Friday, March 16, 2012

Thoughts on Redistricting

I have to get things together for a trip to New Orleans, so I will not be putting up a full post today, but I did want to offer a comment on redistricting.

As you are undoubtedly aware by now, Ken Ulman chose not to sign the Council redistricting plan, which resulted in the Commission map going into effect.  Early commentary seems to suggest that the Republicans will be attacking Ken for "vetoing" a "bipartisan" bill in favor of a partisan map.  While I appreciate the creativity, I don't think that criticism sticks.

First, it seems impossible, and somewhat pointless, to have a "bipartisan" map.  Until we have computers making our Council districts, and a Charter Amendment related to the same, these maps will be reflective of party politics.  In fact, both of these maps reflected interests of varying incumbents in being re-elected.  If anyone tells you that this was just about keeping neighborhood A or B together, look for their poker face.  Same goes for anyone telling you that this was a "bipartisan" map.  What does that mean?  Which brings me to my next point...

We can't call everything that Greg Fox votes for "bipartisan."  It diminishes the roles of the other Council members and imputes certain discretion onto Greg that I'm not sure is merited.  If the third vote on this bill had been Calvin Ball and not Greg Fox, the same folks would have been angry at it not being signed, we just wouldn't be using the word "bipartisan."

Finally, there was no perfect map here.  Each map split communities.  Each map had its detractors.  Each map had certain constituencies its sponsors were looking to serve.  Being an actual resident of one of the affected communities, I can tell you that the sun still rose this morning and my grass is none the greener.  At the end of the day, the only thing this map does is change the way our Council sees their "district" and future politicos see their electorate.  All of this talk about "splitting" communities is mostly lipstick on a pig; that pig being raw politics.

We should all be glad it is over, because the most significant split was amongst the 5 members of our County Council.  It would seem inconceivable that for something as essentially partisan as a redistricting map, the four Dems would go 2-2 on the final map.  While I respect their ability to disagree, that kind of split tends to show a lack of leadership and/or incongruity in thinking.  I truly wonder how this Council will approach more controversial matters that actually affect the day to day lives of Howard County citizens...more than imaginary lines, anyhow.

Those wounds will heal.  Now its time to talk about the fire tax.