Sunday, November 07, 2010

Tea Party time for Illinois redistricting

"The board is set, the pieces are moving."
Gandalf, The Return of the King.

Redistricting awaits us, the lines are moving. The board-setters, Governor Pat Quinn and House Speaker Michael Madigan, both Chicago Democrats--are ready to carve up Illinois with the goal of protecting incumbents, particularly Democratic ones.

Two years ago proponents of the Illinois Fair Map amendment sought to take redistricting out of the hands of the politicians and place it into the hands of the people. But the petition failed to receive enough signatures and the amendment didn't make it onto the ballot. But much can still be done.

From the Illinois Constitution:

SECTION 3. LEGISLATIVE REDISTRICTING
(a) Legislative Districts shall be compact, contiguous and substantially equal in population. Representative Districts shall be compact, contiguous, and substantially equal in population.
Then explain this:


Pictured is Illinois' anything-but-contiguous 17th Congressional District, designed to protect a Democratic incumbent who has since retired. Maps aren't everything--his successor, Phil Hare, was defeated by Republican Bobby Schilling last week, even though tentacles from the Mississippi River-bordered district reach into Democratic precincts in Springfield, Decatur, and Lord knows where else.

That's not a compact district, it's a Gerrymandered one. It's a travesty.

Let's look at a couple of General Assembly districts. I live in Illinois' 16th District, drawn to protect Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie). That district runs from Chicago's North Side through Lincolnwood, Skokie, and Morton Grove, encompassing two high school districts. Next to it is the 17th, drawn to force out the Republican incumbent who managed to hang on until she chose to run for Congress instead. That district covers Skokie, Morton Grove, Golf, Glenview, Northfield, and Winnetka and small parts of other towns--and it encompasses three high school districts.

Here's an idea: How about one seat to cover Morton Grove, Lincolnwood, and Skokie--one high school district--and another to cover Glenview, Winnetka, Golf, and Northfield--two high school districts.

That's my kind of community organizing.

It makes for a better district and a more responsive and knowledgeable legislator. Everyone wins--except the machine hacks.

Writing for the New York Times' Chicago News Cooperative, James Warren maps out the the bare-knuckles reality of remapping:

Mr. Madigan will analyze data from recent elections and population shifts. He must be sensitive to issues of minority representation as he perhaps places a block of mostly black Democrats into one district and a block of Republicans a half-mile away, into another.

His aim is to craft, or Gerrymander, as many safe Democratic districts as possible. He could easily force two or more incumbent Republican representatives to face off in the 2012 primary in a new district.

Downstate has lost population. So there's logic in melding into two districts the three now represented by Republicans Timothy V. Johnson of Urbana, Aaron Schock of Peoria and, soon, Mr. Schilling of Rock Island, who probably shouldn't buy a home yet in Washington, because he also has 10 children.

And perhaps Madigan fills one of the two new districts with Democratic partisans by hooking up union strongholds Champaign-Urbana, Peoria and Decatur with the mostly Democratic college towns found in each of the existing three districts.
Warren concludes with an insightful quote: "'We choose our constituents, not the other way around,' said State Representative Jack D. Franks, Democrat of Woodstock. 'I don't think it's good for democracy.'"

He's right.

Here's another quote:
There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not? Robert F. Kennedy.
What to do?

Call and e-mail your legislators and tell them you want a fair map.

If a state redistricting committee is named, email and call those members and let them know that you want a peoples' map, not a politicians' map. Demand public hearings. They were held last time. Show up at them. Be firm but forceful--and tell the big shots that we want fair mapping! If they won't budge--hold tea parties. Remember, these protected incumbents aren't accustomed to discord and they are terrified of the people they represent. If they still won't budge--then simply raise Hell.

Fight for your future. And move those board pieces to benefit 13 million Illinoisans.

This is the Land of Lincoln, not Madiganland.

Last week a whole bunch of politicians were voted out because they didn't listen to their constituents.

Voters: You have power.

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1 comment:

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