Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, January 30, 2012

A reliable source... UPDATED 11:20am MST 1-30-12

A reliable source this morning told me that Andrei Cherny will be stepping down from his position as chair of the Arizona Democratic Party today. Speculation over the last several weeks has Cherny interested in jumping into the primary race for Congress in Arizona's new Ninth Congressional District. No specific information on Cherny's plans is yet available, however. I left him a message this morning to look into the situation.

-----

The Arizona Democratic Party posted the following letter on its website and facebook page moments ago:

Dear friend:

A year ago, I had the great honor of being elected to lead Arizona’s Democrats. At the urging of many of our state leaders, I agreed to serve for at least a year because a Democratic Party that was flat on its back after the disastrous 2010 elections needed to be rebuilt to be ready to fight against political extremism and for Arizona’s mainstream.

In recent weeks, many of those same leaders have urged me to take on a new and different task. It is a bittersweet moment, but I have decided to step down as chair of the Arizona Democratic Party.

I do so with the knowledge that we have strong leaders ready to step into my place and the confidence that I am leaving the leadership of a party that has – by all of us working together – been transformed over the past year.

A year ago, we knew we had to go on the offense against a Republican leadership in Arizona that was taking us in a radically wrong direction. Whether it was Russell Pearce’s attempt to rewrite birthright citizenship, Tom Horne’s conflicted investigation of the Fiesta Bowl scandal, or Jan Brewer’s push to impeach the chair of the Independent Redistricting Commission, we spoke out boldly, worked hard – and beat them back.

We knew we had to build a big tent Democratic Party that brought in new voices and gave independents and fed-up Republicans a home. We did that by:

• Creating our new Arizona Democratic Business Council .
• Founding our New Leaders group of young professionals.
• Actively organizing thousands of Arizonans in the redistricting process to push for more competition and less gerrymandering in our elections.

Most of all, we knew we had to build a new, bottom-up Democratic Party that tapped the idealism and efforts of grassroots activists around the state. We have done that too:

• A new e-PC program to spread our Democratic message and ideas online.
• A 61 percent increase in the number of small dollar donors over 2010.
• A 488 percent increase in the membership of our DEM-AZ monthly giving club.
• A 52 percent increase in the membership of the Arizona Democratic Council.
• A network of new Party Affairs Liaisons all across the state.

All our hard work has made a big difference. Our Democratic Party now has wind in its sails. We helped elect Democratic mayors in both Phoenix and Tucson for the first time in 20 years. And the work of many ordinary citizens ended Russell Pearce’s extremist reign of error.

For the first time in a long time, we are getting used to using those face muscles that make us smile. But we realize that the real fights are coming up ahead in 2012. With redistricting we have the opportunity to pick up seats in our state legislature. We can send new strong leaders to Congress and help take back the majority from the Tea Party. For the first time in 24 years, our nominee for the United States Senate will win in November and help change the face that Arizona shows to the world. And there is no doubt that Arizona will be at the forefront of the fight to send President Barack Obama back to the White House for four more years.

We all have much work to do in the year ahead. I hope you’ll continue to invest your time, financial contributions, and energy into our Arizona Democratic Party. There is so much at stake and so much to do. I have been humbled and grateful for your support and faith in our party. I look forward to continuing to work with you in the years ahead to forge a stronger Arizona and America.

Thanks,
Andrei Cherny

Friday, January 27, 2012

Redistricting -- UNfair Trust re-emerges

Conventional wisdom had Arizona's GOP legislative leaders displeased with the final maps approved by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission but figuring there would be no point taking them to court.

So, apparently acting on his own, keeping his Senate counterpart (and LD1 seat mate) Steve Pierce in the dark, Speaker Andy Tobin introduced a series of bills today to undermine the AIRC maps as well as the commission and process itself.

According to the Yellow Sheet (Jan 27),
The IRC has asked for more money to continue operations in the wake of a series of expensive legal battles, but instead received a package of legislation that includes an effort to seek a special election aimed at nullifying the commission’s districts. The legislation was introduced late yesterday by Tobin, who earlier this month asked JLBC to audit the commission’s spending. Four of Tobin’s measures deal with a May 15 special election on maps he had a legislative staffer draw, while a fifth would ask voters in November to make serious reforms to the IRC. HCR2052 and HCR2053 seek to ask voters whether they would prefer to use Tobin’s legislative and congressional maps.


House Minority Leader Chad Campbell issued the following in response to Tobin's latest misadventures:

“All of Arizona’s voters should be outraged that self-serving politicians desperately continue to try to control an independent redistricting process so they can fulfill their own self interests of controlling the state with their rigid, extremist ideologies and making Arizona the laughing stock of the nation. 
“Speaker Andy Tobin’s introduction of bills to put his own secretly concocted redistricting map on the ballot just to get his way is a legislative power grab that thwarts a voter-approved, independent process.  It is the epitome of a self-serving politician who will do anything to desperately hold on to power and protect his own job — even if it means overthrowing the will of the voters and possibly the state constitution itself. 
“We all know what is happening here — certain Tea Party extremists who control the state capitol didn’t get their way in the redistricting process.  They now might have to go out and actually campaign in competitive, balanced districts.  They don’t care about compromise or making government work for the people; all they care about is protecting their own jobs.  Speaker Tobin’s bills underscore that once again.
“This is a pitiful display of partisan, self-serving politics at its worst. Voters have had enough.  They created an Independent Redistricting Commission in the first place to prevent politicians from drawing self-serving maps.  Speaker Tobin doesn’t seem to care.
“Even though the IRC’s citizen volunteers listened to public comment and created fair maps that still favor Republicans, Speaker Tobin and certain Tea Party lawmakers want their way or the highway. This is a waste of taxpayers’ time and millions of dollars, and it does nothing to stop the partisan bickering, create jobs, fix our economy or help our children get the education they deserve.  
“The IRC’s map is our one shot at fixing this so we can get Arizona on the right track with the benefit of competition. That’s how America works, that’s how it was built. And that’s why I hope both Republican and Democratic lawmakers will join me in rejecting the Speaker’s obvious attempts at a self-serving power grab. Let the independent process work for the people of Arizona, not for self-serving politicians.”

 
The Yellow Sheet and the Arizona Capitol Times often display a bias that protects their access to the inside workings of both chambers of the Arizona Legislature. However, in this case, it appears they set at least some of that aside.

YS interviewed unnamed lobbyists who expressed serious reservation and dismay over Tobin's apparently ill-conceived plans.
The special election route eliminates the costly risk of litigation that has so far kept lawsuits aimed at changing the IRC’s maps on the backburner – and it gives Republicans the ability to continue beating a drum the public is already familiar with. But the plan also presents a significant risk, said one Republican lobbyist. First and foremost, it will require private money in order to wage a campaign, and the source said it is unknown who would be willing and able to raise the cash. “If we had an organized, respected and trusted Republican Party structure in Arizona, it could raise a million bucks,” said the lobbyist, adding that many conservative interest groups could also have a hard time coalescing around such an endeavor – especially on short enough notice to influence a May election. A GOP political consultant told our reporter that Tobin’s effort was “just silly.” 
YS also expounded on Tobin keeping his senate colleagues in the dark as well as drawing comparisons and contrasts with the charges the legislature had leveled at the AIRC in 2011 about ignoring public testimony.

Tobin apparently had his taxpayer funded political operative, John Mills, draw the maps without consulting anyone. But did he? Apparently Mills did use hearing testimony from the Joint Legislative Committee on Interfering with Independent Redistricting last October and November to guide his project. However, that plan is flawed for multiple reasons. And who else did Mills consult?

First, the Joint Committee was attended primarily by Tea Partyists. Though the first person to testify expressed consternation over the action of those GOP lawmakers, subsequent testimony was dramatically skewed in the favor of the proceedings that can safely be characterized as a kangaroo court.

Second, with it being blatantly obvious neither Tobin nor the Joint Committee did any outreach of consequence to minority populations or coalitions. The implication of which is that there is little chance DOJ would legitimize a May special election.  

A final point from the YS analysis of Tobin's misadventure, why would he be wanting to mandate the state and counties spend millions of dollars on a special election:

A quick analysis of the maps and limited demographic information that was provided by the House shows that Tobin’s proposal helps Republicans. On the congressional side, the IRC’s map boasted 4 GOP districts, 2 Dem and 3 competitive; Tobin’s has 5 GOP, 2 Dem and 2 competitive. On the legislative side, the IRC’s 16-10-4 split favoring Republicans becomes 17-9-4. 
and


Tobin’s plan seems likely to run into preclearance problems with DOJ. While Tobin said he analyzed statistics on minority voting that would make his maps better than the IRC’s for Voting Rights Act purposes and claimed his maps are “very close to what the IRC has actually submitted,” there’s a bit more to preclearance than that. (emphasis mine)

Have we not wondered -- since the Arizona Supreme Court reinstated Colleen Mathis to the AIRC -- What is Fair Trust (the UNfair Trust) up to and what will it do next?

David Cantelme, the primary lobbyist for the UNfair Trust repeatedly claimed

...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)


So, to maintain the certainty of ONE Congressional seat and ONE legislative district (one state senator and two state representatives), Tobin declined the counsel of multitudes for an ill-conceived effort to exploit the current GOP supermajority for another ten years.

Today's effort by Andrew Tobin to blindside Arizonans has Cantelme's fingerprints all over it.

Will it be worth the cost, in taxpayer dollars or political "goodwill?" Will you let Andrew Tobin get away with this?

-----

Not quite the same approach, Capitol Media Services' Howie Fischer reported that

Senate Republicans, however, have a more radical approach: They want voters to dissolve the Independent Redistricting Commission entirely. That would allow lawmakers themselves to once again draw the state's political lines, the way it was before voters took it away from them in 2000 and created the commission.
Senate Majority Leader Andy Biggs, who is leading the effort, said he believes voters can be convinced they made a mistake, calling commission members "unaccountable'' and "unelected.'' And he said many residents in communities which have been split by the commission's maps are ready to try something else. (emphasis mine)

 So, the assault on the will of the voters continues.

Redistricting fallout? Democrat to announce for House from Chandler

On Sunday (Jan 29, 1:30pm), Karyn Lathan will become a Democratic candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives from Chandler.

Right now, Lathan's run is targeted for the existing LD 21 but when the new maps approved by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission are given preclearance by DOJ, her aim will be to represent the voters of the new LD 17.

Says Lathan, "Arizona has been in the grasp of extremism for too long. It is time to bring our legislature back to mainstream."


Current House Minority Leader Chad Campbell and Chandler City Councilwoman Trinity Donovan will also speak at the event which will be held in front of the Chandler City Library, 22 S. Delaware Street, Chandler.

Please join me (and many others) in meeting and supporting Karyn Lathan in her campaign to serve in the Arizona House of Representatives.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Redistricting and Gabby's seat in Congress

Last month, Arizona Redistricting Commissioner Rick Stertz, when asked about the reason for his vigorous advocacy to include Marana and Oro Valley in the new Second Congressional district emphatically told me his concern had nothing to do with former Tea Party GOP Congressional candidate Jesse Kelly.

Kelly's address as listed on DexKnows is in Marana, in what is CD1 on the final Congressional map, but would have been in CD2 pursuant to the changes Stertz try to get.

Kelly, Stertz said, had moved out of state -- because of death threats the FBI considered credible -- and would NOT be running for Congress from Arizona.

This afternoon, two days after Tucson Congresswoman Gabby Giffords announced on YouTube that she would resign her seat, Roll Call reported
Jesse Kelly, who narrowly lost to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) in 2010, is running again in the upcoming 8th district special election, according to two sources.
“I would say an announcement is imminent,” said an insider close to the Iraq War veteran.
The other source claims the Democrats would have a difficult time finding another candidate "with her charm, name identification and fundraising prowess."

Maybe so, but long time Arizona pollster Bruce Merrill, in an interview on a local Phoenix news broadcast last night said he believes that if Giffords endorses someone to replace her, he thinks that person would be hard to beat.



 

Arizona Senate Appropriation Process -- 2012

Yesterday, the Arizona Republic's Mary Jo Pitzl reported that state Sen. Don Shooter -- chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee -- has decided he would rather not have to deal with those pesky people called citizens, advocates, and voters.

The Senate Appropriations Committee begins work Tuesday on the fiscal 2013 budget, but no public need bother to speak up.
So says committee Chairman Don Shooter, R-Yuma, who is predicting a lickety-split hearing for the hearing that begins at 2 p.m.
Shooter said he will take testimony from representatives of the two agencies that are the subject of the hearing -- the departments of Economic Security and Health Services -- but that's it.
Public comment? "I heard it last year," Shooter said.
Regular readers of the Arizona Eagletarian may remember the brash senator from Yuma giving public testimony [found in the transcript on pages 27 -- 29] at the second round public hearing conducted by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission on October 29, 2011.
Thank you, Mr. Vice Chair. Since it's readily apparent to me that you really don't care what we have to say about  redistricting, I thought I would use this time to tell you and tell the people why hopefully you will be removed next week.
You respect -- you repeatedly violated open meeting laws that got Strategic Telemetry  selected. You violated state procurement laws to select the Democratic firm that you preferred. 
You bid-rigged during that process when confronted with it. You stonewalled and shredded evidence. When asked to testify to the bid-rigging inclusion, you stonewalled investigators and  proceeded to hire six or eight attorneys at $400 an hour, which we, the taxpayers of Arizona, are paying to defend your shenanigans. This after already paying your in-house lawyer over a quarter of a million dollars. (emphasis added)

Was Shooter projecting back in October when he told AIRC commissioners he believed they did not want to hear "what we had to say?"  

Does Don Shooter represent the interests of the VOTERS of Arizona does or he represent ALEC?

Consider Don Shooter's declaration in terms of how the GOP supermajority is conducting themselves in the legislature, and about civics in general.

Would it have been any more blatant if he had simply said (hypothetically, of course), "I just don't care what the citizens of Arizona have to say about the budget for state government?"





Monday, January 23, 2012

ALEC Accountability Bill -- HB2665 UPDATED 12:30pm MST, Jan 24, 2012

Here's some model legislation for you, business lobbyists (and 99 percent-ers)!

Arizona state Rep. Steve Farley (D-LD28) said today:
“This bill keeps our elected officials in line and focused on getting results for Arizona’s families, not for special interests,” said Assistant House Minority Leader Steve Farley, the sponsor of the bill. “It’s high time that transparency becomes a priority down here, and lawmakers work to get the job done, not carry the water for out-of-state corporations.”
The bill is one of the first to come out of Democratic lawmakers’ 2012 plan to move Arizona forward and leave the Tea Party’s extremism and divisiveness behind.
The ALEC Accountability Act works to change a long-standing, back-door system of lobbyist-funded scholarships that pay for lawmaker participation in conferences with ideological agendas and provide fancy accommodations, upscale dining and entertainment "networking" opportunities in cities around the country.
Translating that last paragraph, right now ALEC members are smoozed, wined and dined and expected to push the agenda when they get back to their home states.

For the annual financial disclosure required of lawmakers (actually, all public officers for whom ARS 38-542 applies), the following (one of several provisions) will apply when this bill is enacted:
11.  A description of any benefit received by the public officer or any member of the household of the public officer or relatives of the public officer to the second degree of consanguinity if the benefit is in the form of travel, lodging or registration fees related to a conference, meeting or other event, without regard to whether denominated a scholarship, a reduced rate or a full or partial reimbursement.  The description of the benefit received shall itemize the specific dollar amount of the benefit received and may not be reported in a category range as prescribed in subsection b of this section.  There is no minimum amount and this paragraph applies to any benefit in the form of travel, lodging or registration fees.  The description shall also separately itemize the benefit received in the form of travel, lodging and registration, and shall disclose the name and address of the donor or payor of each benefit. 
In plain English, this means that lawmakers, members of their own household and other relatives (including grandparents, offspring, aunts and uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins) must report ANY and ALL benefit, itemized with the specific dollar amount, all such benefit more than ZERO must be reported.

Typically, whenever there has been a proposed complete ban on gifts from lobbyists, lawmakers have weaseled their way out of it with various and sundry rationalizations, whining about it until the media has given up and went on to the next thing that needed to be covered or reported on.

So much so that this bill has already elicited a defeatist reaction from some. These days, observers may be prone to lay blame for the expected refusal to enact this law on the GOP supermajority in the state legislature. That is both true and not so true. In general, whichever party is in power is prone to abuse of that power.

But in this case, ALEC is a Republican/conservative institution. The reporting requirements in this bill will also apply for those lawmakers receiving "scholarships" to conferences conducted by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Council of State Governments.

The difference between ALEC and NCSL/CSG is that ALEC lobbies and does so on behalf of Big Business.

To one such comment this evening, I replied,
It's not about being optimistic or pessimistic. It's about advocating, asserting, doing what's right... However, pessimism leads to a defeatist attitude. Defeatist attitudes become self-fulfilling. That's not what I'm about.
So, here's what could become the beginning of an action plan (for YOU):

  • Call your state representative (if you do not know who that is, check here. There's a box to search your address for which district you live in). Then find the phone number and email address of your TWO state reps here. Tell (call and email) them to support and vote for HB2665. Don't ask, assert. Politely but firmly.
  • Tell your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers about HB2665 and ask them to do the same.
  • Write letters to editors of newspapers throughout Arizona.
  • Come up with other (lawful) ideas for calling attention to the issue, the ALEC and to the bill.
Kudos to Steve Farley for pushing HB2665.

And much thanks to Lisa Hoffman. Her interest and research on ALEC has been invaluable and will make a HUGE difference for Arizonans especially for those advocating before the state legislature this year for the rights of everyday citizens (as opposed to "Citizens United" type corporate "persons").
-----

By the way, at his press briefing this morning for the bill, one reporter asked him if he would be running for Congress to take the seat being vacated this week by Gabby Giffords. Farley responded that he intends to run for state senate this fall, but if he is asked by Giffords to run, he would find it difficult to refuse.

-----

UPDATE -- Jan 24, 2012

A couple more resources to look at for further insight on ALEC:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Redistricting -- how does one measure success?

Now that the final Congressional and legislative maps have been certified by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, a different look back at the process begins.

Before even sinking one's teeth into the implications and ramifications of the maps, we can start by considering some interesting numbers. On the AIRC website, you'll be able to review statistics on website traffic, email newsletter sign ups, streaming video traffic and miles driven on state motor pool vehicles. These figures give an idea of the amount of interest and citizen participation in the process since it began to gear up in late 2010 (it was a LOT).

Corporate media, of course, jumped on the maps and started speculating about potential match ups, especially for Congress, as soon as the first draft maps were issued. Come to think about it, the speculation began even earlier. Then Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, Republican Kirk Adams resigned his seat in the legislature to prepare a run for Congress. Early scuttlebutt had him facing off with former Congressman (and 2002 gubernatorial candidate) Matt Salmon.

As soon as the AIRC had maps for people to fantasize over, consternation over the fact that incumbent Republicans Ben Quayle and David Schweikert might be lumped into the same district replaced murmuring over Adams and Salmon.

From my perspective, such speculating does not accomplish anything except tickle the fancy of partisans.

Then today, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords announced she would resign her seat this week. Immediately, media prognosticators began speculation. Pursuant to A.R.S. §16-222, there must be a special election to fill the seat. That means the currently Republican leaning district could be filled by a Republican, who would then face re-election in the new Second Congressional District which looks a significantly more competitive.

I will leave further speculation, including hypothetical candidates and matchups for that race to other media.

Nevertheless, the AIRC listened to what citizens told them during the course of two rounds of public hearings, numerous business meetings and written testimony and comments submitted by email or website input form, highlights include:

  • Draw two primarily (as much as possible) rural Congressional districts. This came up emphatically at first round outreach hearings outside of the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas.
  • Non-Hispanic voters in Yuma County (many of them, anyway) emphatically said they did not want to be represented in Congress by Democrat Raul Grijalva. Subsequently, to accommodate them, as well as to protect those covered by Section Five of the Voting Rights Act, Yuma was split.
  • Flagstaff business and community leaders, together with officials from the Navajo Nation, worked to compromise and provide a competitive district in northern Arizona.
  • A new competitive Congressional district in the Phoenix area.
Of course, in the complex process of drawing new maps, the biggest challenge is, has been and will always be how to balance all of the criteria without causing "significant detriment" to any of them. Or rather, significantly MORE detriment to one criteria than another.

People with parochial interests will, as we have seen, scream when their oxen get gored. A good faith effort to draw three Congressional districts touching the border with Mexico drew vehement opposition from people over a wide spectrum of political views in Cochise County.

Ultimately, there is no question in my mind that the current AIRC deliberated openly, in good faith and produced a result that will certainly bother a lot of people. I still do not subscribe to the notion that success can be measured by drawing opposition from "both" sides. It would be difficult to put two specific sides into predetermined boxes for this purpose. People who complained all the way through are likely to still complain. Simplistic reporting of off the cuff sound bites from perturbed lawmakers, city councils or county supervisors will provide little insight.

The end result could, theoretically, always be better. They could most definitely have been worse. An Arizona demographer and long-time redistricting consultant believes we could have gotten another competitive Congressional district and quite a few more competitive legislative districts. Some counties believe they got a raw deal because they will have multiple representatives in Congress and in the state legislature. But NONE of them presented any academic or scholarly evidence that "splitting" their jurisdiction will "dilute their voice" in the respective lawmaking bodies.

Ultimately, we may not know until years from now just how good a job Mathis, Freeman, McNulty, Stertz and Herrera did. Will public policy in Arizona be driven by a minority of voters like it has over the last decade? Whether or not that changes may be the only measurement we'll ever have. But then again, we might find out sooner if DOJ declines to provide preclearance on the first try or anyone challenges the maps in court and succeeds in forcing any changes. However, I believe the probability of either of those two complicating scenarios presenting themselves is low.    

Saturday, January 21, 2012

To Whom does the Arizona Capitol belong?

Proposing to buy the buildings back, Jan Brewer's annual budget request reminded us that not long ago, she and the Grover Norquist Republicans dominating the state legislature, sold the Capitol to Wall Street banks.

In the KPHO CBS 5 video clip, Brewer mouthpiece Matt Benson says it is "important that the people of the State of Arizona own their house of government and that is the Arizona State Capitol..."




I have to wonder, however, which people Mr. Benson is thinking about. First, we now know that early buy back will cost Arizona taxpayers substantially more money than was raised in the sale in the first place. Symbolically, Wall Street banks have been given a seriously sweet deal.

To add INSULT to this economic injury, eight Republican members* of the Legislative Council, have voted to constrain the right of Arizona citizens to protest at the Capitol.

Some details of the new regulations are:


Activity on the State Capitol Grounds (including picketing, protesting, speechmaking**, marching, or conducting a vigil, religious service, press conference, luncheon, celebration, entertainment, exhibition, parade, fair, pageant, or any other activity that involves the communication or expression of views or ideas, engaged in by one or more persons) may be conducted only between the hours of 5:00 A.M. and 10:00 P.M., and is subject to the following regulations:

1. The Activity must be conducted in a manner that minimizes damage to State property and facilities, protects members of the general public and minimizes disruption of government operation.  Ten (10) feet of undisturbed space around all State buildings must be maintained to allow for ingress and egress. Sound may be amplified only on the House lawn or Senate lawn, and only pursuant to an approved Event Application.  If the official responsible for the control of the House of Representatives wing, the Senate wing or the Legislative Services wing determines that the volume of sound from any Activity on the State Capitol Grounds is disruptive to the conduct of governmental business, the volume must be reduced to a reasonable level.

-----

ALEC Representative Lesko asked about the ease of change of the regulations in the event that unintended consequences are discovered. Braun said it was as easy as "convening a quorum of the Legislative Council." However, he conspicuously omitted mention of PUBLIC NOTICE of a lawful item being placed on the agenda for the meeting of said quorum. There was NO follow up discussion to clarify whether they would be hypothetically making the regulations more stringent or less.

Note that I've highlighted SOME of the subjective language in the newly adopted constraints on protest. Subjectivity gives room to officials for arbitrary and capricious application of the regulations.

Perhaps, when Russell Pearce threw Sal Reza out of the Senate building last year might these regs have allowed someone to suggest to Herr Pearce that it was not a good idea? On the other hand, reference to...
...any other activity that involves the communication or expression of views or ideas, engaged in by one or more persons...
together with
If the official responsible for the control of the House of Representatives wing, the Senate wing or the Legislative Services wing determines that the volume of sound from any Activity on the State Capitol Grounds is disruptive to the conduct of governmental business, the volume must be reduced to a reasonable level.
...could have given Pearce cover for his stupid decision to eject a law-abiding citizen. After all, Senator Biggs(hot) ejected this blogger from a committee hearing in October when he thought ZERO decibels was disruptive. 

Perhaps that sounds absurd. But have any Arizona lawmakers ever done anything during the course of regular business that could reasonably be characterized as blatantly absurd? 

Mr. Braun claimed that these regulations are "defensible and enforceable." I am not so sure.

Sen. David Schapira mentioned, in explaining his NAY vote, that he sees these regs as likely violating the First Amendment Rights of Arizonans. He specifically noted the subjective language and the fact that there are times when legislative business (floor sessions or committee hearings) extends beyond 10pm. He believes it is troubling that one of the only objective standards in the regulations specifically excludes "activity that involves the communication or expression of views or ideas" when some of the most objectionable legislation can be (and in the past actually HAS been) acted on without adequate public scrutiny. Think Alt-Fuels Debacle

I have to wonder what kind of fuss would (will) be stirred up when Occupy Phoenix activists show up and proceed to MIC CHECK a committee hearing during discussion or a vote on a particularly egregious piece of legislation. It's a safe bet that there are already plenty of bills worthy of just such an expression of dissent.

How defensible will it be for an arrogant committee chair to demand removal of such activists/protesters? Will the current GOP supermajority in the Arizona Legislature be as gracious about being MIC CHECKed as President Obama was? Or will they be outraged and try to surpress dissent like Scott Walker has?

DISSENT is the very purpose of FIRST AMENDMENT protections.

-----

* The eight members of the Legislative Council voting to IMPOSE these NEW CONSTRAINTS on PROTESTS are:


Rep Steve Court R-LD18  
Sen Lori Klein R-Pink Handgun
Rep Debbie Lesko R-ALEC State Chair






Voting NO (did NOT approve of these constraints):


Sen David Schapira D-LD17 (Senate Minority Leader)
Rep Chad Campbell D-LD14 (House Minority Leader)
Rep Albert Hale D-LD2

Not present for this vote:


Sen Linda Gray R-LD10
Sen Leah Landrum Taylor D-LD16
Rep Steve Farley D-LD28



Phone numbers and email addresses are listed at the links. 

We should ask these elected "representatives" WHO OWNS the State Capitol -- in practice -- as well as in legal title and deed.

** Speechifying!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

STOP SOPA and PIPA -- UPDATED 7:40pm MST Jan 18, 2012

UPDATE 7:40pm MST Jan 18, 2012

It's been difficult to get through to McCain's office. I spoke with a guy in Kyl's DC office and one in Schweikert's DC office.

Schweikert posted a status on facebook early this afternoon:
Thanks to all from Arizona's 5th who have voiced their concerns over SOPA and PIPA. I oppose this legislation and believe the Internet should remain open. 
Comments from Schweikert supporters seem to be over the top, but I'm still glad he has declared, in writing, his opposition to these incredibly dangerous bills.

A little while ago, I posted a facebook status:
As a political blogger, I believe I've made it clear that I believe it is of the utmost importance for Congress to KILL both the SOPA and PIPA bills. It now occurs to me that we have every right to expect any candidate for either chamber of Congress to emphatically and unambiguously denounce both bills, IN WRITING. This is a legitimate primary campaign litmus test. There may be more, but this is one of them.
And I do mean any and every candidate for either chamber of Congress. So far, I've only seen one facebook post by Kyrsten Sinema but understand David Schapira will make a statement this evening. 

The Phoenix New Times reported that Ben Quayle retreated from his previous position of support for the entertainment industry supported bills.


-----

Okay, I'm not quite a webmaster and don't control the blogger (blogspot.com) platform so I have no plans to "go dark" like Wikipedia and other websites will do on January 18, 2012.

However, there is no doubt in my mind that a free and open internet is absolutely essential to the ability of Americans to maintain genuine freedom, especially from corporate harassment and domination. Therefore, I fully support the January 18, 2012 protest by Wikipedia and many other websites.

Since Wikipedia will go dark (and in case they also darken the notice page), here is the text of the notice:


To: English Wikipedia Readers and Community From: Sue Gardner, Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Date: January 16, 2012

Today, the Wikipedia community announced its decision to black out the English-language Wikipedia for 24 hours, worldwide, beginning at 05:00 UTC on Wednesday, January 18 (you can read the statement from the Wikimedia Foundation here). The blackout is a protest against proposed legislation in the United States – the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate – that, if passed, would seriously damage the free and open Internet, including Wikipedia.

This will be the first time the English Wikipedia has ever staged a public protest of this nature, and it’s a decision that wasn’t lightly made. Here’s how it’s been described by the three Wikipedia administrators who formally facilitated the community’s discussion. From the public statement, signed by User:NuclearWarfare, User:Risker and User:Billinghurst:


It is the opinion of the English Wikipedia community that both of these bills, if passed, would be devastating to the free and open web.
Over the course of the past 72 hours, over 1800 Wikipedians have joined together to discuss proposed actions that the community might wish to take against SOPA and PIPA. This is by far the largest level of participation in a community discussion ever seen on Wikipedia, which illustrates the level of concern that Wikipedians feel about this proposed legislation. The overwhelming majority of participants support community action to encourage greater public action in response to these two bills. Of the proposals considered by Wikipedians, those that would result in a "blackout" of the English Wikipedia, in concert with similar blackouts on other websites opposed to SOPA and PIPA, received the strongest support.
On careful review of this discussion, the closing administrators note the broad-based support for action from Wikipedians around the world, not just from within the United States. The primary objection to a global blackout came from those who preferred that the blackout be limited to readers from the United States, with the rest of the world seeing a simple banner notice instead. We also noted that roughly 55% of those supporting a blackout preferred that it be a global one, with many pointing to concerns about similar legislation in other nations.
In making this decision, Wikipedians will be criticized for seeming to abandon neutrality to take a political position. That’s a real, legitimate issue. We want people to trust Wikipedia, not worry that it is trying to propagandize them.

But although Wikipedia’s articles are neutral, its existence is not. As Wikimedia Foundation board member Kat Walsh wrote on one of our mailing lists recently,


We depend on a legal infrastructure that makes it possible for us to operate. And we depend on a legal infrastructure that also allows other sites to host user-contributed material, both information and expression. For the most part, Wikimedia projects are organizing and summarizing and collecting the world’s knowledge. We’re putting it in context, and showing people how to make to sense of it.
But that knowledge has to be published somewhere for anyone to find and use it. Where it can be censored without due process, it hurts the speaker, the public, and Wikimedia. Where you can only speak if you have sufficient resources to fight legal challenges, or if your views are pre-approved by someone who does, the same narrow set of ideas already popular will continue to be all anyone has meaningful access to.
The decision to shut down the English Wikipedia wasn’t made by me; it was made by editors, through a consensus decision-making process. But I support it.

Like Kat and the rest of the Wikimedia Foundation Board, I have increasingly begun to think of Wikipedia’s public voice, and the goodwill people have for Wikipedia, as a resource that wants to be used for the benefit of the public. Readers trust Wikipedia because they know that despite its faults, Wikipedia’s heart is in the right place. It’s not aiming to monetize their eyeballs or make them believe some particular thing, or sell them a product. Wikipedia has no hidden agenda: it just wants to be helpful.

That’s less true of other sites. Most are commercially motivated: their purpose is to make money. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a desire to make the world a better place – many do! – but it does mean that their positions and actions need to be understood in the context of conflicting interests.

My hope is that when Wikipedia shuts down on January 18, people will understand that we’re doing it for our readers. We support everyone’s right to freedom of thought and freedom of expression. We think everyone should have access to educational material on a wide range of subjects, even if they can’t pay for it. We believe in a free and open Internet where information can be shared without impediment. We believe that new proposed laws like SOPA and PIPA, and other similar laws under discussion inside and outside the United States, don’t advance the interests of the general public. You can read a very good list of reasons to oppose SOPA and PIPA here, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Why is this a global action, rather than US-only? And why now, if some American legislators appear to be in tactical retreat on SOPA?

The reality is that we don’t think SOPA is going away, and PIPA is still quite active. Moreover, SOPA and PIPA are just indicators of a much broader problem. All around the world, we’re seeing the development of legislation intended to fight online piracy, and regulate the Internet in other ways, that hurt online freedoms. Our concern extends beyond SOPA and PIPA: they are just part of the problem. We want the Internet to remain free and open, everywhere, for everyone.
  Make your voice heard!
On January 18, we hope you’ll agree with us, and will do what you can to make your own voice heard.
Sue Gardner,
Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation

Other Arizona political news for January 17, 2012

Today, Arizona's Senate Minority Leader David Schapira announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Congress in the new Ninth District. Pre-race celebration (announcement party) to ensue at Canteen in Tempe.

And former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas filed a 91-page closing argument in his disciplinary hearing case, hoping not to get disbarred. Co-defendants in that disciplinary matter, Lisa Aubuchon and Rachel Alexander also filed closing arguments. Each of those documents is (or will shortly be) available for review on the state Supreme Court's website.

 

Redistricting -- final bickering? UPDATED 1/20/2012 1:30pm MST

If you thought this morning's Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission meeting was going to be a quick "vote and it's over" formality, you would have been surprised. By the way, each and every one of the five members of the Commission were present and accounted for today. However, I thought I saw someone with jumper cables touching positive and negative battery terminals together a few times.

On twitter, @azcInsider said:
Partisan sniping as nears final vote on maps. Freeman: "This is a Democratic Party map." Stertz: "I feel joy and disgust."
That was a pretty good Stertz quote. Anyway, both of the Republican commissioners spent a good bit of time today putting their partisan perspectives on the record one last time -- at least the last time before they expect the maps to be sent off (to DOJ) for preclearance. To listen to them, one would think they were filled with animosity about the entire process. After those two had their say for what seemed like forever, McNulty finally spoke up to specify, for the record, that she disagreed with everything they had said and she spelled out her understanding of the various (partisan) allegations the two of them (Freeman and Stertz) had set forth.

One item came up for discussion that had not been dealt with since early on in the process. Freeman had, last spring, alluded to the fact that there were options on how to obtain Voting Rights Act preclearance. He was the only one, to my knowledge and recollection, that had even mentioned the possibility of bypassing the U.S. Department of Justice. The other possibility is to take the case directly to "a court of competent jurisdiction." That court (the only one) is the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

Really, there was no discussion of the reason why states choose to bypass DOJ, when they make that choice. Generally, it's because they expect DOJ to object to the plan and hope to win a "more favorable outcome" (preclearance in spite of DOJ objection) directly from the court.

There is no question that such a course of action would be far more costly -- in terms of legal fees. Recall that House Speaker Andy Tobin has already expressed his dismay over the "instability of the IRC's financial outlook." Tobin's dismay is over legal fees incurred as a result of the (frivolous) challenges he and his cohorts subjected the AIRC to. It therefore makes no sense to pursue preclearance directly through the court.

For expanded coverage of the verbal sparring today between Freeman/Stertz and McNulty/Herrera, check out Howie Fischer's story in the East Valley Tribune (with some of Fischer's bias and conjecture thrown in for good measure).

This time, when all was said and done, all WAS said and done. They took separate votes to adopt each of the (two) maps and then again to certify each of the two maps for transmittal to the Arizona Secretary of State. All of the votes had the same outcome with the same count (3-2). Mathis, McNulty and Herrera voted "aye;" Freeman and Stertz voted "nay."

But once Mathis hit the gavel to adjourn the meeting, that was all behind them. Chief staffer Ray Bladine brought cupcakes to celebrate the milestone. Die hard observers chatted up each of the commissioners whose smiles betrayed the relief and (I suspect, even for Freeman and Stertz) a sense of accomplishment.

-----

UPDATE 1/20/2012

On the subject of bypassing DOJ for Voting Rights Act preclearance, the state of Texas this year took the alternate route, suing in US District Court in DC.

According to Roll Call:

Texas: Preclearance Trial Starts in District CourtThe U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia began its trial Tuesday to determine whether it will approve the state's Congressional map.
On the first day of the preclearance trial, counsel for the state of Texas argued that GOP mapmakers did not intentionally discriminate against minority voters in their redrawn map passed last summer.
"Map drawers made a good faith effort to follow Department of Justice guidance," Adam Mortara, an attorney for Texas, argued, according to Bloomberg News. "The voter map is not retrogressive in terms of Latino voting strength."
The trial in the District Court started just eight days after the Supreme Court heard arguments over the new map in a related case. The high court will determine whether a three-judge panel overstepped its authority by drawing an interim Congressional map before the D.C. court finished its trial.
In that initial hearing on Jan. 9, several Supreme Court justices suggested the state should wait until the District of Columbia's trial is finished.
But officials are quickly running out of time before the primary, with the final arguments in the D.C. court case scheduled for Feb. 3. The state already moved its primary back once to April 3, but given the ongoing trial, it's unlikely officials will be able to keep that date.
There are four new House seats at stake in Texas, mostly because of the increase in Hispanic population over the past decade.
Texas is one of nine states that requires preclearance from the Justice Department or a federal court before implementing its maps under Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Last summer, Texas opted to sidestep the Justice Department and sued for preclearance directly in federal court.
Emphasis mine. Texas claims the maps it approved do not represent a retrogression of Hispanic voting rights. DOJ believes otherwise. Texas opted to sue, hoping to get a more favorable ruling directly from the court.

-----

UPDATE 1/20/2012 1:30pm

According to ASU Political Science Professor Jennifer Steen,
When a state (or other jurisdiction) seeks pre-clearance from the District Court, the pre-clearance request essentially takes the form of a lawsuit against DOJ demanding pre-clearance.  So DOJ can pre-clear through its administrative process (the norm) or because it is ordered to do so by the District Court.  You suggested that TX sued after DOJ objected, but DOJ’s “objection” actually took the form of their response to TX’s lawsuit.  
I figure, then that Texas sued DOJ because they expected DOJ to object. The AIRC, on the other hand, has been diligent to put DOJ preclearance as a top priority. Because it does not expect DOJ to object, there's no point in suing in federal district court.

Redistricting and beyond

It's not quite Buzz Lightyear, but the meat and potatoes aspect of Arizona's legislative and Congressional redistricting process is winding down and may be completed with a single vote in the morning.

Many have wondered what the Arizona Eagletarian will be up to now.

There are certainly going to be a number of very interesting election campaigns and races in 2012. But without examining the public policy decisions at stake -- actual legislation, those races carry little to no meaning other than symbolic fodder for discussion or arguments with friends, relatives or larger audiences.

There are a number of issues that will be crucial and up for consideration during the regular session now underway at the state Capitol. Based on last year's AIRC controversies and last week's rantings on Tucson's public broadcasting station by Gov Brewer, we can expect efforts to undermine the state judiciary. I will look for bills and resolutions that may impact that very important branch of our state government. So-called tort reform is already on the agenda and we likely will see efforts to change the way judges are selected.

Just within the last 24 hours, I viewed a very important documentary that I strongly recommend to every consumer throughout the state and the entire country. HOT COFFEE examines tort reform myths, the concept of mandatory arbitration and selection of judges. It shows how corporate interests have hoodwinked Americans and usurped Constitutional and statutory protections in many ways. The best remedy for these corporate attacks on our freedoms as American consumers is sunlight. HOT COFFEE shines a very bright light and I intend to focus that light on those attacks going on at the Arizona Capitol.




Stay tuned because I will explore issues that will demonstrate why the monied interests were fighting to prevent the AIRC from drawing competitive districts. And why they do not want the GOP supermajority in the state legislature put in jeopardy.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Redistricting -- it's all over but the shouting...

Wait, I thought the shouting was over and done with more than a month ago.

Okay, on Friday morning, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission met in Tempe at the Fiesta Resort. Four commissioners attended the meeting in person, with Stertz watching the live feed and responding by telephone. Besides members, staff and consultants, eleven members of the public showed up to observe what could be the last AIRC meeting prior to certifying the maps and authorizing preparation of DOJ submission package.

The only action taken, votes to adopt technical changes related to split precincts in several counties, passed 3-0-2 with Freeman and Stertz abstaining. Brief discussion took place regarding additional renumbering of districts but no further changes were made.

On Tuesday, January 17, the AIRC will meet at 9am at the Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel to adopt final technical changes and certify the final maps.

Of course, after that, the possibility of litigation by disgruntled Republicans could surface at any time. Indeed, to my knowledge, nobody involved with the AIRC has heard from any of the people involved with the UNfair Trust since November. There's no telling what they've been up to.

One observer recently remarked, however, that he thought it unlikely any Republican interest would sue because there has to be an extremely slim chance any court would give them a better outcome than they already have with the final maps.

Nevertheless, the Arizona Eagletarian will keep his ear to the ground and will report any further developments to you on this blog. In the meantime, my coverage of political issues in Arizona will diversify but will not likely be as comprehensive on any one topic as I've been able to provide on redistricting.

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.

-----

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.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Redistricting -- inch by inch, almost there

Yes, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission met this evening. But no, it did not make any changes to map lines. First, let me address a question that a couple of readers posed after last night when neither Republican member showed up. The natural question was whether Freeman and Stertz were boycotting the remaining proceedings. Tonight, Freeman called in and remained in telephone conference mode until adjournment. So, the answer is, no, the Republicans are not boycotting.

The Call to the Public was held at the beginning of the meeting. Two state lawmakers showed up to make requests. State Sen. Olivia Cajero Bedford (D-LD27) presented a letter from the Tucson Mountain Association wanting certain district lines changed. Yeah, I wondered why she would do that too. I understand she was disappointed about being drawn out of a Democratic leaning district for the 2012 election. But she also had said she owns a home in a different (more Democratic leaning) district that she intends to move into. So, it was puzzling that she would appear and actually look like she expected the AIRC to grant her request.

After taking some time to consider those changes as well as discussing the potential adjustments McNulty asked Strategic Telemetry to work up last night (change reports available in the section labeled LD improve VR LD8), they decided to not make any tweaks to the maps.

Also during the Call to the Public, Rep. Karen Fann (R-LD1) again made a plea for changing district numbers. After discussion, McNulty made a motion (Herrera seconded) to swap the legislative district numbers to make the Prescott area LD 1 and the district in the far southeast corner of the state LD 14. No change was made to the numbering for any of the Congressional districts.

Because technical changes to deal with split precincts for several counties have yet to be made, and because two of those counties have not yet provided the information to make those adjustments, the maps could not be completed this evening. Strategic Telemetry was instructed to contact those two counties and give them a deadline of the end of the day tomorrow (Wednesday, Jan 11). Corrections will then be made and a meeting of the Commission called to approve the maps either Friday morning (Jan 13) or next week.

Before the meeting, I sat with Ken Strasma for a few minutes to review the racially polarized voting report and graphs. I will write more about that information in a day or two. However, the fact that they made no changes is a statement about the results of the racial analysis.

This evening, Ray Bladine presented projected budget information. His worksheets will be posted on the AIRC website tomorrow. I will also have more to write about the letter Andy Tobin sent to JLBC requesting information on AIRC expenditures. Initially, the letter appears to have a little bit of inflammatory language but there really is very little real controversy that can come of Tobin's little hissy fit. After all, what is the legislature going to do, prevent the Commission from being able to pay its bills? That is not going to happen.

More to come.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Redistricting -- trying to wrap it up

This afternoon, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission convened at the Fiesta Resort in Tempe without Republican members Rick Stertz and Scott Freeman.

Professor Gary King, Director of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University presented the results of his racially polarized voting analysis. My hunch is that, like me, most (if not all) people will not understand the diagrams/graphs without King explaining them. I'm still not confident I understand them.

Within the next few days, when the video is posted, I will watch again and pause to study it. Hopefully, I'll be able to write more about it then.

When King was finished, the AIRC went into executive session. Except for a 10-minute break about 8:30pm, they remained in closed session until just after 10pm.

Once back in public session, McNulty directed the mapping consultant to work up potential changes to the legislative map in and around San Tan Valley and north Phoenix. The AIRC then adjourned for the night and will start back up at 4:30pm Tuesday (Jan 10).

No members of the public requested to comment on the record this evening.

Some information from county elections officials throughout the state has not been supplied to facilitate minor adjustments to fix certain split precincts. That and potential adjustments pursuant to the racial analysis must be completed before staff and consultants can compile the package of maps, reports and public testimony for submission to DOJ for preclearance. It seems very unlikely the Commission will be able to complete that work before the end of Tuesday's meeting. Therefore, the AIRC will likely also meet next week sometime.

-----

Changing the subject completely, Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will speak at a dinner in Phoenix on February 23. If you would like to attend, I am organizing (Progressive Advocates) tables for ten. For more details, you may contact me at ArizonaEagletarian (at) gmail (dot) com.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Filling the vacant LD15 state senate seat

Early this evening, a citizen panel selected by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors took a series of votes to compile a list of three names from which one will be appointed to fill the state senate seat vacated last week by Kyrsten Sinema.

Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne facilitated the meeting and oversaw the votes.

Pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes §41-1202, (and because LD15 Democrats did not have enough elected precinct committeemen as of last August), the Board of Supervisors appointed a 23-member panel to screen candidates and select the three names for official consideration. Osborne said that one of the 23 had moved out of state and was no longer qualified to participate. Another one did not show up for the meeting. That left 21 people eligible to vote. A simple majority therefore was 11 votes.

Six people were nominated. Those making the nominations spoke for up to one minute on the person they proposed adding to the list. Each of the candidates then had five minutes to sell him or herself to the members of the citizen panel.



In order nominated, they were David Lujan, Ken Clark, Bob Rosenberg, Raquel Terán, Sharon Thomas and Luisa Valdez. All six individuals are bright, capable people.

None of the candidates received 11 votes on the first vote (each panelist only voted for one candidate). Beginning with the second vote, the person with the fewest votes was eliminated. Valdez, Rosenberg and Terán were eliminated, in that order, leaving Lujan, Clark and Thomas.

Lujan and Clark have both served in the Arizona House of Representatives. Lujan was the only one of the six who specified in his five minute sales pitch that he would NOT run for re-election in the fall if selected. Clark told me he had the same intention but forgot to mention it. Not that it matters at that stage. It's the Board of Supervisors who would care about that. History suggests that the Republican dominated Maricopa County Board is likely to select a person who would not benefit from incumbency by running in the next election.

Because Republicans in the Arizona Senate already hold a supermajority (21-9, the seat Bundgaard vacated last week must be filled by another Republican), that may or may not be a consideration for selection this time.

What is clear is that all three people up for consideration are well qualified to serve in the senate. Two of the three would have little to no learning curve because of their experience. Sharon Thomas would likely learn pretty fast also. All three are eager to advocate for education. Clark and Thomas have track records of advocating for clean, renewable energy.

In an apparent (oblique) reference to having missed the SB1070 vote, Lujan implored the panelists to consider the entirety of his record, not simply one day.

I'm probably partial to Clark Kent, er, Ken Clark (on Friday's Journalists' Roundtable on Horizon, Luigi Del Puerto, who covers the Arizona Senate for the Capitol Times referred to Mr. Clark as "Clark Kent" in an innocent stumble over his words) because of his work on the Arizona Competitive Districts Coalition. But I think any of the three -- Clark, Lujan or Thomas would do an excellent job representing the voters of LD15.