Redistricting: The DFL Got Its Money’s Worth

Was it the money the DFL spent over the past twenty-odd years pushing for the appointment of left-leaning judges?

Was it the money they spent pressuring largely DFL and moderate GOP-controlled legislatures to confirm DFL-friendly judges?

Or was in the money the national left poured into astroturf pressure groups like “Draw The Line” and “Common Cause“, which spent years and millions putting a non-partisan, politic face on the DFL’s naked push for power at any cost?

Or was it all the money that Darth Lillehaug billed?

Who cares?  The DFL got what they needed; another ten year reprieve from irrelevancy:

Most observers surprised that lege map didn’t yield bigger Republican advantageIn the first hours and days after the state’s new redistricting maps landed at the Capitol Tuesday, the collective sense of relief among Minnesota Democrats was unmistakable. Many DFLers admitted to being pleasantly surprised by the final rendering of the state’s new political boundaries, which will help determine the outcome of elections for the next decade. “What was it Churchill said?” smiled one suburban House Democrat. “There’s nothing as exhilarating as being shot at and missed?”Republicans were not so pleased.

The piece is by Briana Biersbach at PIM, and it’s very much worth a read.

Let’s be clear here; the biggest news in the redistricting was that it didn’t reflect what most credible observers on both sides saw  as the inevitable; that rapid growth in healthy, well-run GOP-represented areas wasn’t reflected in the new map, while the mismanaged, needy, sclerotic DFL parts of the state are now disproportionally represented.

The real losers? All of you people who moved to the exurbs and central MN to get away from the DFL.

Dear East Metro: Welcome To Hell

A quick look at the redistricting map shows that the Fourth Congressional District – “represented” by Betty McCollum, the dumbest person in Congress – now extends straight east all the way down Highway 96 (?) through the parts that are now part of the Sixth.

All of you folks who moved to Woodbury, Lake Elmo, Afton and Stillwater to escape the DFL?  David Gilmour said it best; no matter how you tried, you could not break free.

That includes the city of Stillwater.  Which means it looks as if the big donnybrook the DFL wanted, pitting idiot McCollum against Mchele Bachmann, is in the cards.  Unless Michele moves a few miles north to Marine on St. Croix to stay in the Sixth.

To tell you the truth, it’s hard to say what I’d hope for.  I think it’d be fun fun fun to have Michele pull off what’d have to be an epic upset (not out of lack of her own merit, but because most of the DFL voting bloc in Saint Paul is so invincibly dim in its voting habits); it’d be even better to have her sitting as a foiuth-term incumbent with what’ll be a 20 point margin in the Sixth.

Update:  John Marty and Mary Jo McGuire will have to compete for SD66, and Mindy Greiling and Alice “The Phantom” Hausman for the new 66A.  On the other hand, my new representative-for-life is John Lesch.

Doh!  My side of the street is HD65A!  Senator Sandy “Foul-Mouthed” Pappas and Rep. Rena “The DFL Vote-Bot” Moran.

Meet the new DFL drones, same as the old DFL drones.

This Party Will Not Find You…

…but we hope you’ll find it.

It’s the “Map Party”, and it’s tonight at Poor Richards in Bloomington, starting at 7PM tonight:


View Larger Map

And the subject?  What else – today’s release of the redistricting maps, and what they mean to you, the parties, Minnesota’s political “balance” and the state at large.

The party is sponsored by a grab bag of conservative organizations, including the Northern Alliance Radio Network.

And it features an all-star panel:

  • Ken Kaiser, of the “Citizens Commission” on redistricting, who favored us with a lot of very important insights on how “Draw The Line Minnesota’s” process worked and, ultimately, didn’t work.
  • Dave Fitzsimmons, one of the GOP’s prime numbers guys
  • Rep. Sara Anderson, who led the GOP’s redistricting effort and, basically, drew the GOP’s map.
See you there at  7PM!

Calculations

We’re heading toward the big show, when it comes to redistricting; oral arguments start next week, and we’re about five weeks away from a putative decision, just in time for Minnesotans to find out what precinct they get to caucus at.

And things are still very much in flux.

Jake Grovum at Politics in Minnesota has an excellent piece that sums up the main issues involved in the redrawing of the state’s lines.

The big yak about the Legislative (and, let’s be frank, GOP) plan is that it combines all of Northern Minnesota into one big Eighth district; it lumps a bunch of conservative northwestern Minnesota in with the always-Trotskyite Iron Range.

The single northern district plan prompted howls of protest from DFLers, especially on the Iron Range, but some say the demographics may force the five-judge panel to consider exactly that kind of realignment.

“The GOP map in the northern district is something that the panel is going to take seriously,” Jacobs predicted.

The DFL would very much like to protect the DFL’s one-time sinecure, and make it (in their dreams) easier for a DFLer to retake in 2012.

But the simple fact is the state’s demographics are changing; the Range and the Twin Cities are shrinking, along with much of outstate Minnesota – and the ‘burbs and exurbs are booming.  Those are facts, found in the census.

Not in the census, or through any other empirical source, but I will bank on it being true – the DFL-dominated regions are shrinking precisely because they are DFL-dominated regions.  The Range is dying, partly because the market for steel got priced overseas back in the sixties through the eighties, and partly because the DFL has spent decades trying to kill off any surviving parts of the mining industry (although somehow apparently believing that as long as there’s a strong union, the workers will continue to get paid for being there).

And as to the Twin Cities?

The metro-area corollary to the outstate dilemma is how to best balance the booming suburbs and exurbs with a mostly stagnant, yet distinct, urban core.

And the metro area is, I suspect, an even better example of my theory; sixty years of lock-step DFL domination, fiscal profligacy and politicized social policy have sent a fair chunk of the Metro area scampering for the ‘burbs.  You can see twenty or thirty years into the future by looking at an area’s schools – and when double-digit percentages of Minnesota’s parents, especially ethnic minorities, are decamping from the metro school systems in favor of charter schools and open enrollment in the ‘burbs, that doesn’t bode well for the Cities’ futures; to paraphrase the great political scientist George Clinton, when parents free their kids minds from the metro school systems, their asses will follow.

And they’ve been following for a generation now, and it’s only accelerating.  The DFL – and their retinue of astroturf activists at Draw the Line, Common Cause MN, the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits and Take Action Minnesota – desperately want the redistricting process to ignore this, and to give disproportionate representation to areas that do not have the population to deserve it, because the people are voting with their feet.

It’s this dynamic that points to perhaps the strongest advantage for Republicans — both in congressional and legislative districts.

The demographics are in the GOP’s favor. Republican attorneys already persuaded the five-judge panel to consider a more expansive 11-county metro area rather than the traditional seven-county region.

The entire mission of groups like Draw The LIne and Common Cause is to try to prevent, or forestall, that realization.

And they don’t care how they have to torture fact to do it.

More later this week.

Redistricting: Redefining “Middle”

Minnesota’s redistricting process – mandated by constitutions all up and down the governmental food chain to reallocate our congressional and legislative representation after accounting for changing populations – usually goes a little something like this:

  1. The party in the power in the legislature draws maps that favor their desired outcome, more or less.
  2. The opposing party draws maps that favor their desired outcome, more or less.
  3. Either neither of them wins legislative approval, or the sitting governor (generally) vetoes the legislature’s final product.
  4. The process goes to the courts, which draws its own map, imposes it on the state, and leaves behind some legal precedents and pseudo-legal guidelines (“preserve communities of interest”, “keep districts compact and contiguous”, etc, etc) for the next time through the process.
  5. Lather, rinse and repeat.

And we’ve followed that basic process this time.  The GOP-controlled legislature, led by Rep. Sarah Anderson, drew up a congressional and a legislative map.  According to Kent Kaiser of the “Draw The Line Minnesota” (henceforth DTLM) “Citizen’s Commission on Redistricting” (which I”ve written about at some length in the past – about the commission’s sham nature, Kaiser’s protestations about the commission’s process and DTLM’s opacity, and in the end about the joke they played on us all), the Legislature’s map hewed pretty closely to the precedents set over the past forty years or so of court decisions on the subject.  It did seemingly create a map with four safe-ish conservative seats, three safe DFL seats, and a fairly swing-y district.  The DFL association of various non-profits checkbook advocacy groups that does all the ground work for the DFL cried foul, of course.

Wrongly, I suggest.  The parts of this state that lean DFL – Duluth, the Twin Cities, the Range – have shrunk, at least partly due to people moving away from them and to the parts that actually work.  Which are largely GOP-leaning; the exurban Metro from the third tier of ‘burbs on out, the Rochester area, the drive-through land between Maple Grove and Saint Cloud.  Places with responsible, frugal, in-their-limits municipal government and good schools.

“Draw The Line Minnesota” (DTLM) submitted its congressional and legislative maps next.

And then, finally, last week, with much ado, the DFL’s current caretaker, Ken Martin, released the DFL’s official submissions (congressional and  legislative), to a chorus of catcalls…

…from the DFL.  The plan lumped Betty McCollum and Michele Bachmann into one large (and conveniently DFL-dominated) east-metro district - without telling McCollum:

The Minnesota DFL Party submitted a congressional redistricting plan Friday that would place Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum into a district with GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann…The plan has prompted McCollum’s chief of staff to send an e-mail criticizing the proposal.

 

“The DFL Chair and his high-paid lawyers have proposed a congressional map to the redistricting panel that is hyper-partisan and bizarre,” McCollum’s chief of staff Bill Harper said in the email. “Their plan ignores the judge’s redistricting criteria and it insults established communities of interest, particularly in the Twin Cities East Metro. Congresswoman McCollum has faith in the judges on the panel to draw fair political boundaries that will serve the best interests of all Minnesotans.”

That answers the question “is Bettymac capable of thinking a thought that isn’t blessed by her party’s higher-ups, anyway.

Dave Mindeman of mnpACT wonders:

I can’t decide for sure what the DFL strategy was here. Obviously, the elimination of Bachmann from a safe district was the main goal, but alienating your solid incumbents is an unnecesary side bar. As far as numbers go, a tweak to shore up Walz and another tweak to make Cravaack a little more vulnerable would have accomplished pretty much the same split guaranteed….a 5-3 DFL majority. The DFL lines work to that 5-3 with eliminating Bachmann….the tweaking of current lines would have been a 5-3 without Cravaack.

Mindeman, like a lot of DFL pundits, accepts it as a matter of faith that they’ll beat Cravaack next fall, in much the same way that they accepted that he’d get 30% of the ballot in 2010.  But that’s not really the subject of this post.

No, it’s that I, too, wonder what the DFL’s strategy is.

And to explain the strategy, I think I’m going to refer to the newly-minted “Berg’s Twelfth Law of Hyperbolic Empiricism”.

To wit:  ”The humorous or hyperbolic explanation of “progressive” behavior is likely, in direct proportion to the recklessness, extralegality, deviance or confrontiveness of the “progressive” actions being analyzed, to be the correct explanation“.

And knowing that, the hyperbolic reason – “they are trying to release something so far removed to the left that the courts, applying their traditional Scandinavian conflict-aversion to the issue, in trying to split the difference between the DFL and Legislative plans, will find “the middle” is about as far to the left as the DFL really wanted in the first place”.

I’d put money on it.

Reality Is Conservative

Every once in a while, when I drop some factoid or another into a “debate” with a lib, I’ll wrap it with a bit of a verbal end-zone happy dance; “Sometimes”, I’ll say, “reality is just plain conservative”.

With that in mind – the five-member Judicial Redistricting Panel has ruled on the rules to be used in redistricting

…and it’s generally good news for those who support following the rules as they’ve sprung up over the past forty years or so:

For the first time, the panel said the metropolitan area should be regarded as 11 counties, not seven. As a result more exurban counties could be tied into districts in suburban and urban areas.

That was an approach Republicans favored, said Elizabeth Brama who represents the Republican party on redistricting. She said it’s unclear what effect the change will have.

“I don’t think it’s a question of one party or the other benefiting,” Brama said. “I think it’s more a question of just fairly representing where the people in the state of Minnesota live and how they organize themselves.”

Which, to be honest, is what the GOP has been shooting for all along; as Dr. Kent Kaiser has pointed out in numerous forums, the plan passed by the Legislature – really the GOP majority – did a good job of sticking to the letter and spirit of the body of law that this state has developed in its decades of sending these questions to the courts to decide.

It was the DFL that’s gone partisan; Mark Dayton vetoed the Legislature’s plan for purely partisan grounds.  (Actually, I suspect it was less “partisan” than that the unions, Alliance for a Better Minnesota and other groups that control the DFL didn’t give him permission to pass it).  And a group of groups that, by any rational measure, call at least some of the DFL’s shots – the groups behind “Draw The Line MN” - took their shot at skewing the system to favor “communities of interest” which, inevitably, are DFL constituencies.

Now, I’m going to do just a bit of place-keeping her for future debates.  I’ll add emphasis to this next bit, from Ken Martin, former head of “Win Minnesota”, one of the groups that funneled money from unions and liberals with deep pockets into the DFL’s campaign coffers, especially for their sleazy, toxic campaign against Tom Emmer last year.  He is the current chair of the DFL.

DFL party chair Ken Martin wasn’t surprised by those changes.

I think it’s pretty pro forma and certainly establishes a lot of the same principles that were in place ten years ago,” Martin said. “Again, without discussing this further with my team and being able to look at it more in detail, I can’t comment any more than that. But on the surface I think it’s fine. I don’t think it give any party an advantage over another.”

I’m emphasizing those passages now, for later.  Because you just know that if the Judicial Panel draws the lines based on these rules, the DFL and the groups that call its shots – the public employee unions, Alliance For A Better Minnesota, the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits, the League of Women Voters, Take Action Minnesota and Common Cause – will be screeching exactly the opposite, and demanding that you forget history in the bargain.

Because it’s a fairly simple thing – if you follow the rules set down in the past several court-decided apportionment decisions, the GOP should benefit; the parts of the state that support the GOP have grown, while the DFL parts have shrunk.  This represents many things – but we can not discount the fact that one of the key “communities of interest” are “people who moved to get the hell away from the cesspools the DFL has created” in the Twin Cities and Duluth.

The judical panel’s deadline to produce a redistricting map is February 21.

Draw The Line’s Redistricting Commission: A Fair Trial Followed By A Swift Execution

We’ve been talking for quite a while now about the activities of “Draw The Line Minnesota“, part of a chain of astroturf pressure groups being established across the Midwest to put pressure on the redistricting process.

My prediction a few months back, when “Draw The Line” started pitching its game to the usual fawning suspects in the media: there would be an elaborate show of “multipartisanship” for the media to show to the world – sort of like the Congress of Soviets in the old USSR.  Then, “Draw The Line” would release the maps – elaborately gerrymandered maps, which would favor the DFL to an absurd degree – that they were going to release all along.

So far, I’m batting about 1000.

Well, OK – about .800.  I didn’t bank on “Draw The Line” getting a squeaky wheel like Kent Kaiser into the mix.  A few weeks ago, he wrote a letter to the Judicial Redistricting Board pointing out that the bipartisan “Citizens’ Commission” was a sham – a group of well-meaning, earnest people who were being used as window-dressing for a conclusion, and a redistricting solution, that’d been decided in a locked back room well out of public view, and which was a gerrymandered DFL-centric abomination.

But the wheel has indeed squeaked.  Last night on “The Late Debate” (as reported by Gary Gross at LFR), Kaiser took on “Draw The Line” again:

Prof. Kaiser made news by telling the listeners that Common Cause MN were distancing themselves from the Citizen Commission because 2 of the members, Prof. Kaiser and Anne Mason, were Republicans.

That clearly violates one of the top two priorities listed on DTL-Minnesota’s website:

“The campaign seeks to create a better redistricting process in Minnesota that uses the following principles:

1. The redistricting process should be independent and nonpartisan, to minimize the influence of elected officials and political parties in creating districts to their own political advantage.

2. The redistricting process should be transparent to the public”

As Gross pointed out, the commissioners did try to do the job as advertised – something for which I didn’t credit them in advance:

Actually, the Citizens Commission tried living up to both principles. DTL-Minnesota’s powers-that-be corrupted the process, first by making the Commission a partisan effort, then by having Linden Wieswerda draw the redistricting maps, then embargoing the maps until they were filed with the Special Panel on Redistricting.

So if you take Kaiser at his word – and I do – even Common Cause is giving up on the fiction so consistently aped by the media that the “Citizens’ Commission” is anything but window-dressing.

So let’s step through the chronology:

  1. The Minnesota Legislature passed a redistricting plan – drawn largely entirely by Republicans (which is one of the prerogatives of winning), but which met the letter and spirit of the body of redistricting law that has sprung up around this process over the past forty years or so.
  2. Governor Dayton – notwithstanding the fact that the DFL had no counterproposal – vetoed the Legislature’s map, sending it to the courts.
  3. A group of left-”leaning” groups – Common Cause, the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits, the League of Women Voters and Take Action Minnesota – propped up “Draw The Line Minnesota” (DTL).
  4. DTL formed the “Citizens’ Commission”, a 15 member panel with two identified Republicans, intended to take “public feedback”.  This, they did.
  5. DTL also deployed some cool web toys, allowing pretty much anyone to try to draw their own redistricting map…
  6. …which, as we later found, was more or less the equivalent of giving noisy kids in the back of the car a coloring book so they’ll shut up on a long trip.  DTL, notwithstanding all its talk of “transparency”, hired a longtime DFLer to draw its real maps, in secret, and embargoed until the deadline to hand them over to the judicial panel.  The “Commission”‘s feedback was basically a sham.

I think it’s interesting; when I appeared with “Common Cause Minnesota’s” Mike Dean on “The Late Debate”, I invited him onto the NARN;  he had been palavering for the previous two hours about the need for multipartisanship, after all.  His response – I published “Fairy Tales” about “Common Cause”.  (I admittedly erred in the actual source of some of the organization’s funding, and in the scope of one IRS 990 form I produced – which didn’t change the ideology behind their money one iota).

As we can see now, Dean was committing an instance of Berg’s Seventh Law of Liberal Projection: “When a Liberal issues a group defamation or assault on conservatives’ ethics, character or respect for liberty or the truth, they are at best projecting, and at worst drawing attention away from their own misdeeds

Who’s telling fairy tales, now?

The Potemkin Commission, Part III: In The Bag

Yesterday, we talked about the main body of Kent Kaiser’s long, scathing letter (provided in its entirety below the jump) to the judicial redistricting panel.   In the first part, I covered his commentary about the map that “Draw The Line” and its “Citizens Commission” released.

Today – Kaiser’s comments about the commission, and about “Draw The LIne” itself. Emphasis is added.

Beyond my concerns about having only one, minimally critiqued map to consider, I have other concerns about Draw the Line, having to do mainly with the credibility and transparency of the commission’s products. As one of only two “known” Republicans (the other besides me being Anne Mason) on the commission of 15 members, I constantly stressed the need to verify that everything done by the commission was done in a nonpartisan way. Such verification was never made possible, and I really believe such verification was necessary in order to ensure the integrity of our deliberations.

And Kaiser pointed out exactly what I did a few weeks back; the “Citizens’ Commission” is nothing but a thin layer of astroturf on “Draw The Line”‘s leadership’s centralized push for a DFL-friendly gerrymandering job.

Kaiser brings up a number of points…:

My concerns about our commission’s credibility are grounded by several points and are shared by other commission members who have spoken with me individually.

• I believe the political leanings of some involved with and directing the actions of Draw the Line were problematic. The involvement of TakeAction Minnesota was of particular concern to me. TakeAction Minnesota is a liberal interest group that spent almost $200,000 on Independent Expenditures in 2010 against Republicans or in support of Democrats. The involvement of Common Cause was also of concern to me. While Common Cause supposedly stepped back from involvement with our commission once it was started, it is difficult to believe that there was no influence. Even the involvement of the League of Women Voters, with its liberal policy agenda, was of concern to me.

So Kaiser also notes the “commision’s” bias.

• There was a great deal of cross-pollination among these liberal special interest groups but no attempt to cross-pollinate with conservative groups. I do not believe that the appointment of a couple of known conservatives to the commission for the purpose of window dressing suffices in providing a balance or a cross-check.

As I noted in my earlier piece, on the Northern Alliance, and on “The Late Debate” – Kaiser and Mason are indeed Republicans and conservatives – and provided only the faintest waft of “balance” to a group, and a process, that was suffused in every other way with “progressives” and their agenda.

• In addition, I think it is problematic that the people doing the real work for the Panel’s consumption did not represent the political diversity of our state. David Wheeler, the program coordinator, is a former Duluth City Council member and is currently an elected member of the Minneapolis Board of Estimate and Taxation, who was endorsed for political office by numerous DFLers including Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, State Senator Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis), Duluth Mayor Don Ness and several Minneapolis city councilmembers. In addition, the mapping specialist who was hired at the last minute (Linden Weiswerda) and whom we originally thought was independent and nonpartisan turns out to have worked for President Obama’s campaign in 2008. Here, the staff clearly missed an opportunity to provide a sort of check-and-balance within our process—they easily could have found a Republican-leaning mapping specialist.

• While our mapmaker was a undoubtedly a hardworking individual, he ultimately had to make decisions on Draw the Line’s legislative map that the majority of our commissioners did not have time to examine, change, or weigh in on. Decisions about how to draw the map, about what criteria to emphasize in drawing the map, and about publicity and messaging about the map were determined heavily behind the scenes, by staff. Commission members were asked in a hurried way to consider and approve materials. Several of us had a “trust, but verify” attitude about the arrangement, thinking that there would be an opportunity to get independent verification that the numbers used to determine political indices of the final map were legitimate, yet there ultimately was no opportunity for verification of the work.

Remember – “Draw the LIne” and its apologists tell you that they are all about “transparency”.  And yet the proof was in the pudding.  And the process Kaiser describes is about as transparent as pudding.

Even when our map and report were set, they were “embargoed” until [Friday, October 21], the very last minute to send materials to the Panel, and thus they were not open to public comment, scrutiny, or criticism. This was especially problematic, I think, for a process that was billed as being transparent—it clearly was not transparent.

Kaiser’s conclusion?

I also hope that the map put forward by our commission, as compelling and interesting as its pictorial nature might make it, does not have undue influence in the Panel’s deliberations, for it and the method by which is was developed deserve to be scrutinized in ways that they have not been to this point.

Again, I urge the Panel to reject the map submitted by Draw the Line because the map drawing process was secretive and flawed and ultimately resulted in a poor map.

So a “non-partisan” group “dedicated” to “transparancy” created a redistricting plan that was none of the above, and created a potemkin “commission” to reduce the stench of illegitimacy.

This whole charade should outrage anyone of either party who values genuine multi-partisan discussion of redistricting. .

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The Potemkin Commission, Part II: Transparency Is For Peasants

A few weeks ago, I noted that “Draw The Line Minnesota” – a liberal astroturf group floated by fellow liberal astroturf groups Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, Take Action Minnesota and the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits, but which nonetheless protests that it is “non-partisan”- had convened a “Citizens Commission” to take public testimony on redistricting.

Kent Kaiser, one of the members of that commission, is speaking up.  In a letter sent to the judicial Special Redistricing Panel, Kaiser notes the Potemkin nature of the “citizens commission” and, much more importantly, hammers the lack of “transparency” in a process run by a bunch of groups who support “transparency for ye, but not for we”.

The full letter is displayed below the jump.  I’m going to pull some money quotes, and add a bit of emphasis.

Kaiser cuts to the chase fast.  Many critics of the “Draw The Line” process have noted that it served, essentially, as the DFL’s map-drawing process (which, by the way, the DFL never actually did; the DFL caucus submitted no map proposal, despite having a fully-budgeted redistricting office).

Kaiser points out that that seems to be the case:

 Based on my experiences with Draw the Line over the past several months, I urge the Panel to reject the map submitted to the Panel by Draw the Line because the map drawing process was secretive and flawed and ultimately resulted in a partisan map that fails to reflect the objective demographic shifts that have occurred in Minnesota over the past decade. I think that because of its high number of incumbent legislator pairings and because it pairs only Republican members of Congress, the map is too likely to benefit the Democratic Party.

And “Draw The Line’s palaver about “transparency?”:

I am especially concerned that we commission members were not allowed sufficient time or access to the map to critique it objectively or to determine its implications before we were led to approve it..

…While I believe our commission did good work in agreeing on a set of principles for redistricting and in trying to get the public involved in the process, I am concerned that the process used in producing a map was ultimately no better than the State Legislature’s process. I know that I am not the only commission member to think this way.

Bear in mind that Kaiser wasn’t condemning the Legislature’s process; on “The Late Debate” a few weeks ago, he noted that the Legislture’s map adhered to the letter and spirit of the body of law that’s grown up around redistricting in the past forty-odd years in Minnesota.

Not to speak for Kaiser – he does that just fine himself – but I think the point is that for all “Draw The Line”‘s rhetoric, they are really just another partisan effort – and, in this case, one that actually yielded nakedly partisan results:

In a documented email sent to all commission members and staff, another commission member (of unknown political affiliation) voiced concern over the commission’s process, when he was stifled from discussing map alternatives in the last of our meetings. I quote directly from the email here:

The quote is in the full email; it notes that the “Draw The Line” map was, in short, pretty blatantly gerrymandered and, more importantly, was completely at odds with what “Draw The Line” claimed was the “Citizen’s Commission”‘s purported mission; they delivered one map:

‘ With one map, the committee had only one choice. That, of course, is not a choice. And the false claim that it was a committee drawn or even a committee guided map, I could not in good conscious endorse…

I’ve been calling it “the Potemkin Commission”.  That may have been unfair – but it’s pretty clear that the map is a Potemkin Map, delivered under false, trumped-up pretenses.

Despite the committee’s purported dedication to be open and transparent, the  most important part of the map drawing process—the map drawing itself—was notably not open and not transparent, even to the committee members. It was

done in private, “behind closed doors” as Draw the Line’s website puts it, by one or two persons with occasional contributions by some committee members. This is no improvement over the legislature.

The result speaks for itself. The committee’s website says the system is broken. The map the committee ultimately endorsed is substantially similar to the map that the broken process produced ten years ago. That is a severe indictment against the committee’s work in the committee’s own terms.

All of “Draw The Line”‘s talk of “transparency” and “openness” is so much baked wind.

Kaiser continues:

Maps are captivating. They are impressive and persuasive just by virtue of their pictorial nature. Yet our commission has said time and time again, and especially after analyzing our map’s high number of “pairings” of legislators, that our principles could fit many maps, and I hope the Panel will not be persuaded that our commission’s map is the best at applying our own principles, especially inasmuch as it was rushed through production and exposed to little critique or tweaking.

And – let us not forget – painstakingly hidden from public view until the last possible moment, which was last Friday, the deadline for submission to the courts.

More tomorrow.

Gary Gross also writes about Kaiser’s letter.

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