The districts we now have and will have for the next few years were drawn with very little public input. After a dog and pony show of a couple of poorly attended and poorly advertised meetings, the districts passed through the council like an eleventh-hour deal.
The Republicans had done it. They had succeeded in getting off a torpedo before their majority sank into history. Democrats and democracy advocates called foul. They knew what the GOP was trying to do, but there was no shame in the Republican game.
As soon as the calendar switched from December 2011 to January 2012, Mayor Ballard signed the districts into law cementing the new districts during the second year following a federal census (2010). Democrats, now in the majority and acting under authority from Indiana Code, drew their own districts in 2012 which were vetoed by Mayor Ballard. The legal battle began.
A five-member commission of Marion County Superior Court Justices voted 3-2 that the Republican-drawn districts were not properly drawn during the second year following a federal census, and they drew their own districts. The panel's districts were as close to square as possible and tried to keep near the population target of 36,000.
On appeal, the Indiana Supremes finally reversed that lower court decision based upon the fact that Mayor Ballard had signed the districts into law on January 1, 2012. The districts were legal. Game over.
This entire dog and pony show over nearly the last three years showed desperation by a desperate party to hold on to power they didn't win. The GOP knows that it can't stay in power in Marion County forever, so this was its final shot. Draw new districts and then get rid of the At-Large seats (via Senate Enrolled Act 621). Mission accomplished.
This inside baseball kind of argument won't probably win an election in 2015, but it would be good to remind folks what has happened. The shadiness of how the new districts came about and how they were drawn. You know, how a longtime Republican wonk from Hamilton County was handed $225,000 in taxpayer dollars to do something someone with time and some computer software could have done for free. That Hamilton County resident was David Brooks, the husband of Congresswoman Susan Brooks whose Congressional district's southern boundary was drawn partially on the basis of the precincts her husband drew. So, it all gets lost in the ether...how these districts were made. It's political wonks like me yelling and screaming in an echo chamber.
So, why does it matter? Republicans say Democrats would have done the same thing. Honestly, I can't argue with that. I would say that Democrats likely would not have rushed everything through and tried to get off one final shot so quickly. I would hope that our side would have treated the public in better manner and tried to get them to care about how the City-County Council districts were drawn and why it matters. I think we wouldn't have simply handed taxpayer cash out to a political figure with a vested interest in where precinct lines were drawn. I just hope that we, as a party, would be bigger than the other side.
|"The line must be drawn here! This far, no further."|
Screenshot from Star Trek: First Contact
He was talking about the Borg. The Republicans aren't the Borg. While they are organized and speak from a collective it seems, we have the right issues, and the numbers are turning our way. Marion County is turning blue. The political wind will soon be even more in our favor. This attempt to create a Council majority must be thrown right back at the GOP. No more games with democracy. It's time to do some heavy lifting.
Democrats, here we are. It's 2014. Time to draw the line and fight back.