Laugh lines

(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)

BE: Hey, JB, I see the Legislative Reapportionment Commission approved new state House and Senate district lines for the next decade.

JB: You betcha. Here's an Inky story. And you'll be shocked, SHOCKED to learn that the plan, controlled by Republicans, was approved by a partisan 3-2 vote with Republicans in favor and Democrats against.

BE: Wait, wait, you're not suggesting the post-census, every-10-year requirement to make our representation more representative by adjusting district lines to fit population changes is a POLITICAL exercise?

JB: Ha! Good one, boss.

BE: What possible evidence is there of that?

JB: Well, let's look at Harrisburg. Veteran incumbent GOP Sen. Jeff Piccola, whose current district includes the Democratic city of Harrisburg and who angered the city by pushing hard for a state takeover, suddenly has a new district that wraps around the city like a horseshoe.

BE: The areas outside of and around Harrisburg are Republican. So that makes Piccola's reelection much easier.

JB: Not much gets by you, does it?

BE: But certainly the overall intent is always to achieve the best possible representation for each area's population.

JB: Sure. Just like last time when former GOP state House powerhouse John Perzel re-shaped his northeast Philly district to exclude the home of Democrat Mark Chilutti who almost beat him in the election prior to the last redistricting.

BE: You make it sound like ALL this stuff is about incumbency protection.

JB: And laugh lines. Senate GOP Leader Dominic Pileggi, a commission member, said, apparently with a straight face, the plan "addresses population shifts." Democratic Senate Leader Jay Costa said, "It was a raw, politically partisan exercise."

BE: Hmmm. So they disagree?

JB: HA! HA! There you go again, cutting right through the subtle nuance of the issue.

BE: What happens next?

JB: Well, there's a 30-day period for public comment and there's a hearing on the plan Nov. 18. There are few glitches. Republicans "accidently" moved the home of Pittsburgh Democratic Rep. Adam Ravenstahl -- brother of Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl -- into a district where he doesn't live. But Republicans say it was an honest mistake that they'll fix.

BE: That's pretty funny.

JB: That's what it's all about. Whichever party has the power whenever the lines get redrawn always make sure we get at least a few good laugh lines. Grrr!

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