Saturday, June 18, 2011

Redistricting -- last Wednesday's meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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