Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Redistricting -- Pinetop hearing and more

On Saturday afternoon, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission held a Public Outreach Hearing in Pinetop, AZ with remote teleconferencing locations in Holbrook and Winslow. The internet signal for the live streaming video slowed, frequently causing skips and making it difficult, but not impossible, to follow. 

A common theme, among those addressing the Commission today, was a call for two rural Congressional districts and eight rural legislative districts.  At other hearings in northern Arizona, some called for an eastern and a western Arizona rural Congressional district. Most who addressed this issue on Saturday preferred the idea of a northern and a southern district.  And several of them stated emphatically they believe Flagstaff should NOT be included in the same district as Pinetop and other Northern and Eastern Arizona towns.

I wondered whether this was a concern about a certain person or political party.  The current Representative from Arizona's First Congressional District, Paul Gosar, is a longtime Flagstaff resident, Dentist and small businessman.  However, Gosar's two immediate predecessors, Ann Kirkpatrick and Rick Renzi, also are or were based in Flagstaff.  Gosar and Renzi are Republicans, Kirkpatrick is a Democrat.  The district extends from Flagstaff, across most of northern and eastern Arizona, including Pinetop, then south to Pinal County and Casa Grande.

Three people took the opportunity to repeat the tired tea party talking points, with characteristic disdain for the Commission.  One woman actually addressed the young man from Strategic Telemetry, Willie Desmond, who attends the hearings to make a presentation on the process and to take notes during public testimony to assist with the aggregation of the comments.

That woman attempted to call Desmond out about his employer's experience with the redistricting process.  Chair Colleen Mathis had to remind her that neither Commissioners nor staff could answer questions from the public at that time.  Make no mistake, the people trying to disrupt, distract and divert the course of the hearings ARE tea partiers.  And they invariably repeat the same points, sometimes verbatim.

AIRC staff at the Winslow remote site reported that approximately 10 citizens showed up to testify.  Because of technical difficulties, or rather technological deficiencies with telecommunications in rural northern and/or eastern Arizona, people in Winslow could not hear what was going on in Pinetop.  Because local law enforcement had heard that tea partiers might try to disrupt the Winslow gathering, the police chief and two or three other uniformed officers showed up.

The telecommunications problems occurred in both directions. It was extremely difficult for those in Winslow to be heard in Pinetop.  Executive Director Bladine, at the site in Winslow, told the folks he would be happy to record their testimony by phone on the AIRC toll-free phone line when he is back at the office in the upcoming week.

Freedom of expression is one thing.  Putting concerted effort into undermining Arizona's INDEPENDENT Redistricting Commission and process is something else altogether.  I hope the Commission is able to put a stop to the undermining effort somehow.

The tea party's tired, overworked, incredibly lame set of false allegations should have run its course by now.  The Arizona Republic's Mary Jo Pitzl claimed, during the Journalists Roundtable this week on Channel 8's Horizon, that the "real flash point" was the decision to hire Strategic Telemetry.  However, the infernal tea party complaints, during AIRC business meetings, started immediately after Joe Kanefield, former legal counsel for Gov. Brewer was awarded a contract (more than two months ago).

The chatter in the business meetings, as well as in most of the outreach hearings, has been consistent, loud and irritating.  The Commission has succeeded, except for the one business meeting in Tucson, at staying focused on its core responsibility.

Also on Friday's Horizon, Arizona Capitol Times reporter Luigi Del Puerto claimed that state Sen. Andy Biggs has been a voice of caution. He said Biggs has been suggesting to GOP lawmakers not to rush into any hasty actions.  However, Biggs, on Senate letterhead, filed a two page Public Records Request, dated July 15, demanding copies of pretty much everything in every file held by the Commission.  Being a (no longer practicing) attorney, Biggs KNOWS how to make people drown in paper.


Back in February, when ASU law professor Paul Bender was still in the running to become chairman of the AIRC, Norris Norvold suggested that GOP legislative leaders would put a financial squeeze on the redistricting panel if Bender was selected.  Obviously, the four appointed Commissioners declined to choose Bender and that bullet was avoided.

Then came former AIRC Republican legal counsel Lisa Hauser protest of the legal services procurement process.  It appeared she would cause trouble when Joe Kanefield was awarded a contract instead of her. Hauser has since backed off of the Commission, but now represents Russell Pearce in the legal action in Maricopa County Superior Court trying to get his recall election called off.  Pearce, of course, has been known to be vindictive.  

So, would it be much of a stretch of the imagination to figure that Andy Biggs' attempt to drown the AIRC in paper is an effort to overload staff and put a strain on the already tight money appropriated from the state general fund for the Commission?  How likely would Russell Pearce be to offer to increase the AIRC appropriation at this stage of the game?

Mary Jo Pitzl also mentioned she had talked with state Rep. Terri Proud (R-Lynne St. Angelo)* on Friday.  Proud, who has called for repeal of Prop 106,  apparently said that because of Attorney General Horne's investigation, any action by the legislature has been put "on the back burner."  However, Proud, just four days earlier, and AFTER Horne's investigation was announced, delivered another punch in the effort to make the AIRC drown in paper.



Pitzl also said that Proud's internet petition calling for removal of Colleen Mathis has gotten a low number of signatures.  In contrast, a petition addressed to Gov. Brewer, telling her to "Keep Colleen Mathis as independent chair of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission" has collected more than 4,000 signatures so far.

* Terri Proud is apparently PROUD of her tea party affiliation. She officially represents LD-26 in the Arizona House of Representatives.  LD-26 is essentially NW Tucson with the Town of Oro Valley smack dab in the middle of it.  Lynne St. Angelo, who hails from Oro Valley, is the tea party organizer who has been among the loudest and longest complainers about decisions made by the AIRC.

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And while I'm at it, I would be remiss to not take another shot (across the bow, of course, nothing more direct) at the UNfair Trust and its mouthpieces, David Cantelme and Michael Liburdi.  Both Cantelme and Liburdi have gotten overtly hostile and verbally attacked me after I posed questions about the funding and membership of their CLANDESTINE lobbying group.

These bozos should take a lesson from the Prescott Valley Town Council.  The PVTC approved an agreement with former councilman Mike Flannery to represent its interests before the AIRC. The agreement provides $2,600 to cover Flannery's out of pocket expenses and overnight accommodations.

How much would you bet that Cantelme and Liburdi are getting significantly more than $2,600 to represent Andy Tobin and company's interests while trying to co-opt minority interests before the AIRC?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Redistricting -- Window Rock hearing/drowning in paper

On Friday, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission conducted a Public Outreach Hearing in Window Rock, capitol of the Navajo Nation.  Today, the Commission is in Pinetop, with remote teleconferencing to/from Winslow and Holbrook.  The hearing will start at 1pm. Watch live streaming video here.

Roughly 15 members of the public attended the hearing in Window Rock with 6 providing testimony to the Commission.  Current state Rep. Albert Hale as well as members and staff of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission set forth the position of the Navajo Nation on the upcoming redistricting.

Leonard Gorman, executive director of the NNHRC submitted maps to be entered into the official record with suggested district lines. He also indicated that Hopi officials have assured him they are very comfortable with the idea of having the two nations in the same Congressional districts, in contrast to the 2001 maps.

NO tea party disruptions occurred at the Window Rock hearing.
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Pursuant to a public records request I submitted to the AIRC, I obtained documents submitted by two current lawmakers clearly intended to make AIRC staff drown in paper.  I will write about (and post) those documents later today.

Word from the Pinetop location just prior to start of today's hearing is that there IS a tea party presence.  How much of a disruption they cause is yet to be seen.

An online news story posted on Thursday ahead of  the Prescott hearing has an embedded video clip of LD1 state Sen. Steve Pierce telling a Republican men's group about the AIRC, suggesting they attend the hearing. The clip is followed by quotes from AZ House Speaker Andy Tobin saying the apparent problems with the Commission are a "trend all Fair Arizonans should be concerned about."


Last night on Phoenix public broadcasting station KAETs Horizon, the Arizona Republic's Mary Jo Pitzl discussed Horne's investigation and said that the controversy over the AIRC procurement decisions is starting to subside.  However, that may be a bit premature.  The Pinetop hearing starts in a few minutes.  Will have to see what happens.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Redistricting -- Prescott/Cottonwood hearing and more UPDATED

Despite an email blast addressed "Dear Patriot-Friends of Yavapai Tea Party," the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission held its Yavapai County Public Outreach Hearing on time with 33 people providing testimony in an orderly manner on how they want the new district lines drawn.

AIRC Chair Colleen Mathis called at least another half-dozen names of people that left before their turn to speak came. The Prescott Daily Courier notes that the hearing room was standing room only.


Here's the text of the tea party's fear-mongering message this time:

There’s a big problem brewing in Arizona with the current redrawing of voter-district boundaries.

Our friends from other tea party groups have reported actions by the current redistricting commissio...n that show a definite liberal/progressive bias for chopping our State up into revised districts that would water down our ability to elect representatives who subscribe to our conservative, Constitutional, less government, free-market, secure borders principles and positions.

IMPORTANT DATE: This same commission will be holding a public-input hearing in our area:

This Thursday, July 28th, 6 p.m.

Board of Supervisors Hearing Room (1st Floor)
1015 Fair St. in Prescott

WE NEED OUR PEOPLE AT THIS MEETING: We need our people to show up and speak up!
-- snip --

This may well be the most important issue Arizonans will face right up to the 2012 elections.

Our Federal and State voting districts cannot afford to be fooled with by the radical change-mongers.

Be on board with your fellow patriots...Be aware and informed...and Be at the hearing this Thursday!

United We (must continue to) Stand...God Bless America! (emphasis mine)
Of course, the possibility exists that the claim in the tea party blast is correct.  But ONLY if -- in the words of those testifying tonight -- that's what we'd get by restoring COMMON SENSE to the legislative and Congressional districts.  Several people stated they want to see that none of the districts are so SAFE elected lawmakers continue to be indifferent to the majority of voters AFTER primary elections. 


Among the common themes tonight was to establish two rural/greater Arizona Congressional districts (outside of Maricopa and Pima Counties) and to ensure new legislative and Congressional districts do not split counties.  Many expressed preference that competitiveness be HIGH on the list of priorities for drawing the new lines.

Several also mentioned "communities of interest."  However, a number of those people described the concept noting it is NOT at direct odds with competitiveness. This is significant because AIRC Commissioner Rick Stertz has, in numerous public meetings, on the record, posed that these things are either/or as opposed to and/both.  In other words, he has suggested that competitiveness can only be had at the expense of communities of interest.  Several people disagreed with that notion.

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Pursuant to a public records request I filed with the AIRC, I obtained a letter that UNfair Trust attorney David Cantelme submitted on July 18 to "emphasize and amplify several points" he made during his testimony at the July 8 meeting of the Commission. However, I believe Cantelme's five page letter was intended to blur and obscure his underlying motives and message.  Citing the Arizona Constitution and case law, Cantelme, on the surface set forth the only valid definition of competitiveness he believes the AIRC must use when drawing the new lines.


Cantelme also says,
A certain conventional wisdom has developed that your predecessor commission failed to develop an adequate number of competitive districts after application of the state constitutional criteria.  As is common with conventional wisdom, the facts prove it to be in error, belied by actual election results.
After listing the number of Democrats and Republicans elected in Arizona races for the U.S. House of Representatives, Cantelme offers:
I venture to say that few if any other states can match this record for competitiveness in the last three general elections.
Translated into English, the underlying meaning to this claim is that "I want you to believe my claim without me even offering to provide any evidence to back it up."  THIS is the ESSENCE of Cantelme's message.  Provide a dramatically verbose recitation of case law to DISTRACT and DECEIVE.

Cantelme's UNfair Trust manifesto further says:
Since 2002, I have argued that, to proceed fairly, evenly, and transparently, the Commission must define communities of interest and competitiveness and apply the adopted definitions equally around the state.  It will undercut the public's confidence in the Commission if it adopts an I-know-it-when-I-see-it-approach, in lieu of definitions evenly applied statewide.
Does ANYONE in their right mind believe that Cantelme represents the broad view of the public?  He has declared with boldness and impunity that he represents a group he claims is a "Fair Trust" but STEADFASTLY REFUSES to disclose who is paying him to write that bulls*it.

If the AIRC follows Cantelme's advice -- and I'd bet dollars to donuts that Rick Stertz and Scott Freeman will try to get the Commission to do just that -- the ONLY thing it will accomplish is to buttonhole the Commission and give Cantelme something tangible to use in developing the inevitable lawsuit challenging the end result (maps) of this entire process.

On the issue of the Voting Rights Act, Cantelme cites several court cases before getting to the essence of his scheme.
We further urge the Commission to determine in open hearing what level of voting-age population it will require in minority districts to ensure the rights of minorities to elect candidates of their choice.
-- snip --
...to anyone who suggests that coalition or influence districts can be created for the sake of drawing more competitive districts, we respond that doing so violates voting rights and must be rejected. This is not what Arizona wanted when its voters passed Proposition 106. The voting rights of our minority citizens are sacred and cannot be sacrificed for other ends. (emphasis mine)
This, dear reader, is the ESSENCE of what Andy Tobin (reportedly one of the key drivers of UNfair Trust) is up to.  FEIGNING concern for the voting rights of minorities only to use them as justification to continue the GOP dominance of the Arizona legislature that they have ENJOYED over the last 10 years.  Before Prop 106, it was SO much easier to manipulate the redistricting process.  However, now they have to get resourceful and play word games trying to pull the wool over the eyes of five commissioners and the Arizona public.

But if YOU, concerned Arizona citizens, take a stand, they will not succeed in continuing to disenfranchise so many of us.  Go to a Public Outreach Hearing and tell the Commission you see through the schemes of the UNfair Trust.

-----

According to Flagstaff resident Matthew Capalby, representing a bi-partisan coalition rural/greater Arizona interests called Greater Arizona Success (Matt attended the Prescott, Casa Grande and Bullhead City hearings this week),
by a two to one margin the more moderate area of the Verde Valley asked to be split away from Yavapai County both legislatively and congressionally. That is a huge issue in the heavily dominated Republican area of Prescott and the rest of Yavapai. It appears that Tobin, Pierce and the Republicans are losing their iron grip on Yavapai County.
I should also mention that NOT ONE member of the LD1 delegation (which is includes Prescott, Yavapai County and other areas surrounding Yavapai) to the Arizona Legislature showed up last night to address the Commission.  In contrast, LD3 state Sen. Ron Gould and Rep. Nancy McLain addressed the AIRC in Bullhead City.

Further, the next hearing takes place at noon today (1pm Window Rock time).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Redistricting -- Casa Grande hearing

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission hearing tonight was held in the Casa Grande City Council Chambers.  Like in Bullhead City, the video was high(er) quality.  Wish they could all be like this.

Thirty-two members of the public testified before the Commission tonight.  Two of them, Maricopa mayor Anthony Smith and fellow Town Council member Julia Gusse, appeared by remote video link at the Maricopa Unified School District Board Room.

The most salient point I must make is that Tucson Republican Commissioner Rick Stertz declined (failed) to take the golden opportunity he was afforded to express his support for the AIRC, for Commission Chair Colleen Mathis and for the process he has devoted himself to carrying out with four other volunteers.

To say I am disappointed that Rick Stertz missed the opportunity would be an understatement.  For him to believe that the tea party's absurd allegations will go away without any effort on his part is unbelievably naive.

Two familiar faces at AIRC meetings, Lynne St. Angelo and Geri Ottoboni-Gilmore, were missing at last night's hearing in Bullhead City.  Tonight, until Lynne St. Angelo's turn to speak, the Casa Grande hearing was properly focused on the redistricting desires of people in Pinal County.

St. Angelo was the seventh person to testify.  She started off on a different tack.  Rather than immediately go into the tea party talking points, she had a couple of paragraphs written out to rationalize her belief that competitiveness should be diminished as much as possible.  But she reverted back into the same old same old.

Geri Ottoboni-Gilmore, aside from her persistent pursuit of tea party objectives, is a wonderfully personable grandmother who occasionally brings her two grandsons to meetings hoping to instill her desire for civic engagement into them.  I applaud her involvement and that she's a genuinely friendly soul. 

Ottoboni-Gilmore suggested that sign language interpreters and captions on the video for deaf citizens would be a very good thing. She also wanted to correct what she said at the Mesa hearing on Monday.  At that time, she overstated the amount the state legislature had appropriated for this year's AIRC and the redistricting process.  But she still missed the mark. Not only on the amount of the appropriation, but also by restating several of the tea party's absurd allegations -- as fact.  Specifically, she said three of the commissioners "are corrupt;" that key documents were shredded; and that calls were made between AIRC commissioners in attempts to trade votes.

Adding a new twist to this overdone set of complaints, Stephen Kohut, claimed that if Colleen Mathis had not lied on her application, she would have been "ineligible for selection" as Commission chair. Kohut's Linked-in profile says he is chairman of the Pinal County Republican Committee, facilitator for Pinal Tea Party Patriots and an ex-officio board member of the Casa Grande PAChyderms. Kohut also kicked it up a notch by saying he had no choice but to start raising money to sue the AIRC over the lines which would obviously be drawn inappropriately.


Enough IS enough.

The process IS legitimate.  THESE commissioners ARE legitimate.

And it is well past time for Rick Stertz to deal with this situation squarely. 

Meanwhile, most of the other people tonight told the Commission what they want in the process of drawing the new districts.  Several emphasized competitiveness.  A couple of people attempted to justify minimizing or all out elimination of competitiveness. 

More than one Pinal County Supervisor spoke tonight.  They did not share the same message.  Pete Rios talked about the Copper Corridor and his concerns regarding the Voting Rights Act.  Another Pinal Supervisor, in an apparently subtle contradiction to Rios talked about the Sun Corridor.  A common theme, not limited to those two, was to keep Pinal County as intact as possible.  Some people had maps to illustrate their suggested changes.

Phoenix attorney Richard Lynch presented a plan, with a good deal of specificity, on behalf of several people or groups in Pinal County for a new Congressional district including most of Pinal County, all of Graham and Greenlee and parts of Apache and Navajo Counties.  He spelled out that the group he represents wants to ensure only two of the nine new Congressional districts are Voting Rights districts. 

Snell and Wilmer attorney Mike Liburdi, speaking AGAIN on behalf of UNfair Trust testified last this evening.  Liburdi had less to say than either he did last Friday or Cantelme did on Monday.  But he DID say that his group does agree with Lynch that Latino voters have ONLY two of the nine Congressional districts.

In light of the old adage, that a man is known by the friends he keeps, Liburdi spent a good 20 minutes in deep and friendly conversation with tea party organizer Lynne St. Angelo this evening after the hearing closed. Which is more credible, that UNfair Trust wants what's best for Latino voters in Arizona (like Liburdi and Cantelme have claimed) or that they are in cahoots with tea partiers?

Why do the people in UNfair Trust think they can get by without disclosing their underlying motives, message and money sources?  Why would Arizonans take what they say at face value if they continue to refuse to come out into the sunlight.  Last week, Rick Stertz, in closing comments at one of the hearings reiterated the truth that sunlight is a great disinfectant.  UNfair Trust, thus far, has been AFRAID to come out of the shadows.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Redistricting -- Bullhead City hearing

Though I was not there, it almost felt like I was.  And I wanted to be.

Bullhead City's council chambers are equipped with multiple cameras and good audio.  Because of the higher resolution video and plenty of bandwidth, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission's Public Outreach Hearing was easy to follow tonight.

After Willie Desmond, from Strategic Telemetry, made his presentation, mayors and council members from Bullhead City, Kingman and Lake Havasu City started the public comment.  They were gracious and welcoming. Hmmm... that was one thing missing last night in Mesa.  No hosting members of local governments to set the tone at the Mesa Convention Center.

Anyway, state Sen. Ron Gould (R-LD3), in my opinion, as the first state lawmaker to speak tonight, also set an important tone by respectfully addressing the two Democratic AIRC Commissioners, Jose Herrera and Linda McNulty.

Frank Antenori, Terri Proud and Andy Biggs take notice.  Oh, yeah, and professional political organizer Lynne St. Angelo, you too. Your tired screed has more than run its course.  Give it up.  The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission IS legitimate.  It is ON COURSE and it will do its job.

Tonight, the most emphatic common theme to emerge is that Mohave County does NOT want to be represented in Congress by someone from Maricopa County.  Gould expressed deference to Rep. Trent Franks, the Peoria (AZ) Republican currently representing Arizona's 2nd Congressional district.  But other speakers were more clear and specific that they want someone actually FROM rural Arizona to represent them.

Several people specifically stated they do not feel common bond with either Phoenix or Tucson.  But ALL of those who testified did so with dignity and decorum.  Unlike those at previous hearings who mindlessly repeated tea party propaganda.

BUT -- tonight, even when a Democrat or two disagreed with other speakers, the crowd was still polite and focused. 

Another note about last night in Mesa: as I entered the hearing room, a tea partier tried to give me a sheet of paper with their talking points.  I declined.  Today, however, I heard that said paper was fashioned to give the impression it was from the AIRC itself, using the banner or logo from the Commission's web page.   More fodder for the question of "how low will they go?"

Thanks to current Arizona lawmakers Ron Gould and Nancy McLain as well as the mayors and council members who spoke, that question is not the only one, regarding redistricting in Arizona this year, we have to consider anymore.

Redistricting -- Mesa hearing

Tonight's Public Outreach Hearing of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission was held at the Mesa Convention Center with Vice-chair Scott Freeman handling the gavel. More than 150 people attended.

After a brief presentation by Strategic Telemetry on the redistricting process, a predictable litany of complaints against the Commission (primarily by tea partiers, including now familiar names and faces) and push back, mainly from Democrats, proceeded for more than two and a half hours.

The most remarkable comments, in my mind, came from former LD17 Republican candidate for state senate, Wendy Rogers.  A retired US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and pilot, Rogers told us she does not believe the Tempe legislative district is at all competitive.  Despite having biked to thousands of homes, raised four times as much money privately as her Clean Elections funded Democratic opponent, and had plenty of signs out, she could not get elected.

The ONLY valid conclusion, in light of her gargantuan effort, of course, is that LD17 had been made a safe district for Democratic candidates in the last redistricting.

Never mind that my friend (Republican) Laura Knaperek represented LD17 in the Arizona House of Representatives from 1994 -- 2002. Term-limited in 2002, Laura ran for state senate. She lost in the general election to incumbent Democrat Harry Mitchell. In 2004, Laura again ran for the Arizona House and won.  As a Republican.  In LD17.

Lt. Col. Rogers apparently wanted and had the attention of the good folks at sonoran alliance.  They posted Rogers' press release dated July 24, 2009 announcing her candidacy.  The comment thread below the press release is enlightening.  Because so many people in Tempe like a hard-working, go-getter who is vague on issues, it is simply amazing that Rogers could not get elected. 

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When my turn came, I had intended to mention my district boundaries (I'm in LD23, only a block away from LD17).  Instead, I basically thanked the Commission and Commissioners for their hard work and for volunteering for this job.  I also said I thought it was time for the Republican members of the Commission -- Scott Freeman and Rick Stertz -- to be more up front and emphatic in public statements about the incessant complaints from tea partiers.  Not yet dying down, the pesky noise has, since the legal services contract was awarded to Ballard Spahr, only crescendo-ed.

Several of the complainers also exaggerated claims of how much money was available to the AIRC.  Miraculously, funds appropriated to the AIRC grew first to $6 million, then $9 million, in just a matter of minutes. Imagine how much trouble could be saved in DC if they could increase appropriations so quickly and effortlessly.  So, I said the amount was actually $3.5 million.  The crowd did not like me correcting the previous comments.

However, when I later took a restroom break, taxpayer funded GOP operative John Mills graciously corrected me, saying the appropriation for the current fiscal year is $3.5 million which, with the prior fiscal year's non-lapsing appropriation of $500K, makes the total $4 million.  He actually was gracious (I'm not being sarcastic here) and I did thank him for that correction. UPDATE: I'm not sure why he offered to "correct" me, but I determined this morning that Mills' information was INcorrect. The appropriation for the fiscal year which began on July 1, 2011 is $3.0 million, making the total available to the AIRC of $3.5 million.




Before the final gavel ended the hearing, Commissioners Herrera and Freeman took time to each make a statement.  As at the end of the other hearings, the commissioners' statements were thoughtful and reflective.

Freeman did make it a point to emphasize that he fully supports AIRC chair Colleen Coyle Mathis and the other commissioners and believes it is time to move beyond the controversy over both Mathis and Strategic Telemetry.  For that, I thank him (and did thank him personally).  He indicated he had already thought that if people continued on about those issues tonight he would say something.  His comments sounded as if he had, indeed, thought them out ahead of time.  So, I believe him.  I hope something clear and emphatic is coming from Rick Stertz ASAP also.

When I contacted the producers of Arizona Illustrated last week, after they dramatically dropped the ball with the unchallenged propaganda they allowed Terri Proud to spout on the program, I suggested they interview Stertz.  I hope they allow him the opportunity to call off the dogs, as it were.

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Speaking of dogfights, after the end of the hearing this evening, I had the opportunity to ask "unFair Trust" mouthpiece David Cantelme a few questions.  Ever since first hearing the name "fair trust," it has bothered me.  Because Arizona's lobbying and campaign finance laws make it very clear people being paid to influence elections and elected officials must disclose where and from whom their funding comes.  But THIS situation apparently does not fit into that particular box.

So, when I first asked Cantelme about the "UNfair trust" he accused me of using epithets. LOL.  "Unfair trust" is a swear word?  Boy was he testy.  And it went downhill from there.  Cantelme VOWED that I would NEVER find out who was behind this group.  Maybe it will not matter.

Arizona Eagletarian readers will remember that unFair Trust's other mouthpiece got my attention last month.  At that time, Liburdi explicitly expressed the clandestine group's opposition to the hiring of either Research Advisory Services or Strategic Telemetry to be mapping consultant.

Liburdi attended the Public Outreach Hearing at South Mountain Community College last Thursday but declined to speak.  He did show up in Nogales on Friday and DID speak on behalf of his client, unFair Trust. (Yes, the UN part is MY characterization).

Neither Liburdi nor Cantelme spoke during Saturday's hearing in Yuma.  However, Cantelme's remarks at the Mesa hearing struck me as being almost verbatim the same as Liburdi's in Nogales.  Without a transcription, or watching a recording of the two sets of comments, I will not know. But my initial impression was strong.

Because the unFair Trust is reportedly a group representing the interests of Arizona's GOP legislative leadership and GOP Congressional delegation, and because they are so secretive about their funding, I have been and will continue to be skeptical of what they have to say.  There is no doubt they are up to no good.  There is even LESS doubt that they want their motives and underlying message to remain a mystery.

However... Cantelme revealed much more than he wanted.

After expressing his outrage that I swore at him by calling his client unFair Trust, he began an aggressive verbal attack aiming to get me to engage on his terms.  He repeated his attack, rapid fire, for what seemed like a couple of dozen times.  I never took the bait.  But I did repeat, as many times as he attacked, that I refused to engage on his terms and would not take his bait.

What was he trying to get me to do or say?

He asked repeatedly if I was against allowing Latino voters to be protected by the Voting Rights Act.  When I refused to answer his question he alternately said it was because: I was afraid; or I did not want Latinos to be protected by the Voting Rights Act.

Since Cantelme is an attorney and a litigator, it's obvious he was trying to trip me up.  The bottom line is that I did not then and I will not now answer his questions.  This blog will not be on his terms. 

However, I did honor the request he made to have me swear at him.  And in a little bit less aggressive manner, he returned the favor.  He told me to go "f-myself." LOL. Certainly, that was the least offensive of his words this evening. 

While I may not find, when I do listen to recordings of both Liburdi and Cantelme, their comments to be the same, verbatim, I may determine what the underlying goal is in their clandestine operation.

Currently, my hunch is that the unFair Trust strategy is to get minority coalition group(s) to trust them and get them to believe that they (unFair Trust) have minority voters' best interests in mind.  If they succeed, the minority groups will pressure the AIRC to pack as many Latinos and other Democratic leaning minorities into as few districts as possible.

If they succeed, there will be no increase of minority voters influence over public policy decisions at the state legislature.

Even more urgent to GOP interests is to prevent Arizona's 9th Congressional district from becoming a third Voting Rights district.

Cantelme clearly did not want to show his hand.  But he showed it anyway.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Redistricting -- Yuma hearing and more

More people showed up for the AIRC Public Outreach Hearing at Arizona Western College in Yuma today (than last night in Nogales).  But even giving each speaker four minutes (as opposed to three in Nogales and at South Mountain CC), all who wanted to be heard had their say within an hour and a half.

With remote teleconferencing set up at AWC facilities in San Luis and Parker AZ, only a few more people testified, including the mayor of San Luis. Apparently, no members of the public even showed up in Parker.

The most significant take away from today's hearing is that Arizonans in southwest Arizona do not feel any affinity with Tucson and want to be represented in Congress by someone attuned to the concerns of people along the Colorado River.  Even embattled Quartzite mayor Ed Foster, who has dramatic problems providing proper representation in his own jurisdiction, took time to appear in Yuma to complain about Congressman Raul Grijalva.

AIRC chair Colleen Mathis was in attendance in San Luis.  Again handling gavel duties today, Vice-chair Herrera appeared in person at AWC in Yuma along with Commissioners Rick Sturtz and Linda McNulty.

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For another day, at least as much controversy occurred outside and on the internet as at the hearings.  State Sen. Ron Gould took a swipe at the Commission. Apparently, Gould:
has learned that only one member of the Commission will be attending a public information and input meeting in Bullhead City next Tuesday.

In a Thursday news release, Gould said it [sic] called it a slap in the face that only one Commission member would travel to Mohave County when all five have been attending other meetings in Phoenix and Tucson.

How did Gould "learn" that only one commissioner would attend?  Or did he just assume?  And how did he decide what it would mean IF only one commissioner ends up making it to the hearing on July 26 in Bullhead City?

When the Arizona Eagletarian asked the AIRC how many commissioners would attend each meeting, in light of Gould's concerns, Public Information Officer Stuart Robinson provided this insight:
"The first round of public hearings conducted by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission comprises 15 sessions around the state over 17 days.

"The five commissioners are volunteers who have day jobs, so it is unrealistic to expect all of them to be at every hearing. While at least one commissioner will be at each hearing, last-minute scheduling considerations make it hard to say in advance exactly which commissioners, or how many, will be at any particular session. It is important to note, however, that all testimony is transcribed and weighted equally, regardless of how many commissioners hear it in person.

"Areas that do not host a public hearing in the first round may have the opportunity to do so in subsequent rounds later this year.

"Finally, the public hearings, which began Thursday, July 23, at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, are different from commission meetings that were held earlier in the year."

Might Gould's press release be just another shot in the dark, hoping to find fault so Arizona voters would consider returning lawful authority for redistricting back to state lawmakers?  


-----

How gullible do they think Arizona citizens are?

Boy is THAT a loaded question.

From the Desk of Terri Proud:

Dear Friends of Arizona,

The 2012 election will be the most crucial election. Not only for America but for Arizona too.  We will be voting on a new President, U.S. Senate, Congressperson, and the State Legislators (House and Senate). Arizona is faced with redistricting and how the lines are drawn will determine the course of Arizona for the next 10 years.  

It is no secret that Strategic Telemetry works with Democratic organizations to inlcude: SEIU, Labor Unions, Progressive Majority, and Obama for America to name a few.

If Obama can do the damage that he has done to this country in the little time he has been in office, image what they can do to Arizona in 10 years. 

Redistricting will determine the course of our lives, our businesses, and our future. Please help save Arizona from Washington D.C. 


We have until August 12th for leadersip to call a Special Session- We can't do this without you!

Terri Proud

[this was copied and pasted, so the misspelled words and emphasis are hers]

Without going into detail on claims of corruption Proud makes later in the email and on the webpage containing the message above, it's blatantly obvious that neither she nor any other of the accusers are doing any kind of legitimate investigation or research before making the claims.

If Ron Gould had contacted the AIRC, they would have told him what they ended up telling me.  It really does not take a rocket scientist to ask the right questions. And I am NOT a rocket scientist.

If nobody took people like Gould or Proud seriously, there would be no need to key in on any of this.  But given the kind of chatter we've seen on social media websites, and given she has been taken seriously by Arizona Illustrated, SOMEBODY needs to get the word out that Proud is neither telling the whole story, nor frankly, telling the truth.

When an apparently credible news program legitimizes the outrageous claims of a person like Proud, how can everyday Arizonans tell the difference?

In a written exchange with me (on the subject of providing evidence for what she claims), Proud says:
I don't need to do anything..much less prove myself to you. If YOU did your work instead on telling people to give it to you maybe we wouldn't be having this discussion... everyone else has it - go demand it from them. I wasn't the first one to "publish" it.
Apparently, she doesn't realize that MY work is asking her to back up her claims and reporting to you on what she provides in response.  But I digress.

What is it that Proud Terri wants "leadersip" [sic] to accomplish by calling a special legislative session?

She is already on record as calling for the repeal of Prop 106.  She knows it would take convincing the people of Arizona to approve another amendment to the Arizona Constitution.

Does it take much of an imagination to figure out that she believes she could get enough money raised from or through Tea Party activists or groups to convince the people of Arizona that "SEIU/Labor Unions/Progressive Majority/Obama for America is conspiring (or already has conspired) with sinister forces (okay, they ARE the sinister forces) to "hijack" the redistricting process to allow... well, you get the idea.

I will not even repeat Frank Antenori's provocative use of a "Lori Klein analogy" last week.

But I also do not think THIS scenario (Proud trying to ignite the Tea Party with rage to stop the redistricting process now underway) is an exaggeration or at all over the top.

------

Because I have been watching the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission this year from the very start, I can say with confidence that the litany of Proud Terri's claims of corruption are absurd on their face.

The only newspaper in Arizona with a reputation for doing in-depth reporting necessary to root out the underlying story -- on political issues -- is the Phoenix New Times.

There are other political reporters in Arizona besides those who work or have worked for the Phoenix New Times.  Those reporters often have good insight, but can only write and publish what they can get paid to write and publish.

For roughly 20 minutes, once a week, a few of them sit with Ted Simons, Channel 8's host of Horizon. Beyond that, on occasion, Simons will interview one of them for a special, or hot topic.  But still, Horizon is, at most, a half hour program.  That is not enough time to cover any topic in depth or even close to comprehensively.

The Arizona Republic, Phoenix Business Journal, Arizona Guardian and Arizona Capitol Times have dedicated staff writers and reporters; Capitol Media Services' Howie Fischer is an Arizona based private version of the Associated Press; and the actual Associated Press has some dedicated staff who cover Arizona politics and the state Capitol. 

NONE of those reporters is afforded the time and resources necessary to do the kind of in-depth reporting that can educate Arizonans enough to counter the superficial distraction and deception coming incessantly from people like Terri Proud, Frank Antenori, Andy Biggs or some of their compadres.  And that is sad.

While writing and researching this blog post, I learned that the Arizona Capitol Times:
Simply put, we are the nexus between state government and the public. And we are focused on our niche; if it doesn’t impact politics in Arizona, we don’t cover it.
Our coverage influences policy, defines important issues and connects the various communities that make up state government.
Beyond sad, given how reporter Christian Palmer has blurred the line between reporting and opinion/commentary on the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission recently, that's VERY disturbing.

It's disturbing because while they probably only intended to appeal to lobbying interests in Arizona, which outside of Public Notices is the Capitol Times largest market, they are being used by Tea Party groups and others like them (Smart Girl Politics) who need something to latch onto for legitimacy.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Redistricting -- Nogales hearing

For the last two hours, I've chewed over whether to actually tell you that the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission hearing in Nogales was a let down.  I'm still undecided.

What it WAS, is a small, quick meeting with only about two dozen members of the public in attendance.  Some were from Tucson, at least one from Phoenix and a dozen and a half or so from Sonoita, Patagonia and Nogales.

The last public testimony was finished by 7 pm.  Commission vice-chair Herrera oversaw this hearing, as he did in Phoenix last night.  Before he struck the gavel to end the meeting, Commissioners McNulty and Stertz, along with Herrera offered thoughtful comments of their own reflecting on the process, the humbling responsibility each has and thanking all members of the public for their input.

All three expressed support for Chairwoman Colleen Mathis.  One has to really wonder why conservatives are deaf to what Stertz has clearly and emphatically stated in support, on multiple occasions, for Mathis.

This week's on Horizon, the Journalists Roundtable, featuring the Arizona Republic's Mary Kay Reinhart, the Arizona Business Journal's Mike Sunnucks and Capitol Media Services' Howie Fischer assessed the controversy over Mathis' application and Strategic Telemetry's contract.  Howie pointed out that Attorney General Tom Horne said he doesn't know or necessarily even believe anything has been done inappropriately by the AIRC.  But clearly, Horne has been getting plenty of complaints.

Tucson Tea Party lawmakers Frank Antenori and Proud Terri have pointed to Horne's statements as giving their concerns legitimacy, even though they are the ones Horne wanted to get off his back by starting the inquiry.

-----

Some people have suggested it is time for me to write more about the specific suggestions people give to the Commission on how they want to see their new districts drawn.  Yet just reporting on a sample of suggestions people make will not give readers a fair understanding of the bottom line. However, the politics of the process is far more interesting.

So, until there are maps to analyze, I'll share particularly poignant public comments... or the mendacious and mundane... or any other item that seems otherwise intriguing.

Rather than simply feeding the urge to rubberneck, please consider what you can do to have an impact on redistricting in Arizona.  There is plenty to do.

Some can organize a carpool to a hearing.  Some can take pictures or write letters to editors.  But EVERYONE can stand up, and -- at least -- read a statement you write to tell the Commission what is important to you and WHY.

Think of the Arizona we want.  THIS is what we can do in July 2011 to make it happen.

Redistricting -- Public hearings

Last evening, at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission held its first Public Outreach Hearing, with more than a hundred and twenty (one person counted more than 220, excluding staff and commissioners) people in attendance.  Because of concerns raised by Tea Party chatter, including an action alert email sent out on Tuesday, several uniformed and plain-clothes Phoenix police officers and detectives were on hand.

Likely because of the police presence, the crowd was nowhere near as unruly as it was at the June 30th meeting in Tucson.

Despite the fear-mongering and attempts to organize an effort to "scare the heck out of them!" (the leftists), I saw only ONE person wearing anything with Tea Party yellow and having any Tea Party images -- during the meeting.  Apparently, there were a few people just outside the Student Union bldg with signs before hand, but they were set aside, not being waved with any enthusiasm.

AIRC Commissioner Jose Herrera did a fine job chairing the meeting.  For the most part, there was balance in alternating viewpoints by members of the public.

Two state senators presented their testimony first. Sen. Leah Landrum-Taylor (D-LD16) went first because the hearing was held in the district she represents.  She presented a map on behalf of the Minority Coalition. Several other members of the public expressed support for her plan, including Phoenix City Councilman Michael Johnson, former Phoenix Councilman Calvin Goode and community activist Rosie Lopez.

One of Landrum-Taylor's seat mates, Rep. Ruben Gallego (also D-LD16), apparently either watching the online video or my live tweets from the hearing, told me that there is not universal support among the minority community in South Phoenix for her proposal.  Gallego told me Landrum-Taylor's plan is part of an effort by current state Rep. Richard Miranda (D-LD13) to get back into the state senate.  Miranda "wants to be separated from [state Sen. Steve] Gallardo (D-LD13) who is further north." I suggested Gallego present the alternative plan at the next Phoenix area AIRC hearing (see below).

Next up, state Sen. John McComish (R-LD20) -- of whom I have mixed feelings (on Clean Elections he's a villain, on other issues, he presents as much more reasonable, thoughtful and intelligent than some of his notorious Republican senate collegues) -- was respectful and made a simple, perhaps even reasonable case for Ahwatukee as a "community of interest." Citing that LD20 elected a Democratic lawmaker (to the Arizona House of Reps) in 2008, he hoped that could be "at least part of" the definition of competitiveness for his community.  Later, long-time Ahwatukee Democratic activist Mike Williams noted that in the 20 years he has lived in what is now LD20, only one term of one Democrat does not constitute a legitimately competitive district.

The meeting continued until 8:50 pm, with the recording posted today.  I'm not sure whether it's my computer or the recording, but I could not get it to play past the 28 minute mark.

Numerous people, citing the need for Arizona lawmakers to be much more accountable to the voters they represent, made the case for competitive districts.  Most of the Tea Partiers who spoke simply regurgitated lame talking points from the action alert.  Those arguments were dramatic in their lack of sound reasoning or compelling logic.  Their common theme -- now very familiar to Arizona Eagletarian readers -- AIRC chair Colleen Mathis is "corrupt" and the contract with Strategic Telemetry should be cancelled.





This is a pic from the hearing last night.  I'm the goofball with the reading glasses looking at the camera.  To my left is Stu Robinson, newly hired AIRC Public Information Officer. At the far right, looking down at his notes, Lorenzo Sierra.  Taxpayer funded GOP operative John Mills is in the red shirt on the far left side of the pic.  Before the meeting started, Sen. McComish took issue with my point out these facts about Mills.  McComish suggested Mills was "off-the-clock."  Of course, McComish was only speaking wishfully, since he is NOT the person who signs Mills' time sheets (and does not even work in the same chamber of the legislature). 


Phoenix New Times reporter and blogger Stephen Lemons' write up on last night's hearing is worth a read.

Mark B. Evans, editor of TucsonCitizen.com posted a poignant commentary yesterday that every Arizonan interested in this redistricting process should read and heed.    

At 6 pm tonight, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission convenes in Nogales, AZ for the next Public Outreach Hearing.  Tomorrow, the Commission convenes at 1 pm in Yuma at Arizona Western College with remote access video conferencing at AWC facilities San Luis and Parker, AZ. 

On Monday, July 25, the next Phoenix area Public Outreach Hearing convenes at 6 pm in the Palo Verde I Building B, Mesa Convention Center, 325 N Center St., Mesa 85211.

Be there or be square!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Redistricting -- blood sport heats up

In spite of the fact that the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission begins its first round of Public Input Hearings tonight, GOP state lawmakers continue their crusade to undermine the process.

This morning, responding to complaints from lawmakers, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne issued a press release saying he has begun an investigation into the AIRC.

Of course, initial media reports on the investigation gloss over what Horne made a point to emphasize.
"I need to emphasize very clearly that this is an initial investigation that will attempt to determine if any violations actually occurred,” Horne said.  “I am concerned about reports that have raised questions about some of the procedural actions taken by the commission, and I am committed to finding out whether those concerns warrant any further investigation.  If this initial investigation finds that laws have been violated, we will proceed accordingly."
Bottom line is that GOP lawmakers were displeased with Horne's letter last week to Arizona citizens who had complained about the AIRC.  In that letter, Horne punted.  Responding to citizen calls to have AIRC chair Colleen Mathis removed, Horne said the "developments" trouble him but it was not his job.  On that point, he was correct.

News stories today may be addressing the fact that members of Horne's staff did work for the AIRC as it was getting up and running. Thus far, however, no one seems to be picking up on the fact that Horne's chief spokesperson, Amy Rezzonico served as AIRC PIO ten years ago.  That institutional knowledge may have something to do with Horne realizing current Tea Party complaints are likely without merit.

----

In other news, one of the chief Tea Party complainers, Proud Terri (R-LD26), who is clearly a frontrunner for a Tempest in a TeaPot award (as soon as someone starts issuing that award), has given us a wonderful example of likely "clerical errors" in key disclosures required by public officers.

Proud has been suggesting, including in television and radio broadcast interviews, that Colleen Mathis' failure to disclose that her husband made a living is part of a left-wing conspiracy to hijack the redistricting process in Arizona this year.

But what about likely material misstatements on Proud's required annual financial disclosure for 2010 (filed in January 2011).

This pic, posted on facebook by Proud Terri on June 12, 2011, is in an album she labeled ALEC trip 2010. I recognize several Arizona lawmakers in the photo, including John McComish, Eddie Farnsworth, Jack Harper, Steve Yarbrough and Arizona Corporation Commission chair Gary Pierce.

According to their financial disclosures, several other Arizona GOP lawmakers attended the conference as guests (on "scholarship") of the right-wing group that gives lawmakers ideas for right-wing legislation. ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council.


It is entirely possible that some of the Arizona lawmakers paid their own way to the ALEC conference.  But several of them included the ALEC scholarship as a gift on their financial disclosure.  A partial list of those disclosing the gift is McComish, Harper, Cecil Ash, Kirk Adams (former Speaker of the AZ House), Brenda Barton, Kate Brophy McGee, Stephen Court, Jeff Dial, Adam Driggs, Karen Fann and Doris Goodale.


Conspicuously absent from that list is Proud Terri. I suppose it is possible she paid her own way, or was subsidized by taxpayer funds, but both of those scenarios seem unlikely.  This has already been a very busy day and will get even busier with the Public Outreach Hearing due to start in only a few hours.  So, I apologize for not trying to pin this down today.


Proud's financial disclosure reveals no substantial assets/investments.  The only source of income disclosed is a job with a law firm.  So, is Proud trying to deceive the public by not disclosing gift(s) given to her by a group trying to curry favor and get her to sponsor its proposed legislation in the Arizona Legislature?  Could it be just a minor oversight or clerical error?


Failure to disclose is a Class One (most serious) misdemeanor.  Will Tom Horne investigate? Likely, no, because there is so much grey to this area of law. 

But who holds and pulls the strings attached to Proud Terri?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Redistricting -- About the IRC (presentation)

Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission executive director Ray Bladine, along with legal counsel Joe Kanefield and Mary O'Grady made a presentation to the Arizona League of Cities and Towns a couple of days ago, with an overview of the Commission, legal issues involving redistricting and the 2011 map drawing process.

Because the AIRC actually IS interested in an open process and having people in our great state understand what is going on, they recorded the 90-minute presentation and posted it to Commission's website on the About IRC page.

I was trying to come up with a witty (sarcastic) note suggesting that Tea Party people would not be rushing the AIRC website to watch the video, but it just wouldn't come out right. After all, people being distracted and deceived is rather tragic, and it might be inappropriate to make fun of them.  And fear really is something that shouldn't be funny.

Wouldn't it be fun, however, if everyone NOT bringing Tea Party yellow shirts and flags and scarves to the Public Outreach Hearing at South Mountain Community College tomorrow (Thursday) had BLUE shirts, flags and scarves?

Mischievous is not the same as sinister, is it? 

Redistricting -- How low will they go?

Without recapping all of the disturbing news from the last week, I will tell you that just this morning I've received a tip on on further trouble Tea Party interests are planning to cause at the Public Outreach Hearings.

Last night, the following Action Alert was circulated (included a google map of the area/campus):

Sent: Tue, Jul 19, 2011 10:32 pm
Subject: Redistricting Action Alert

Open Phoenix Redistricting Meeting this Thursday 7-21-11 at 6:00 pm

South Mountain Community College
SU 100A
7050 South 24th St
Phoenix, AZ 85402

A way to get there:  Go South on 24th Street from Buckeye Road.
I10, I17 and Hiway 60 have no exit to 24th Street South of the Airport
(try maybe 16th Street Exit from I17 or Hiway 60)


The (A) on the map may be a distraction.   Map of Campus is NOT easily available.

The Obama/Soros/SEIU/MoveOn/AFL-CIO have taken over our Redistricting. The SEIU and Move.On.org will be out in force at the above open meeting. Arizona may change from a Red State to a Blue State if these guys do the redistricting (Gerrymandering). We may have no more Super Majority. We may have no more Tea Party Freshmen if these people have their way.

If you are Tea Party, please bring your YELLOW tea party badge, scarf, "Don't Tread on Me" flag (little)-even copies off your computer or a yellow shirt hidden by something or keep in purse/bag until seated. Last time they did not require you to register so why do so. The Independent Redistricting Committee has NOT published an Agenda (not available online yet - typical so may need to get our word out with signs). The Agenda is supposed to be available at http://www.azredistricting.org.

The Goal is NOT to replace Colleen Coyle Mathias. The Commission will just take the next independent "plant" and replace her. Our Focus should be on process (not 1 person). The
Goal is to inform the media and the Commission that we won't stand for the hijacking of the political process. The current Commission is NOT Fair, Transparent, or Non-Partisan"

Suggested Stages:
(1) Sign bearers should be outside the College entrance by at least by 5:30pm. Hopefully because the size of the crowd and the anger on the blogs, the Media will show. The agenda may not allow us to get the "non-partisan" concerns out in the meeting,
Talking points below.

(2) Meeting starts and activists put on their YELLOW badges, scarfs, flags, etc to scare the heck out of them! The leftists are saying we are arriving in buses, are funded by PAC's, and are well organized!!! They are worried!! They KNOW this process is unfair.

(3) More people arrive so others can leave. My guess is that the meeting room should hold everyone so you don’t have to worry about seats.

(4) Speakers willing to stay to end or arrive ??8pm? You will be asked to state your name and your affiliation. As you wish on your name-the hearing is recorded. The Left is trying to show this as Republican tantrum vs. Democrats. Better to state just representing myself or freedom activist,etc. If you put as subject on the card the Left's buzz words:"Communities of Interest" or "Competitive Districts" so this will not give you away and they'll put you at the very end.

They will probably be showing low detail maps for Arizona. It may be in your best interest to have a map of your own Congressional District/Legislative District.


If you don't have any maps, here is where to find them on the Internet:

http://nationalatlas.gov/printable/images/pdf/congdist/pagecgd112_az.pdf

http://recorder.maricopa.gov/electionmaps/


Talking Points from the Folks Working Behind the Scenes:

This commission has not engendered the trust of the people that the process will be fair, open and honest. People are frustrated because proposition 106 was supposed to take the redistricting process out of the back rooms of the legislature and bring it into the light of day. Sadly, almost half the time the current commission has met has been in executive sessions behind closed doors

The second major decision was the hiring of legal representation. Much of the work was done in E-Sessions and then in the end the Democrat commissioners were able to have their choice of legal counsel but the Republican commissioners were not afforded the same opportunity. ( for their own legal counsel)

The commission recently selected Strategic Telemetry (ST) as their mapping consultant. Some of ST’s most recent clients include the 2008 Obama for President Campaign ( SEIU,MoveOn.org, Gov Jerry Brown, John Kerry, State Dem parties). ST's website has been scrubbed "clean" thanks to all the people who called, emailed, and plain just yelled "no". 

Prior to the scrubbing a number of key employees were listed as 'Progressives'. 

Ken Strasma, the President of ST, use to be the Policy Director for the National Committee for an Effective Congress. NCEC's web site, the NCEC claims to be “one of the most influential political organizations having helped elect hundreds of progressive candidates to congress.” ST's website formerly stated they specialized in electing progressive candidates.

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Committee has just hired as their mapping consultant the firm headed by someone who was a policy director for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) redistricting, an extremely partisan organization. One wonders if the commission would have hired them had Mr. Strasma worked for the RNC.

The last commission held almost three times as many meetings. Since Arizona is almost twice the size of Wisconsin, over twice the size of New York and 1600 times the size of Washington DC we need more than 20 meetings if this commission truly wants public input into the redistricting process.

As part of the contract the AZIRC has requested that to the greatest extent practical maps will be drawn in Arizona with support from ST’s offices in New York, Wisconsin and Washington DC. That means there will be less input and less observation of the process. The last commission drew ALL their maps in Arizona with no outside support. Recently the GOP Voter Vault information went to WDC. Since Strategic Telemetry was mostly a 'Data Mining” site and NOT a political mapping site, they now have our GOP info. 

More Talking Points:

Strategic Telemetry's previous clients are Pres. Obama, SEIU, MoveOn.org, AFL-CIO, John Kerry, Gov Jerry Brown, many State Dem parties. 

ST is not an expert mapping company. ST advises progessive campaigns (per website). At the last Phoenix meeting, they said they would need time to learn the mapping software package, which is a standard in the industry.

Prop 106 specifically states that voter records are to NOT be used in mapping. For the last week ST has been downloading the GOP Voter Vault data (your voting records) to WDC .

The State Procurement Office is supposed to approve all state contracts and they walked out on the negotiations for ST's contract. Mayor Phil Gordon's manager was hired to be the Executive Director of the Commission, wrote the ST contract and authorized it himself.

Chairwoman Colleen Coyle Mathias, a recent Independent, lied on questions 1,6,8 on her application about the status of her attorney husband. Both Mathis and her husband donate to progressive candidates including donations to President Obama. Her husband was a PAID campaign manager for a Democratic party candidate. Colleen was awarded a job managing Obama's Stimulus Funds in Tucson in 2009 which was NOT stated on her application for this ARC job. 

More Talking Points

Prohibits both sides from having legal counsel both liberals
Closed Door sessions-more than half
No online agendas; 2 mos late Minutes
Meetings announced then cancelled
Meetings held weekdays in daytime so many taxpayers cannot attend
Moved public comments from the beginning of meeting to the end and many meetings were dragged out to 4-5 hrs

Source: campaign.r20.constantcontact.com

This ACTION ALERT is sent with your Email address BCC to protect your identity.
If you would like to be removed from this Action Alert List,
send an Email to viewpoint04@cox.net with Remove Me in the subject line.
We only send Action Alerts when we consider it important.
---------

Of course, the first misleading statement is that a campus map is not readily available.  The Arizona Eagletarian posted a campus map a day or so ago.

The next statement in the note above establishes the "boogeyman". "Obama/Soros/SEIU/MoveOn/AFL-CIO have taken over our Redistricting."  Of course, they have NO evidence of any such thing.  But in the minds of easily distracted and deceived people, they apparently do not need evidence.

Or, like Proud Terri did during her unrebutted propaganda interview on Tucson's PBS station on Monday night, all they have to do is SAY they have evidence.  When even journalists fail to make them prove their claim, they become more bold in their outrageous claims.


Another bald-faced lie: no agenda has been published for these meetings.  First off, anyone who wants to understand what the deal is with these meetings already knows that the primary agenda item will be allowing public testimony.  Second, an agenda was published for THIS meeting, well before the action alert was transmitted (this note was sent at 10:32pm last night, the agenda was posted at 4:49pm). 



Here's the bottom line, they use their outrageous fearmongering rhetoric to preface their genuine fear, that if "these people" get their way, we will have no more supermajority and no more tea party freshmen.


Or, do they use the outrageous rhetoric to distract journalists?  Tea Party interests likely don't care that voter registration numbers do not justify allowing the GOP to have a supermajority in the state legislature.  

Wouldn't "These people" (as used by the fearmonger above) want safe districts for Liberal politicians? If "these people" (the people who passed Prop 106 in 2000) get their way, the redistricting will result in COMPETITIVE DISTRICTS. And if Tea Party politicians then do adequately make their case to a broader range of voters in each district, they would still get to have supermajorities.  


Could it be that the underlying fear behind this action alert is that they do NOT and will NOT appeal to a majority of Arizonans?


Btw, New York State, according to the US Census Bureau, had a population of 19,378,102 in 2010.  Arizona is listed as having 6,392,017 in the same year.  To me, that says New York is three times the size of Arizona, population-wise.  So, how many more specious claims will we see come out from this poorly informed set of citizens?

------

This just in, the AIRC has posted the agenda for the Public Outreach Hearing in Nogales on Friday at 6pm.  It includes the address. For directions, go to google maps (I couldn't link directly to a map for this location, but you can get such a map by putting the location in at the link provided).

Redistricting -- Arizona Illustrated

On Monday evening, Tucson's PBS station aired a one-side interview with Proud Terri.  Ms. Proud, who has called for a special legislative session, set up a facebook page (deleting ALL comments disagreeing with her point of view), and started a petition (co-opting a Progressive change website) all hoping to undermine the redistricting process, was allowed by station general manager Jack Gibson to air her propaganda without an opposing view.

The narrative accompanying Proud's interview states her concern over AIRC chair Colleen Mathis' application.  But the story does NOT address either Rick Stertz' material misrepresentations (about his legal and financial troubles) or that Stertz has characterized the concerns over Mathis' application as overblown and that people need to move on (away from Mathis' application).

Gibson was unavailable to take my call.  I did speak with Peter Michaels, who seemed irritated with my concern and said the station would deal with this "if it came up again."

When I explained that Proud Terri appears to be uninterested in letting the controversy go, he reluctantly indicated station management would think about what to do.  But he was unspecific as to when or if they would do anything in light of the current status of their breach of journalistic standards.

Mr. Gibson needs to hear from concerned Arizonans, especially Tucsonans, about this situation.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Follow me on twitter

The Arizona Eagletarian is now on twitter.  I plan to be at the first Public Outreach Hearing to be held on Thursday evening by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission at South Mountain Community College.

Follow me at twitter.com/AzEagletarian.

Redistricting -- how to find the first Public Outreach Hearing

At 6 pm, day after tomorrow (July 21), the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission will hold its first public hearing for the expressed purpose of allowing citizens to tell the Commission how they would like the new legislative and Congressional districts to be drawn.

So, tell all of your friends and go with them to South Mountain Community College, 7050 S. 24th St., Phoenix.  The hearing will take place in the Student Union (SU) Building. Note that the map shows a South (most maps show a North) direction arrow.

My anticipation level is high.  I hope there is a lot of specific, constructive testimony.  I hope to see YOU there also.

Redistricting -- latest attacks on Prop 106

According to her sham facebook group page, Arizona's own "Proud, Terri" is scheduled to appear on the Jon Justice radio show in Tucson to talk about "the IRC and repealing Prop 106."

Last week, she made news by calling for a special legislative session to have a measure put on the ballot for a special election to repeal the voter approved Independent Redistricting Commission  She apparently didn't know at that time how she wanted the redistricting to be handled.  I wonder if she will have it figured out by morning.

News stories thus far have indicated the governor is reluctant to take the bait people are dangling in front of her to remove AIRC Chair Colleen Mathis.  But people like Proud, Terri and Frank Antenori do not seem to think the law, the Arizona Constitution or the will of the Arizona voter matters.  They are not yet ready to give up.

Set aside for now the idea that other critics of the AIRC have already suggested the end of the world is at hand because this year's commission is a few weeks behind the pace set in 2001. 

Has any of those people given any thought to what it will do to the timeline if the Chair is removed, or any other roadblock of their design comes into play?  Or maybe the criticism of the timeline is not the actual underlying concern?

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Early on Monday evening, I re-read Scott Freeman's notes from the mapping consultant interviews.  Something he said about Tony Sissons and Research Advisory Services caught my attention. On page 13 of this PDF, Freeman says,
In its responses, RAS presumes that DOJ [US Department of Justice] preclearance will be pursued. Although the Commission might might elect to pursue preclearance through DOJ, that is not the Commission's only option. 
To refresh the reader on this issue, Arizona is required to submit all legislative and Congressional redistricting plans for preclearance to determine the state has complied with provisions of the Voting Rights Act.  The concern is to ensure no covered minority population suffers any diminished ability to elect the representatives of its choosing.

Traditionally, preclearance has been pursued by way of DOJ review of the planned maps with documentation as to how decisions on where to draw the district lines is made.

Under what conditions would the AIRC NOT choose to pursue preclearance through DOJ, and what is the alternative?

There has been a steady trickle of news stories over the last six months about GOP concerns throughout the country with how the Obama administration's DOJ would handle preclearance.  A common thread in those reports is that hard core Republican interests, when possible, want to bypass DOJ and seek approval in a federal district court.  Chatter on right-wing blogs and comments on news stories on Arizona sites has been highlighting the concerns Proud, Terri is seeking to amplify.  Typically, those blogs and comments are suggesting that "the courts are going to end up drawing our maps." 

Counties in Arizona are facing similar issues as they redraw supervisorial districts. Pinal County's situation at least partially illustrates why the GOP is concerned about the DOJ.  And because the preclearance consultant referenced in the azcentral story is also a subcontractor with Ballard Spahr, the Republican legal counsel to the AIRC, that might explain some of the GOP posturing we've seen since the legal services contract was awarded.  

And given Commissioner Scott Freeman's notes on the Research Advisory Services interview before the AIRC, one might reasonably wonder if someone is trying to give him marching orders.  After all, it's widely believed that 2001 AIRC Commissioner Joshua Hall, appointed by Democratic lawmaker Jack Brown, had his orders to ensure Brown had a safe district when the maps were drawn ten years ago.  By all accounts, it seems obvious Hall delivered for Mr. Brown.

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Jack Harper acknowledged, when I spoke with him at a recent AIRC meeting, the GOP was woefully unprepared for the IRC process when it started last fall with screening of applicants to become Commissioners.  If the Tea Party and other GOP interests put all their eggs in the basket being carried by Proud, Terri, they will likely be caught unprepared for the rest of the process.  And in the next few days, a  very important aspect of the process will begin.

Those folks are welcome to go to the Public Outreach Hearings, scheduled throughout the state, and tell the AIRC what they want to see done as the new districts are drawn.

The mapping consultant will be compiling all of the public testimony.  That will be a major part of the preclearance package.  Will they be caught complaining about tangential issues or will they present cogent arguments on who their "community of interest" is?

After I posted last night's blog, Tony Sissons posted a comment on my facebook page to elaborate on his statements regarding use of communities of interest as code for safe districts.

Steve, thank you for the kind words. I'd like to elaborate a little on my "code" comment. In the months leading up to the state process, I was contacted by three Republicans curious about columns I'd written for political news websites. They wanted to know why I thought it possible to have competitive districts in light of "the AIRC's obligation to follow the constitution and protect communities of interest".


My explanation was that communities of interest are identified and delineated in order to protect them from being divided with new district boundaries or placed in new districts where their voting strength would be muted. My callers had a different take. To them, communities of interest are geographical units of like-mindedness that must be identified so they can be linked together to create swaths of 'ideological homelands' (My term, not theirs). I was familiar with that line of thinking, having followed the first commission and having sat through much of the competitiveness trial.


As the process was getting started, and before I made my proposal, I observed that the political parties have instilled that connection in the minds of many of the folks addressing the AIRC in the public comment section of the agenda. If communities of interest, as these folks conceive of them, are incompatible with partisan competition, then protecting communities of interest must mean protecting safe districts.
So, I thank Tony for his explanation.