Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Redistricting -- Calm before the Storm? UPDATED 12-6 2:00pm MST

On Monday, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission met for the fourth time since the state Supreme Court reinstated Colleen Coyle Mathis to the chairmanship. The meeting, and discussions about the draft maps and proposed changes to them, were relatively uneventful.

Four of the five commissioners attended, Freeman and Herrera having returned and McNulty unable to attend for personal reasons. She may not return this week. The dynamics of the discussion were different as neither Stertz nor Herrera snapped at each other. The closest thing to sparks came when Flagstaff mayor Sara Presler testified and Stertz asked her some questions.

Though it was not particularly testy, Stertz introduced a new word to Arizona's redistricting lexicon yesterday. Framing discussion in terms of "hyper-packing" of Republicans is apparently the latest way to combat the insidious efforts to establish competitive districts. Stertz used the expression a few times and Freeman said it at least once.

Freeman also took issue with a comment I had made in a Call to the Public last week. I had mentioned back in October my concern that I and my neighbors were being set up for disenfranchisement with the lines on the Congressional draft. At that time, Stertz indicated to me (during a recess) that he understood the issue and my concern and he wanted to address it. Of course, that may or may not have been anything more than just polite conversation at that time. Several commissioners told me that it was something that could be addressed when we got to this stage (adjusting the draft maps).

Well, last week, I did not want to let it go without them having to actually be cognizant of the issue. I made specific reference to the change I believed needed to be made, citing geographic features (roads and highways) in question. Freeman was not at the meetings last week, but he was, indeed, watching online. By the way, right before the comment last week, Strategic Telemetry mentioned that CD 6, where I am now, was overpopulated. Because Congressional districts must start off with the exact same population as every other district in the state, that would need to change. So, I mentioned the number of people who live in my neighborhood. Removing us would assist in addressing that problem. But Freeman said essentially that people should not be making those kinds of recommendations.

I disagree.

Also from last week, I had asked for Strategic Telemetry to make the change reports available (on the IRC website) at the beginning of meetings at which the changes would be discussed and/or voted on. Today, ST made those changes reports available, along with "block equivalency" files. Those files, when fed into Maptitude, can be viewed while the deliberation is taking place. By request from Stertz, for Wednesday (the next meeting) Strategic Telemetry will post KMZ files (which open in Google Earth) so people can follow with the change reports and the proposed maps. ST will also post the maps in PDF files. But the PDFs will not provide the ability to zoom like the KMZ files.


The AIRC will meet next on:

  • Wednesday, 2:30pm at the Crowne Plaza Sky Harbor, 4300 E Washington, Phoenix
  • Thursday, 11:00am, Crowne Plaza Sky Harbor
  • Friday, 9:30am, Fiesta Resort, Broadway & Priest, Tempe.

Meetings next week will probably also be in the Phoenix area. Expenditure information, including related to legal fees for last month's litigation should be available later this week or next week. Future agenda items (perhaps as soon as next week) will include review of Strategic Telemetry's contact log (for Arizonans who have contacted them); review and approval of meeting minutes; and possibly a comparison of the timeline between the 2001 AIRC and this year's effort.



During yesterday's AIRC meeting, Stertz presented changes he wants to see made to the Congressional draft map. One of the glaring ramifications of those changes is that he completely decimated the competitive Phoenix area Congressional district 9. The change report (which shows the demographics, including competitiveness measures) is here. Page six of the pdf shows the before and after numbers for various measures of competitiveness on CD 9.

Arizona Capitol Times staffer Jeremy Duda reports that Stertz claims his changes will reflect public comment more so than anyone else's:

Republican Commissioner Richard Stertz said his proposal would more closely follow public comments and the constitutional criteria for redistricting. He said the changes unveiled Monday would end the packing of Republicans in some districts and make others more competitive, including the sprawling rural 1st Congressional District. 
“We’re paying attention to the comments that were given to us,” Stertz said after the meeting. “If we do not pay attention to all of that work, then why bother going out to the … 31 cities and why bother going out and collecting all this data unless we’re going to be actually reading and implementing it and reacting to it?” 
Of course, just because Stertz says it, doesn't mean it's true. What Stertz presented did not track, change by change, what aspects of second round public comment he was responding to, or that any other proposal had ignored. My point is that while Stertz may say (and may believe) that he is incorporating public comment more than anyone else thus far, there's really nothing for him to compare with in order to fairly make that characterization.

He [Stertz] also said he believed his proposal improved competitiveness, a topic that led to frequent clashes with his Democratic colleagues and independent Chairwoman Colleen Mathis in prior meetings. But in talking up the competitive nature of his maps, Stertz focused primarily on pulling Republicans out of “hyper-packed” districts that he said were created to keep Democrats in other districts in order to make them more competitive.  
Please keep in mind that no changes to either of the draft maps have been voted on or approved yet.

Again, "hyper-packed" is a new term in the lexicon of Arizona redistricting. A google search on "'hyper-packed' + redistricting" returns only one result for ALL of the internet. That one result is Duda's story. To me, that underscores the fact that Stertz manufactured that expression.

Beyond what Duda reported, it should be obvious that Stertz is setting things up hoping to make it easier -- for whoever is going to write the litigation briefs for the inevitable lawsuit challenging the final maps -- to hit the ball out of the park.


Yesterday was another no-show day for the highest profile operatives of the UNfair Trust. Thus far, no one has ventured even any speculation about why Cantelme, Liburdi and LaSota have not attended -- other than either the Trust ran out of money or that those attorneys are already preparing for the litigation they will file before long.


  1. Phoenix Justice... please contact me by email. I have some info you may be interested in.

  2. "Hyper-Packed" sounds like a Frank Luntz created term that has been focus group tested all to hell. I don't think Mr. Stertz came up with that all by his lonesome.