Since it was basically in my back yard, I headed over to the Granite Reef Senior Center Thursday evening for the 6pm Public Outreach Hearing. The room was filled to overflowing. Rick Stertz, the only commissioner in attendance, presided.
Stertz announced that more people attended this night than at any of the other hearings. Nobody announced a number, but since round tables filled the room, it may have seemed like more people than actually attended. However, more than 90 people signed up to speak. Before the meeting adjourned at roughly 9:20pm, 77 people had testified. Many denounced the GOP power grab. Some denounced the commission.
Toward the beginning, state Rep. John Kavanagh was given a turn. He immediately launched into an angry rant, repeating the faux righteous indignation script we've heard so many times over the last two weeks, with a passion that would do any New Yorker proud. Kavanaugh seems to have incentive to rant and rave and obscure the debate against fair and competitive redistricting. Besides having been a New York and New Jersey police officer for 20 years, he currently chairs the Appropriations Committee in the Arizona House of Representatives, and has a track record of twisting the truth, that is, if he even approaches it.
Though I did not take my computer to the hearing, I did tweet. I made the mistake of tweeting that Kavanagh could not have made a bigger ass of himself. Several people corrected me. One said, "I don't think you give the man credit. I'm sure he has the potential to become a very epic ass."
I stand corrected.
The hypocrisy of those expressing indignation at the AIRC and the draft maps was astounding. Not much different from the tired scripts (and talking points) that had been read by people at earlier hearings. From outrage that the Constitutional criteria of compactness and contiguousness were disregarded in favor of competitiveness, to violent crimes against humanity, er rather "splitting up" communities of interest. Okay, saying "violent crimes against humanity" was hyperbole. But really, much of what they said was also hyperbolic.
The dichotomy however was obvious between those on the Right and those on the Left. However, the debate was not over abortion rights, law and order, entitlements, immigration, or even economic development. Instead, it was over whether Yuma has anything in common with Avondale; or should neighbors on a street in Fountain Hills be in two different Congressional districts; or whether people in Bisbee (on the southern border) have anything in common with those living in Page (on the northern border).
On the other hand, the people outraged with Brewer (and her overthrow of the AIRC) focused largely on the voice of voters, disenfranchisement and the overall big picture. Even the people discontented with having been in a Voting Rights district favoring Democratic voters and representation over the last decade reflected on the fact that more competitive districts would make for better representation in the state legislature. And I would agree. So would the most confident and competent of ethnic legislators.
I had heard Mary O'Grady expected to file the supplemental briefs in the AIRC special action in the Arizona Supreme Court to overturn removal of Colleen Mathis from the commission yesterday. However, I received no confirmation. I will post the documents to the blog as soon as possible.