Saturday, July 4, 2015

Legislative Map Wars

With the shape of legislative districts in limbo, leaders in both parties are pulling for their own elective interests and showing a partisan divide that, as always, puts politics first.

Legislative Map Wars


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

BE: What's the latest on the battle for the political soul of Pennsylvania?

JB: You must mean the fight over boundary lines for state House & Senate seats. You'll be happy to know the powers in both political parties are sticking to their long-held positions that politics comes first.

BE: Ah, good. For a moment I caught a whiff of reform after the Supreme Court tossed out a mapping plan gerrrymandered to benefit the Republicans.

JB: Fear not. The ususal stench is wafting back with the potential of multiple distractions, added taxpayer costs and plenty of work for lawyers.

BE: The Pennsylvania we know and love! Gimme the tabloid version.

JB: In true PA fashion, the high court created chaos last week by voting 4-3 to reject a legislative mapping plan without saying exactly why; then three of the seven justices took off for a conference in Puerto Rico.

BE: So nobody knows what the specific objections are and, therefore, can't make fixes until another order comes down?

JB: Bingo. Except one of the justices-in-the-sun, Max Baer (no relation), told the online news service that current boundaries, drawn up after the 2000 census, will stay in place for the 2012 elections.

BE: You don't think the fact he's a Democrat who voted against the new plan and the fact the old lines benefit Democratic candidates more than the proposed new lines would had anything to do with his vote or comment, do you?

JB: How callous of you! This is the peoples' business. The peoples' interests come first!

BE: Are you sure?

JB: Of course. Republican House Leader Mike Turzai says once the high court issues a ruling,  new maps can be made in a hurry to assure every citizen "equal representation" in the 2012 elections. House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody says any rush to a new map without public hearings, public notice and time for appeals is a "disservice to the people."

BE: Gee, you're right. They BOTH hold the public interest as their top priority.

JB: Meanwhile, angry Republicans claim Baer (no relation) violated the judicial conduct code by commenting on a case with an opnion pending; Capitolwire reports GOP House Speaker Sam Smith filed a federal lawsuit to prevent current lines from staying in effect; there's talk of having TWO primary elections to allow time to resolve the issue and, of course, cost taxpayers more; and there's every chance that however it gets resolved more lawsuits will pile up, benefitting more lawyers, and....

BE: Stop, stop. I'm getting a headache.

JB: Maybe some time in Puerto Rico would help.

BE: Grrrr.



Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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