Thursday, October 29, 2020

House Minority Leader Fernandez appoints Anthropologist Shereen Lerner to the AZ Independent Redistricting Commission

Subsequent to denial of temporary restraining order in court today, Charlene Fernandez selected Maricopa County resident and anthropology/archeology professor to serve for the next ten years as a Redistricting Commissioner. More info to come.

House Democratic Leader Fernandez Selects Shereen Lerner for Independent Redistricting Commission 


PHOENIX – House Democratic Leader Charlene Fernandez has chosen Dr. Shereen Lerner of Tempe to serve on the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. Lerner is an award-winning anthropology and archeology professor at Mesa Community College, as well as a deeply committed community leader and volunteer. 


"Shereen Lerner was far and away the most qualified candidate we interviewed, and I'm proud to select her for this vital role in our state's history," said Fernandez, D-Yuma. "Redistricting is an intense and highly challenging process that requires a combination of intelligence, communication skills and strength of character to succeed. That is exactly what Dr. Lerner will bring to the Commission. As an anthropologist and historic preservationist, she has a great sense of the history and of the people of Arizona, and she has built deep long-lasting relationships with diverse communities throughout the entire state that will serve her well. And lastly, Dr. Lerner understands that, of all the leadership roles she has taken on to better her community, this could be the most important and impactful for her state."  


Lerner earned her Ph.D. from Arizona State University in 1984. She has held nearly a dozen volunteer posts on City of Tempe advisory boards and is currently a member of the Tempe Census 2020 Committee. She has also held several leadership roles in the Society for American Archaeology and has served in board or leadership capacities on the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers and National Park Service National Historic Landmarks Advisory Board. Lerner has taught at Mesa Community College for 29 years and was inducted its Hall of Fame in 2016.  


"I truly appreciate the honor of serving on the Independent Redistricting Commission and look forward to important work that lies ahead," Lerner said. "Creating fair and competitive legislative and Congressional districts that reflect Arizona's diverse population and communities of interest is an incredible responsibility, and I will carry out those duties to the best of my abilities at all times." 

Please see letter attached.



Friday, October 23, 2020

Arizona Legislative Democratic Leaders file suit over Redistricting Candidates list

On Thursday, Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers, likely knowing he did not fully have the authority to lawfully do so, selected Pima County Republican David Mehl to be a member of the 2021 Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. There, at this time, is no assurance that Bowers will be speaker, after the election, a scant two weeks from now.

Also on Thursday, House Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez and Senate Minority Leader David Bradley filed a special action in Maricopa County Superior Court seeking declaration that the list of qualified candidates was not lawfully complete and must be revised before selection may begin. Along with the verified complaint, Fernandez and Bradley filed a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order to halt the selection process and the associated seven day deadlines for each of the partisan appointments to the AIRC. 

House and Senate Democratic Leaders File Suit Over IRC 'Independents' 

PHOENIX – House and Senate Democratic Leaders filed a lawsuit early this morning to strike two registered independents from the slate of five candidates for Chair of the next Independent Redistricting Commission. The attached suit, filed in Maricopa County Superior Court, seeks to strike:
  • Thomas Loquvam, general counsel and vice president of corporate services at utility company EPCOR. Loquvam is also a lobbyist, a line of work prohibited in the Arizona Constitution under voter-approved Proposition 106 that created the IRC in 2000.
  • And Robert Wilson who hosted a rally for President Trump, as well as other Republican candidates, in the parking lot of his Flagstaff gun store.
House Democratic Leader Charlene Fernandez, D-Yuma: "The chair of the Independent Redistricting Commission has an immense responsibility and obligation to be as free from political bias as possible to help ensure fair and competitive districts. Our Constitution prohibits lobbyists from serving on the commission, so that strikes Mr. Loquvam, whose name never should have been brought forward as a finalist by a Gov. Ducey's stacked Commission on Appellate Court Appointments. And what part of hosting a Trump rally, and Republican campaign events, makes anyone think Mr. Wilson will be impartial or fair?"
Senate Democratic Leader David Bradley, D-Tucson: “The Commission on Appellate Court Appointments entire nominating process has been corrupted ever since Governor Ducey stacked the Commission with Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. It’s been a blatant power grab from Republicans who know that the political tide is turning in Arizona. The importance of who serves on this Commission cannot be overstated, as the Independent Redistricting Commission will determine the boundaries of Arizona’s congressional and legislative districts for the next decade. Arizona is a diverse state and the members of this Commission need to accurately represent the multitude of people living in our state. As it stands now, the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments does not meet Arizona’s Constitutional standard.”

Thursday, October 22, 2020

If APS can buy its own regulators?

The Yellow Sheet Report for October 21 included this little ditty about campaign funding under the misleading headline, IF APS CAN BUY POLITICIANS, BLOOMBERG CAN TOO:

Independent expenditure spending has finally found its way into the Corp Comm race, with CHISPA and a national group backed by Michael Bloomberg spending millions of dollars to support the Democratic slate of Bill Mundell, Anna Tovar and Shea Stanfield. The “Solar Team” now occupy the top three spots for most outside support. Mundell, the former Republican commissioner turned Democrat, leads with nearly $2 million spent on his behalf. Tovar, the Tolleson mayor and former lawmaker, has benefitted from roughly $1.8 million and Stanfield, a political newcomer, has benefitted from $925,000 in outside spending. 
Most of the money is coming from Beyond Carbon Victory Fund, a pro-solar group Bloomberg started to help elect “climate champions” across the country. That group gave Mundell more than $1 million, Tovar $920,000 and Stanfield $110,000. The group also spent against two of the three Republicans running – $37,000 each against Lea Marquez Peterson, the only incumbent on the ballot, and Jim O’Connor, who ran as a write-in during the primary and said he’s not convinced climate change is real. Eric Sloan, the third Republican, did not make it onto the Bloomberg organization’s radar. CHISPA spent roughly $2.4 million split evenly for the Democrats and $300,000 split evenly against the Republicans. Outside groups have spent just $131,000 in favor of the three Republicans, which goes to show what happens when APS [Arizona Public Service] does not participate in spending. In 2016, it funneled dark money to Republicans Bob Burns, Andy Tobin and Boyd Dunn to the tune of $1.5 to $2.5 million each. (emphasis MINE)

Key points the reporters and editors of the Yellow Sheet probably should have made but did NOT, in the interest of objectivity and to obviate the obvious label which they have so eloquently earned, propagandists,

  • That unlike APS, neither CHISPA nor Michael Bloomberg are seeking to "purchase" their own regulators.  
  • It is NOT illegal for citizens to advocate using their resources for legislative issues which they personally believe in and support. While it obviously would be ideal for there to be no need for anyone's Big Money to advocate for any issue, Arizona is one of 50 member states in the United States of America. And apparently it IS necessary for citizens, at times, to collectively exercise their civic responsibilities for just causes that protect the rights of everyone, not exclusively the oligarchs and plutocrats.
  • Both CHISPA and Beyond Carbon Victory Fund openly declare their intentions and purposes of their advocacy. That is, in contrast to APS, which most brazenly, with apparent malice aforethought and in a very clandestine manner, DID spend lavishly (millions of dollars, not necessarily limited to 2016, otherwise known as DARK MONEY) for purposes much different than the subjects of this YS blurb. Both CHISPA and Beyond Carbon shine a bright light on current policy positions, as opposed to APS which spent YEARS denying their sinister efforts to purchase their regulators.
As an aside, nothing in this reporting documents the $131k which supported the GOP Corp Comm candidates as having been from sources that could not possibly have originally been from APS or its parent company, Pinnacle West Capital Corp. Further, termed out Republican commissioner Bob Burns -- despite APS' best efforts -- ultimately became a thorn in the side of our state's largest and most powerful investor-owned utility (IOU). But that's a story for another day.

APS CEO (during the years when the IOU spent millions of dollars to purchase its own regulators) Don Brandt photo courtesy

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Andy Biggshot says China's the #1 Threat to the US; NYTimes says Trump has a bank account there UPDATED 10/21 6pm MST

Updated with video from The Rachel Maddow Show cue'd to her report on Trump's secret China bank account and financial activity.

All of this while His Weakness, the President, is trying to use extremely broad brushstrokes to paint Hunter Biden and therefore Joe Biden as a threat to national security... or something like that.

First, let's set the stage.

The New York Times ongoing coverage of Trump's financial situations today included disclosure that "Dear Leader" has a bank account in China.

President Trump and his allies have tried to paint the Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr., as soft on China, in part by pointing to his son’s business dealings there.
Senate Republicans produced a report asserting, among other things, that Mr. Biden’s son Hunter “opened a bank account” with a Chinese businessman, part of what it said were his numerous connections to “foreign nationals and foreign governments across the globe.”

But Mr. Trump’s own business history is filled with overseas financial deals, and some have involved the Chinese state. He spent a decade unsuccessfully pursuing projects in China, operating an office there during his first run for president and forging a partnership with a major government-controlled company.
And it turns out that China is one of only three foreign nations — the others are Britain and Ireland — where Mr. Trump maintains a bank account, according to an analysis of the president’s tax records, which were obtained by The New York Times.

How ironic that this Times report was published the same day that Trump sycophant and Arizona Congressman Andy Biggs(hot) declared,

October 20, 2020
Press Release

GILBERT, ARIZONA – Today, Congressman Andy Biggs introduced a concurrent resolution, recognizing the People’s Republic of China as the greatest foreign threat to United States’ peace, security, and stability.
The resolution…
  1. Recognizes that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) currently poses the greatest foreign threat to United States peace, security, and stability;
  2. Recognizes that the PRC, regardless of future leadership, will likely continue to be a major rival of the United States in the coming decades, due to the enormous cumulative size and scale of its population, economy, and military capabilities; and
  3. Supports the Trump administration’s overall strategic approach to the PRC, grounded in principled realism and firm-but-measured competitive engagement whenever United States national interests are at stake, that has been outlined in sources including but not limited to:
  • the United States Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China (May 2020)
  • the National Defense Strategy of the United States of America (October 2018);
  • the National Cyber Strategy of the United States of America (September 2018);
  • the National Security Strategy of the United States of America (December 2017);

This morning, the Appellate Court Commission on Appointments met to address the vacancy on the list of politically unaffiliated names finalized last week when Nicole Cullen, one of those Independent applicants withdrew her name from consideration. Megan Corollo was added to the list. 

Dennis Burke, a co-author of the voter approved initiative that instituted independent redistricting in Arizona, was on hand to express concerns about Thomas Loquvam, the APS-owned "independent." Thank you Dennis. 

I'm actually sort of surprised (and disappointed) that the Arizona Democratic Party didn't show up to also demand Loquvam's removal from the list. 

By the way, All on the Line, which bills itself as a grassroots organization on a mission to end gerrymandering and which advocates for fair redistricting, has, as far as I can tell, done nothing to reach that stated objective thus far in Arizona. Every effort that I have made to communicate with the local contact person has been unsuccessful.  

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Let the (Redistricting) Games Begin

Before we discuss the games, this notice just came by email from the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments.


October 15, 2020

Contact: Blanca Moreno

(602) 452-3308

Commission on Appellate Court Appointments to Select Replacement Candidate for Chair of Independent Redistricting Commission

PHOENIX – One of five finalists for appointment as the Chair of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) has withdrawn from consideration. Citing family circumstances, candidate Nicole Cullen withdrew on October 14, 2020. The Commission on Appellate Court Appointments (Nominating Commission) must submit five names for the four appointed members of the IRC to choose from when selecting the Independent Chair of the IRC.

The Nominating Commission may select the fifth candidate for the Independent Chair position at a meeting on October 20, 2020.

The Nominating Commission will hear in-person public comments on October 20, 2020 at 8:30 a.m. in Room 345 of the State Courts Building at 1501 W. Washington St. in downtown Phoenix. Public comments will be livestreamed at

For more information about the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, see


So, about those games... an apparent reason (if not the ONLY reason) that the applicants were screened so much earlier (about three months) this year than in 2010 seems to have been to give Republicans in the Arizona Legislature a distinct advantage from the start.

The Arizona Constitution, as amended by voters in Prop 106 (2000) states in pertinent part (Article 4, Part two, Section one (emphasis mine)):
(5) By January 8 of years ending in one, the commission on appellate court appointments or its designee shall establish a pool of persons who are willing to serve on and are qualified for appointment to the independent redistricting commission. The pool of candidates shall consist of twenty-five nominees, with ten nominees from each of the two largest political parties in Arizona based on party registration, and five who are not registered with either of the two largest political parties in Arizona.
(6) Appointments to the independent redistricting commission shall be made in the order set forth below. No later than January 31 of years ending in one, the highest ranking officer elected by the Arizona house of representatives shall make one appointment to the independent redistricting commission from the pool of nominees, followed by one appointment from the pool made in turn by each of the following: the minority party leader of the Arizona house of representatives, the highest ranking officer elected by the Arizona senate, and the minority party leader of the Arizona senate. Each such official shall have a seven-day period in which to make an appointment. Any official who fails to make an appointment within the specified time period will forfeit the appointment privilege. In the event that there are two or more minority parties within the house or the senate, the leader of the largest minority party by statewide party registration shall make the appointment.

From the Yellow Sheet Reports (October 9, 12 and 13):

(YS 10/9) The Commission on Appellate Court Appointments was still interviewing the 19 Republican candidates for the IRC at our deadline, but already approved its short list of the 10 Democratic finalists. Among them are political busybodies Ernest Calderon and Derrick Watchman, who both received the maximum 14 votes. They will be joined by Grant Buma, an engineer from Yavapai County; Bryan E. Cooperrider, a former professor from Coconino County; Donald E. Evans, a retired senior veterans affairs service representative from Maricopa County, Robert P. Kovitz, a Tucson Dem who has volunteered for several local campaigns; Shereen Lerner, a historian in Maricopa County; James H. Robbins, Jr., Vice President of Catholic Charities in Maricopa County; Maxine E. P. White, a Bank of America employee in Maricopa County and Teresa D. Wyatt, a former canvasser for Mo Udall and Gabby Giffords in Pima County. Candidates’ applications can be viewed on the Supreme Court website (LINK). Once the Commission narrows the Republicans to 10 finalists, Fann, Bowers, Bradley and Fernandez will each choose one IRC member, and the four partisans will select the independent chair from the five independent candidates approved yesterday.

(YS 10/12) BOWERS’ ACE

The final list of 25 independent redistricting candidates is set and if – or when – Bowers opts to pick the first IRC member, it could leave Democrats another step behind in the process. Many saw the last IRC’s composition as the result of a solid strategy by Dems. This time around, many regard the GOP as having outmaneuvered the Dems. The Commission on Appellate Court Appointments spent roughly nine hours interviewing 38 Republican and Democratic candidates on Friday, winnowing them down to 10 from each party (YS, 10/9). Just a day before, CACA finalized the list of five independents, one of whom will eventually serve as chair.

Rusty Bowers is currently the Republican Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives. THE game at hand is that the GOP expects, or at least figures the chances are higher than they are comfortable with that they will lose control of the House after the election.

The voters clearly envisioned the legislative leadership in each year ending in ONE would be the ones who appointed the four partisan redistricting commissioners. Republican vested interests apparently figured they needed to game the appointments to the AIRC, hence the application process began roughly three months earlier than last time.

Also from the 10/12 YS,
Former Speaker Kirk Adams told our reporter that picking the first commissioner gives the speaker a lot of “freedom” to make his choice. “There are no county restrictions at that point and there aren’t really any political restrictions either,” he said. Adams chose first in the 2011 redistricting, picking Republican Scott Freeman from Maricopa County. No more than two of the four partisan picks can be from the same political party or from the same county. Since the speaker makes the first pick, he is not bound by the IRC composition’s partisan and geographical requirements. Adams took until the last possible day to select Freeman on Jan 31, 2011 after interviewing the Republican candidates and working with House staff to figure out who fit his three-pronged approach, he said. His first criterion was, “Can this person count to three?” Adams said. “Three is the magic number on that commission.” Five individuals make up the IRC, so the independent chair holds the most power and is often the deciding vote. Adams said his second criterion was to find the candidate who had “the intellect to process data,” given how data-driven the IRC is. “And then the third one, which is just as important as the others, was someone that was reliable – reliably Republican,” he told our reporter. Once Bowers makes his pick, which railbirds speculate could happen this week or soon thereafter, Fernandez only has seven days to make her pick, and so the pressure on the minority leader immediately mounts. Indeed, Bowers’ first move would put Fernandez and Democrats under a time crunch. [Put another way, Bowers can stuff the House Democratic Leader, if his discretion is validated in litigation, into a box] They will only have a week to vet all 25 finalists and pick a Dem commissioner. Fernandez, of course, could theoretically throw everything off by choosing the second Republican on the IRC. Adams doesn’t think that would ever happen. “There would be a personal political price to pay from the party,” he told our reporter.
As noted above, the ball is in Bowers’ court. He can buck recent tradition, in which the speaker selects his or her pick in late January near the constitutional deadline. The speaker has until Jan. 31 to select a partisan choice among the 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats on the candidates list. Bowers has the option to wait until after the new legislative session starts before making his choice. If Dems won the majority this November, however, that new speaker would be a Democrat. Picking before the election allows Bowers to control the selection timeline. Once he picks, he sets off a cycle of week-long periods in which Fernandez, Fann and Bradley – in precisely this order – will also have to pick IRC commissioners. A spokesman for Bowers would not comment on when he would make his pick or who. “Speaker Bowers will be approaching this important constitutional role with the seriousness it deserves and reviewing the nominees closely,” spokesman Andrew Wilder told our reporter, noting that the list of nominees only became final late last week.
From YS 10/13,
Chad Campbell, the House Minority Leader during the last round of redistricting in 2011, said his chief priorities while making his pick to the commission were ensuring his choice would “fight for fair maps” and that commission had more than “just a bunch of white dudes up there.” Democrats this year will likely have the same goals while picking their appointees, he said, but a new factor is that control of the House and Senate may be hanging in the balance as leaders choose their appointees. Campbell said he worked with David Schapira, the Senate minority leader at the time, to figure out who each would choose for that cycle’s IRC. Being reflective of the state was a priority, Campbell told our reporter. He also looked at whether candidates knew Arizona well and understood communities of interest. Ultimately, Campbell picked Jose Herrera, a Latino from Maricopa County, and Schapira picked Linda McNulty, a white woman from Pima County. Geography is also a factor in the choice, he noted, as only two commissioners can come from the same county (not including the chair, who is chosen by the other four commissioners and can hail from any county). As noted yesterday, half the field of Democrats come from outside of Maricopa County, three of the 10 are women and only Teresa Wyatt checks both boxes. Other non-white men the Dems can choose from are: Derrick Watchman, a Native American from Apache County, Maxine White, a Black woman in Maricopa, Donald Evans, a Black man in Maricopa County, and Ernest Calderon, a Hispanic man from Maricopa County. Campbell speculated that litigation would be on the horizon if Bowers makes his pick after the election and Dems overtake House control. [The Arizona Eagletarian speculates that this could be the case even if Bowers makes his pick BEFORE the election] “If the majority flips, then something needs to be done to make sure the majority caucus gets to make the first pick,” Campbell said.
So, where does that leave us at the moment?

APS owned "independent" commissioner wannabe Thomas Loquvam is still on the list. This is HIGHLY problematic. The money flow was from APS to Loquvam. His lack of independence is certain. From the perspective of the spirit of the law, voters wanted to minimize partisan and other (DARK MONEY) influence in the redistricting process. This person must absolutely be disqualified. While the screening commission is meeting on Tuesday, they should give strong consideration to replacing him. Of course, unless they give advance notice of intent to do so, all they can do is talk about the idea hypothetically. 

But if they intend to continue gaming the process to incentivize and maximize ongoing conflict and litigation, they should also openly discuss how a potential chairman Loquvam will cost taxpayers a skyrocketing amount of extra funding.  

Gilbert teacher Nicole Cullen, no doubt a very fine person with qualifications that seemed to fit for a potential commission chair, has backed out. That's probably the smartest thing she could do when considering her family and her teaching career. I wish her all the best for both her family and her career.

Also, given that the provisions in the Arizona Constitution do not say anything about making commissioner picks in years ending in ZERO (2020). For that matter, it also doesn't say "FOR years ending in One." Therefore, the most prudent course for Bowers, if he is interested in preventing the unnecessary squandering of taxpayer funds, is to wait and see how things shake out in the election before making any rash decisions. 

By the way, if one intent of the screening committee was/is to give the chosen commissioners plenty of time to prepare for their term in office or to back out, that's a fine and noble motivation. However, that can still be done by waiting until the new legislative leadership is chosen after the election. As I understand it, those leadership elections take place as soon as possible after the election, and before new members of the legislature are sworn in to office.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Redistricting: vetted candidate list from which 2021 IRC commissioners will be named

The 2011 AIRC with retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

From Thursday's Yellow Sheet Report,

The Commission on Appellate Court Appointments voted to choose the five independent finalists for the Independent Redistricting Commission. After a thorough discussion about the 10 independent candidates, the commission immediately approved four of five finalists, but had to hold a runoff vote to break a tie for the fifth slot. Nicole Cullen, a Gilbert teacher; Thomas Loquvam, an EPCOR employee who used to work for Pinnacle West [APS, as associate general counsel during the Dark Money heyday of interfering with Corporation Commission elections. Should THIS not disqualify Loquvam and raise the hackles of journalists and concerned citizens throughout AZ?]; Erika Neuberg, a psychologist who has contributed to several campaigns of both Republicans and Democrats; and Gregory Teesdale, a former member of the Coast Guard, made the first cut. Megan Carollo a small business owner, and Robert Wilson, a gun store owner who held a Trump rally in August, initially tied for the final slot, until Wilson won a runoff vote. Three of the 51 candidates for the IRC found themselves out of the running before today’s vetting interviews began – two for being paid lobbyists and one for holding a public office.
As the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments whittled down the list of applicants to semi-finalists last month, commissioners pondered whether independent candidate Mignonne Hollis might be considered a paid lobbyist. Today, the AG’s Office told the commission by its definition, Hollis is a lobbyist and therefore must be disqualified. The same went for Republican Ken Strobeck, the former executive director of the League of Cities and Towns, who had applied as a Republican. Mumtaza Rahi-Loo, a Democrat, later got the axe for serving as a pro tem justice of the peace, which qualifies as a public office – also not allowed on the IRC. Commissioners asked candidates how they would deal with hostility or disagreement within the commission, what competitive districts and communities of interest means for the IRC and how they would handle public scrutiny.
There is no way simply posing those questions, even though they were the most salient questions the applicants could have been asked in a five-minute interview, could convey a realistic sense of what the applicants might be getting themselves into.

We need to give a more thorough consideration to Thomas Loquvam.

On page two of his application, Loquvam discloses, under civic and community service activities, that since January 2020 he has been a Board Member of Greater Phoenix Chamber. He is also listed on that Chamber's website AS a Board Member.

In public comment (via ZOOM) on Thursday morning, I pointed this out to the screening committee. On Thursday afternoon, one member of the committee (they didn't have to identify themselves when making comments) flat out contradicted me. As soon as that member did so, I emailed the court staffer pointing out the situation. The staffer indicated she would forward the message to Chief Justice Brutinel. As far as I could tell, nothing further was said about the discrepancy, including when they voted on which five Independent names to adopt.

This matters and is a very salient point. Loquvam also disclosed that he was employed at Arizona Public Service from May 2010 through April 2019. For more than five of those years, he served as associate general counsel for APS. During this period APS has admitted it made substantial Dark Money contributions to interfere with Arizona statewide elections of members of the Arizona Corporation Commission. 

Loquvam's ties (being owned by?) to APS and his disclosed membership on Greater Phoenix Chamber clearly disqualify him. At best, he's a "fake" independent. His ties to interests that taint him are far more pronounced than were the vested Republican interests which applied nearly overwhelming pressure against Colleen Mathis, the independent chair of the 2011 Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

He must be disqualified. Even a 20 percent chance to be named IRC chair is too high. 

Megan Carollo, Scottsdale small-business owner raised concerns of some committee members. Her body language suggested strongly (and was discussed as such) that she could easily get rolled over by the partisan members of the commission. Clearly Megan is a nice person and is able to negotiate in her business. However, planning events (weddings and such) and selling flowers is NOT blood sport

A related point of history, Jose Herrera, one of the original 2011 Democratic members of the IRC, ultimately decided he couldn't take the intensity of conflict that naturally arose. He resigned.

Shortly after the landmark June 30, 2011 AIRC meeting notable for the intensity of conflict from bussed in Republican voters, the Arizona Eagletarian quoted the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,
But redistricting instead has become the worst of political blood sports because of the power it gives to those who draw those lines. In the United States, we elect nearly all our legislators by winner-take-all rules, where 51% of voters earn 100% of representation. The power to suppress the voices of as many of 49% of voices in a given area has been an irresistible temptation to our leaders for two centuries...(Milwaukee Journal Sentinal July 10, 2010)
I'm confident that Colleen Mathis would agree.

As much as the current screening committee (Commission on Appellate Court Appointments) clearly tried to do the best job it possibly could; and as much as it was cognizant of the inherent nature of conflict in the IRC doing its job, they just didn't seem to grasp, as a group, the intensity of what the next IRC will certainly endure. Some did. But not all of them, however.


Today after conducting five-minute interviews with nearly 40 Democrats and Republicans, the screening committee adopted a list of 20 names (10 Dems/10 Reps) to forward to the 2021 legislative leadership (who themselves have yet to be chosen since we don't yet know all of those who will be elected).

A couple of my observations from having observed live-streamed deliberations:

Certain members of the screening committee verbally noted how one or more applicant mentioned that our country is a republic, not a democracy. From the context of the referenced comments, it was clear as mud as to whether any of them understand that "republic" actually means "for the good of the public."

It seems that many Republicans these days understand the word to mean that the voice of the people is not the determinant factor in what elected officials who have some authority (but NOT all of it) to make laws should decide. If only those elected lawmakers and other officials were more concerned with what "for the good of the public" means, rather than for the good of themselves or their Big Money vested interests. There is more than ample data available now to irrefutably demonstrate that the two are mutually exclusive much of the time.

Others commented about how David Mehl (and others) expressed themselves on the interview question about the tension between communities of interest and competitiveness as defined by voters (and interpreted by courts). Perhaps telegraphing his intent to the new Republican legislative leaders (whoever they may end up being) Mehl specifically indicated that he would prioritize all the other factors before competitiveness.

Since the courts have clearly indicated that competitiveness is NOT a subservient requirement only to be considered as an afterthought, that should disqualify Mr. Mehl. However, it's possible that it may have secured his appointment to the commission AND indicated where the next litigation may arise over maps for 2022.

It also struck me as quite odd (and troubling) that the screening committee, on multiple occasions, when motions were made to go into executive session (to exclude the prying eyes and ears of the public from the business of the committee), there was ZERO disclosure of the reason for excluding the public either before or after the executive session.  

Short-listed Democrats:
Grant Buma 
Ernest Calderon 
Bryan Cooperrider 
Donald Evans 
Robert Kovitz 
Shereen Lerner 
James Robbins 
Derrick Watchman 
Maxine White 
Teresa Wyatt

Short-listed Republicans:
Jonathan Allred 
Scott Crouch 
Lisa Davis 
Paul Djurisic 
Kevin Kopp 
David Mehl 
Brandi Oveson 
Walter Randy Schoch 
Michael Striplin 
Douglas York

The applications are linked here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

A Masquerade of Strength: A Weak Man trying to project himself as a Strongman

We are experiencing the total abandonment of any semblance of a Social Contract by the GOP in Washington, DC and the orange menace in particular. Without the underlying foundation of a Social Contract, there is NO legitimacy in, for, and by a government. Donald Trump has tried, unpersuasively for the most part, for the last nearly four years, to project himself as a strongman in the mold of historical figures Hitler and Mussolini. He has emphatically expressed admiration for modern day "strongmen" such as Putin, Turkey's Erdogan, and most notably Kim Jung Un of South Korea.

But he's not strong. He can't admit it. But we can figure it out anyway. 

Please listen to the thoughts of Anand Giridharadas, publisher of The Ink newsletter:

He is a weak man who has always longed to be a strong man, and he is a weak man’s idea of a strong man, and right before he got sick he made it clearer than ever that he intends to be a strongman. Some, knowing their history and knowing the pretensions of weak men and strongmen and weak men who become strongmen, have warned us about this potential from the beginning. But others, more cautious, more trusting in the power of institutions to save us, waited until recently to begin sounding the alarm. This is how democracy ends, they began to whisper. This is how it happens. He is attempting to do this right before our eyes. 

Into the whispers landed a staggering story about his taxes. Here, again, the dyad of strength and weakness that defines Trump’s mind was at play. It seemed at first like a classic tale of plutocratic rigging. That’s how I read it and others read it, and there was much reason to read it that way. A man who manages to pay $750 in federal income taxes in a calendar year while, at that very hour, running for president on the basis of his special powers as a billionaire is the picture of a system that is conned, gamed, manipulated, overpowered. But a couple days after The New York Times story broke, two of its authors, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner, went on the podcast The Daily and reframed their own story. This wasn’t a story about Trump’s cunning but about his brokeness, as Craig explained:
You know, rich people have great accountants. And they’re able to do all this wizardry to get a tax bill down. And we do see evidence that he’s employed accounting maneuvers that have helped him do that. But this is not a case of a rich guy hiding profits. This is a case of a man who runs businesses that year after year lose tens of millions of dollars.
There is, in other words, a kind of tax avoidance that represents strength at rigging things. But this was not that. This was a tax avoidance of weakness — a man just not that good at business. “There’s just basically nothing left to tax at the end of a year,” as Michael Barbaro, the host, summed it up.
Then, two days after the taxes story broke, in the longest week anyone can remember, came what swiftly became known as the Worst Debate Ever. At first, watching with my little boy, I was terrified. Trump’s performance of faux-strength was vulgar and crude, reckless and unpresidential, if that word still means anything. But it seemed to me it might work. Biden looked good and kind, but maybe he did look weak by the standards of the form of battle Trump had shown up to fight. And the moment I began to calm down was the moment when I realized how vast is the coalition of people who have been on the wrong end of that kind of fraudulent, hollow flexing of power. The women talked over in meetings, the men who as boys were thrown into lockers, the workers whose intelligence is overlooked, the people roughed up or worse by the cops just for being Black. I began to wonder if, by inflaming those memories and those sentiments, Trump doomed himself.
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Since I first heard Professor Frans de Waal's TED Talk on Alpha Males two years ago in July, I instinctively or, perhaps, intuitively knew that Donald Trump was a loser and that he was (in my words) going down. In Greek, the word sunesis, refers to understanding. Decades ago, when I was studying the Bible, I was taught that sunesis was like the rivers of one's understanding flowing together. I also see it as "connecting the dots," so to speak.

In the video above, Anand describes how he started connecting the dots. 

Trump is going down. I'm going to I DID cast my vote later today at an early voting center near my home in Maricopa County, Arizona. I am a voice. I will be heard.

Make sure your voice is heard. VOTE.

That is how we restore the Social Contract, or at least begin to do so, and how we ensure that Trump does, in fact, go down.

Friday, October 2, 2020

As easy as it might be to do otherwise, we must hope Trump recovers from Covid-19 before the election

Obviously, the character of the presidential campaign changed dramatically last night. The best insight I have read since comes from David Cay Johnston,

Johnston later expanded on that sentiment with this column on his DCReport website,

The Country Needs a Clean Referendum on His Presidency

By David Cay Johnston, DCReport Editor-in-Chief

Donald Trump’s late-night tweet that he and his wife have contracted COVID-19 brings to mind the word “hope” in four ways, all tests of the character of Americans.

First, we should hope he is telling the truth. Trump lies so often and easily that this could just be an excuse to hide from further debates with Joe Biden.

If it seems hard to imagine that Trump would lie about the pernicious virus that has killed more than 208,000 Americans just think about the more than 20,000 lies he has told since becoming our president. Sadly, Donald can never be trusted.

Second, we should hope that Trump and his much younger wife recover fully and are healthy again well before the last voting day of Nov. 3. America needs a clean referendum on Trump’s presidency, not a vote about an ailing or even dead man.

Trump will lose the popular vote by at least 16 million ballots, hopefully by more than 20 million. Our democracy needs an unambiguous rejection of Trump. And voters need to disentangle themselves from his smack of moral jellyfish—the blind, spineless Republicans who abandoned principle and their oaths to defend our Constitution to toss themselves into his waves of political chaos.

Third, we should hope that Trump lives at least as long as his crooked father, who died at 93. The president should experience his just desserts for a life of white-collar crime capped by his efforts to destroy our democracy just to serve his insatiable lust for money and his pathetic need for adulation.

Coming Humiliation

Fourth, we should hope that as Trump endures the coming humiliation that he so richly deserves the next administration doesn’t let bygones be bygones. A Biden administration should offer leniency for those who confess fully and cooperate even as it vigorously prosecutes every single appointee who broke laws for Trump. Those criminal actions threaten our health, our safety and most of all our liberty.

Even if Trump dies, the next president should not shirk from his duty to hold these domestic evildoers to account. He should not make the awful political and policy mistake Barack Obama made when he let corrupt bankers who brought down our economy a dozen years ago continue on their way because he feared prosecution would interfere with restoring the economy.

No one should wish that Trump will, like his grandfather Frederick a century ago, become a pandemic victim. To think that way is to be as immoral as Donald. Don’t lower yourself. Awful and damaging as Trump has been, follow the ancient wisdom in Luke 6:31. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

The Golden Rule

That Trump never has lived the Biblical Golden Rule speaks to his lack of character. Do not let his moral corruption infect your character. Be better. Be best.

Wishing death or illness on anyone conjures up the worst of human nature. We will not, we cannot ever make America what it could be—a society that ennobles free human spirit to become the best that our species can attain—until we cleanse our own souls.

For America to endure and prosper we must actively embrace only goodwill toward all, even the vile Donald Trump.

That does not mean that we tolerate Trump’s criminal conduct as a private citizen or while in office. We should show with our votes that giving succor to white supremacists, abusing the children of asylum seekers, letting polluters endanger us all and signing a tax law that takes from the many to give to the rich few are un-American, indeed they are anti-American.

Judging Others

To live long and prosper as a nation, to live free, we must judge others as we would have them judge us. To do that we must develop both critical thinking skills and our moral character, a job that starts in the home and should continue in our schools, public and private. Then as citizens, we must apply our knowledge, always with caution because facts change, unlike principles.

We must hope that the ideas of the Enlightenment which inspired our revolution 244 years ago survive the manipulations by ideological marketing organizations that employ advertising techniques to sell us the political equivalent of fast food. We need reasoned and rational debate rooted in facts, not mindless chants like “lock her up” and attacks on journalists as enemies of the people.

We must hope that once we transition back to normality that we will not [EVER] forget the nightmare Trump has created. We must begin to grow into a better America, both as an idea and as a society that will endure and inspire the whole world. Vigorous debate, hopefully civil, will separate the rash from the wise in our marketplace of ideas.

And we must begin a never-ending search for the best possible leaders, better than we have had in most of our history. We need women and men who we can trust to defend faithfully our Constitution, to at long last establish equal justice for all and to hold true to the principle that ours is a nation of laws, not men.