Monday, October 12, 2009

Council Redistricting 2010

This morning's Indianapolis Star contains a story that the Republicans on the Indianapolis City-County Council are considering redrawing council districts in 2010, using old census data, for the 2011 election. Those districts would exist for only one election. Council districts will have to be redrawn yet again after receiving the 2010 census data.

The current districts were drawn by the Indiana Supreme Court during a redistricting dispute that took place after the last census. The Court drew the districts without regard to partisanship or the residence of the then council members.

In the article, writer Francesca Jarosz quotes Council President Cockrum as well as Luis Fuentes-Rohwer, a law professor oat the Indiana University's Mauer School of Law in Bloomington, who is writing a book on redistricting. They suggest that gerrymandering, drawing district lines for partisan advantage, is typical for legislative bodies.

True. But Jarosz misses the point. Redrawing legislative districts for partisan advantage is not unusual, but redrawing districts in the middle of 10 year cycle, especially right before receiving census data, would be extremely unusual.

Often when a majority party takes control in an upset election during a 10 year cycle, the majority party will try to redistrict in their favor. The effort never goes anywhere because the minority party will always walk out preventing action on the new maps. With a 2/3 quorum requirement, the majority party is stopped in its efforts.

On the City-County Council, however, the quorum requirement is a simple majority vote, which Republicans have by a 15-13-1 margin. Council Republicans can pass a new map for the 2010 election without the Democrats even being present.

Another point Jarosz misses is that during the budget debate Cockrum and others were selling spending the $290,000 on redistricting in 2010 as being something required because of the new census. Now it is clear that was a ruse - it was instead an effort to put money into the budget for an early redistricting not required by law.

As a Republican, I would like my party to retain control of the Council. But there is a right way and a wrong way. Wasting $290,000 on an early redistricting right before a census would be the wrong way. Acting responsibly and showing Marion County voters that they should re-elect Republicans would be the right way.

Unfortunately, most Council Republicans have simply become a rubber-stamp for an administration dominated by self-interested insiders who have sold out the political future of the the Mayor and the Marion Republican Party to cash in as much as they can during the Mayor's four year tenure. Now that it is evident that the Mayor's unpopularity will be an anchor around their necks in 2011, assuming he is even nominated for a second term, Council Republicans want to redistrict to try to overcome his unpopularity and their unpopular votes in support of the administration's initiativives aimed at enriching insiders at the expense of taxpayers.

A better political solution is for Council Republicans to start showing some independence and leadership, and dare I say, earning the respect of the voters. They should not be a rubber-stamp for any administration, including one headed by a Mayor of their own party.


Had Enough Indy? said...

I was struck by Cockrum's comment that 'it was the same thing (Democrats) did last time'. Um - #1 - no - Republicans drew the lines last time, too. That went to Court and they drew the lines from which the Republicans managed to regain the seats they lost in the meantime.
#2 - this type of argument, regardless of which party uses it, always strikes me as petulant and can be rephrased as - 'I have no high standards with which I must abide, because they did it first'
#3 - why waste this $290,000 this year and another $290,000 next (which is what is anticipated just for the Republican maps) just for one election cycle? The maps surely will be challenged in court and not be ready for the 2011 elections anyway....

Paul K. Ogden said...

#1. You're right. I forgot that the Rs drew that map too - originally.

#2. Agreed.

#3. Actually they probably could wrap up any legal challenge in times. The courts usually operate slowly, but when they put things in emergency mode they can move extremely fast.

Unknown said...

I am concerned that the Republicans on the Council will try to draw maps that will put all of those Commie Smoking ban people in power when it doesn't pass this time.

I had no idea that any Republicans would even consider supporting infringing on our rights until I read that several are considering this anti-business law.

They even want to make it illegal for private War Veterans clubs - people who fought for our country - to be able to light-up if they so wish.

I'm sure they will find some way to exempt "Cigar-Bars" from the that's important! Ha ha...