Let me start by acknowledging that I am a skeptical person.
While this sometimes manifests as simple contrarianism, I feel like it has also led to a hypersensitive BS detector.
That being said... I see some problems with the proposed "Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission" in the North Carolina General Assembly.
For starters, it blocks anybody from being appointed if they have any tangential connection to politics. It's easy to understand why this is attractive to people who think an undefined "fair map" is easily attained and will create a better political environment. After all, you want to remove politics from the process, so you have to remove people who have engaged in politics, right?
That's what California did.
The result was a commission that included, among others, a farmer, a homemaker, a sports doctor and an architect. Previous redistrictings had been executed by political pros with intimate knowledge of California’s sprawling political geography. The commissioners had little of that expertise — and one of their first acts was to deprive themselves of the data that might have helped them spot partisan manipulation.
The law creating the commission barred it from considering incumbents’ addresses, and instructed it not to draw districts for partisan reasons.
The commissioners decided to go further, agreeing not to even look at data that would tell them how prospective maps affected the fortunes of Democrats or Republicans. This left the commissioners effectively blind to the sort of influence the Democrats were planning.
One of the mapping consultants working for the commission warned that it would be difficult to competently draft district lines without party data. She was overruled.
The lack of political data was “liberating,” said Forbes, the commissioner. “We had no one to please except ourselves, based on our best judgment.”
“I think,” he said, “we did a pretty good job.”
The commission’s judgments on how to draw lines, Forbes and others said, was based on the testimony from citizens about communities of interest.
North Carolina's proposal is similar in barring people with political experience who would likely be better equipped to "spot partisan manipulation."
No person shall be eligible for appointment to the Commission if any of the following apply:
(1)Within five years immediately prior to appointment, the individual, or a relative of the individual, has done any of the following:
a.Been appointed to, elected to, or been a candidate for any elective public office, or been appointed to a State board or commission.
b.Served as an officer or executive committee member of a political party, or as an officer, paid employee, or paid consultant of a candidate's campaign committee.
c. Been a lobbyist registered under Chapter 120C of the General Statutes.
(2) The individual is an employee of the General Assembly or Congress, or is a consultant or is under contract with the General Assembly or Congress.
(3)The individual has a financial relationship with the Governor.
So, if your step-brother was appointed to a state commission down east, you're not allowed on the commission.
If you were a member of your local party's executive committee (which can be a very large body in some counties) in the past five years, you're out.
At least the NC proposal doesn't bar people who simply donated to a candidate.
The law prohibits districts be drawn in a few ways. The commission shall not:
(1) Draw a district for the purpose of favoring a political party, incumbent legislator or member of Congress, or other person or group.
(2) Draw a district for the purpose of augmenting or diluting the voting strength of a language or racial minority group.
(3) Make any use of any of the following:
a.Political affiliations of registered voters.
b.Previous election results.
c.Demographic information, other than population headcounts.
d.The location of incumbents'residences.
Maybe prohibiting maps that favor a "person or group" means the commission would not be permitted to use "communities of interest" - which is how California Democrats corrupted the process after the 2010 Census.
It's hard to know, because the NC law prioritizes compact districts that aim to keep city and county boundaries, and existing voting districts intact.
Ignoring "communities of interest" would seem to represent a sea change in redistricting.
According to civics textbooks, the aim of redistricting is to group “communities of interest” so that residents in a city, neighborhood or ethnic group wield political power by voting together. The [California] commission took an expansive view of this concept, ultimately defining a “community of interest” as anything from a neighborhood to workers on the same commute, or even areas sharing “intense beach recreation.”
This gave savvy players an opening to draw up maps that benefited one party or incumbent and then find — or concoct — “communities of interest” that justified them.
By the way, one of the key players in the corruption of the California process was Democrat attorney Marc Elias - who has inserted himself into various North Carolina lawsuits filed by leftist groups aimed at winning back power here.
Maybe it's my skepticism, but I don't think NC will be immune from this kind of influence... particularly when Democrats have already created a national organization aimed at doing exactly that.
Pete's Prep: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019
- The Carolina Journal has put together a timeline of the controversy over Gov. Roy Cooper's Atlantic Coast Pipeline deal.
- An 81-year old New Jersey man was assaulted for wearing a MAGA hat. Has anyone else noticed how frequent this kind of story is occurring? I wonder what the reaction would be if people wearing the pink hats were getting attacked as often...
- The latest survey of downtown Asheville residents and business owners finds they want more parking, better sidewalks and walkability, cleanliness, and improved public safety... without any increase in property taxes. The Citizen-Times has the story.
- From HotAir: The Democrats' Green New Deal would cost between $52 and $94 trillion. The annual US budget is about $4 trillion.