As published by the Arizona Republic, October 12, 2021:What everyday Arizonans are telling us about politics and the maps that influence them
I am the independent, politically unaffiliated chair of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. My colleagues and I are tasked with redrawing Arizona’s congressional and state legislative district lines, a process that occurs every 10 years. [What does it tell the reader when the first thing the op-ed boldly declares is LOOK AT ME?]
The commission has been hard at work preparing for the consequential next step of drawing draft maps.
We have built a talented and diverse staff with deep state knowledge [Is that a Freudian slip, or what?]. The staffers include ones who are proficient in Spanish and other languages so we could reach out to our diverse communities. [That claim, for anyone who has followed Arizona's history of independent redistricting is immediately debunked. The FIRST thing Erika and the majority of the IRC did when hiring staff was to IGNORE or refuse to hire the most qualified staff and consultants (by experience and language skill) in favor of someone with far less depth of understanding and experience with Arizona's redistricting process and requirements.]
We have gathered academics, demographers, legal consultants, mapping consultants and others who have seamlessly collaborated to advise us on meeting our obligations under the U.S. and Arizona constitutions. [They have "gathered" the MOST biased and questionable mapping consultant possible in Doug Johnson. If Erika had truly been listening from the start, it was abundantly clear several of the choices she and her colleagues made were far less than optimal.]
We've been doing a lot of listening [perhaps quite selectively]
We have studied our state’s racial and ethnic diversity, migration trends, economic drivers, natural resources and comments from the citizens as to what links us together as communities of interest. We hope the public continues to take advantage of the trove of civic-minded information provided on the commission’s website under the newsroom tab.
I did not know what to expect at these meetings. We so often see rancor, negativity and political extremism on traditional and social media. I am proud to say, however, that civic engagement in Arizona is strong.
What we've heard from everyday Arizonans
Time and again, individuals took turns to respectfully and passionately express their views. We heard about the responsiveness (or lack thereof) of our local, state and federal elected leaders. [NOTE: Erika obviously doesn't recognize the misleading nature of using the shortcut, overly vague expression "leaders." Nobody in elected federal office subject to the work of this AIRC has "leader or leadership" in his or her job description. Arizona has had Congressional representatives in leadership positions in prior years, but not right now.] We learned of historical, geographical and economic connections, such as the Copper Corridor in south-central Arizona with a mining history that unite us [is she REALLY suggesting that the mining industry, which has a rich history of exploiting Arizona government and people "unites" us? "Relationships between mining companies and miners in Arizona history were at times challenging. Low wages, ethnic tension, profiteering, and a volatile metal market, coupled with foreign importation of metals, heightened conflict between labor and mine management. However, as the 20th century progressed, many of these matters were resolved — with modest bloodshed..." oh, right, "modest bloodshed" united us! Of course, what the Arizona Daily Star published in the link above is euphemistic. Mining interests have a FAR more violent history in Arizona that media don't publicize.]
We were reminded that political compromise is still possible, such as in Yuma, where Republican leaders [there's that nebulous word "leaders" again. Who exactly is Erika citing here? Is it some behind the scenes unnamed cabal? Or is it a set of elected officials she believes citizens should subject ourselves to because they are implicitly Arizona's "ruling class?"] spoke so positively of their Democratic colleagues, and vice versa. They demonstrated how to turn division into an asset by capitalizing on additional representation. [What does "additional representation" mean?]
We heard from rural communities fearful that urban growth will impinge on their way of life. And we were reminded that too many minority communities still feel marginalized in their political representation. [This is the nugget. The chewy caramel center of the message. Erika's messaging for more than a year emphatically downplayed the root cause of this problem. Namely, the state of competitiveness, or lack thereof, in Congressional and legislative districts. When districts are competitive, voters' voices are heard. When the districts are NOT competitive, large communities of interest--our state DOES have large communities of interest made up of ethnic or racial minorities--do NOT get the ear of elected officials.]
Much work remains. The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission will continue to hold public meetings. [Will YOU, readers of the Arizona Eagletarian, speak up for the legitimate purpose of the AIRC, to oversee drawing of competitive districts?]
The maps will be drawn in a transparent manner in accordance with our constitutions. You can follow each and every step of the map-drawing process live. Up-to-date information with instructions for how to participate is on our website or social media platforms.
We welcome more voices, suggestions
Citizens can submit maps, leaving no room for interpretation as to what is important to you as to the constitutional criteria. [NOTE: it has been clear and documented that the mapping tool Erika's consultants provided is NOT user friendly. What is being done, within the time constraints necessary, to solve that particular problem? If the problem is NOT solved, how could Erika legitimately lay claim to a transparent, ethical process? And if the AIRC business meetings, generally held on Tuesdays, are NOT opened for citizens to attend in person, you can bet it will be almost impossible to know if your comments are being read and seriously considered.]
You do not need to attend a meeting to be heard. Visit irc.az.gov and you will be directed to the appropriate links to submit comments, with options to give feedback in the language you feel most comfortable. [However, again, without access to attendance at AIRC business meetings there may be NO WAY to determine whether your comments, except the ones staff and certain commissioners get to read are being seriously considered.]
We are committed to conducting a transparent, ethical process that fosters as much confidence-building and trust as possible. [For that to be true, Erika must take a bold, immediate stand for COMPETITIVE districts. Nothing less will be acceptable or trustworthy.]
On behalf of all the commissioners, I look forward to hearing from you.
Erika Schupak Neuberg is an independent and was unanimously elected by her peers to chair the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. She is a graduate of Colorado College, and earned a master’s degree and doctorate in psychology from Arizona State University. Reach her at Ircadmin@azdoa.gov; on Twitter: @arizonairc.[NOTE: those two addresses are NOT Erika's addresses. They are monitored and filtered by AIRC staff. We don't know how much of what gets sent to either actually reach Erika Neuberg]