that by fighting hard, by pushing issues and being able to convey that message. 
By the way, even though minority voting rights can co-exist with competitive districts, those who claim they cannot still work diligently to see that they will not. Regular readers of the Arizona Eagletarian know that local attorney David Cantelme has been representing UNfair Trust since early in the redistricting process. Cantelme has been the most persistent purveyor of the myth. But he is also the person who has worked hardest to try to make his myth come true. Months ago, it was apparent he was working to maximize the packing of Hispanic voters into as few districts as possible. People told me last week that he had been consulting with local Hispanic leaders and advocates, trying to get their buy in to his plans. Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, who has testified on behalf of the Hispanic Coalition for Good Government told me recently that Cantelme had asked her for the phone number for her contact at MALDEF. She said she gave it to him.

Anyway, what does "fighting hard" look like? Well, we know a couple of things Republicans do and have done to fight hard to get and keep their legislative supermajority. In the most competitive legislative districts (one year in LD10 and last year in LD17), Republicans recruited sham Green Party candidates to dilute Democratic votes. Last year in Tempe (LD17) Democrats fought back hard and successfully beat back the challenge. So much so that Wendy Rogers (Republican running for state senate) complained to the AIRC at the Mesa hearing in the first round that Tempe could not have been considered competitive.

The bare fact of the matter is Republicans have worked long and hard and obviously smart enough to win what this year has emerged as a supermajority in our state legislature. In isolated instances, the interests of the majority of Arizonans IS being asserted to combat their tactics.

In 2010, Russell Pearce pushed through harsh, anti-immigrant (and very clearly anti-Hispanic) legislation. Academic studies have shown that the net economic impact on our state from passage of SB1070 has been seriously detrimental. Even before those studies began to emerge, the voice of Arizona's Hispanic citizens started getting louder. In 2010, there were marches in protest of SB1070. When Pearce pushed even more extreme anti-immigrant and anti-business legislation, the "push back" became more pronounced.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- anthropologist Margaret Mead
Also this year, business leaders succeeded in killing Pearce's bills. Two citizens groups, both led by Hispanics, began recall efforts aimed at ousting Pearce from office. Eventually, the two groups merged into one. A feat never accomplished before in Arizona took place in May of this year. Petitions, with enough valid signatures to qualify, succeeded in putting a referendum on Russell Pearce's hateful agenda on the ballot (the recall of Pearce, that is). The end result will be known in just over two weeks from now.

But Pearce and his hateful agenda are not going down without putting forth maximum effort.

If you want to know what it looks like to fight hard, as Loredo said must be done by Democrats in 2012 and beyond, just look at how the contest is going between the two Republicans THIS year in LD18.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- anthropologist Margaret Mead
It's no mistake. I put the same quote in this post twice. For emphasis.

Make no mistake, things are taking place now to work toward changing the political (and economic) climate in America and in our own backyard here in Arizona.

Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Phoenix (and Tucson).  And the occupiers are changing the national conversation about politics and business/economics.

There are plenty of detractors. But that is not stopping the occupiers.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.Mohandas Gandhi
For weeks, the (corporate) news media gave its best effort at ignoring the Occupy Wall Street movement at Zuccoti Park in New York City. Then, after awareness started rising, Fox Noise, Rush Limbaugh and numerous others began "poo pooing" the movement.

Mocking took the form of pointing out that there were no leaders and vague, if any, goals and objectives.

Then cities and police forces, unaccustomed to protesting on the scale of what we've seen over the last month, began bullying, arresting, using pepper spray and trying other tactics to suppress the protests.

The movement has not gone away. and it has changed the national conversation on the issues.

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By the way, we also know that the GOP, together with rabid tea partiers, have been working VERY hard to undermine Arizona's Independent Redistricting effort. That's why I have been compelled to shine the light of day on their efforts. Thus far, I have posted more than 200 times about Arizona redistricting. And, of course, on Friday, when I silently called bullshit on Andy Biggshot, I was removed, ejected, kicked out, escorted -- out of a hearing of the Joint Legislative Committee on Interfering with Independent Redistricting.

The effort of those bent on subverting the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission began in December 2010 and reached rabid levels in the Spring of this year.

The detractors have latched onto every bit of possible red meat they could to deceive their easily seduced followers. Claiming the problems started with missteps made by Independent chair Colleen Mathis, they have REFUSED all rational discussion. The controversy looked like someone had taken a baseball bat to a hornets nest as soon as the decision was made to contract with Strategic Telemetry to be mapping consultant.

Even though efforts were made to get the governor to remove Mathis and others from the commission and to get Atty Gen Tom Horne to investigate, several newspaper editorials suggested people should wait until draft maps were issued before complaining. They did not wait. They complained anyway. But since the draft maps came out, the controversy has continued to escalate.

Besides the Cmte on Interfering with Independent Redistricting, newspapers throughout the state have issued editorials, without rational explanations, claiming the AIRC is harming their communities this way and that. It's impossible to tell whether the chicken or the egg came first, the legislative committee or the mindless editorials. But it's clear that the GOP has been organizing opposition to the AIRC. And information from that website has been sent to GOP LD email lists.

So, at 1pm today, the Cmte on Interfering with Independent Redistricting reconvenes in Senate Hearing Room 1. There will be people there complaining about the maps and the AIRC. Having concerns about the maps is reasonable but the legislature is not where those concerns should be aired right now.

The hard work on issues has to take place now. Demanding legislative Republicans keep their grubby mitts out of it is what we need to tell them.

Please join me at the hearing.

If you cannot make it to the hearing, you can call or send email to the members.

Sen. Steve Pierce (co-chair)   602-926-5584 spierce@azleg.gov

Sen. Andy Biggs 602-926-4371  abiggs@azleg.gov

Rep. Jim Weiers (co-chair) 602-926-4173 jweiers@azleg.gov

Rep. Doris Goodale 602-926-5408  dgoodale@azleg.gov

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for this report. I can't make it to Phoenix for the Cmte on Interfering with Independent Redistricting meeting, but will send messages to the members. Keep up the good work Steve.

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  2. Following is the message I sent to the people on the Cmte of Interfering with Independent Redistricting:

    You should be ashamed of yourselves!

    I have attended 22 of the AZ Independent Redistricting Commission meetings since the June 30 meeting here in Tucson. All five commissioners are working in good faith to do their best to consider the six goals of Proposition 106, Section 14 and the comments they are receiving from the public.

    The public comments at the meetings are the most interesting. People want rural districts, people object to large funny looking districts that are needed to create rural districts. People want competitive districts, and people want districts that reflect communities of interest. All kinds of people get up and speak college students, teachers, retired folks, bicyclists, working folks, and even State Senators and Representatives. If the speakers are moderate in their views and respect the process being followed by the IRC, I usually learn something.

    I live in LD 26 and I heard Senator Al Melvin and Representative Terry Proud speak at the meeting here in Tucson on August 6, 2011. I did not agree with what they said, but they took the opportunity to address the commission during the public comment period. I have heard may other former and incumbent State Senators and Representatives speak.

    The Joint Committee on Independent Redistricting should leave the AZ Independent Redistricting Commission alone. They are doing an excellent job and do not need any advice or guidance from your Committee!

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