Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian
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Friday, June 24, 2011

Redistricting -- long day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on today's meeting later in the weekend.

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

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

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

UPDATE: 11:48pm Friday

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

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

UPDATE: 2:10pm Saturday

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

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