Friday, March 11, 2005

The $1.5 million map.

As expected, the Republican House approved re-redistricting.

The cost to Georgia is at least $1.5 million, and that will rise in the legal proceedings that will undoubtedly follow. Notably, the same Republicans who would pass that cost to Georgia are the very Republicans who faulted Attorney General Thurbert Baker for defending the original map in court - because the $60,000 expense was too much. Do you think they'd mind if he followed their advice in this case?

Elsewhere, the Democrats are showing a surprising ability to tie this re-redistricting into other, equally as unsavory Republican practices. With respect to open government:

Minority Whip Carolyn Hugley of Columbus countered that the map Franklin voted out of his committee within 90 seconds of its introduction was drawn on the home computer of a staff member for 8th District U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland. It would change a congressional map already cleared by federal courts, she said.
"This is making a sham of fairness," Hugley said. "This is closed government at work."
[Minority Leader Dubose] Porter said Democrats took the maps into the public for hearings and passed the maps to comply with required reapportionment under a new census. The proposed change has had no input from the public and is being done "for no reason other than the arrogance of partisanship," he said.

With respect to jobs:

Majority Leader Dubose Porter of Dublin said the proposed changes, coming when 13 military bases in Georgia are coming under scrutiny of the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission, would weaken Georgia's position by removing military posts from the districts of key lawmakers, including Republican U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, who would no longer have Robins Air Force Base in his district.

With respect to race:

. . . . Black lawmakers trouped to the well to oppose the redistricting proposal, condemning it as a violation of the one-man, one-vote principle and a violation of provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus, said the voting strength of African-Americans is clearly diluted for political purposes in some districts, because black Georgians traditionally vote Democratic more than Republican.
Rep. David Lucas, D-Macon, said the new 8th District was drawn to keep former U.S. Rep. Mac Collins from running against Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2006, with the rest of the districts consolidating blacks to make the goal of electing Republicans more attainable.
"You cannot sugarcoat it -- it's about race," Lucas said of the new maps.