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

might 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

ended up drawing them. This time around Republicans

drew the maps in hopes that Republican Mayor

Greg Ballard

will 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.

Unfortunately for

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%

Hispanic.

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

Republicans.

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."

------------------

Abdul-Hakim

Shabazz is an attorney, the editor of IndyPolitics.Org

and a frequent political analyst for RTV 6.

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