Friday, August 28, 2015

Redistricting rejection is good news

So says a DN editorial:

Redistricting rejection is good news

Challenges to the state´s redistricting map included allegations that it is too politically partisan, and is designed to benefit Republicans. (Photo illustration)
Challenges to the state's redistricting map included allegations that it is too politically partisan, and is designed to benefit Republicans. (Photo illustration)

So says a DN editorial:

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has yet to explain its surprising ruling that overturns the state legislative redistricting plan created last month that had faced 11 formal challenges.

The ruling is good news. It would be even better if the court's explanation of the ruling addresses the inherent flaws in the redistricting process - flaws which, as voters who witnessed the city's recent councilmanic redistricting process know - are not limited to the state.

The challenges to the state's map included allegations that the map - required every 10 years following the census - is too politically partisan, and is designed to benefit Republicans.

The charge that the map is political is not so much a challenge, but a foregone conclusion, at least based on how the redistricting plan gets done in this state.

Essentially, the majority party holds the upper hand in drawing the legislative district lines. Four of the five members of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission are the majority and minority leaders of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, with a fifth person chosen by the majority leaders. The current commission picked a Republican.

Whether or not the court will object to the blatant favoring of Republicans in the new plan, the point is that the process is seriously dysfunctional - and not just because it is partisan, but because it puts redistricting in the control of the people who will benefit most - not the voters.

(To underscore how screwed up the state map is, one of the formal challenges came from Jay Costa, minority-party member of the commission.)

It doesn't have to be this way. More than a dozen states have moved toward a nonpartisan redistricting commission. This year, the city's efforts were enhanced by a public contest, spearheaded by the local software firm Azavea, which gave citizens a technological tool to draw more logical district lines. (The Daily News participated in this effort.)

In its white paper on redistricting, Azavea offers compelling cases that illuminate what is at stake, and why voters should care. In one example, "one potential candidate who had stated his intention to challenge an incumbent Senator found that his house had been redrawn into a different district."

In another case, "community members had organized to oppose a state representative who had sold local farmland to be transformed into a landfill, posing a threat to his re-election chances. In the final version of the redistricting plan, the township where the agitators were concentrated had been transplanted to a neighboring district." 

We doubt that the court's objections will address this process, but voters should. Both and League of Women Voters and Common Cause ( pa) could use help working on this.

Follow us on Twitter and review city services on our sister site, City Howl.

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog
Every year, city government spends slightly more than $4 billion. Where does all that money come from? More importantly, where does it go? Are we getting the most bang for our tax buck? “It's Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, designed to answer these questions.

It's Our Money contributors

Tips? Comments? Questions?

Holly Otterbein:

It's Our Money
Also on
letter icon Newsletter