Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Redistricting -- Racial analysis and commission budget

Ahead of tomorrow (Friday, Jan 13) morning's meeting of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, I wanted to touch on the racial analysis presented by Harvard Prof. Gary King as well as the budget issue discussed on Tuesday evening by executive director Ray Bladine.

While I was not able to take the time to study the video of King's presentation, I do have a couple of points from discussing the graphs with Strategic Telemetry's Ken Strasma.

In analyzing the new Congressional districts, look at the second page of the pdf (first page of graphs, viewed by clicking the link immediately above), the 2010 Mine Inspector race. The Democratic candidate, Manuel Cruz, was considered the Hispanic candidate of choice for the purpose of this analysis.

This shows that the benchmark district 4 and the new district 7 (the Phoenix area Voting Rights district) are very close on both the x-axis (Hispanic voters minus Caucasian voters) and y-axis (proportion of Hispanic voters to total voters in the district). Similarly, the benchmark district 7 and the new district 3 are very close to each other. That means the new districts are very close in composition to the benchmark (existing) districts.

The other takeaway from this analysis is that for the Phoenix area district, the Hispanic candidate (Pastor) earned more non-Hispanic votes than did the southern Arizona Hispanic candidate (Grijalva). But Hispanic voters in the southern Arizona district had a higher voter turnout than those in Phoenix.

On page three of the pdf, look at the average of all of the election races (bottom right graph). The fact that the new (proposed) districts are essentially right on top of the benchmark districts, shows that they do not constitute retrogression of the rights of the minority voters to elect the candidate of their choice.

The only salient point I was able to get from the rest of the pages (various aspects of the legislative map analysis) is that, as most easily seen on page 5 of the pdf, the new district 26 is the closest to the intersection of the x and y-axes. That means, as Strasma explained to me, that the new district encompassing much of Tempe, west Mesa and the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, presents -- from the perspective of the racial analysis -- the fairest (or most competitive) outlook whether the candidate is Hispanic or non-Hispanic.

If you want to understand the analysis more thoroughly, review the video of Dr. King's presentation from the early part of Monday's meeting.

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On the subject of paying the bills, Andy Tobin's letter dated January 5 to JLBC director Richard Stavneak contains a little bit of a bark,
Richard, I am very concerned about the instability of the IRC's financial outlook. It appears they may not be able to meet their financial obligations for FY 2012 -- which are primarily due to outstanding legal fees. 
But not really much bite. Contrary to reports in other publications, which alluded to threats of audits and potential financial improprieties, I see none of that in Tobin's letter. Frankly, however, all of the information Tobin requested, according to Bladine, already resides in the Arizona Department of Administration's financial reporting system. All accounting is handled through ADOA. All revenue, all payments, all obligations for future payments (encumbrances) are supposed to be entered there on.

However, there may be some financial hanky-panky as noted in the letter. But it is in the denial of the Governor's office to authorize moving a future quarter's allotment of funds forward to allow current bills to be paid. The money has been appropriated -- by the legislature. But typically, for cash flow management purposes, appropriations are allotted or allocated for use evenly over the course of the time frame (typically one budget year) during which the funds are authorized.

The immediate question that needs to be asked is why the governor's office denied the request to allow the current bills to be paid.

After that, what Tobin asked for is nothing out of the ordinary. IF the Republican controlled legislature is in a tizzy at all over the expenditures by the AIRC, it needs also to take a long, hard look in a full-length mirror. Tobin expressed concern that the source of the financial "instability" is legal fees. Well, GOLLY GEE -- did we NOT predict this or a very similar situation?

When I wrote that post (February 24, 2011), it was presented as a threat against the possibility of selecting Arizona State Law Professor Paul Bender as chair of the AIRC. The person who relayed the information about what I believed was a threat did not see it or say it in those terms. Nevertheless, the information was leaked from legislative leadership for the purpose of manipulating the process.

Of course Bender was, in fact, passed over. But grousing about Mathis began very shortly after she was sworn in. And it did not stop until the Arizona Supreme Court clarified its ruling reinstating Mathis to the chair at the end of November. But now we see the bitching resume. And bitching, and bitchiness are legitimate words to describe what we now see about this latest development.

So, what will Andy Tobin do with the financial information and report he is provided pursuant to his January 5th request?

How much blame for the "financial instability" of the AIRC can he rationally attribute anywhere except to his own decisions and his own caucus, in concert with the actions of an arrogant governor and state senate?  To answer that, I would simply refer him to a review of the public outcry aimed at Gov. Brewer and the senate at throughout November 2011.

Then I'd recommend he direct JLBC to include adequate levels of funding for a supplemental appropriation  to cover anticipated costs as set forth in Ray Bladine's projection.

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