gerrymandering

Allowing Greensboro's voters a referendum a "dealbreaker" for GOP

The blatant abuse of power is breathtaking:

The revised bill emerged in the House on Wednesday afternoon in the form of a conference report. It was written by a joint House-Senate committee that wasn’t fully formed until Tuesday afternoon.

Hardister said Wednesday that he sent word to the conference committee that he wanted the bill to include a referendum. “The referendum was a deal-breaker for a majority of the conference committee. I floated it.” The result, he said, was a compromise. “You don’t get everything you want in the legislative process.”

Pretty sure the voters in Greensboro would say "You don't get anything you want in the Legislative process." The most dumbfounding aspect of this story: Republicans feel justified in taking these abusive steps exactly because Greensboro residents would never approve them. How is that for absurdity? "This is the only way we can make this happen, so it is by default a 'legitimate' action." And you're right, it's straight out of George Orwell.

Vacated.

The US Supreme Court rejected the NC Supreme Court's ruling upholding the NC General Assembly's racially-motivated redistricting scheme, and sent the case back to the lower Court for a second look. This doesn't mean the redistricting itself has been rejected, but it is a step in that direction. Film at eleven. Actually, they don't allow filming in the Supreme Court, which is why we see those all those fancy sketches. And I doubt if we'll know more by eleven...*sigh* You know what I'm talking about.

The GOP's bloodless coup of Wake County

The rise of the mapmakers:

Despite the fact that about 30,000 more voters chose Democrats than Republicans, the Republican candidates would have ended Election Day as the dominant party in Wake County government.

The law stacks up tens of thousands of Democratic voters in a few districts, guaranteeing huge margins but fewer victories. For example, a Democratic candidate could win 80 percent of the ballots in District 4, covering southeast Raleigh, Garner and Knightdale, or 72 percent of District 2, covering central Raleigh.

While Republicans have proven to be very clever at manipulating maps to gain majorities they don't really possess, their arrogance and patently un-democratic motives are becoming more and more transparent each time they do it. And more likely to come apart under the harsh scrutiny of judicial review. This is also another prime example of the folly behind "local" bills not requiring executive review. The Governor's mansion sits square in the middle of this particular crisis, and cutting him out of the loop is a sign of terminal hubris.

Message for Wake GOP: Reagan would not approve of your gerrymandering

Especially considering you're no longer constrained by the "every-ten-years" limitation, and whip up your maps whenever you feel the urge:

Supreme Court rejects Alabama gerrymandering decision

There's more than one way to dilute someone's voting voice:

The justices split 5-4 across ideological lines in ruling that a three-judge panel did not properly consider complaints that state officials illegally packed black voters into too few voting districts. Writing for the court, Justice Stephen Breyer said the lower court should have reviewed claims of racial gerrymandering on a district-by-district level, not just statewide.

“The Alabama and North Carolina redistricting cases involve different questions of law, and legislative leaders do not believe today’s Supreme Court decision impacts the North Carolina case,” Phil Berger, N.C. Senate president pro tempore, and Tim Moore, the N.C. House speaker, said in a joint statement.

Nice try, BergerMoore. The Justices' concerns in the Alabama case, and their subsequent dissatisfaction with the lower court's ruling, are both very pertinent to North Carolina's redistricting mess. Here's an excerpt (fat pdf) from our own Supreme Court's flawed opinion allowing the districts to stand:

Mayor Vaughan speaks out on SB36

While she still has a voice to speak with:

The moment she introduced Senate Bill 36 (entitled, “An act to clarify the form of government, method of election, and determination of election results in the city of Greensboro”) state Sen. Trudy Wade ignited a fire storm. The fuel on this fire is that this act does not actually “clarify” the current method of electing the City Council; it completely changes it.

The 5-3-1 system gives the voter greater representation. The beauty of this system is that it allows every voter the opportunity to vote for a majority of the City Council. With the 7-1 format, each voter is limited to choosing only one voting member of the council — his or her district representative. That is a substantial reduction in constituent influence. The math is simple: When there is an issue before the council, do you want five people directly accountable to you or just one?

One need only look at demographics to understand why Trudy Wade is making this move: Republicans only make up 19% of registered voters in the City of Greensboro. Which makes their holding 2 out of 9 seats on the current City Council a true representation of the people. But it also makes them powerless, a position the GOP finds untenable, especially when the GOP-led General Assembly is just sitting there waiting for another opportunity to screw with local (and especially metropolitan) governments.

Wade's gerrymandering plan would quadruple-bunk sitting Council members

The conquest of Greensboro's elected government:

Wade said the current plan allows five council members to live in the same district: the district representative, three at-large members and the mayor. That situation does not exist now, but it could. But only if the voters make it happen. It’s their choice whom to elect. And nothing about the present system prevents voters from electing at-large members who live anywhere in the city. This is a non-issue.

Wade said her plan would give every voter equal representation: one district representative and the mayor. So does the present system. The difference is that the present system affords each voter more representation: a district representative, three at-large representatives and the mayor. Five members of the council are directly accountable to every voter. In Wade’s plan, only two would be.

What Trudy Wade didn't say when she made that "five council members to live in the same district" comment: Two of those five (Mayor Vaughan, Councilman Matheny) aren't even in that district yet. Wade had to get creative with the proposed map, extending a tentacle across the City to capture them. It's the same gerrymandering BS that was used to double-bunk Pricey Harrison and Maggie Jeffus, two popular and respected local House Representatives. No matter how you slice it, this plan is nothing more than a power grab. If it was in the "better interests" of the City, they wouldn't be afraid to let the voters decide.

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