Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Redistricting -- Mathis remarks on consultant decision

Chairwoman Mathis' remarks on the AIRC decision to hire Strategic Telemetry to be its mapping consultant:
My goals in chairing this commission are pretty straightforward. They are to comply with the Arizona Constitution, the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act and to achieve preclearance, ideally on our first try, from the Justice Department. I understand that there are partisan feelings and passions on all points on the political spectrum and I’m sensitive to that.  However, the proposition passed by the voters of the state of Arizona and now  incorporated into our state Constitution has resulted in the chair of the IRC being an Independent both times we’ve done this so far. As it happens, Independents are the fastest growing voting bloc in the state. So it makes sense to have an Independent voice on this commission and I am the Independent that my fellow commissioners in their wisdom, however questionable in this case, unanimously chose. This puts me smack dab in the middle of all partisan disputes and that is how Proposition 106 was designed.  All I can do is honor my colleagues’ choice by working as hard as I can, using my best judgment, listening to my conscience and making what I believe are the best decisions for our commission and for the people of Arizona.

We had only seven responses to our mapping consultant Request for Proposal. From those initial seven, we chose to interview four firms. None of those firms is free from partisan connections. In fact, it seems it is in the very nature of this kind of technical work that, over the course of a career, a firm has partisan affiliations themselves and is hired by partisans or partisan officeholders to do the kind of work that they do. As in any kind of business, if you do a good job, you tend to get referrals and follow up business from the people with whom you do business. And over time a partisan pattern often develops. I think it is important to note that all of the mapping consultants we interviewed, whatever their partisan stripe, either personal or work related, are first and foremost business people who are in business to earn a living and give the best possible service to their clients.  From my own perspective as an Independent, it might have been nice if we had four firms that had only ever worked for or been associated with Independents but apparently firms like that either don’t exist or don’t read Requests for Proposal which require summer work in the remote corners of Arizona.  Who knows?

Of the four firms we interviewed, there were three that, to varying degrees, appeared to have closer affiliations with Democrats and one that appeared to have closer affiliations to Republicans. For the sake of fairness and balance, I would have preferred to have two of each and I’m sure that having at least two options clearly perceived to be on the Republican side would have been the preference of our Republican commissioners. But that was not the result of our RFP response. In fact, only one perceived Republican leaning firm even applied and we had no control over that somewhat surprising result. So that was the hand we were dealt.

It is very important at this point to note that we carefully considered many aspects of each firm’s experience, capacity and technical skill and it is on these painstakingly developed criteria that our selection is based.  But I know that, in the minds of some members of the public and press, the partisan connections are the main focus. To that end, of the four firms we interviewed today, two, though each had considerable experience, also had more strongly perceived direct political ties to and past involvement with our state. Understandably, the commissioners of the opposite party to those perceived ties had strong objections to each and I had my own concerns. Of the two remaining, one, while skilled and Arizona based, lacked statewide redistricting and preclearance experience which I viewed as absolutely essential. The other made a markedly stronger case than anyone else and instilled full confidence. That firm was Strategic Telemetry.

It is true that Strategic Telemetry’s principal, Ken Strasma, has done the bulk of his work for Democrats. He has been completely forthright about this in both his Request for Proposal and his interview.  He has also, notably from my perspective as an Independent, worked for Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York, perhaps the best known Independent in the country and someone with the wherewithal to hire the best possible technical help. I’d also like to point out that Strategic Telemetry’s Public Input Manager, who will attend mapping hearings and focus on all public input issues is a Republican and former Texan who served in the White House as Associate Director of Political Affairs for President George W. Bush, where she was, among other things, the primary political contact to grassroots folks in eight states.  Speaking of Presidents, I must say the fact that Mr. Strasma played a key technical role in what has been widely viewed as the single most technically advanced Presidential campaign in American history is not something I view as a negative.  I liken this kind of technical political work to playing major league baseball. In order to play at that level, you have to play in either the National or the American League. Otherwise, you don’t play at all. There are only two options. Also, to best judge a player’s ability, you look at his stats, not where he plays.  Mr. Strasma has played in the majors with great distinction.

I understand that reasonable people can differ on this selection, as Mr. Freeman and Mr. Stertz have, but I would encourage members of the public to watch the presentations from our Friday, June 24th meeting on our website at azredistricting.org and judge for yourselves.

As has been noted, the role of a mapping consultant is a technical one. The consultant works solely at the direction of this commission. Period. If our experience thus far has shown anything it is that this commission takes its role extremely seriously and is paying very close attention to the process at every step.  If there is any perception by me or my fellow commissioners that maps are being drawn in a way that is counter to our express direction or if the consultant is acting in anything beyond a technical capacity, we won’t hesitate to let the consultant and the other commissioners know. This is not a shy group.          

As Mr. Strasma has said, it is inevitable that not everyone will be one hundred percent happy with this or any similar commission’s final plans but with a highly skilled technical consultant, and an open, transparent and fully documented process, any dissatisfaction can at least be minimized—and to the extent that a member of the public feels dissatisfied with the maps, they will know the reasons for each decision and should not have any cause to question the fundamental soundness of the process.   

So we need to keep our eyes on the ball, which means complying with the Constitutional requirements and the Voting Rights Act. Our goal is also to achieve preclearance with our maps on the first try and avoid the additional taxpayer expense and delay that would result from an objection. 

We’ve chosen the firm which we think has the best ability to help us achieve that outcome and, in my view, that choice was abundantly clear.  Also, by choosing the firm with the least amount of direct, prior in-state involvement, I believe we have a fresh start with minimal baggage related to anything that has happened here previously.

As for our commission, I have great respect for Vice Chair Freeman, Vice Chair Herrera, Commissioner McNulty and Commissioner Stertz and I’ve enjoyed getting to know and working with each of them.  They are an outstanding group of dedicated Arizonans who sometimes have principled and heartfelt differences. That is to be expected given the way the voters of Arizona and now our Constitution have designed this commission. Nevertheless, I will continue to strive for agreement and consensus.  And I know we will continue to treat each other as we would like to be treated. Even though we come from varied backgrounds and perspectives, we all want to do the best possible job, serve the public in an honorable and open manner and leave a positive legacy for our great state.

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The AIRC meets today at 1pm at the Pima Community College district office in Tucson.  If you are interested, you will be able to view the meeting online.

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Last night, I tried to post about former AIRC chairman Steve Lynn's comments at the beginning of yesterday's meeting.  It didn't work (posting about his comments).  I may try tonight or tomorrow but have to get on the road to Tucson and do not have time this morning.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Redistricting -- mapping consultant chosen

If you watched the meeting online or saw an Associated Press story, you already know that the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission today selected Strategic Telemetry to be its mapping consultant.

The AP story only gives bare bones facts but there is much more to understand and put the decision in context than has yet been reported.  Yes, the vote was 3-2.  Yes, the five commissioners voted the same way on this decision as they did for the legal services contracts.

Remarks made by the two Republican commissioners, Stertz and Freeman, are most noteworthy. Both made it clear that they intend to work with Strategic Telemetry and do not want this vote to be a distraction.  In saying that, there can be no doubt they are referring to the public comments that have been made at every AIRC meeting since the vote on the legal services contracts decrying the partisanship of the decision.

Mr. Stertz also indicated that Strategic Telemetry would be closely watched and held accountable for the promise the firm made to conduct a meticulous, transparent process.  From the pensive looks and thoughtful comments, it was clear that all five commissioners took today's decision very seriously and intend to settle into the work at hand in a professional and diligent, yet collegial manner.

AIRC Chair Colleen Coyle Mathis read a statement she had written reflecting on the gravity of today's decision.  I expect to get a copy of those remarks tonight and will post them as soon as possible.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Redistricting -- Hauser protest response

The Arizona State Procurement Office reviewed Lisa Hauser's protest of the AIRC legal services procurement determination that Gammage & Burnham was "not susceptible for award" and on June 23 issued a 10 page response denying in part and sustaining the protest in part.

The essence of Hauser's protest was that she appeared to have felt slighted by being so labeled.

The response states,"...the determination that other the offerors were not susceptible of award was a procedure decision, not any sort of determination that the law firms involved were not highly-qualified or inexperienced or substandard in any way."  The sole purpose of the determination was to allow SPO to negotiate pricing with the two firms with which the Commission would ultimately award contracts.

The response indicates that the selection committee was comprised of all five members of the AIRC.  The evaluation report with the final scores was signed by all five members.  Prior experience, which Hauser obviously had, was only one of the factors used in the scoring.

The response is public record.  I would be happy to forward the PDF file of the response to interested readers (send me an email at the address listed in the left hand column of the blog). 

Any conclusion others may have made that the AIRC acted improperly in selecting Osborne Maledon and Ballard Spahr to award contracts is countered by the fact that the evaluation of all offerors and the scores given on the record are signed by all five members of the selection committee (all five members of the AIRC).

Redistricting -- on the horizon

Perhaps a sense of urgency is setting in with the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.  Of course, the meeting tomorrow at NOON is still on at the state capitol, but they will be posting (very soon) a meeting for the following day, Thursday the 30th at 1pm.  Pima Community College District office, 4905 E. Broadway, will host the meeting, in Building “C” Room #105.  

The agenda for Thursday's meeting includes discussion and possible action on: the first round of public hearings; preliminary discussion of the second round of hearings; presentation by the mapping consultant; and processes for receiving other public input (maps, emails, etc.).

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The State Purchasing Office response to Lisa Hauser's protest of the legal services contract by the AIRC was originally due on June 17 but pushed back to June 24.  So, it should be available for public review by now. I'm still trying to track it down.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Redistricting -- another tidbit from Friday's meeting

One of the public comments prior to the mapping consultant interviews was made by Shirl Lamonna.  Her comment is noteworthy in that it was essentially the same thing that someone, usually from Pima County, has said at each and every AIRC meeting since the legal services contract was awarded to Joe Kanefield and his firm, Ballard Spahr.  In essence, that it was a travesty for the Commission to not honor the wishes of the two Republican members and hire Lisa Hauser instead of Kanefield.

A quick google search for Shirl Lamonna shows that she is or has been involved with two groups on the social networking website NING.com.  Those two groups are Smart Girl Politics and Arizona Tea Party Network.  Several people have made public comments over the last couple of months at AIRC meetings citing their affiliation with each group (though not necessarily those websites).

One has to give them credit for utilizing social media for political organizing and activism.  Though it would be a shame if those ended up being the only groups succeeding in doing so regarding this year's Arizona redistricting.

Those wanting to take a lesson from Ms. Lamonna may watch her testimony before the AIRC in the first several minutes of the recording for the June 24th meeting.

Redistricting -- potential mapping consultant

Following up on yesterday's post about the mapping consultant interviews, the Arizona Eagletarian has learned that a current Arizona client of National Demographics Corporation is dissatisfied with the contractor.

This year, Yuma County contracted with Doug Johnson's NDC to assist in redrawing it's supervisorial districts. Two Yuma County Redistricting Advisory Commissioners, Republican Phil Townsend (Advisory Commission chair) and Democrat Alicia Aguirre told the Arizona Eagletarian that they are dissatisfied that National Demographics has failed to meet deadlines and provide the draft maps on a timely basis.  Ms. Aguirre said she refuses to approve maps presented on the same day they are scheduled for a vote.

Video of the Advisory Committee's June 20th meeting can be found here.

Add these concerns to former AIRC Commissioner Andi Minkoff's comments on Friday and the letters she wrote to Redistricting Commissions here in Arizona as well as California and NDC's professionalism is seriously in question.  Will the weight of the evidence be heavy enough to cause Arizona's five commissioners to think twice (or three or four times) before voting to contract with NDC this year?

Redistricting -- GOP efforts and the next AIRC meetings

As I mentioned previously, I called Paul Boyer, House GOP PIO to get the story on John Mills.  Mills is widely understood to be a GOP political operative being paid by state general fund (taxpayer) money.  Boyer said the legislature has a right to make suggestions about the maps being drawn by the AIRC.  As justification for Mills going to every meeting of the AIRC, Boyer cited the Arizona Constitution, Article 4, Part 2, Section 1, Paragraph 16 which states:

The independent redistricting commission shall advertise a draft map of
congressional districts and a draft map of legislative districts to the public for comment,
which comment shall be taken for at least thirty days. Either or both bodies of the
legislature may act within this period to make recommendations to the independent
redistricting commission by memorial or by minority report, which recommendations
shall be considered by the independent redistricting commission. The independent
redistricting commission shall then establish final district boundaries.
Of course, House GOP leadership takes liberties, suggesting that they have to have someone there for all of the meetings in order to be able to make recommendations.  Do they, in fact NEED Mills to attend every meeting in order to review the draft maps (not even close to being issued yet)?  Of course not.  Can they send him to the meetings anyway with that justification, without fear of legal trouble?  Certainly.  Does that mean people have no right to be concerned about taxpayer (general fund) money paying for GOP political activity?  You decide.

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A google search on "Fair Trust" turns up no group (anywhere, let alone this one in Arizona) by that name.  Searching the Arizona Secretary of State's website turned up nothing.  A phone call to the AZ SoS elections section, where staff could check to see if any group had registered with them under that name, turned up nothing.

SoS staff agreed with my understanding that in order for a group to raise money to influence state politics, they would have to register at that office.  SO -- it looks like Fair Trust has issues beyond being concerned about "impartial redistricting in Arizona."

Mike Liburdi, who spoke -- on-the-record -- on Friday before the AIRC, hoping to derail Research Advisory Services and Strategic Telemetry in each firm's efforts to win the mapping consultant contract, says the reason he has not registered his group with the Arizona Secretary of State is that he is not required to do so.

Liburdi also said that he has spoken with his client and has not been given clearance to disclose any information on this mysterious group.

However, before he got around to answering these questions, Liburdi wanted to get into a pissing contest with me about whether I've read Arizona's lobbying law.  When I persisted in clarifying that I wasn't going to engage him on that (and repeated my question about why Fair Trust hasn't registered with the SOS), Liburdi let me know I should be thankful, that he just gave me thousands of dollars worth of free legal advice AND that he was going to send me a bill for it.

One has to wonder whether Liburdi can keep his composure in a court room.

So, to recap, the FACTS are that Mike Liburdi, a Snell and Wilmer attorney, has been hired by a shadowy group (for an example that seems much like what Liburdi wants to pull off, read this).

For anyone who wants to bone up on Arizona's lobbying laws, they can be found in ARS Title 41, Chapter 7, Article 8.1.

For Mr. Liburdi's benefit (and that of his client), let me just state that whether what he has done is legal or not is less of a question than whether the people of Arizona have a right to know.  They say that sunshine is the best disinfectant. 

So, who is trying to influence the single most significant political situation at issue in the state this year, how are they going to go about trying to do it and why do they not want the people of Arizona to know what they are up to?

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Wednesday's meeting of the AIRC will start at NOON and be held in the State Library Conference Room, 2nd Floor of the State Capitol bldg., 1700 W Washington, Phoenix.

Tentatively, the commission will also meet on Thursday in Tucson.  Time and location have not yet been set.

The recording of last Friday's meeting, with the interviews, has finally been posted.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Redistricting -- mapping consultant issues

Partly because of technical difficulties causing delay in posting the recording of Friday's meeting, I will offer some observations about the mapping consultant interviews.  As of this writing, the recording is still not available online.

The first thing readers and everyone interested in this pending IRC decision should know is that each and every one of the interviewees had some downside factors.  None was a slam-dunk for selection.

Commissioners asked each of the interviewed firms about political bias. This factor seemed almost as important as perceived competence at the task of drawing the new district maps.

TerraSystems Southwest, the last firm interviewed was the only firm without obvious perceived political bias.  Unfortunately, they were also the least experienced of the bidders.  The Tucson based company is very confident (and perceived as competent) in Geographic Information Systems.  Its principals, Howard Ward (20 years experience as a GIS professional, including five as GIS manager for the Pima County Dept. of Transportation) and Cheryl Thurman (15 years experience as a GIS professional), however, have no redistricting experience.  IRC Commissioner Dick Stertz remarked that their lack of experience in presenting redistricting plans for DOJ (the US Dept. of Justice) pre-clearance is a significant problem.

TerraSystems public relations partner has some good ideas for outreach and feedback aggregation strategies, but dramatically flubbed a question about prioritization of the six voter mandated criteria.  So, I'd have to figure that TerraSystems is a serious underdog at this time.

Research Advisory Services is a Phoenix based firm with extensive experience in redistricting.  Nobody involved or interested in this year's redistricting in Arizona can even come close to legitimately questioning RAS' competence.  President Tony Sissons has successfully handled redistricting projects for more than a dozen Arizona counties, cities and towns.  He has done GIS and demographic work for a long list of associations, higher education institutions, economic development concerns, law firms, and news organizations besides work for political campaigns.  Sissons is a member of Local First Arizona and the Governor's Council on Workforce Policy (including under Republican Gov. Brewer).

As I also mentioned in a previous post, a special interest group called Fair Trust sent Mike Liburdi, a Snell and Wilmer attorney to be its attack dog before and after the interviews on Friday.  Before the interviews, Liburdi said the IRC should consider the political contributions of the applicants before making a decision.  After the interviews, the attack dog brought out copies of information he obtained on some contributions made by Sissons and Strategic Telemetry's Ken Strasma.  But he presented no information on political activity by the other applicants.  Since Sissons has contributed to GOP candidate campaigns (like John Shadegg's Congressional campaign) it's a given that what Liburdi provided was neither adequately comprehensive nor otherwise relevant.

One also must consider a mysterious group with "Fair" in its name to be suspect. An initial search of the Arizona Secretary of State's website doesn't turn up any info on a group named Fair Trust.  I'll call on Monday to see if I can find out more.  My understanding is that in order for a group to be raising money to exert political influence in our state, they must be registered with the SOS.

Another commenter, Kenneth Moyes, representing Citizens for Commonsense Redistricting, essentially echoed Liburdi and stated that work done by Sissons and by Strategic Telemetry for Democratic candidates amounts to a political agenda.  What Moyes and Liburdi both failed to do was establish that the work about which they complained was done for anything other than strictly business interest.  Fee paid for services rendered.  Sissons' client list shows a very diverse range of political interests his work has supported.

Commissioner Stertz asked all of the interviewees about their understanding of and beliefs about Communities of Interest versus competitiveness as relates to the task at hand.  Sissons was the only candidate that had clear, specific insight on the issue.  He said communities of interest, for redistricting purposes, should be, of course, defined by public input.  More specifically, credible calls to be a community of interest must define a geographic area (generally small), citing specific common interests.  Further, Sissons said he believes many people use the term "Communities of Interest" as "code" for safe districts.

The commissioners acknowledged Sissons' well prepared and very detailed proposal.  That's noteworthy in that it dramatically contrasted Douglas Johnson's proposal.  Johnson apparently has 32 years of experience in the business. Overall, my impression is that Johnson was taking it for granted that he would get the contract.  Based on comments made by commissioners, he certainly did not go all out in ensuring a well prepared offer.

In Johnson's interview, whenever a question was presented by (any) one of the commissioners criticizing or asking about any criticism of Johnson or NDC, Johnson's response was -- each and every time -- oh, that was someone else's fault. 

Every single commissioner was aware of the sloppiness of Johnson's proposal.  There apparently were numerous typographical errors.  In a reference to one of Johnson's team members, a Dr. Lisa Hanley, the proposal actually said, "Dr. Lisa Hauser."  Now, some might wonder if that's some kind of Freudian disclosure of Johnson's political bent.

During public comments prior to the interviews, former AIRC Vice-chair Andi Minkoff (2001 -- 2011) had some poignant words to say about Johnson and NDC. The former commissioner read into the record a letter she wrote about National Demographics Corporation.

Minkoff's letter can be found here (page one) and (page two).  Ms. Minkoff previously also had written a letter to California's newly constituted Independent Redistricting Commission, found here (page one) and here (page two) about her experience with NDC.

To me, Johnson's interview and what the commissioners had to say about his proposal are dramatic and timely examples of the kind of shabby workmanship that Ms. Minkoff described in her letters and comments.

As to Strategic Telemetry, I was very skeptical from the start.  Clearly, most of the work Ken Strasma's firm has done has been for Democratic candidates.  Except for that notoriously "liberal" Republican-turned Independent Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City.  Frankly, Strasma's presentation was head and shoulders above all three other firms' presentations.

Prior to starting this company, Strasma had done redistricting work in 30 states.

The most noteworthy observation I could make is that questioning regarding political bias took a different tone than with the other candidate firms.  Commissioner Stertz, a hardcore Republican, clearly seemed impressed by Strasma and asked several times how, if hired, he would suggest the commission respond to those concerned about Strategic Telemetry's perceived bias.  Strasma responded, much the same each time, by emphasizing the meticulous documentation and transparency he provides, has provided before and is prepared to provide at every step in the process.

Strasma was very detailed and thorough in his proposal, again, in great contrast to Doug Johnson and NDC.  Strasma also described a strong technology infrastructure, ability to start immediately, understanding of the DOJ preclearance process and a comprehensive process for collecting, cataloging and indexing public input.

Strasma also seemed to be best prepared to provide training that would allow the commissioners to become fully comfortable understanding and using the software that will be used in drawing the maps.  That goes to remarks Commissioner McNulty made weeks (or perhaps a couple of months) ago that lead me to understand she was not willing to be put in the kind of bind NDC put the last AIRC in.  

The bottom line is that regardless of each commissioner's political affiliation, they ALL want to do the best job they can with the responsibility they have taken on.  None of them is lazy and all have clearly been doing their homework.

The easy thing to do is compare the timeline this year with that of the first AIRC.  But this group knows they want to do things differently.  And they are proceeding deliberately to make it happen this year in a way that they will be proud of in the years to come.

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The next meeting will take place on Wednesday afternoon.  Originally, I had been told it was to be held in Tucson.  That is likely to change.  The latest word I have is NOON, Wednesday, June 29 in Phoenix.  More specific details will be available tomorrow.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Redistricting -- long day

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission met today and many Capitol watchers hoped at the end of the day white smoke would rise from the gathering to indicate a mapping consultant had been chosen.

Thus far, the state redistricting process has seemed painstakingly slow.  Many Arizona political types are now pressing the commission to step up the pace.  Yesterday's Yellow Sheet Report quotes Adolfo Echeveste, who served as executive director for the first AIRC, thusly:

If they have to work night and day and all weekend to tie down that [mapping consultant] contract, that should be the case," he said, noting that the current IRC has burned through March, April, May and almost all of June just to hire staff.

However, after a long day -- the meeting lasted about 9 hours -- this blogger suggested to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, on the record, that they chew over the mapping consultant interviews over the weekend before voting on which firm to hire.  All five commissioners by then looked frazzled. It seemed to me that if they made the decision immediately after the interviews, it would be hasty, rushed, and likely cause all of them a serious case of buyers remorse very shortly after the consultant started its work.

Before I gave my two cents worth, Snell and Wilmer staffer Mike Liburdi, on behalf of something called "Fair Trust" presented "dirt" hoping to sabotage two mapping consultant interviewees, Tony Sissons of Research Advisory Services and Ken Strasma of Strategic Telemetry. Liburdi went so far as to claim that there is no way either RAS or Strategic Telemetry could be considered objective and should be disqualified.

One observer told me he understands Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin has been raising money for Fair Trust. Luburdi told me, with a straight face, that Fair Trust is concerned that Arizona redistricting is done impartially.  I then asked him, point blank, "are you telling me that Andy Tobin is impartial?"  Again, with a straight face, he said "yes."

Another source told me that Arizona's Congressional and legislative Republicans are behind (and raising funds for) Fair Trust.  That would seem to line up with what the Arizona Eagletarian had learned a few months ago that Russell Pearce and other Republicans had met at AZ Diamondbacks General Partner Ken Kendrick's house to launch a fundraising effort to support court challenges to the maps eventually drawn by the IRC.

Rather than give my thoughts now on any of the interviews today, I recommend readers watch/listen to the interviews when they get posted to the IRC website. Executive director Ray Bladine told me earlier today he expects the recording to be posted by (tomorrow, Saturday) morning.

More on today's meeting later in the weekend.

Also on the subject of "Fair Trust,"  Liburdi retreated -- after I challenged him on his silly claim that Andy Tobin is impartial -- looking for his "friend in the red shirt."  That friend, John Mills, was just around the corner (of the hallway) as we waited just outside the executive session starting at the end of today's meeting.

Now, John Mills, shortly after I called him one time to ask for his reaction to something the IRC was doing, has previously advised me that if I want any quotes from him, I need to contact Paul Boyer, Public Information Officer for the Arizona House of Representatives. So, as close as I've been following the AIRC, it just occurred to me today (after someone asked me if Mills was "on the clock") that Mills is almost certainly being paid by taxpayer (general fund) monies to do POLITICAL work.  The person who pointed this out to me even called the House of Representatives asking for Mills.  This person was transferred to Mills' phone, which he apparently answered.  John Mills spent most, if not all, of the day IN the meeting of the Independent Redistricting Commission.

My source also said he understood Mills to be the guy who recruited Green Party candidates to run for State Representative in LD 17 last fall. I asked Mills late today for Boyer's phone number but he did not have it.  I will try to contact Boyer on Monday to get the official House story on Mills.

UPDATE: 11:48pm Friday

I forgot to mention earlier that the AIRC will meet next on Wednesday, June 29 at 2pm in Tucson at a location to be determined.  The agenda will have to be posted not later than 2pm Monday.  I will try to get details, and post them, before Monday afternoon.

I should also mention that I had been hoping the AIRC would meet next on Monday.  Of course, they would have needed to post the agenda already, which was not feasible for a Monday meeting.

UPDATE: 2:10pm Saturday

Recording of yesterday's meeting has not yet been posted.  I'll write more about the meeting this afternoon on Sunday.

AHCCCS cuts -- back to square 1 for plaintiffs

The Arizona Supreme Court today decided to throw the entire petition for special action filed by Tim Hogan and the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest out by declining to take original jurisdiction.  Presumably, that means Hogan et. al. will regroup and file suit in Maricopa County Superior Court next week.

The text of the order:

The Court has read and considered Petitioners’ Motion for Injunctive Relief and Expedited Consideration, their Request for Oral Argument on that motion, responses to Petitioners’ Motion for Injunctive Relief and Expedited Consideration, and the Petition for Special Action and the responses to the Petition for Special Action.

IT IS ORDERED granting the Motion for Expedited Consideration.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Motion for Injunctive Relief and
the Request for Oral Argument are denied.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Court declines to accept
jurisdiction of the Petition for Special Action.
It was signed by Vice-Chief Justice Andrew Hurwitz.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Redistricting -- mapping consultant interviews

The Arizona Eagletarian just learned that there will be NO live streaming online video during tomorrow's meeting of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

The concern, as I understand it, is that if the mapping consultant interviews are broadcast, it could give advantage to later interviewees -- if they observe the earlier interviews.

So, if you want to know what is going on as it happens, you will have to be there.  Don't forget that they will make a public comment period available after the interviews.  Otherwise, they are hoping to have the video posted to the IRC website before Saturday morning.

I might be able to post an update during the lunch break tomorrow, but will not reflect at that time about the morning interviews.

AHCCCS cuts -- the state legislature responds

Yesterday, pursuant to ARS § 12-1841 attorneys for Senate President Pearce and House Speaker Tobin filed a response to Tim Hogan's petition for special action regarding pending cuts to AHCCCS, Arizona's Medicaid program for low income citizens.

The statute essentially says that if any state law is alleged to be unconstitutional, the Senate Pres. and the House Speaker have a right to be heard in court on the matter.

In this case, Pearce and Tobin argue that the court should not accept special action jurisdiction.  They argue that Prop. 204 does not appropriate general fund monies or provide any open-ended appropriation to provide medical care to the target population.  Acknowledging the legislative power of the voters in the initiative process, they also argue that no legislative act can bind a future legislature.

So, the plot thickens.  Given the petitioners' request for an injunction to prevent the cuts from taking place on July 1, it seems reasonable to expect to hear some kind of response from the Arizona Supreme Court within the next week.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

AHCCCS cuts -- Arizona responds

On behalf of the State of Arizona, Atty. Gen. Tom Horne filed responses to Tim Hogan's petition for special action and request for an injunction to prevent the AHCCCS cuts from taking place July 1.  Horne did so because of the Arizona Constitution implications of the case.  However, staff attorneys for Gov. Brewer as well as the law firms of Ballard Spahr (Joe Kanefield, former Brewer staff atty.) and the Johnston Law Offices PLC on behalf of AHCCCS director Tom Betlach also filed responses.

On first glance, it appears Ballard Spahr's response is focused on interpretation of Prop 204, the voter initiative which amended the state constitution to require AHCCCS coverage for all Arizona citizens with incomes at or less than 100 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

One of the arguments the Governor and Betlach's response makes is that efforts were made by the agency and the state legislature to enhance revenue and cut expenses to deal with unprecedented fiscal crisis and therefore there IS NO other available funding to provide the coverage mandated by voters in Prop 204.

Also noteworthy tangentially, the response filed by Ballard Spahr (which is also Republican counsel for the IRC) certainly does not look like the work of a "Liberal law firm," as public comments at recent redistricting commission meetings have alleged.

If readers are interested in reading the responses filed yesterday and today in this case, drop me a line at the email address noted in the left hand column of the blog and I will get them posted where they can be downloaded.

Redistricting -- selection of mapping consultant

This morning, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission posted the agenda for its next meeting.  It will be held on Friday, June 24, at 9am in the State Capitol Executive Tower, third floor conference room.

Currently, three mapping consultant interviews are scheduled before lunch and one after.  There will be opportunity for public comment both before and after the interviews.

The commissioners will also discuss and evaluate the interviewees and may go into executive session to obtain legal advice or review confidential documents.  If the experience of this particular commission is any indication, the meeting will be long (as would be the executive session) and may be continued on the following day.

Because of the significance of selection of mapping consultants to the core mission of the AIRC, I would expect a good bit of public and media interest in this particular meeting.  You may park either on the East side (in Wesley Bolin Plaza) or West side (off of 19th Avenue) of the Capitol.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hurray for clean air!

The Arizona Corporation Commission has decided to wait another month before considering a request to allow Mohave County to build a trash burning electricity generating facility in Maricopa County.  The item was on the agenda for today's ACC open meeting, but at the request of Commissioner Sandra Kennedy put it off until July.

The request (ACC docket number E-01750A-10-0453) will, if approved, allow Mohave Electric Cooperative, Inc. to meet renewable energy requirements until 2023 without building any new generating facilities using solar or wind.  To get an idea about the Phoenix area's air quality now select Arizona on the EPAs AIRNow website.    Do you want to have to breathe air made even more toxic by burning trash on the west side of Maricopa County (prevailing winds would push the exhaust over most county residents most of the time)?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Redistricting -- next meeting

Pursuant to citizen suggestions at the last meeting, the IRC this afternoon issued a tentative meeting notice for Friday morning, June 24 at 9am.


The meeting likely will be held in the State Capitol Executive Tower.  The primary purpose is to allow for presentations by and interviews of potential mapping consultants.

If a decision is not made by the end of the day on Friday, the Commission might decide to continue the meeting on Saturday.

When I have more information, I'll let you know.  And given that official notice has not been issued, this is subject to change.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Redistricting -- last Wednesday's meeting

After finally watching the video recording of last Wednesday's meeting of the Independent Redistricting Commission, there are insights worth sharing with you.

Thirteen people spoke during the public comment period before the Commission went into executive session.  The themes are, as I mentioned before, familiar. A couple of people said they represented Tea Party groups.  Several were Republican precinct committeemen. 

Two women mentioned their participation in Smart Girl Politics, a group that says that it co-sponsored a 2009 Nationwide Tax Day Tea Party movement. One of these ladies even specifically stated, "Communities of Interest is the most important of the criteria" the IRC should consider when drawing the new maps.

People who talked about Saddlebrook Ranch and Oro Valley emphasized Communities of Interest and explicitly stated their preference that district lines change very little. [a summary of Communities of Interest in various state laws is found here] People from Rita Ranch and LD 30 also emphasized Communities of Interest. James Kelley, GOP chairman of LD29 (who blogs at The Cholla Jumps) expressed desire that his district lines change a lot.

According to those speaking as residents of Saddlebrook Ranch, in Pinal County, they feel more affinity with Tucson, Pima County and LD 26 than with Pinal County.

Sorting through the comments people make during these "on-the-record" events can be a chore.  Some of what people say must be overlooked.  Only some of it. One gentleman specifically called on the IRC to conduct the executive sessions out in the open, for the public to observe.  A couple of people said that the amount of public notice given prior to meetings is inadequate.

Obviously, when a person asks the Commission to do something contrary to the law, the request must be disregarded.  But wanting more than 48 hours notice is certainly not unreasonable (or unlawful).  What are the implications of providing more than 48 hours notice?

Publication of the meeting agenda establishes constraints on the Commission and on the meeting.  No item can lawfully be acted on if it has not been included in the published agenda.  A meeting to conduct official business cannot be conducted at a time or location that has not been given proper public notice.  BUT -- might it be possible to provide tentative advance notice of meetings, subject to change until the legal notice has been given?

Given the requests made by citizens at Wednesday's meeting, perhaps the commission, on its website can say when meetings are expected, with a disclaimer that it is not the official notice and that until such notice is given, details of the meeting are subject to change.  Of course, it's also a good idea for you to tell your friends that the Arizona Eagletarian will let people know as early as possible prior to IRC meetings. 

According to discussion between Commissioners and Exec. dir. Bladine during Wednesday's meeting, it looks like the schedule of public outreach meetings will be made public, including on social media like facebook, well ahead of the expected July 11th start date.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Redistricting update

Only a brief update this afternoon.

AIRC staff now projects public outreach meetings will begin around July 11th.

I have also learned that the state procurement office response to Lisa Hauser's legal services protest will be issued on June 24th (an additional week after originally expected).

Thursday, June 16, 2011

AHCCCS cuts

Many Arizonans already know that the state legislature along with Gov. Brewer enacted a budget for the upcoming fiscal year (beginning July 1) that drastically reduces the enrollment in AHCCCS, the state's Medicaid program to provide health care to low-income citizens.

On May 23rd, Tim Hogan filed a special action in the Arizona Supreme Court saying those cuts are unconstitutional and asking the state's highest court to block the cuts.  At that time, the Court scheduled the case for next fall, just to consider accepting jurisdiction.  Because the cuts are due to be enacted two weeks from now, Hogan today filed a motion for expedited consideration and for an injunction to prevent the state from cutting the enrollment. 

Additionally, attorney John Dacey, a partner at Gammage and Burnham (Lisa Hauser's law firm), filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Arizona Council of Human Service Providers and the Maricopa Consumer Advocates and Providers to provide the Court "more background on voters' continuing support for [AHCCCS] coverage even during these difficult economic times."

Hogan's motion argues that there is a strong likelihood that low income Arizonans will be unlawfully denied coverage on July 1; that the balance of hardships weighs heavily in favor of the petitioners; and that there is strong likelihood of success on the merits of the case.  Therefore, based on those arguments, the motion asks the Court to immediately enjoin the AHCCCS from denying health care to any eligible person as defined in statute (in ARS 36-2901.01(A)) as any person whose income is below 100 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

ARS 36-2901.01(A) specifically notes that the voters or the legislature may change the eligibility statute, but only to make it MORE inclusive, not less.

When the Court responds to today's filings, I'll post about it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Redistricting -- what happened?

As I posted this morning, there appears to have been technical difficulties with the system to provide live streaming online coverage of today's meeting of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.  However, thanks to a faithful reader of the Arizona Eagletarian, I have some information on what took place today.

Roughly three dozen members of the public (not counting commissioners and staff) attended. Several members of the public offered comments about some now familiar themes.  Residents from Pinal County (Saddlebrook Ranch) and Rita Ranch (currently in LD30) and other areas expressed concern for keeping their Communities of Interest in the same districts; at least one person again mentioned displeasure with Lisa Hauser not being given a legal services contract by the AIRC.  At least two former candidates for Congress from Tucson (Republican Randy Graf and Democrat Jeff Latta) attended today.

Someone also apparently was displeased about the amount of public notice given ahead of IRC meetings.  Privately, if not publicly, some attendees noted that if people had been reading the Arizona Eagletarian regularly, they would know well ahead of time when meetings are scheduled.

The Commission retired into executive session for two hours this morning and another two hours this  afternoon to discuss mapping consultant proposals.  They decided to invite four of the bidders to make presentations on Friday next week (June 24).  If all goes well, two firms will interview in the morning and two in the afternoon, after which commissioners will vote on which firm(s) to offer a contract.  The invitees are: Strategic Telemetry (based in Washington, DC) ; NDC (National Demographics Corp.; offices in AZ and CA); Research Advisory Services (based in Phoenix); and TerraSystems SW (based in Tucson).

When I am able to listen/watch the recording of today's meeting, I will update this post.

UPDATE - 4pm Thursday:

The recording from yesterday's meeting has not yet been posted to the IRC website, so it might be Saturday before I am able to listen to it and report more detail.

Redistricting -- oopsy!

This morning's meeting of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is taking place, but not currently being broadcast online.  The only word I've been able to get thus far is that "there are issues. They are trying." Because the previous meeting, from Phoenix, streamed online as expected, I had decided to try to observe this one online from home. 

If something changes, I'll let people know here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Redistricting tidbits

As previously posted, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission will meet tomorrow morning (June 15), 9:30am in the Council Chambers of the Town of Oro Valley.

Other than public comments, the primary agenda item is discussion (likely to be held in executive session) of mapping consultant proposals, listed here with links to bidders' websites.

This morning, I heard back from Alan Ecker, State Procurement Office spokesman about Lisa Hauser's legal services contract protest.  He provided only two bits of information: that "susceptible for award" is a "term of art" among procurement professionals (and that it is apparently somewhere in the State Procurement Code, which is found in Arizona Revised Statutes Title 41, Chapter 23); and that the SPO response to Hauser's protest will be released on Friday.  He will not be able to comment further on the protest until the response is made public.  He did say he would call me back to let me know where in the procurement code I can fine the expression "susceptible for award."

My hunch is that SPO will tell Hauser "tough luck" or some variation of that expression.

AIRC exec. dir. Bladine told me today that he expects the citizen outreach hearings to begin the first week of July.  ASU Political Science Professor Jennifer Steen told me that June 11th was the 10-year anniversary of the first public hearing by the first AIRC.

Besides the public mapping contest sponsored by the Arizona Competitive Districts Coalition, community leaders in Flagstaff have already been working on proposals to submit regarding where to draw legislative districts in northern Arizona.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Redistricting update

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission continues to gear up for the real work it needs to do, redrawing the Congressional and legislative districts for the state to be used in elections for the next 10 years.

We learned just two days ago that Lisa Hauser, Republican counsel for the first AIRC in 2001, protested her disqualification from this year's redistricting.  As reported here previously, the only relief she requested was reversal of the determination that her law firm, Gammage and Burnham, was "not susceptible for award."  Hauser's protest letter is 12 pages long.  State Procurement Office PIO Alan Ecker told me this afternoon that exhibits Hauser submitted with her letter total about 300 pages.

I posed several questions to Mr. Ecker today.  He promised to get back to me with answers on Monday morning.

Questions remain as to whether Hauser's protest is strictly symbolic or whether she did this to lay the foundation for future action.

Also this week, on a different subject, AIRC exec. dir. Bladine told me he has acquired access to approximately 70 boxes of documents from the 2001 AIRC.  He expects to review many of those documents to get insight on what was done last time and what can be done differently this time.  Counsel will also review documents from IRC litigation to prepare for whatever they may face in the months to come.

Yesterday, the mapping consultant RFP closed.  Seven companies submitted timely proposals. Some are local firms, some regional or national. Looking at looking at company websites, it's clear some are either new to redistricting or are only capable of addressing portions of the RFP. The bidders are:

Strategic Telemetry Inc.  Based in Washington, DC.

Research Advisory Services.  Local firm founded by Tony Sissons.

National Demographics Corporation.  Offices in Arizona and California.  Founded in 1979.  President Douglas Johnson was quoted today in the North County Times (N. San Diego County & SW Riverside County, CA) as a fellow of the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College.

NAVTEQ North America LLC.  An apparently HUGE company boasting more than 1000 geographic analysts but not indicating experience in redistricting in describing its work for government entities.

Azavea Inc.   based in Philadelphia.

GIS Southwest, Inc  Phoenix based company.

TERRASYSTEMS SOUTHWEST INC.  Tucson based company.

---

The next meeting of the AIRC is scheduled for Wednesday, June 15, at 9:30am.  The agenda will be posted Monday morning.  I understand the meeting will be at the government offices of the Town of Oro Valley

Schweikert town hall June 9th

About 50 people, mostly from Tempe, met with Congressman David Schweikert and Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman at the Pyle Adult Center Thursday afternoon to converse about the federal government financial situation.

The town hall was billed as a listening session.  A quick google search suggests such a description, often used these days for interactive meetings between elected officials or government agencies and citizens' groups, is often more hopeful than anything.   

Give Mr. Schweikert credit for remaining upbeat through more than an hour and a half of questions from people, many of whom expressed serious concern about the Ryan budget and the growing threat to "reform" (privatize, aka eliminate) Medicare.  He had plenty of charts and graphs and tried really hard to get through them while welcoming a steady stream of questions.

I'm not sure the Congressman was able to effectively get much information across, but it wasn't for lack of trying.  Overall, the subject of the federal government budget is just not an easy thing to help a group of disconcerted constituents get a grasp of in a short amount of time.  After all, he has years of experience as a county treasurer, and still puts in several hours each week studying in order to understand it.  


He did throw out a trial balloon asking people if they might be willing at some point in the (hopefully near) future to sit through a two hour meeting where he could actually make a presentation and then open it up for questions and a dialogue.  If he brings more than just charts and graphs, with analogies or comparisons or illustrations (or all of the above) that relate the numbers to things that draw pictures and scenarios out for his audience, it might work.

Mr. Schweikert also deserves kudos for acknowledging that a large part of the problem in Congress is partisan rhetoric.  He made a concerted effort to minimize his use of potentially inflammatory language and I think it helped him and those in the audience.

By the way, Mayor Hallman held forth, initially just to provide an introduction to the Congressman, about Tempe's property taxes for a full half hour before Mr. Schweikert finally took the floor.  Trying to explain some of the concepts related to Tempe's finances and property taxes, Hallman explained his goal of being able to stabilize the property tax system for the city before he leaves office.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that Hallman grew noticeably defensive when challenged by questions from the audience.  Schweikert, on the other hand, remained warmly gracious throughout the time he was peppered with even more pointed questioning.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Redistricting -- Hauser protests Legal Services contract award

The Arizona Eagletarian learned this evening that on June 3rd, Lisa Hauser, a partner in the law firm of Gammage & Burnham, filed a protest regarding the award of legal services contracts by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.  Hauser did not, however, either request the procurement process to be re-done or that either of the contracts awarded (to Osborne Maledon and to Ballard Spahr) be terminated.

Rather, the 12 page protest letter goes into great detail expressing Hauser's displeasure at being deemed "not susceptible for award."  The only relief she requests is reversal of that determination.

The five paragraph conclusion to the letter characterizes this particular procurement process thusly,

Some observers have commented that what transpired during this procurement does not bode well for the rest of the redistricting process. There appears to be a sharp partisan divide on the Commission that was highlighted and perhaps exacerbated by this process.

...A majority of the Commission has a right to select the counsel of their choice. But it is a shame that it had to be on a 3 to 2 vote hostile to both Republican members of the Commission and against a backdrop of so many procurement irregularities.  This does little to instill confidence in the Commission going forward.
I will try to find out more about this situation in the morning.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Redistricting -- on your mark, get ready...

When I think "hologram" I think of the movie, Star Wars. Though details have faded in my mind, I recall Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker appearing by way of holographic representation at a meeting of some sort.

Clearly, not yet 3-dimensional, the teleconferencing set up now in use for Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission meetings seems futuristic.  For now.  Maybe next month we'll start to wonder how we ever lived without this technology.

Using a Skype commercial account, three commissioners in one office in Tucson, one commissioner (Herrera) at his office in Phoenix, and Commissioner Freeman -- along with Commission staff, legal counsel, reporters and several members of the public at the IRC office in Phoenix -- met by teleconference this morning.

Besides Phoenix area residents, people drove in from Tucson and Northern Arizona to attend. At the Phoenix office, those not physically present were visually projected onto a white board and could easily be heard on the audio set up.  This was also the first meeting which could be viewed by live online streaming video (and audio).  To my knowledge, there's been no feedback received by the IRC yet to let them know how that turned out.  The link for watching online is prominently displayed on the IRC website home page.

As to official business conducted by the Commission this morning, Jean Clark, SPO administrator gave a brief update on the RFP and the Commission went into executive session to deal with scoring criteria for potential mapping consultants.

Before that, three people gave public comments.

Geri Ottoboni-Gilmore, who spoke last week suggesting that more detailed minutes be posted for meetings, today told the Commission she would like more meetings in Tucson and/or to be able to watch live online.  Gilmore told me that her daughter is deaf. She also knows others in the deaf community who would like to be able to keep up on the Commission's meetings.

Marilyn Zurell, representing the Pima County Republican Women's Club, bemoaned the hiring of "two Liberal" law firms to provide legal counsel to the Commission.

And Leonard Gorman, executive director of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission said, on the record, that he believes all of Arizona's indigenous nations should be considered one Community of Interest for redistricting purposes this year.  He also noted that the 63.97% Native American voting age population threshold (for Voting Rights Act district purposes) should be maintained or exceeded this year.  He encouraged the IRC to hold meetings in Flagstaff.

The next meeting is currently scheduled for Wednesday, June 15, at 9:30am in Tucson.  The main agenda item will be consideration of responses to the mapping consultant RFP.  Tentative dates for a subsequent meeting are Weds. - Fri. June 22 -- 24 (one of those days, not all of them).

Friday, June 3, 2011

Redistricting -- After review, the call on the field stands!

Wow.  Gosh. Golly.

Just HOW testy things did things get on Tuesday? 

The entire recording showed everyone remained completely civil.  But the issues discussed were, indeed, contentious.

The salient points of the discussion boil down to the four questions mapping consultant RFP responders posed.  They posed them to SPO (state procurement office) and SPO relayed them to the IRC.

  • Would the IRC want the contractor to incorporate data from the American Community Survey (see section 8 on the linked page) into the database used to draw the maps?
  • Would the IRC want the contractor to incorporate past election data into the database?
  • Would the IRC require the contractor to verify the accuracy of the Census Data incorporated into the database?
  • Would the IRC consider partial responses to the RFP?
The first three questions are answered in the amendment to the RFP issued on June 1, and referenced in the previous post to this blog.

The fourth question was the focus of the bulk of the 2-hour discussion held publicly.  It would not surprise me if it also took up a good bit of the executive session.

Stertz seemed adamant that the IRC should consider only bidders addressing all phases of the RFP.  However, McNulty, Herrera and Mathis all persisted in suggesting it's reasonable to consider that one contractor may not best fulfill all requirements.  Freeman seemed to recognize the wisdom of leaving options open to hire multiple contractors.

Herrera eventually expressed his frustration with Stertz by wondering out loud if Stertz has a particular contractor he wants to see awarded the contract.  McNulty expressed her frustration by prefacing the motion to go into executive session by saying "the only reason several of us agreed to this RFP is because we were assured by SPO that we could accept partial bids."

At the end of the two hour recording, they finally did go into executive session to consider confidential documents and legal advice.  Stertz resisted that move, explaining why he did not want to do so.  Executive director Bladine interjected that his experience suggests that the more detail they discuss openly (instead of retiring to executive session) the more exposure they get to protests or lawsuits.  Earlier, legal counsel (Joe Kanefield and Mary O'Grady) had advised that discussion of detail should wait until executive session. 

Though Freeman clearly (from his remarks during the discussion) did not take issue with wanting to keep options open for multiple contractors, he did vote with Stertz against the motion to go into executive session.

IRC staff forgot to turn the recorder back on after the executive session.  The Commission did provide guidance for SPO to amend the RFP.  The close date is now, as I've mentioned in the previous post, June 9 at 3pm. 

The Commission will next meet on Monday morning, 10:30am, primarily to consider rating criteria in detail (specifically how to score responses).  Because people showed up at the previous meeting wanting to put comments on the record, Monday's agenda also includes time for public comment.  Bladine told me arrangements have been made to start providing the streaming video online.  Therefore, it is possible, but not certain, the (public portion) of the meeting might be streamed online.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Redistricting -- changes to mapping RFP

Hopefully, after reviewing the recording of Tuesday's public discussion of the legal questions posed by prospective mapping consultants, I will get more insight on the dynamics at play within the IRC, among commissioners and legal counsel.

For now, I have looked at the amended RFP and think I've identified the differences between it and the first version.   Those who want to look at the RFP themselves (by clicking on the link) may have to acknowledge a disclaimer before getting to the actual RFP.  If the link does not work, you can go to the public notices page on Procure AZ, click on the first link in the middle column, then look for RFP ADSPO11-00000704.

New language added to the RFP in the Statement of Work section includes:


The consultant shall be responsible for any verification that is necessary to ensure the accuracy of the census data, as well as, verifying that the election data is complete and advising the Commission if it is not.
and

At its discretion, the AIRC may require additional census, voting and/or elections information to be integrated into the redistricting database for analysis as necessary to demonstrate compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Such sources of information may include the Department of Justice’s tabulation of American Community Survey’s data regarding citizen voting-age population by race and ethnicity, as well as, precinct-level election data from the past decade that is available from the Arizona Secretary of State. Precinct-level data is available on the Secretary of State’s website (www.azsos.gov/election/PreviousYears.htm). Estimated costs for these items are to be provided as separate line items on the Attachment “3” - Pricing.
Further, evaluation criteria to determine who gets a contract is modified to read (new language in bold):


3.5 Evaluation. Offers shall be evaluated based on the following evaluation criteria, listed in their relative order of importance.
3.5.1 Methodology for Performance of Work; Statement of Work Requirements 2.1 through 2.16
3.5.2 Capacity of Offeror; Breadth of Services, Firm’s Experience/Political and Financial Backgrounds, Key Personnel Experience
3.5.3 Cost; and
3.5.4 Conformance to Terms and Conditions and Instructions.
Thus, while those trying to observe the process closely may experience frustration at the seemingly painstaking pace at this point, it is clear to me that the most recent amendment (which does, in fact, extend the close to June 9 at 3pm and shows a new expected award date of July 1) was necessary to address potentially material gaps in expectations.  If those gaps had gone unaddressed, it no doubt would have introduced more frustration and certain chaos further on in the process.

So, kudos to the bidders who raised the questions.

-----

UPDATE 10:30pm Thursday evening (6/2)

I now see that the video recording of the May 31 public meeting of the IRC has been posted.  It's 2 hours long.  Therefore, I will see about viewing it in the morning and will report in a new post to this blog.