Last night was Elrod's turn.
Councilor Joanne Sanders introduced a measure to transfer $290,000 budgeted for 2010 for redistricting to the parks department's budget. (A similar amount is appropriated for 2011.) She argued that the statute did not allow redistricting before the 2011 election. Republican Councilor Ryan Vaughn asked for legal advice from the Council's attorney, Bob Elrod.
Elrod remarked that the council could redistrict "any time they wanted, except right before an election." He then went on to say that the council could redistrict before the 2011 election even though the census data won't be out until early 2011.
Either Elrod never read the redistricting statute, or more likely, he chose to ignore it.
Here is what the redistricting statute says:
IC 3-11-1.5-32Translation: There is nearly a year window between November 8, 2010 and November 3, 2011 (the day after the election) when the Council is forbidden from redistricting. It is not just "right before an election," as Elrod claims.
The legislative body of a municipality may not change the boundary of a district established under:
(1) IC 36-3-4-3; (This is the Indianapolis City-County Council)
(2) IC 36-4-6-3;
(3) IC 36-4-6-4;
(4) IC 36-4-6-5;
(5) IC 36-5-1-10.1;
(6) IC 36-5-2-4.1; or
(7) IC 36-5-2-4.2;
after November 8 of the year preceding the year in which a municipal election is to be held and before the day following the date on which the municipal election is held except to assign territory to a municipal legislative body district in an annexation ordinance.
A lay person off the street with a high school education could interpret that section without a problem. Yet Barnes & Thornburg's attorney Ryan Vaughn apparently cannot. Where too are the other attorneys on the council, Bob Lutz and Barb Malone? Why aren't they pointing out the obvious - that the council cannot legally redistrict for the 2011 election. It's a shame that it takes Sanders, who as far as I know doesn't have legal training, to correctly interpret the statute.
In the end, this $580,000 of taxpayer money set aside for redistricting (an amount that is extremely excessive given what it costs to redistrict other political bodies) is going to end up in the pockets of a politically-connected company to draw up the maps and a politically-connected law firm, most likely Barnes & Thornburg, to defend them. Of course, any redistricting before the 2011 election will end up with Republicans losing the court case and the maps being thrown out. Why exactly are we Republicans going down this road, unnecessarily wasting taxpayers money on a futile, not to mention illegal, cause?