On Thursday, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission met in Tempe to further discuss potential changes to the Congressional and legislative district maps.
In dramatic contrast to the tone (bickering and frustration) of the deliberation on Monday, discussion on maps, though limited, was constructive. Commissioner Rick Stertz went through his proposed changes to the Congressional draft map. This time, he had the change report and explained where he made changes and why. Still, no map changes were voted on at this meeting.
Notably significant in this day's discussion, beyond the tone of civility, was that Stertz offered several indications of good faith in his willingness to compromise. Before the meeting was even over with, AP reporter Paul Davenport had posted a story about it.
Another indication of Stertz' intent to legitimately negotiate is that he probed (openly) for which districts and changes to districts proposed by McNulty and Herrera that those two feel most strongly about. Time ran out before they could answer, but it is still a significant development.
The two Democratic IRC members will still feel a need to hold their ground and press for more competitiveness in the final maps. However, they also will have to recognize Stertz' contributions in good faith and respond likewise in good faith.
There still have not been significant proposed changes to the legislative draft map to provide relief from the GOP supermajority in the state legislature.
Other developments in Thursday's meeting included a Stertz motion to disclose transcripts from executive sessions conducted by this 2011 AIRC. However, counsel advised to wait until after the case ruled on last week by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Dean Fink is ultimately resolved. While Fink's ruling is pretty clear and very specific, it is still subject to appeal.
By the way, AIRC Republican counsel Joe Kanefield also announced that they had come to an agreement with the county attorney's office on the proposed form to submit to Judge Fink for him to sign as the official order based on the ruling issued last week. The stipulated order was submitted on Thursday and becomes official as soon as Fink signs it. I imagine Montgomery will file his appeal shortly thereafter.
Public comment at Thursday's meeting was also significant. More than half a dozen people, including officials from the Town of Guadalupe and Tucson lawmaker Sally Ann Gonzales (D-LD27) called on the AIRC to keep Guadalupe with South Phoenix on the final legislative map. One of those speaking on the topic threatened to file a complaint with the DOJ claiming the current plan to put Guadalupe with Tempe is retrogressive.
AIRC consultant Bruce Adelson had recommended putting Guadalupe with Tempe to strengthen Voting Rights Act numbers for the East Valley legislative district. Adelson is expected to attend Friday's meeting (Fiesta Resort in Tempe, starting at 4pm). No doubt this situation will come up for discussion at that time.
Additionally, our dear friends Lyn Breyer and Ann Heins, tea partiers and semi-official AIRC harassers, took their two minutes plus each to again harangue the commissioners. Breyer said that one of her friends was afraid to come and speak at AIRC meetings anymore because Herrera "intimidated" her. And Heins (who apparently wants to run for a seat on the Tempe City Council) closed her time by insulting "Empress Mathis." Do those two even think anyone should take them seriously?
The Commission has meetings posted for today (Friday) and Monday (9:30am, also at the Fiesta Resort in Tempe). There are also plans to meet on Tuesday, though time and location have not been pinned down yet. If they expect to get the maps at least tentatively set before Christmas, they may push to have everything approved for submitting to the consultant (for final racially polarized voting analysis) by the time they adjourn on Tuesday. However, as slowly as deliberations go, that may still be more optimistic than realistic of a goal.