Fair is foul and foul Is fair
I know quoting
Shakespeare's "Macbeth" when starting a blog post on the recent
redistricting of the Indianapolis City-County Council maps
Council mapsmight seem a bit odd, but trust me on this one. It will
make perfect sense when I am done.
First, you have to
understand the line. Not to turn into your 11th grade British Literature
teacher, but in so many words it means things can be the opposite of what they
appear. Such as it is with the recently approved CCC maps. I can
say this because not only have I studied the maps and the data they are based
upon, but I also have the dubious honor of being the only person in Marion County
who attended every public hearing on the maps, the CCC committee and full
Council meeting where the maps were approved.
In a nutshell, new
maps have to be approved every 10 years because of the changing populations due
to the census. New council districts have to be drawn and as close to
equal population as possible. Ten years ago, Democratic Mayor Bart
Peterson and the Republican council couldn't agree on maps so the Indiana Supreme Court
Supreme Courtended up drawing them. This time around Republicans
drew the maps in hopes that Republican Mayor Greg Ballard
Greg Ballardwill approve them.
Democrats have cried foul, arguing the maps are gerrymandered to favor Republicans,
they violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965
state law says the maps must be drawn in 2012.
my Democratic friends, those arguments hold about as much water as a bucket
with a giant hole in the bottom. You see, instead of drawing a map that looked
like a giant Rorschach test which diluted Democratic voting strength and
impaired minority voting powers, the maps not only meet the legal requirements
set down by the state and federal governments and doubles the amount of
minority participation by creating six Council districts with minority
populations of more than 50% and two with more than 45%; one of them is 24%
In addition, based
on the 2010 Recorder's race numbers the maps at best
create 10 districts each where Democrats and Republicans have a baseline of 55%
of the voters and 5 districts which could be considered competitive. If
you increase that number to 60% baseline, Democrats actually do better than
The Districts aren't
straight squares anymore, they look more like rectangles. However, don't
forget that when the Indiana Supreme Court drew the maps 10 years ago there
were about 900 precincts, now there are 600. I would also point out that
in 2001 when new maps were drawn, then Mayor Bart Peterson spent about $170,000 on
the process, adjusted for inflation in today's dollars that would be about
$210,000. The contract to draw these maps was for about $225,000, and
that included drawing new precincts which had to be done by law.
So let's do a quick
recap, we have new CCC maps, which are competitive, don't dilute minority
voting rights, but instead increases them, they protect communities of interest
and were done at a cost slightly more than what was done 10 years ago when
adjusted for inflation. As far the maps being drawn in 2012, if I were
the Mayor I would sign them on the morning of January 1 before my term expired
and that would be the end of that discussion.
What was the
problem again? Ah, I know, Democrats were expecting Republicans to draw
maps that were heavily in the GOP's favor, but it didn't happen. Instead
that got maps that were legal, fair, competitive and increased minority
representation. So when I hear them complain about the new maps, I
immediately think of a line from another Shakespeare play, "they doth
protest too much, methinks."
Shabazz is an attorney, the editor of IndyPolitics.Org
and a frequent political analyst for RTV 6.