Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Is Erika Neuberg's forté subterfuge or verbal legerdemain?


Subterfuge:  n.

1. Deception used to achieve an end: tried to get her to sign the contract by subterfuge.
2. deceptive stratagem or device: The meeting was a subterfuge to get him out of his office while it was searched.

Verbal legerdemain
            1. Sleight of hand.
            2. Deceitful cleverness; trickery:  

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.

Since summer, we have engaged in an extensive listening tour to identify our state’s various “communities of interest” and hear from citizens as to what they believe is important in drawing district lines. I was honored to attend each of the 19 public hearings to date across 47 locations, and I thank the more than 1,000 citizens who participated.

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.]

I appreciate that there is still much to learn, and take seriously our obligation to protect every citizen’s right to representation. [Unless Erika Neuberg unequivocally demands and votes for truly COMPETITIVE Congressional and legislative districts, claiming she takes seriously her obligation to protect EVERY citizen's right to representation is an empty promise.] We have a once-in-a-decade opportunity to draw legislative and congressional maps that reflect the rich and diverse interests of our citizenry and of our shared home, Arizona.

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]

Prop 106, passed by Arizona voters in the year 2000 unequivocally, right at the top of the text of the proposition, declares the purpose of the commission. The first line of attack by partisan interests to undermine voter intent is to distract citizens from awareness of and therefore the ability to advocate for the legitimate purpose of the process and commission]

PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF ARIZONA; AMENDING ARTICLE IV, PART 2, SECTION 1, CONSTITUTION OF ARIZONA; RELATING TO ENDING THE PRACTICE OF GERRYMANDERING AND IMPROVING VOTER AND CANDIDATE PARTICIPATION IN ELECTIONS BY CREATING AN INDEPENDENT COMMISSION OF BALANCED APPOINTMENTS TO OVERSEE THE MAPPING OF FAIR AND COMPETITIVE CONGRESSIONAL AND LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS


Thursday, September 16, 2021

When will the AZ "Independent" Redistricting Commission start opening up its business meetings for people to attend?




We know that Gov. Doug Ducey has been adamant about our schools being open for in-person instruction.

We also know that the AIRC has yet to have ANY of its (Tuesday) business meetings open for citizens and news media to attend in person.

Why is that the case for the AIRC?

I had been under the impression that the ENTIRE purpose of Prop 106 (besides the reason STATED at the top of the ballot language: "to oversee the mapping of fair and competitive congressional and legislative districts"was to bring the process out of the smoke-filled rooms where partisans could draw maps without being bothered by Arizona citizens/voters. 

Citizens have informed me that -- despite the IRC getting news outlets to tout its new citizen mapping tool -- that said online software is NOT user friendly AND that the mapping consultant has indicated it would NOT provide assistance to citizens trying to use it. That situation stands in direct contrast to how Strategic Telemetry (Haystaq DNA) conducted itself during the 2011 redistricting process.

Again, WHY is that?

It occurs to me that under current chair Erika Neuberg, the AIRC will ONLY accommodate citizens/voters when she sees that the commission will (like a toddler testing a parents rules and boundaries) no longer allow them to get away with keeping citizens out of the process.

Remember how much fuss Wendy Rogers, Doug York and David Mehl stirred up (think striking hornets' nests with a baseball bat) when they feared Haystaq DNA could possibly qualify for the mapping consultant contract? 

Again, WHY is that?



Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Who is the culprit? "Pro-Trump" State Sen. Wendy Rogers? Or Redistricting Commissioners David Mehl, and/or Doug York? Or all three?

On April 26, 2021 "Pro-Trump" State Sen. Wendy Rogers tweeted,

https://twitter.com/WendyRogersAZ/status/1386865090285211650 and 

https://twitter.com/WendyRogersAZ/status/1386865089039540227


Why would she tweet something like that? Perhaps because the two Republican Redistricting Commissioners TOTALLY violated Arizona Revised Statutes (see the Procurement Disclosure Statement below, there is one each signed by David Mehl and Doug York. And as a result of violating Arizona LAW they seem to have sought to unduly influence the procurement process. They succeeded.



I don't know whether the Arizona Senate, currently beleaguered by an "audit" apparently seeking to undermine (and completely explode) confidence in the democratic institution of voting, has the wherewithal to impeach Messrs. Mehl and York. However, the two commissioners certainly seem to have earned such consequences for corrupting an institution voters intended to strengthen democracy.

Absent that, one would hope that Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich would investigate this breach of the public trust and take appropriate action.  

On another note: On May 4, 2021, the IRC made a decision in executive session as to which mapping consultant to hire. 

They MADE THE DECISION in executive session, which is at least borderline illegal, then came out and talked about it and then voted.

The vote was 3-2, with the Republicans in the majority (well, sort of).

Democratic commissioners Lerner and Watchman articulated their concerns with the decision made in executive session. Taking her cue from that, Commission chair Neuberg realized she needed to get Mehl and York on the record as to why they thought Timmons was the right choice. York knew enough to reference the partisan issue, claiming Timmons is Independent. Of course, by that meeting he had to know that National Demographics Corp's Doug Johnson (use the search box in the right hand column to get more info on Johnson, however as concerns this situation, Johnson has partnered with Timmons, the group that got hired) is far from independent.

Mehl, on the other hand, claimed there had been public comments against all of the candidate mapping firms, but then said Timmons responded well to concerns the public raised. 

Which then prompted Lerner to emphasize that HaystaqDNA had made an excellent proposal.

The video of that discussion begins at five hours and 11 minutes or so into the recording. I have it cued to start there. The vote takes place about ten minutes later.

Regardless of efforts by Neuberg, Mehl and York to gloss over the violations of Open Meeting Law and over apparent violations of their disclosure statements (noted with statutory references linked and key points highlighted below), viewers with a sense of the history of the IRC may be able to pick up on the subtle corruption.




ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF ADMINISTRATION

STATE PROCUREMENT OFFICE
PROCUREMENT DISCLOSURE STATEMENT

Solicitation # BPM003298

IRC Mapping Consulting Services

Dear Employee [in this case, COMMISSIONERS David Mehl and Douglas York]:

You have been selected to participate in the particular procurement activity as referenced above. Your selection was based on your technical knowledge and expertise in this area. Your regular job duties may not include procurement activities but for the purpose of this process you may play a significant procurement role in one or more of the following: participating in the development of a procurement as defined in ARS § 41-2503; participating in the development of an evaluation tool; approving a procurement as defined in ARS § 41-2503 or an evaluation tool; serving as a technical advisor or an evaluator who evaluates a procurement as defined in ARS § 41-2503; or recommending or selecting a vendor that will provide materials, services or construction to this state.

It is essential that the integrity of the procurement process be maintained to ensure that each Offeror is given fair and equal consideration. Your familiarity with particular brands, types of equipment, material, services, individuals or firms may tend to influence your evaluation; however, you are required in this specific instance to be particularly objective and guard against any tendency that might slant your evaluation in favor of a personal preference.

You are required to report to the Procurement Officer, or person facilitating the above referenced procurement process, any actual or potential conflict of interest as defined in A.R.S. § 38-503, § 41-2616C, § 41-753 and § 41-2517. You are also subject to the Code of Ethics set forth in Section R2-5A-501 of the Arizona Department of Administration, Personnel Division, Administrative Rules and Regulations.

An additional consideration is the legal mandate to maintain strict security and confidentiality regarding the content of any proposal, as well as the proceedings of the Evaluation Committee meetings during the evaluation process. Once the evaluation process has started, it is essential that any contact with Offerors, other than that disclosed, be through, and by, the Procurement Officer or person facilitating the above referenced procurement.

In addition, the Employee [and commissioners] shall not have any communication related in any way to the particular procurement, except during formal Committee meetings, with any Offeror or potential subcontractor to that Offeror prior to award, nor shall that Member discuss the proposal or their evaluation with anyone other than the Procurement Officer, or person facilitating the above referenced procurement and Evaluation Committee Members. This is mandatory.

A person who holds a Significant Procurement Role as defined by ARS § 41-741 and § 41-2503 for a particular procurement shall sign a statement before starting any participation that the person has no financial interest in the procurement other than that disclosed and will have no contact with any representative of a competing Offeror related to the particular procurement during the course of evaluation of proposals, except those contacts specifically authorized by sections ARS § 41-2534, § 41-2537, § 41-2538 and § 41-2578. The person shall disclose on this statement any contact unrelated to the pending procurement that the person may need to have with a representative of a competing offeror and any contact with a representative of a competing offeror during evaluation of proposals except those contacts specifically authorized by sections ARS § 41-2534, § 41-2537, §41-2538 and § 41-2578. A person who has been identified as having a significant procurement role for this procurement and fails to disclose contact with a representative of a competing offeror or who fails to provide accurate information on this statement is subject to civil penalty of at least one thousand dollars but not more than ten thousand dollars.

cc: Agency File SPO Form 120 – Procurement Nondisclosure Disclosure Statement (rev 08/14)

PROCUREMENT DISCLOSURE STATEMENT

As mandated by A.R.S. § 38-503, I, _______[David Mehl]_[Doug York signed an identical statement]______, have listed on this form all ownerships, employments, public and private affiliations and relationships held by me and/or a relative1 which may have a substantial (pecuniary2 and proprietary3) interest as defined in A.R.S. § 38-502 (11) in any contract, sale, purchase or service involving the agency. I understand that as my interests or those of my relatives change, I may need to modify this statement.

The substantial interests, both pecuniary and proprietary, held by me and/or a relative which may involve the State include (attach additional sheets as necessary):

During the course of my regular business, I may have contact, unrelated to this procurement, with the Offerors listed below, who have submitted proposals in response to this solicitation (attach additional sheets as necessary):

1“Relative” means my spouse, child, child’s child, parent, grandparent, brother or sister (of the whole or half-blood) and their spouses and the parent, brother, sister or child of my spouse.
2“Pecuniary” means money or economic or other benefits that can be valued in monetary terms
3“Proprietary” means ownership or rights by virtue of ownership, whether public or private.

Citations listed above are available on the SPO website, www.spo.az.gov.

Statements

The Undersigned attests to and agrees to abide by the following statements:

I have read and understand the above and agree to be bound by the rules and principles represented. If applicable, I have also received, read and understand the Evaluation Committee Instructions for this procurement.

I know of no conflict of interest on my part nor have I committed any indiscretion or accepted any gratuities or favors that would compromise my impartiality. Further, I will not accept an offer of employment from or have employment discussions with any person or entity lobbying for or potentially responding to a solicitation during the defined time frame stated in ARS § 41-753. I will maintain all deliberations of the Evaluation Committee in strict confidence during the evaluation process. My recommendations shall be based upon an objective/subjective review of the Offeror’s response and the appropriate award criteria from the solicitation in accordance with the Arizona Procurement Code. I have read and understand ARS § 41-753, § 41-2517 and § 41-2616C and will fully comply with the requirements.

[Whether Mehl and York committed any related indiscretion is an open question. The definitions of "conflict of interest" in terms of SPO statutes, rules and regulations may or may not technically be more narrow than the "spirit of the law" in this case. Clearly the two of them, by "virtue" their claims made in applications, interviews with the screening committee and with the Republican legislative leaders, have political conflicts of interest related to this Solicitation contract.]

I have not and will not communicate with any potential Offeror or vendor in preparation of specifications/scopes of work, evaluation tool or other confidential information related to the above referenced Solicitation which would provide an unfair advantage or to prepare specifications/scopes of work which favor particular vendor(s).

I have not and will not provide insight, confidential information or assistance to any potential Offeror or vendor that might give an unfair advantage or inhibit fair competition for the above referenced Solicitation. My input regarding the development of the Solicitation documents, if any, has been and will be based solely on the State’s requirements. I have not and will not communicate those requirements or confidential information to any potential Offeror or vendor.

[If neither Mehl nor York provided the information to Wendy Rogers, then who did?]

cc: Agency File SPO Form 120 – Procurement Nondisclosure Disclosure Statement (rev 08/14)

David Mehl

PROCUREMENT DISCLOSURE STATEMENT

I know of no conflict of interest on my part nor shall I take any action (e.g., commit an indiscretion or accept any gratuities or favors) that would compromise my impartiality or my responsibilities. Should a conflict of interest become known to me relevant to my role, I shall immediately disclose such conflict of interest.

I shall not receive any direct benefit from the utilization of confidential information, specifications, plans, scopes of work, or evaluation tools I prepared or assisted in the preparation of.

I shall maintain strict security and confidentiality regarding the content of any proposal, as well as the proceedings of the Evaluation Committee meetings during the evaluation process that I may be a participant or attend as a committee member or a technical advisor.

[If neither Mehl nor York provided the information to Wendy Rogers, then who did?]

I shall maintain strict security and confidentiality regarding the process or decisions regarding any protest or appeal that I am a participant, advisor or decision maker.

Whether recommending or selecting a vendor that will provide materials, services or construction to the State, approving a procurement or an evaluation tool or soliciting quotes greater than ten thousand dollars for the provision of materials, services or construction, I shall maintain strict security and confidentiality regarding the process and decisions to ensure fair competition.

Upon termination of my employment with the State, for any reason, these provisions and statements remain in effect until such time as the solicitation has been successfully awarded by the State, or the State provides me a written release. These provisions and statements apply if I accept employment with any entity, its affiliates, subcontractors, or business partners that may submit an offer or are included in an offer to this solicitation. I shall not accept an offer of employment from or have employment discussions with any person or entity lobbying for or potentially responding to a solicitation for one year following the delivery of purchased materials or the purchase of services or construction begins.

I understand that if I knowingly violate the terms of this Agreement, I will be subject to suspension for not less than ninety days or dismissal from State service.

[If neither Mehl nor York provided the information to Wendy Rogers, then who did?

The Undersigned has read and understands the above and agrees to be bound by the statements, rules and principles represented herein and in accordance with the provisions of the State Statutes and Rules regarding personnel, conflict of interest, confidentiality and procurement.

Please check the box below if applicable:

Yes □ No x I am an architect or an engineer registered pursuant to section 32-121

Yes □ No x I am a State employee who was employed within the past year by a person or firm responding to a solicitation, pursuant to section 41-2517(E)

Signature Date
Name (Print) Agency
Title Phone
cc: Agency File SPO Form 120 – Procurement Nondisclosure Disclosure Statement (rev 08/14)

4/8/21

David Mehl Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission

Commissioner 520-907-6491

David Mehl (Apr 9, 2021 11:43 PDT) David Mehl


Thursday, April 29, 2021

What is the AZ redistricting commission up to with it's latest subterfuge? UPDATED 10 pm April 29, 2021

The first and maybe the most important question is why Arizona's newest iteration of the Independent Redistricting Commission LIMITS public comment AT ALL. I have posed that question to this IRC in time sanctioned comments, but never received any response. Could that have been because Andy Tobin, Ducey's "fixer" (and current director of the Dept of Administration) was overseeing things when I posed the question the first several times?

Tobin has served (been appointed by Ducey) to head other Arizona executive branch agencies as well as (also appointed by Ducey) to fill a Corporation Commission seat when an elected member resigned to work in the Trump administration. Tobin was also Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives when the legislature sued the 2011 IRC (all the way to the US Supreme Court) because he didn't like that the voters had taken the power to gerrymander legislative and Congressional districts away from him. Review my blog posts from March 2015 and earlier on that very topic.

Because Tobin was now in a position to influence how the 2021 IRC established itself and decided to operate, he could be like The Great Oz. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Nevertheless, the commission is ALL about, according to the initiative voters approved to pioneer citizen driven independent redistricting, HEARING what the citizens/voters want to tell them about what they are charged by the Arizona Constitution to do. But the IRC under Dr. Erika Neuberg has been nothing at all like that.

Under the direction of Gov. Doug Ducey, the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments, charged with vetting candidates for the commission, eliminated some of the most qualified candidates for the most frivolous of reasons, like that some had worked with--God-forbid--former Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano.


Erika Neuberg presented a (very) strong personality and had donated money to Ducey's campaigns for governor. She's a trained psychologist. Beside being quite confident at conducting meetings (thus far all of the IRC meetings have been on ZOOM or YouTube), Erika seems to be a competent manipulator.


Where Colleen Mathis was open and vulnerable, which signaled willingness to consider the views of the four other commissioners AND Arizona citizens who showed up for meetings and hearings, I don't see that at all from Erika. Erika presents a tough façade. Presenting as vulnerable is an indicator of strength of character. Tough façades can mask character weaknesses.

Moving on, the IRC is now trying to figure out which mapping consultant to hire. Two of the contenders have serious history with Arizona's redistricting process. But what is being discussed or written about publicly does NOT match the details of that history.

First, as reported this week by Jeremy Duda of the Arizona Mirror,

Last week’s presentations and interviews were held behind closed doors, in executive session, a requirement of Arizona’s procurement laws. The commissioners are barred from publicly discussing anything that occurs in executive session. Republican Commissioner David Mehl said all three firms interviewed well and provided a lot of details.

“I’m sorry the public was not able to observe that,” he said.
Opposition to the Timmons Group largely revolves around its partnership with National Demographics Corporation, which served as the mapping consultant for Arizona’s first redistricting commission in 2001, and the company’s president, Doug Johnson. Democratic organizations and individuals objected to the company’s Republican ties and its history drawing maps that they allege disenfranchised Latino voters.

What Jeremy left out of that report is that Doug Johnson wasn't fired. He redrew the maps after DOJ rejected the first attempt. That second effort ended up producing a supermajority for Republicans. They flexed that supermajority muscle in 2011, and along with then Gov. Brewer, tried to decapitate the IRC. It succeeded... for about a month. 

The AZ Supreme Court reinstated Mathis after oral arguments presented by former Chief Justice Thomas Zlaket. Among the chief complaints against Mathis, at the time, were related to selection of Strategic Telemetry as mapping consultant. Strategic Telemetry principals later formed HaystaqDNA, which is one of the firms now bidding for the mapping consultant job with the  2021 IRC.

Now, about David Mehl's overtly disingenuous expression of regret that the public was unable to observe the interviews with mapping consultant bidders. In 2011, because the IRC chose to NOT participate in the state procurement process for selection of that consultant, the interviews were ALL observed by the public. The voters, in passing the initiative that enabled independent redistricting, gave the commission the option to follow state procurement rules or not.

A decision Mehl and his colleagues made this time is THE SOLE reason the public was excluded from observing the interviews. Mehl, Nueberg and company chose to comply with the state procurement process, which--beside excluding the public--again gave Tobin clandestine influence over the selection.

Begging for the public to weigh in on the bidders really almost certainly had hidden purpose.

After Doug Johnson's team drew rightful pushback in the media and from citizens this week and last, the only way they could justify hiring him would be if they got copious public comments demanding they do so... as well as comments trashing Haystaq. 

They do NOT have to be allowed to get away with it. It's up to you.

I leave you with this thought.

The legislative maps drawn by the 2011 IRC are most fairly and appropriately characterized as maps favoring which political party? Consider that the only fundamental difference between the 2001 and 2011 maps is that GOP control was NOT a supermajority from 2012-present, like it had been in the previous decade.

The 2011 maps STILL favored the Arizona Republican Party. That party has been in control of the legislature EVERY year in the last TWO decades. And then some, but key to this post is the decades with maps drawn by Independent Redistricting Commissions.

Why would Arizona citizens cede the legislature to Doug Johnson's and Andy Tobin's efforts to restore Republican supermajority, and hence ONE PARTY rule in our state?

Submit public comments early and often. And perhaps ask why the current commission is so afraid to let citizens and voters have a say in how this IRC does it's business?

Are we still a democracy, or do we accede to autocracy?

Submit comments (again, early and often) at: https://irc.az.gov/contact-us

And if you ever get an error message saying your comment is not accepted because of time constraints, send me an email with the details or contact me on Twitter @AzEagletarian. 

Please note that people today have Tweeted that Neuberg has publicly stated the only comments subject to disclosure publicly are those submitted during official meetings of the IRC. If she said that, she's wrong. ALL comments submitted in writing or by voice to the IRC are subject to Arizona's Public Records law

Arizona law requires all officers and public bodies to maintain records reasonably necessary to provide an accurate accounting of their official activities and of any government funded activities.
Records are defined as books, papers, maps, photographs, or other documentary materials regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by an governmental agency in pursuance of law or in connection with the transaction of public business and preserved by the agency or its legitimate successor as evidence of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of government. Examples of public records and other matters include calendars, reports, legal memoranda, policies and procedures, accident reports, training videos and materials, tape recordings of meetings where there are no written minutes, personnel records, case files, and data bases.








Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The Misadventures of AZ Senate President Karen Fann

Time and space would fail me to set forth here adequate background for you to understand the situation simply from my telling of it. You can read more and get up to speed by searching the internet for "Karen Fann" and "Stop the Steal." There are news stories in the AZMirror, AzCentral, Salon.com, AZ Capitol Times, the AZ Daily Star and more.

My impression from the start of this misadventure is that Fann, at the urging of former Senate Judiciary Committee Chair (former) Sen. Eddie Farnsworth, crAZy lady Sen. Kelly Townsend, and more is that Fann has been digging herself a hole that she ultimately may not be able to climb out from. Now, five full months AFTER the 2020 general election, after every official elected in that contest has taken office, she may, mercifully, have been handed an exit strategy to stop the boondoggle

The Protect Democracy Project, along with three prominent Arizona law firms which practice election, political, and government related law issued a cease and desist letter dated today (April 6, 2021) addressed to the firm Fann ostensibly has contracted with to conduct an unnecessary, obviously duplicitous or duplicative (or both), and apparently illegal "audit" of the 2020 general election in Maricopa County.


12News.com reportedly uploaded to DocumentCloud.org a statement of work for Cyber Ninjas, a cyber security company based in Florida for its engagement with the Arizona Senate Republican Caucus (or perhaps the Arizona Senate, but nobody other than members of the Republican Caucus voted to authorize the project). 

Here's an excerpt from Cyber Ninjas statement of work. This is where two key pieces of the puzzle converge to poke a huge hole in the entire proposal/project. 1) This (possibly fly by night) outfit apparently has NO certification attesting to its integrity or experience; and 2) Since Mr. Logan's bias is quite obviously on record, there is no basis for any kind of trust that he would conduct such work fairly and accurately even if certified. Such voter contact as he proposed would brazenly constitute voter intimidation.

On Twitter, Cyber Ninjas describes itself this way:

Cyber Ninjas is a cyber security consulting company specializing in software security. We work with organizations to help build and validate secure software.
So, it's really no wonder that since they claim specialization in software security, they may not really have a sense of why contacting voters either by phone or going to their door would constitute voter intimidation. 

Now, back to Karen Fann. The first rule of holes dates back at least to 1911: 
“Nor would a wise man, seeing that he was in a hole, go to work and blindly dig it deeper…”
In other words, STOP DIGGING, Karen.

It's not like she's the first or only Arizona elected official to find herself continuing to dig. In November 2011, then Gov. Jan Brewer dug herself a deep hole when she took the advice of similar political interests who tried to stymie the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission by firing IRC chair Colleen Mathis. Jan kept digging, but not for five months, like Karen has.

Jan came face to face with the Arizona Supreme Court ruling which held that she had unlawfully ousted Mathis. At that moment, Jan realized the game was over. She then graciously accepted the ruling and the IRC resumed its work.

It has been obvious for months that Karen is in a predicament of her own making. If she proceeds, litigation is certain. She will absolutely lose, just like Trump and his minions have already lost 60+ lawsuits in the Quixotic endeavor to put the former guy back in the White House.

Monday, March 22, 2021

CPLC to protest partisan operative's appointment as director of Arizona's 2021 Independent Redistricting Commission

One has to wonder if Erika Neuberg really believed her claims that she could keep the Redistricting Commission out of litigation. Maybe she just successfully used psychological misdirection. She is, after all, a psychologist with a doctors degree and plenty of experience.

Last week, when she cast her first controversial vote, to hire an executive director, it was apparent before hand that when she claimed she'd do a better job avoiding conflict than her predecessor, Colleen Mathis, that Dr. Neuberg had no idea what she had gotten herself into.

Notably, Brian Schmitt, who has/had a gross conflict of interest in that he performed work for Martha McSally's unsuccessful 2020 US Senate campaign for which he was paid $63,000, was appointed to the position previously held by former City of Phoenix Deputy City Manager Ray Bladine.

At 11am on Tuesday, March 23, Chicanos Por La Causa will hold a press conference on ZOOM.

This is the release CPLC sent out on Monday afternoon.

PRESS RELEASE


Contact: Danny Ortega, 602-697-7287

Lydia Guzman, 602-451-4462


March 22, 2021

AZ Redistricting Commission appointment ‘smacks of partisanship,’ fair elections watchdog group says

PHOENIX – The appointment last week of a partisan political operative as executive director of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is “as upsetting as it is unfair,” with the discussion and decision to bypass a more qualified finalist done secretly behind closed doors, according to a redistricting watchdog group.

To prevent the disenfranchisement of voters of color, underserved communities and certain political parties, the Committee for Independence and Diversity is calling for a reopening of the appointment process for this key role in the redistricting process.

A news conference is scheduled for Tuesday at 11 a.m.

Redistricting, which is done after every Census, will determine how Arizona’s congressional and legislative districts are drawn to ensure a fair election process, allowing for competitive races and equitable representation for the next 10 years. Legally, the entire process must be done in a public and transparent manner, including the deliberation and naming of the Commission’s executive director.

“That did not happen with this appointment,” said Danny Ortega, an Arizona civil rights attorney and a member of the Committee for Independence and Diversity. “The IRC met in executive session behind closed doors for five hours before making this appointment. The Open Meeting Laws require transparency and deliberation in public. The length, as well as the method and content of their discussions, are potential violations of Open Meeting Laws. The ensuing behind-the-scenes appointment was a partisan political set-up that was not based on qualifications.”

By a 3-2 vote divided along party lines, Brian Schmitt was appointed IRC executive director. The chief of staff to a Republican member of the Phoenix City Council previously was a paid fundraiser for then-U.S. Sen. McSally’s Republican campaign. Schmitt was supported by Republican commissioners David Mehl and Doug York. Democrats Derrick Watchman and Shereen Lerner opposed him. Independent Chairwoman Erika Neuberg cast the deciding vote, joining the Republican commissioners in support of Schmitt.

Schmitt was selected over four other finalists, including Kristina Gomez, who as deputy executive director for the 2011 Independent Redistricting Commission and a community outreach staffer on the first AIRC in 2001 was eminently more qualified, according to the redistricting watchdog group. Gomez also was the only Latino finalist.

“The IRC process already has shown a disregard to diversity by its very make-up, which is a violation of the ‘independent’ spirit of the law that created the IRC in the first place,” said Lydia Guzman, Director of Advocacy and Civic Engagement at Chicanos Por La Causa and a member of the Committee for Independence and Diversity. “I mean, ‘independent’ is in the committee’s name. But this smacks of partisanship. And there is no diversity on this committee – not in commissioners and now, not in staff leadership.”

Previously, Arizona elections and redistricting were under federal oversight by the U.S. Department of Justice due to past voting violations in disenfranchising ethnic and voter minorities. Because of changing demographics, Latinos are increasingly becoming a major force in the Arizona electorate, yet have no representation on the IRC or its decisions on how to draw districts.

The Committee for Independence and Diversity is calling on immediate action to reverse this appointment, including an Arizona Attorney General investigation into possible Open Meetings Law violations. The Committee may consider legal action if its demands are delayed or ignored, Ortega said.

The Committee for Independence and Diversity consists of several Latino groups, including LUCHA, Promise Arizona, LULAC, Chicanos Por La Causa, and Friendly House.

Please join us for a virtual PRESS CONFERENCE

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 11:00 am

To Join Zoom Press Conference click this link:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2663589245

Meeting ID: 266 358 9245

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

IRC meeting February 16, 2021

Today's IRC meeting (February 16, 2021) can be viewed ONLY on YouTube.

It seems awkward that it can't be played (posted/excerpted) on any other website, like this blog, or to a news site like azcentral.com or azmirror.com (or other news papers/community news sites in Arizona).

Also, to the IRC's credit, they have opened/extended public comment essentially to the entire duration of the meetings. Then again, what possible reason would they have to NOT allow citizens to voice their suggestions, comments or concerns ANY time? This is not simply a matter of transparency. It's entirely a matter of the FACT that the process belongs to the people of Arizona and that the power vested in the five commissioners begins and ends with the people and no one else.

I also don't think I've heard any discussion, in any of the meetings thus far, about a rationale for limiting comments to 3000 characters. 

Citizens will also eventually develop their own maps to submit for consideration.

That said, it seems entirely reasonable to not allow comments to post to the YouTube streams/recordings. But submitting comments any time until they vote to officially adopt the maps ultimately to be used for the next ten years seems like it should be a given.

The next meeting of the IRC will take place on February 23rd (next Tuesday), at 2 pm. Agendas get posted (thus far) to the old IRC website, azredistricting.org.

Today, not much significant action was taken. They briefly discussed the commission's budget and the job postings for executive director and executive assistant as well as RFPs for legal services and mapping consultants. They intend to issue (written by who knows whom) press releases about both the job openings and RFPs.

Next week, they intend to discuss the latest news about the fact that they now do not expect to receive the 2020 census data until the end of September. That, of course, is going to make the entire mapping process more hectic and urgent once they do get the data.

A notable reflection I have to share is that Commission chair Neuberg has repeatedly expressed concern and desire to avoid litigation.

My view--since she has also repeatedly, emphatically and publicly indicated she doesn't believe the language in the original proposition about the purpose of the commission--her expectation for avoiding litigation is unrealistic.

CITIZENS INDEPENDENT REDISTRICTING COMMISSION INITIATIVE:

AN INITIATIVE MEASURE

PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF ARIZONA; AMENDING ARTICLE IV, PART 2, SECTION 1, CONSTITUTION OF ARIZONA; RELATING TO ENDING THE PRACTICE OF GERRYMANDERING AND IMPROVING VOTER AND CANDIDATE PARTICIPATION IN ELECTIONS BY CREATING AN INDEPENDENT COMMISSION OF BALANCED APPOINTMENTS TO OVERSEE THE MAPPING OF FAIR AND COMPETITIVE CONGRESSIONAL AND LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS.

There has been NO case law to my knowledge that suggests this purpose has been eliminated and/or that mapping of fair and competitive Congressional and legislative districts is NO LONGER the primary goal of the IRC.

Commissioner Neuberg has established herself as a competent, take charge chairperson. Her objective to make the meetings and the relationships between all five commissioners orderly and collegial are laudable and important. Nevertheless, continuing along those lines will not preclude competing outside interests from being very dissatisfied with the outcomes and the maps.

The reasons the prior commission encountered conflict had nothing to do with the quality of the job Colleen Mathis did. Rather, the political nature of redistricting made (and makes) intense conflict a significant part of the process. I wish Neuberg all the best in her effort to minimize the conflict. But she won't eliminate it altogether.  



Saturday, February 13, 2021

What did loser Trump know, and when did he know it?

Dana Bash, near the end of the CNN clip below, notes with emphasis that loser Trump's second impeachment trial is by no means over (as of February 12, 2021).

I disagree with the CNN reporters/pundits who characterized the upcoming moment of truth (when the final vote comes, possibly on Saturday) as being primarily about who those 100 senators are as people, about power or principle. Or more specifically, the 50 Republican senators. The overarching reality is the vote being about so much more. It's about whether we can remain a republic. Res publica. For the good of the public. "When the citizens at large govern for the public good..."



We faced a moment of truth on January 6. But we're going to face similar moments until Trump and trumpism is quashed.

In her February 11, 2021 Letter to an American, historian Heather Cox Richardson closes with this paragraph,

Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who was a constitutional law professor before he went to Congress, seems to understand their dilemma. “Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered,” he told the senators today, quoting political theorist Thomas Paine, “but we have this saving consolation: The more difficult the struggle, the more glorious ... our victory.
Professor Richardson's Paine quote is from the third sentence in the opening of The American Crisis.

Many of my friends have been, to some degree, despondent over the fact that broadcast and print media (amplified by social media) have convinced the country that there will not be 17 Republican senators willing to vote to convict the former president. 

I simply will echo that tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered, but we [DO] have this consolation: the harder the conflict, the more glorious will be the triumph. Whether it comes with the final vote of the impeachment trial, or if the struggle will have to continue. There will be triumph.




Sunday, January 24, 2021

How did Trump weasel his way into the White House in 2016; why could he not win a second term?

How did Trump weasel his way into the White House in 2016? 

Simple answer, fraud. Not necessarily the kind of election fraud he projected onto election officials in swing states like Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania. But a fraud perpetrated upon the minds of too many American voters.

FRAUD is pervasive in EVERYthing inherent in American commerce and therefore in American culture. I don't mean that the American people are inherently fraudsters. But the system is too easy for those who want to defraud others to get away with it... for a time, short or long.

It's all based on the theory of "free-market" capitalism. Which means, regulation is, as articulated by Adam Smith in his economic treatise The Wealth of Nations, all in the "invisible hand of the market."

Business majors in college usually take 6 semester hours (or the equivalent) in Economics, where we learn about supply and demand. Demand can be (invisibly) manipulated by psychological factors. 

A recent example most Americans would be familiar with is how suddenly in March 2020, massive shortages in grocery stores swept throughout the country (and probably the world). The incompetence that led to the Trump administration's failure to address the national security catastrophe brought on by Covid-19 was pervasive. People started dying. The rest of us (most of us anyway) hunkered down. Panic ensued. Many food items as well as toilet paper suddenly disappeared from grocery store shelves. 

Anyway, too many people (i.e. BILLIONS of us worldwide) never have had enough understanding of the underlying principles to question capitalist economic systems. Baby boomers (like me) were fed a steady diet of fear (propaganda) of socialism and communism. Because it was propaganda based, we (as children at the time) believed what we were told... but didn't have enough knowledge to understand why, for example, there were consumer commodity shortages for millions of people in communist countries. But we knew they had shortages.  

But I digress.

Caveat Emptor, let the buyer beware, is a foundational principle of American commerce.

Unless or until government institutes regulation to stem the exploitation (See Thomas Paine's Common Sense, which succinctly expounds the purpose of government). 
 
For centuries, America has been heavily influenced, like it or not, by unscrupulous capitalists exploiting naïve consumers. A great deal of lawmaking through the years has been about "regulating" commerce... or over the last half-century, DE-regulating everything because it's easier to commit fraud that way.

Kurt Andersen spelled out a history of how propagandists, over that fifty or so years, built so much of it into our politics and law in his recent book Evil Geniuses.

I've started now reading, Duke University historian Edward Balleisen's book, which meticulously describes the systemic development of related culture in FRAUD: an American History from Barnum to Madoff. For additional insight, see Andersen's Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, a 500-year History.

Why didn't Trump win a second term?

Because once he took office, he didn't hide his intent. Instead, he thought he'd get away with continuing his confidence game by branding the Free Press as the enemy of the people. It's a sad reflection on our country that so many people took the bait and swallowed the hook. But so many more voters literally wised up.

Fool me once, shame on you (you damn con artist). Fool my twice, shame on me. I think that's what George W Bush was trying to say. 


ALL Americans, really all humans, have gotten hoodwinked at times in our lives. Some people learn from their mistakes. Some don't.

Remember the expression, "knowledge is power?" 

It takes knowledge to keep from getting defrauded. Knowledge of how and why we're susceptible. Knowledge of history, economy, psychology, sociology, how government works, etc., etc.

Some of that knowledge comes from academic study. Some of it comes from learning from your own mistakes. Some comes from observational acuity, or learning from watching other people make mistakes.

Determination to learn and apply critical thinking and analysis skills can catalyze one's learning and skill development. Let's make sure we never get fooled by the likes of Trump or any other Fascist wannabe again.


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

So much for a January 21 follow up meeting for the new AZ Independent Redistricting Commission UPDATED 1-20-21 1:10 am MST

Arizona law requires the Redistricting Commission to post official meeting notices and agendas 48 hours prior any meeting.

It's less than 48 hours until Thursday morning. There is nothing posted to azredistricting.org under press releases or meeting notices for this newly (almost completely) reconstituted IRC. I didn't get anything by email, from anyone, including the Secretary of State's office either. Therefore, it doesn't seem like they'll be able to lawfully hold that meeting as announced at the end of the last meeting.

This evening, I inquired about it but don't expect a response until Wednesday morning. I received a response. 

UPDATE

So, if nobody knows where "official notice" was posted, how can it be official public notice?

Link to the agenda for Thursday morning.

Members of the public may view the meeting at this link: https://youtu.be/uZkpK5twRrQ

All matters on the agenda may be discussed, considered, and are subject to action by the Commission. The agenda for the meeting is as follows: 

I. Call to Order, Interim Chair David Mehl. 

II. Approval of Minutes from the January 14, 2021, Public Meeting and Executive Session(s). 

III. Selection of the fifth member of the Commission as provided in Arizona Constitution, Article IV, Page, 2 §(8). 

IV. Oath of Office for the fifth Commissioner, administered by Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. 

V. Selection of the Vice-Chair. 

VI. Opportunity for Public Comment: Public comment will open for a period of thirty (30) minutes. Comments will only be accepted electronically in writing on the following form: 

https://forms.gle/9yCMSkBjjnpeHGVs6 (comments will be limited to 3000 characters). 

VII. Discussion of dates and locations of future meetings, and potential topics for future meetings. 

VIII. Closing of Public Comments. 


Monday, January 18, 2021

My sense of what the IRC public comments tell the four new commissioners


First and foremost, Robert Wilson represents a lightning rod and would make the entire process even more contentious than a decade ago. Unless they want that certain level of stress, they would do well to avoid him like the plague (or like Covid19).


Mr. Wilson had, by far, the most comments, both in support and in opposition to his appointment. By virtue of which, it's obvious he had his friends networked in, to watch and comment. Additionally, savvy people who are wary of having a Trump supporter in charge of the all-important remapping of legislative and Congressional districts were also paying close attention. 

He himself is confident in front of an audience, no doubt. But some of his responses to questions seemed lacking in candor. For instance, when asked why he didn't host any events at his store for Democratic candidates, his reply--that he invited some but none took him up on the offer--seemed far less than satisfying. The bottom-line on that issue is his persona, though he wants to put on a welcoming face, is not even close to independent. In fact, some comments in support of Wilson suggest that he has either implicitly or explicitly promised the likely new Congressional seat to rural Arizonans.

He suggests that the commission should defer judgment on 4 of the six lawful requirements (notably including communities of interest and competitive districts) to what the public tells the commission in public comments over the course of the process. Of course, that invites chaos as people badger the commissioners like the Tea Party activists did last decade.
Not only is that unseemly, but is a clear tell that Wilson has already been organizing (right-wing?) interests to hopefully overwhelm the public input and the Democratic commissioners to get his way. 

Thomas Loquvam had fewer comments but they were pretty much all in opposition because of his status as a lobbyist. His explanation for why he (out of an abundance of caution) registered as a lobbyist even though he did not need to, may be plausible but doesn't obviate his connections (that he worked as an attorney for them, and that his sister headed up the behemoth's lobbying and public relations for several years) to Arizona Public Service, a veritable Godzilla when it comes to political influence in our state.

Gregory Teesdale had fewer comments overall, but some recognized his potential value as a facilitator and his technical background. My impression of him, as I noted in my previous blog post,

He seems experienced in and well-qualified to explain complex issues and situations clearly so everyone can understand. Without, as he noted, talking down to them. He also prides himself in being an innovator. He impressed me as an out-of-the-box thinker.
One commenter--who said her professional background was in Block Grant planning, and that she has no political connections (and this blogger does not recognize her name)-- stated,

I have watched all 5 interviews, in their entirety, and have reviewed each online available application. I believe that Mr. Teesdale 1) reflects the most independent perspective, 2) expressed possessing personal strengths which would enable him to negotiate the stresses of negotiating conflict that comes with highly charged public input, and 3) has an extensive executive background with several strong skill-sets necessary to fulfill the position which demands both confidence and diplomacy. Additionally, his stated (on application) approach to redistricting seems the most logical, independent, and fair to all Arizona citizens, regardless of party. If "independence" is the goal, he seems most likely, of all candidates, to add that element to the commission.

Erika Neuberg apparently had several friends make comments in support of her candidacy. One comment, apparently left by a former rural county elected official indicated she felt that Neuberg presents adequate qualifications but "I worry about her ability to withstand controversy." Comments opposing Dr. Neuberg cited concern over her political contributions, suggesting she doesn't appear independent. By the way, Neuberg expressed fear over "chronic 3-2 votes" in the course of the IRC doing it's business. She did NOT explain how she would navigate those inevitable situations. 

Therefore, I have to wonder how she would get to 4-1 votes when the process is inherently contentious. She suggested that she wants all of the commissioners to be friends at the end of the process. Of course that would be nice. But does that mean she'd sacrifice compliance with the six criteria in the state constitution to get there?

Regarding Megan Carollo, a commenter noted her admission in her application that she did NOT vote in the 2016 election(s). The fact that the application specifically asks for that history, suggests that the screening commission probably should have nixed her from the get go. Carollo, in her interview, right at the beginning, disclosed her relationship with Doug York, saying that she and York are close friends. Given the fact that Gov. Ducey stacked the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments, that may explain why she was included on the short list.

Do I even need to go further into detail? Conflict of interest based on a years long close friendship with one of the Republican commissioners, and having not voted in a major election that was pivotal in seating a demagogue who spent the last four years demolishing key democratic institutions and the entire federal government. Deal breakers, alone or together.

But, she had a reason (rationalization) for refusing to vote.

Humans and human nature have demonstrated for millennia that we are ALL pretty darn good at coming up with rationalizations for why we do the wrong thing.

Clearly Wilson, Loquvam, and Carollo are all Republican plants.

Let's hope that Thursday morning, the new redistricting commissioners make a good choice. Or perhaps the least bad choice.





Friday, January 15, 2021

AIRC chair interview feedback

On Thursday afternoon, after the four 2021 partisan commissioners took the oath of office, they interviewed the five candidates for chair of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. Because of my annual eye exam, I was unable to observe all five as they happened. Today, I did. 

First, each of the five are earnest. Each of them has some applicable qualities that could work. All of them know the potential conflict and tension the position is likely to entail. The elephant in the room apparently was the influence of the Republican Party, but also was the Covid19 pandemic.

Technology advanced dramatically between the 2001 and 2011 commission. In 2021, telecommunication technology seems to have caught up to that envisioned in the 1960s cartoon series, The Jetsons. Zoom makes instant video teleconferencing look so darn easy and natural. It's possible that the pandemic forcing the meetings to take place remotely may, for the most part, mitigate the awful emotional burden for the new commission which the 2011 commission endured. 


David Daley, author of Unrigged, wrote this piece dateline January 14, for Salon.com

Last August, more than one hundred Donald Trump supporters gathered in front of a Flagstaff, Ariz., gun store for a rally. The "Team Trump On Tour" bus dominated the shopping mall parking lot. U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, spoke to the crowd.
Then, in September, Trump backers gathered again at Timberline Firearms and Training, this time for a "shooting day" to support the president.
Now, the owner of that gun store, Robert Wilson, has been selected one of the five finalists to become the powerful chair of Arizona's redistricting commission — the supposedly independent, and almost certainly decisive voice on a five-person board (along with two Democrats and two Republicans) who will determine this swing state's legislative and congressional districts for the next decade.
Wilson might be a registered political independent. But "hosted Trump rallies at his gun store, with a speech by the Freedom Caucus chair" doesn't inspire confidence in his actual independence or his ability to be the fair-minded, scrupulous arbiter that this position requires.
Indeed, someone fair-minded might look at the list of five finalists recently selected by the state's Commission on Appellate Court Appointments — an ostensibly nonpartisan personnel board — and wonder if the Republicans are trying to ratfuck Arizona's independent commission before a single line has even been drawn.
Four of the five finalists, while registered as independents, have either strong public opinions, or close ties and/or financial interests through jobs, family and partners into the state's political power structure. (more)

Anyway, in the order they were interviewed, here are a few of my observations.  

Robert Wilson (Coconino County)

Wilson presents himself very authentically.

He expects the AIRC to need to proceed, despite no longer being subject to DOJ preclearance, as if the need for preclearance still exists. I appreciate that perspective.

He suggests that the commission should defer judgment on 4 of the six lawful requirements (notably including communities of interest and competitive districts) to what the public tells the commission in public comments over the course of the process. Of course, that invites chaos as people badger the commissioners like the Tea Party activists did last decade. That point, as well as a tell he displayed about his partisan perspective -- no matter how respectful he tried to be, he referred overtly to the Democrat Party. While referring to individuals as Democrats is legit, the Party is the Arizona Democratic Party. Republicans and conservative-leaning independents who have been active politically, know that using the term Democrat Party is a blatant expression of disrespect.

Mr. Wilson is NOT at all good fit for the Independent chair of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

Thomas Loquvam (Maricopa County)

Loquvam (the V is silent,) speaks easily about himself, his experience and redistricting related matters. Early in his interview, he mentioned that he had received mass texts (which I interpreted to mean group texts) and emails urging him to apply for the position. Which naturally raises the question about from whom did he receive those messages. In fact, Commissioner Shereen Lerner asked him that very question, or something very close to it. He responded, long-windedly, that it was his daughter who encouraged him to apply. He didn't address the underlying question raised by his admission about texts and emails.

Loquvam rightfully acknowledged that the six required criteria the new maps must fulfill are NOT weighted and there is no hierarchy of importance. However, in telling the story of his short-lived solo law firm, he expressed obvious appreciation to now federal Judge Mike Liburdi who needed to shed clients when he was appointed to the bench. Liburdi, who referred clients to Loquvam, was very active in 2011 supporting Tea Party opposition to the maps. The ironically titled Fair Trust apparently funded Mike's advocacy and some of the litigation that provided quite a bit of the stress and tension encountered by the 2011 AIRC. "Apparently," because Fair Trust (which I referred then to as the UNFair Trust) refused to disclose either the extent of its involvement or who provided the funding for its efforts. 

Mr. Loquvam, because he is indebted to Liburdi as a result of reciprocity, is absolutely disqualified from the position.

Gregory Teesdale (Pima County)

Teesdale is a Coast Guard veteran with what he called Blue Collar roots.

He holds an MBA from Arizona State with a focus on Supply Chain Management. He describes himself as data-centric and comfortable in the tech world.

Rather than talk about his experience growing companies from the "ground floor," he referred to "sea level." Teesdale spoke in detail and confidently about related concepts more so than about himself... unlike Wilson or Loquvam. Responding to the question about what success will look like when the process is finished, he described it in terms of the voter and the electorate.

On handling conflict, he would encourage people to teach him how what he and the commission is then doing does not comport with what the law and the six criteria require of them.

He seems experienced in and well-qualified to explain complex issues and situations clearly so everyone can understand. Without, as he noted, talking down to them. He also prides himself in being an innovator. He impressed me as an out-of-the-box thinker.

Erika Neuberg, Ph.D. (Maricopa County)

Dr. Neuberg is a very confident, poised professional committed, she said, to working for the common good. She noted that she's been preparing for this opportunity for the last year.

Despite the clearly stated purpose of Prop 106, which Arizona voters enacted in the year 2000 general election, 

PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF ARIZONA; AMENDING ARTICLE IV, PART 2, SECTION 1, CONSTITUTION OF ARIZONA; RELATING TO ENDING THE PRACTICE OF GERRYMANDERING AND IMPROVING VOTER AND CANDIDATE PARTICIPATION IN ELECTIONS BY CREATING AN INDEPENDENT COMMISSION OF BALANCED APPOINTMENTS TO OVERSEE THE MAPPING OF FAIR AND COMPETITIVE CONGRESSIONAL AND LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS. 

Erika Neuberg emphatically downplayed this last of the six criteria enshrined in the Arizona Constitution

... competitive districts should be favored where to do so would create no significant detriment to the other goals.
Erika Neuberg, Ph.D., though she is a lovely person, is NOT, (in my opinion) a good fit for the 2021 AIRC chair position. 

Megan Carollo (Maricopa County)

Megan Carollo has a Bachelor's degree in Economics and has done statistical analysis professionally.

She considers herself a "numbers nerd."

Further, Carollo has experience doing town halls and study groups in that professional work.

She presents with a vulnerable looking face and manner, and speaks with confidence, knowledge and curiosity. 

To her, success would be to set a good example for the next decade's commission, she's hopeful that the maps produced ultimately will be well-received. 

Carollo made a point to suggest that appearing nice does not equate to weakness. 

Her interview only took 20 minutes. 

From the Salon story (linked above),
Megan Carollo, the owner of a high-end floral boutique whose partner, according to state Democrats, both advises the Arizona Mexico Commission — a trade association chaired by the governor, and now led as president by Pacheco, the utility general counsel's sister — and serves as president of a firm that has received more than a million dollars in contracts from the governor's budget.
Next up for the AIRC is meeting next Thursday (January 21) at 9am to hopefully select a chairperson. They decided they wanted to read the public comments submitted in writing yesterday before selecting a chairperson.

Next up for me is to also read those comments, after which I will post again with my impression of the comments and perhaps post some of the detail.

*****

It's also important to note that Doug York appears to have serious lack of respect for his fellow commissioners in that he both voiced his displeasure regarding the need to wear masks AND that whenever he spoke, he felt compelled to take his mask down to uncover his nose and mouth. He was the ONLY one to do so. That seems to be problematic.





Wednesday, January 13, 2021

There is NO Future for Trumpism

In this interview with Amanpour & Company, former Sen. Jeff Flake sounded totally authentic.



A friend of mine who I had not spoken with in a long time called me on Tuesday. He asked me a couple of simple questions and pointed out that Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen amassed a whopping 51,465 votes. President-elect Joe Biden, 1,672,143; loser Trump 1,661,686

Biden's margin over Trump: 10,457 votes

Jorgensen's total was roughly five times the margin of victory Biden enjoyed (well, I enjoyed it too). I wonder how many of those 51,465 voters would have preferred a sane Republican candidate. Maybe more than 11,000?

So, why is the Arizona Legislature this morning summoning the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to answer for how the election was conducted here when they might better aim their rage inward or at least do some self-examination looking for how they could have improved their own performance?

If the Republican Party had conducted itself as a rational political party (as if they actually could have?) rather than Trump's cult of personality, imagine how different the end result might have been. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the Arizona Republican Party screwed up so badly. We dodged a major bullet. 

By the way, isn't it curious that Phoenix area political journalists hadn't pointed this out already?

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Meeting notice and agenda for first 2021 AIRC gathering



PHOENIX – Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs will host the first meeting of the 2021 Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission at 11:15 a.m. on January 14.

In 2000, voters passed Proposition 106 amending the Arizona Constitution, and creating the Independent Redistricting Commission to draw congressional and state legislative districts following the completion of the decennial census.

Prior to 2000, the State Legislature was responsible for creating these boundaries.

WHAT: The first meeting of the 2021 Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. A copy of the agenda is available here: https://azsos.gov/sites/default/files/2020.01.14-Notice_and_Agenda_for_Meeting_of_IRC.pdf

WHO: Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs

Commissioner David Mehl 

Commissioner Shereen Lerner

Commissioner Derrick Watchman

Commissioner Douglas York

WHEN: Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 at 11:15 a.m.

WHERE: The commission will conduct the meeting virtually from the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State. This

meeting is open to press and public via Zoom, register to attend at this

link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_PKVfZ6d-SJGKPmEsH2GXZQ

Additionally, the meeting will be streamed on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/SecretaryHobbs/live/

Commissioners will accept public comments [ONLY?] between 12 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 14, 2021. Comments are limited to 4000 characters and will be accepted electronically in writing only on the following form: https://tinyurl.com/ircinterview21.

*****

The main items on the agenda are the swearing in of the new commissioners, interviewing the five people on the short list for the commission chair, and selecting the chairwoman/man.