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Wednesday
Feb152012

Redistricting Update--Release The Salamander (aka Gerry) Mr. Speaker!

            Three items on the redistricting front have surfaced since the last time I reported here.

This orginal gerrymander seems tame compared to what the NH House will do today.     

Click on the map to enlarge.

       This afternoon the House presumably will vote to accept a plan for the five executive council districts that would make Elbridge Gerry proud.  He’s the founding father who created such an egregious district in Massachusetts that his name is forever associated with the hanky panky that now bears his name.

            I’ve prepared a handout of two maps—the gerrymandered plan passed by the committee side by side with my plan.  Everyone I ask prefers my plan but don’t bet on it passing because Republicans have once again been coerced into doing the wrong thing.

            If the goal of redistricting is to come as close to “one man one vote” as is possible, my plan is infinitely superior.  Its deviation is less than one percent (0.54 percent to be precise) while the Mirski Committee-approved plan has a deviation nearly seven times that great—3.52 percent.

            Actually since the current map contains districts within ten percent deviation, we don’t need to do anything at all, a position I assume Democrats will support…and perhaps the Senate.

            District two in the committee plan runs from the Vermont border all the way across the state and on down the coast to Portsmouth.  At one point, district two remains contiguous by the narrowest of land bridges, through the town of Barnstead.

            Its such an embarrassment that I plan to offer maps to Representatives with the admonition that they should keep this so they could show their grandchildren what a truly silly thing they voted for back in 2012 with the explanation, “Sonny, you’ll never believe what I did, but I was told to do so by leadership, and back in the day, I did what I was told no matter how little sense it made.”

            Both plans are available on the state web site and I've reproduced them here (thanks to Rep. Cohn).

             The special House Committee on Redistricting voted 11-4 (totally along party lines) to approve the Senate plan as presented yesterday.  Democrats voted against it, and while it’s not the plan I would have drawn up, I could find no reason to vote against it.  The House usually provides deference to the Senate to create its own plans, and there was certainly nothing so egregious in this plan as to defy that tradition.

            Most comment centered on district 13 which has a deviation slightly in excess of five percent.  However, the overall Senate plan is within an acceptable deviation of less than ten percent.  District 13, in order to guarantee an all Nashua district, had to either have five or six Nashua wards. Since the average Nashua ward contains 9500 people and the ideal Senate district should have approximately 55,000 people, five wards would yield a deviation way too low (5 fives 9500 equals only 47,500), so the Senate went with six wards (6 times 9500 equals 57,000, more than ideal but within acceptable limits).

            Senator Jeb Bradley also explained how the Senate, in the wake of a public hearing, moved Holderness from District 3 back into District 2 (along with Plymouth) which makes sense to me (during college, I lived on the banks of the Pemi River—near the flooding area—in Plymouth but within sight of Holderness across the river).

 

            Also yesterday, various and sundry House Republicans received a five page single-spaced unsigned letter, attempting to defend the indefensible, the blatantly unconstitutional House redistricting plan which is now in the Senate.  I haven’t read it yet, but at quick glance, it’s a tissue of half-truths, an indication that Republican leadership plans to double down and continue stonewalling rather than get to the serious business of putting forward an acceptable plan. 

I’m guessing high paid attorney Ed Mosca was the ghost writer of this strange missive.  It’s headed “Dear fellow Republican colleagues” (a classic redundancy in itself) and concludes “Sincerely” then no signature.  Most likely, intent was for neither me nor anyone else from Manchester to see this pack of misinformation.  After all, secrecy has been the order of the day when it comes to redistricting.

The letter lists a series of “claims” with countering arguments, none of which would convince any sentient human being of supporting the plan.

            Right off the top, the letter begins with a mostly false statement, ‘The Redistricting Committee spent considerable time working to thread the needle in crafting a redistricting plan (HB592) that met the requirements of first the federal and then the state constitutions.

That is totally false on so many levels.  The redistricting committee basically rubber stamped a proposal that was put together by non-Representatives behind closed doors with a minimum of any input.  Most members on the committee couldn’t even tell you what they voted for.  Sorry, but that’s the truth. 

For example, I showed the map of the executive council plan to a member of the committee who had voted for it last week.  This member told me she didn’t recognize the plan and preferred the one I am offering on the House floor this afternoon.

No friends, “dear fellow Republican colleagues” and others, you just can’t make this stuff up.

            No lawyer whether the House esquire Mosca or someone paid $50,000 from an outside firm could keep a straight face while asserting that the House-passed House plan meets requirements of the federal and state constitutions.

            Apparently, House leadership has spent so much money on outside legal council that it can’t afford to keep the House in order.  Today, the voting system was out of order so we had to do a standing roll call for the first time in years, and the Speaker announced than more quiet than usual is needed since one speaker is inoperative.

            Ah yes, $50,000 to draw up a totally unconstitutional redistricting plan (and who knows how much to draft a five page document only a hack would believe) and no money left for standard maintenance.

            You just can’t make this stuff up.

            Nor should you have to.

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