Thursday, May 15, 2014

One Last Thing on Redistricting...THE LINE MUST BE DRAWN HERE!

Let's remember some things before I put the City-County Council districts to rest for a while on this blog.

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
Now, the ball sits squarely in our court.  It is all up to us as a party to win a majority on the Council.  The right candidates have to be recruited in the right areas, and the GOP's last chance to win a majority must be stopped.  As Captain Picard says in Star Trek: First Contact, "We've made too many compromises already, too many retreats. They invade our space, and we fall back...Not again. The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!"

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.

3 comments:

Abdul said...

Resistance is futile! You will be assimilated! :-)

Had Enough Indy? said...

I agree with almost all that you say. The precincts and Districts are a (maybe) last ditch attempt to keep City control in R hands. Of course, tax increases are the State Legislature's answer to D Mayors, while State takeover of City obligations topping $100 M a year, is their answer to R Mayors. With that kind of assistance, this may not be their last hurrah.

One quibble with your recollections here... As I recall... the Rs had more public outreach over their maps, than the Ds did when they paid for their version the next year. You might remember the to-do over Brooks splitting Irvington into 3 Districts, for instance. While the one public meeting that included any discussion of the D maps, the priority seemed to be that all sitting Councillors would have a unique District and not have to (gasp!) run against any other incumbent.

johnnystir . said...

Pat, your memory is better than mine. Thanks for that.