Wednesday, August 12, 2015

"Crimes Against Cartography" -- Record Editorial Correctly Skewers Right-Wing Legislature's Unconstitutional Gerrymandering

Editiorial: Lawmakers protest 'transparency' in Round 3
Posted: August 11, 2015 - 11:16pm

Perhaps the best thing one might say about the 2015 legislative year in Florida is that lawmakers may be earning their paychecks this time around.
The first special session was necessary because of an intra-party tiff among Republicans over federal health dollars. The House of Representatives walked out of session prior to its end, and the Senate sued to make them come back.
This week, we begin a second special session — this because Republican lawmakers attempted to stack the district voting deck in their favor and got caught by the Florida Supreme Court. It took them behind the Capitol woodshed and ordered them into a do-over session to comply with state law. They seemed to be surprised by the order: “Who ... us?”
But that was after lawmakers in both the House and Senate spent $8.1 million (and counting) combined hiring outside attorneys to defend against the lawsuit filed by the Women’s League of Voters. League president Deirdre McNabb termed it a wasteful attempt to “fight the will of the people.”
Just when you thought it couldn’t get much nuttier on the part of our Republican lawmakers, it did.
On opening day of the session Monday, as reported by the Miami Herald, two Republican party officials and several party lawmakers opened the proceedings by accusing the Florida Supreme Court, believe it or not, of “violating the legislature’s First Amendment rights by requiring it to justify its map-drawing decisions in an open and transparent way.”
“Saturday Night Live” could not have come up with something like this. What’s strange, too, is Democrats are being eerily silent while all this theater unfolds. We would think they’d be printing bumper stickers saying something like “Will of the people? They’re just constituents.” Or “$8.1 million for (our own) defense, but not a penny for taxpayer tribute.”
And it’s appearing more likely that Floridians may see a fourth legislative session later in the year. The Florida Senate is now taking seriously the notion that the same factors that the Supreme Court used to reject congressional boundaries will also result in a thumbs-down on Senate lines as well.
Miami Republican Jose Oliva, who is heading the House redistricting committee in this new session, told the Herald, “One could say that since the court has returned the congressional maps to us twice, there is reason to believe a Senate map could be returned as well.”
The talk is that leaders in both chambers are meeting privately to discuss getting ahead of the game by killing a couple of birds with one stone and proactively redrawing Senate maps before the courts do it for them.
But that might make a little too much sense for 2015. It may be a little too cost-effective for conservative Republican lawmakers who remain tight-fisted with taxpayer money except, it seems, when it’s being spent to defend their very own crimes against cartography.

No comments: