There are at least a couple of things that people can do to combat the moves to subvert the independence of the AIRC -
1. Go to a hearing. Stand up and speak in support of the AIRC's independence, a fair, honest, and open process, and competitive districts. And thank the members of the AIRC for their efforts and sacrifices on behalf of the future of the state.
2. Talk to people. Let your friends and neighbors know what is going on and why they should keep and eye on the goings-on with redistricting. Write letters, to the editor of your local newspaper in order to reach out to a wider group of people, and to elected officials, in order to let them know that people are watching and they should just cut the crap*.
* = You probably shouldn't use the phrase "cut the crap." That may reduce your credibility with the electeds. Just sayin'... :)
I recently submitted a letter to the editors of the Arizona Republic. Hopefully, they'll accept it for publication and do so this week.
I also sent a letter to Governor Brewer. I doubt she'll be publishing it anytime soon, so here it is -
I am writing to you today to urge you to respect in independence of the Independent Redistricting Commission. In addition, I urge you to use your influence to convince the members of the legislature to do the same.
When the voters passed Proposition 106 in November of 2000, they sent an overwhelming message that they want a fair, transparent, and nonpartisan process for Congressional and legislative redistricting, and a process that is NOT under the control of the partisan officeholders whose districts are being designed.
The recent attempts to both physically and politically intimidate the IRC by certain members of the state government clearly run counter to the voters' will.
Beside threatening the viability and effectiveness of the redistricting process (something that obviously doesn't bother certain people), these attempts to subvert the process will have another effect, one that those same people may not like - it will almost certainly contribute to Arizona remaining a "pre-clearance" state.
Some of the members of the Republican caucus in the legislature are pushing for a special session of the legislature be called so that they can remove the independent chair of the IRC, Colleen Mathis. I would remind you (and them) that there are clear and specific grounds for removal listed in the Arizona Constitution, and the chair hasn't even come close to violating any of them. However, I'm not naive. I undertand that considerations of practical politics hold greater sway at the Capitol than the simple ideals of fair play or respect for the will of the voters.
When those certain legislators pressure you to call a special session to serve their partisan interests, remind them that when you called a special session to change a single word in Arizona law that would have allowed thousands of Arizonans who have been most adversely affected by the current recession to collect a few more weeks of federally-funded unemployment benefits, they balked.
And they were rather shameless about it to boot.
Holding a special session now to railroad someone who has done nothing wrong would generate a PR nightmare of a magnitude that most of them have never witnessed, much less been a part of.
Whether it's for idealistic or practical reasons, standing up for the independence of the IRC is the politically wise thing to do.
Thank you for your time and consideration.