Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Livingston County chooses new commissioner districts

New Livingston County Commissioner Districts



Yesterday was the day that the Livingston County Redistricting Committee chose its maps. There were six maps under consideration. The map chosen was "Map 5." It was definitely not a unanimous vote and it was a quite contentious ending to the process. Here was my recap of the 2nd meeting which has some comments by the democrat representative of the committee as well as a recent comment  from someone with republican leanings who was obviously there.

The Argus had reports there.:

A redistricting committee approved a map with new Livingston County Board of Commissioners districts Tuesday, but local Democrats alleged the plan is partisan and expect to appeal.

The five-member committee approved the map 4-1, with Jordan Genso, the lone Democrat, voting against it. The map has nine commissioner districts, which is the same number as the existing map. It was created and submitted by Brighton Township Treasurer Lana Theis, chairwoman of the county’s Republican Party.

“There should be an appeal,” Genso said after the meeting.
He called the outcome “blatant partisan reapportionment.”

I'll get to the partisan claims and appeals in a minute. The dems chances at winning are slim at best.

Dane Morris, a former Democratic candidate for the county board, said the map approved maintains the nine commissioner seats and doesn’t pit one of the all-Republican commissioners against another one.

“That’s the reason this plan was adopted,” Morris said.

So what? Why should the board be forced pit comissioners against one another? Dane, you and the others failed to defeat any of them in 2010, or the democrat years of 2006 and 2008 for that matter. This included the marginal republican districts which are winnable for dems under the right circumstances (for them).

I spoke in favor of Map 1, which was very similar to the current maps. It was my first choice despite the township breaks because it classified areas by the regions and did not have the potential of reps living 20 miles away from their constituents. I also did not want to see incumbent commissioners have to duke it out in incumbent v incumbent primaries. Map 1 satisfied both of my concerns. There was one map I was concerned would be passed (Map 4). I did not see the latest map from the democrats (Map 6) until after I spoke.  The committee preferred Map 5 which was the "republican map", which was pretty good outside of one district. Map 5 was good at limiting the number of townships broken.

As for Jordan's claim about "blatant partisan reapportionment" and the appeals process, which I saw coming from the cell phone recordings, here's the standard from Clinton County's 1991 redistricting.

Petitioners claim that the four-way division of DeWitt Township is designed for partisan political purposes, to dilute Democratic Party voting strength. However, at oral argument it was conceded that there is effectively no Democratic political strength throughout the county and, in fact, the adopted plan represents only minor adjustments from the plan adopted in 1982, to account for a two percent increase in population during the decade. Other than petitioners' naked claim, no evidence has been presented to this panel that satisfactorily proves that the division of DeWitt Township accomplishes, in fact, a partisan political advantage, whatever its motivation.

Where's the democrat strength in Livingston County? Going back at least to 2000, neither Al Gore, John Kerry, nor Barack Obama did not win a single commissioner district. Keep in mind, this is a county commission map. The last democrat to win a county commissioner district was Jake Donohue in the 80's/90's, a highly respected moderate from the SW corner of the county. His district was replaced by a republican. Where's the big stronghold? A couple of precincts far apart. Right now, they are trailing 9-0 in a county that hasn't gone democrat countywide at any level since I believe Frank Kelley in 1990.

The other part which wasn't covered as much in the paper was the fight being over one extra township break. The commission does not have to chose the "best plan," just a good plan.

We agree with respondents that neither the state or federal constitution nor the holding in Apportionment of Wayne Co Bd of Comm'rs -- 1982, 413 Mich 224; 321 NW2d 615 (1982), either singly or in combination, compels an apportionment commission to adhere to any preordained method in devising an apportionment plan. It is the final plan as adopted, and not the intermediate steps, with which this Court must concern itself under MCL 46.406; MSA 5.359(6).

We are likewise of the opinion that Wayne Co Apportionment -- 1982 does not impose a "best plan" test as advocated by petitioners. Under such a test, a plan which had been adopted and which meets threshold constitutional and statutory standards nevertheless would have to be rejected by this Court if a competing plan more closely approaches perfection.

We think the Michigan Supreme Court was fully aware when it rendered that decision that a "best plan" review standard would be a prescription for perpetual litigation. The United States Supreme Court has recognized that reapportionment by its nature involves "fundamental choice about the nature of representation" in what is "primarily a political and legislative process." Gaffney v Cummings, supra, 412 U.S. 747. A reviewing court, in determining whether a plan "meets the requirements of the laws of this state," MCL 46.406; MSA 5.359(6), must allow the political organs to whom the redistricting task has been delegated some scope for the "exercise of judgment," and a plan that represents a "reasonable choice in the reasoned exercise of judgment" must be sustained, Wayne Co Apportionment -- 1982, supra, 413 Mich 264, notwithstanding that a marginally better plan might be devised. Otherwise, the courts would be involved in the never ending process of litigation every time "a resourceful mind hits upon a plan better than the Master's by a fraction of a percentage point." Gaffney v Cummings, supra, 412 U.S. 750-751.

That's what the dems have to get overturned or at least distinguished if they are going to appeal this on "partisanship" grounds. In other words, tough scheisse. It's the same thing the dems are doing to us in Washtenaw County, Ingham County, Wayne County and at least attempting to do in Oakland County. Elections have consequences, and that cuts in all directions.

Personally, I hope they appeal and waste the Union Leadership's money.

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