Yes, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission has been aiming all month at the goal of having the final maps completed by Christmas. No, they are not going to get the job done. But how close will they get?
Well, if today's deliberations are any indication, not very.
One observer called it a "loop." Another mentioned Groundhog's Day.
Here's how it goes:
Democratic IRC Commissioner Jose Herrera mentions the word "competitiveness." As soon as he is finished making his point, Freeman turns his mic on and says, "Madam chair." Mathis says, "Mr. Freeman."
Freeman, like today, says something like that the (Arizona) Constitution does not tell us to make competitive districts... then cites the 2009 Arizona Supreme Court ruling and recites his point about competitiveness being the only one of the six criteria that is conditional.
As soon as Freeman is done, McNulty will say, "Madam chair." Mathis then says, "Ms. McNulty." McNulty then addresses the point Herrera had made and thoughtfully rebuts Freeman. Last Friday, it was in one of the iterations of this loop that McNulty put her thoughts about the proposed Phoenix area competitive Congressional district (CD9) on the record.
These deliberations, as I have mentioned before, can be like watching paint dry. But by golly, they are making progress... I think. The saddest part of this loop, in my view, is that Freeman has gotten into what could become (if it has not already) a habit of making his criticism of Herrera into something personal. Previously, I've mentioned that he and Stertz have baited Herrera. But really, it is clear that Herrera has gotten under Freeman's skin and his retorts really have gotten personal. And that's unfortunate.
Anyway, today the Commission met from 9:30am until after 6pm trudging along toward the goal. Even if they get all the deliberation done by the time they adjourn on Tuesday (the last day they will meet this week), the best they'll do is to have two tentative maps (one for Congressional districts, one for legislative) prepared for the analysis Harvard Professor Gary King will conduct on Voting Rights Act issues (racially polarized voting). No district lines have yet or will be finalized until after that analysis is complete.
Event then, Dr. King may be performing parallel track analysis on multiple options for certain parts of the state, like Guadalupe. You may recall that last week, a good bit of public testimony was given by residents of the largely Hispanic and Native American enclave that's nestled between South Phoenix and Tempe.
During a mid-afternoon public comment period, Gila County resident Shirley Dye took a few minutes to calmly describe her desire to be following along with the discussions. However, her recent experience is that it has been very difficult because they don't have the files posted timely so people can follow along. She really does have a point. It is one that I've made a time or two since the post-apocalyptic (after the Supreme Court reinstated the Chair) deliberations have resumed.
The AIRC reconvenes at 1pm on Tuesday, at the Fiesta Resort. Live streaming video will be available at azredistricting.org.