Friday, June 15, 2012

Mayor Ballard Vetoes Redistricting Appropriation; Legal Challenge to 2011 Maps is a Near Certainty

The Indianapolis Star reports:
Mayor Greg Ballard today vetoed the City-County Council's attempt to start a new redistricting effort.
"The City-County Council legally and fairly redistricted earlier this year," Ballard said in a prepared statement. "As the city works to erase an estimated $47 million budget shortfall for 2013, this proposal was an unnecessary expenditure of taxpayer money."
The new redistricting plan would cost $180,000 to draw new maps for 25 council districts. 
Here's the heart of the matter: Republicans led a redistricting effort when they controlled the council last year. Now, Democrats want their chance.
To see the rest of the article click here:
In the story I didn't quote the reporter suggested there might be a problem with whether Mayor Ballard signed the redistricting measure in time.  Wasn't aware of that. Regardless, that's not the legal problem.  The fact is the law REQUIRES the Council to redistrict in 2012.
IC 36-3-4-3  
(a) The city-county legislative body shall, by ordinance, divide the whole county into twenty-five (25) districts that:  
(1) are compact, subject only to natural boundary lines (such as railroads, major highways, rivers, creeks, parks, and major industrial complexes);  
(2) contain, as nearly as is possible, equal population; and 
(3) do not cross precinct boundary lines.
This division shall be made during the second year after a year in which a federal decennial census is conducted and may also be made at any other time, subject to IC 3-11-1.5-32.
The end of IC 36-3-4-3 refers to any other time except for a year long blackout period on redistricting that runs until the day after the municipal election.  There is a five week period between the municipal election and when the new council members take office at the start of the year.  During that lame duck period, it appear the council can legally redistrict. The problem is the statute also says the Council MUST redistrict in the second year after the census.

Now why would the Indiana General Assembly specifically say the Indianapolis City-County Council has to redistrict in the second year after a census? Think about when Indianapolis municipal elections take place - in odd numbered years, four years apart.  That means every other census will be followed by a municipal election where there ends up being a lame duck legislature.  By requiring the council to redistrict in the second year following the census that would appear to render useless any lame duck redistricting by the Council. The legislature though apparently did not anticipate the situation such as which happened here where the Council Republicans lost their majority but a Republican Mayor won, thus providing an opportunity in which the lame duck Republican majority could redistrict and then the Republican Mayor could simply veto redistricting plan offered the following year.

The problem for Mayor Ballard's position is that the law says the Council must redistrict in 2012.  I don't think courts are going to find that statute met by the Council passing a redistricting plan in 2011 and the Mayor signing it on January 1st the following year.  Given the stalemate, it is almost certain that once again a court will be drawing the council maps.

The Democrats though dropped the ball on the politics of the redistricting issue.  By insisting it would take another $180,000 to draw the maps, a figure similar to what former Council President Ryan Vaughn paid political operative David Brooks, the Democrats lost the chance to be frugal stewards of the taxpayers money.  It doesn't take $180,000 to draw 25 council districts. 

Common Cause of Indiana is offering a website where people can draw council districts for free.   Common Cause will be conducting two public training sessions and mapping technical assistance is also available via telephone and email.

The training sessions will be:
  • Saturday, June 23 from 10:30 until 12:30 at the Nora branch of the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library
  • Tuesday, July 10 from 5:30 until 7:30 at the Southport branch

1 comment:

Citizen Kane said...

Also, there are city staff that can do it for free with the use of GIS software.