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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Map work

The Redistricting Committee will take three or four maps on the road next week:

Map A, Map I, Map J, and possibly Map G . (Maps require a free PDF reader to view.)

Maps I or J are probably the favorites. The front runner may be Map J, a bipartisan proposal, crafted with Senate Democrats.

25 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are the Democrats serious with Map G? That is the most ridiculous map I have ever seen. Why would we ask one Congressman to represent 24 counties while the other 3 represent 5.

That is totally and utterly ridiculous and asinine.

11/21/2006 11:21 PM  
Blogger Voice of Utah said...

Unlike the other plans, such as Plan J, in which one district has 16 counties and another one has 1.5 or 2 counties? It seems rather silly (if not "totally and utterly ridiculous and asinine") to criticize a map based purely on the number of counties encompassed, given the population of varying counties. I just wish the actual drawing of these maps would be done in public, rather than closed sessions. Then we would know whether political data is in fact being mentioned during the process.

11/22/2006 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any map which has Congressman Matheson representing me is a good map. Any map that gives Lavar Christensen a chance to get elected without moving to Nebo County is a bad map.

Sincerely,

A Concerned Citizen in South Salt Lake County.

11/22/2006 12:14 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

I don't like Plan G at all. A district that covers virtually all of the state except for the Ogden/SLC/Provo areas does not make sense. Southern, soutwestern, southeastern, central, western, eastern, and far north Utah all have different needs. A district that emcompasses all of these areas simply does not make sense. Also, can you imagine trying to meet constituents or campaigning in such a geographically large area?

11/22/2006 12:32 PM  
Blogger The Senate Site said...

Anonymous #1:

C'mon now, don't be shy. No need to hold back. Tell us how you really feel.

11/22/2006 12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anyone notice that the plan G offered by Democrats conveniently has Cannon and Bishop in the same district while providing Matheson a "safe" district?

What would have happened if Republicans had attempted to place Matheson in a district with Bishop or Cannon. One that Matheson could not possibly win, while at the same time providing others with safe "R" districts. Wouldn't we immediately hear the D's crying foul?

With all of the D's talking about R partisanship, it's too bad they don't walk the walk, but rather, with their PR firm, the Salt Lake Tribune, they sure like to talk the talk. The problem is their cheap talk is pure hypocrisy.

11/22/2006 9:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous #2:

Where in the State is Nebo County? You must be a D educated by UEA in Salt Lake City!!!!!!!!!

11/22/2006 9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops - I meant Juab County (was thinking Nebo school district). I'm sure you had a nice endorphin rush correcting that.

There will always be a safe district for Matheson because he is a good egg and R's know it. There is nothing even the most conservative R's can do to gerrymander Matheson out of his district. After all, with the D's in the majority, we should have at least one rep with a "seat at the table." Isn't that what local R's say about why they should be elected?

However, with that said, why do you think they stacked the Redistricting Committee with the most ultra-conservative of legislators? They want to get Lavar elected because he will do exactly what they want. They're arrogant grandstanding moralists who truly do not care what their constituents think. They've given up on the "Matheson problem" and are now scheming up the "Christensen solution."

Speaking of endorphins, I could hear your collective "whew" after your House speaker blew away his competition by 19 votes.

11/22/2006 9:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, your lame excuse about Nebo County is vintage D. Even a Matheson minion should know that the Nebo School Distict is in Utah County.

I do agree, however, that we should not attempt to gerrymander these districts like the D's are doing with plan G.

11/23/2006 6:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is map G really the Democratic Map? You got to be kidding, right? I am not a Republican, but at least Maps I and J make a little sense.

11/23/2006 8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plan G is apparently the only proposal the House D's offered. According to news reports, they complained when the committee refused to take plan G serioulsy. Perhaps this is why many D's are not taken seriously.

11/23/2006 8:45 AM  
Blogger The Senate Site said...

Anonymous contributor(s),

Thank you for some excellent, thought-provoking comments. Keep 'em coming. In a few days I will E-mail all comments posted here to the Redistricting Committee. (Or you can do it yourself: REDISTRICTING@utah.gov.)

We hope you will rip these maps apart. Discuss the boundaries. Evaluate motivations. Think of alternatives. Elevate your temporarily benighted enemies with stellar salvos of inspired rationality.

Be honest and thorough, but keep it healthy. We're looking for thoughtful insight here, not a partisan food fight.

Sez Aretha (and Otis Redding): R - E - S - P - E - C - T

Thanks again.

11/23/2006 1:07 PM  
Blogger The Senate Site said...

P.S. I thought Anon #2 was joking when he wrote 'Nebo County' - generic for 'way the heck out there.' Or maybe the elusive mountain place our good representative could seek but never find. My wife laughed out loud.

11/23/2006 1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been following this discussion and the redistricting with great interest. I've heard the politicians and the comments here and would like to consult the "primary sources," if you will.

Along those lines, I have an Excel spreadsheet, a map, and the population counts from the 2005 census estimates for each city/area. Distributing out to the districts with our giant yet sparse counties presents some problems. So...what are the rules? Is there a minumum number that each district must have? It seems clear that SL County needs to be split up somehow - can it span 2 districts or must it span 3? Let me know what the parameters are and I'll spend a few hours monkeying around with it and see what an uninformed neophyte can come up with.

Thank you,

A fellow wonk.

11/24/2006 2:09 PM  
Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

The following is my response to someone's question on SLCSPIN. I am republishing it here because I am too tired to write something new, and yet I think we need to consider these issues. Please forgive my laziness.

-------------

Dear Anonymous,

Let me see if I understand you correctly: In response to most of the beltway pundit's assertions, that I have heard, claiming that a lame duck President Bush will not be able to get any major piece of legislation "THAT HE WOULD WANT" through this Congress, you come back with "passing a budget" and "renewing No Child Left Behind" as examples of things he would need to sacrifice the Constitution to achieve?

Wow! That's quite a trade off, isn't it?

I do not mean to make fun of you, my friend, but please try to remember that the Democrats also need to pass a budget. And, they already want to renew most of the provisions of No Child Left Behind. So, your argument is not persuasive.

And, in fairness to the all-wise pundit class, they are talking about LEGACY type pieces of legislation, not house cleaning items. They claim that the administration acknowledges that its legacy will be the War in Iraq. History, they say, will judge the President by what he is able to salvage from this immensely difficult situation. Thus, his administration is supposedly going to set aside any futile attempt to pass new landmark legislation, and focus its energies on stabilizing Iraq sufficiently to sustain a face saving withdrawal for the US.

These same pundits tell us that the Democrats also see such a withdrawal from Iraq as being where their mandate lies. Thus, neither will they entertain delusions of liberal grandeur in seeking to pass all kinds of Great Society type legislation.

Well, I guess we will see about that, won't we? Pundits are frequently wrong.

For me, where your argument has merit is in the fact that history demonstrates both President Clinton and the first President Bush supposedly defying conventional wisdom to compromise with hostile congresses. We remember the first President Bush being pressured into going back on his "Read my lips, no new taxes!" pledge in order to pass a budget with the Democrats. And, President Clinton ended up abandoning his socialized medicine plan, only to later pass major cuts in welfare with the Republicans. So, legislation of consequence is certainly possible for the President, but is it something "THAT HE WOULD WANT?" That is the question.

I personally hope that the President's tenacity, that you reference, is fully employed in resisting the unconstitutional piece of legislation seeking to grant both the District of Columbia and the state of Utah new seats in Congress. This horrible proposal creates precedent that is bad for America. Utah is part of America. Thus, the answer to your question is this: Utah does not need to rush to get a fourth seat in Congress so badly that it is worth sacrificing the Constitution. It would be better to simply wait until the next census in four years, and get that new seat legitimately. What little the state would gain in the short run would not be worth the damage done to our country in the long run.

Please forgive me, but your comment regarding the unfeasibility of Maryland reabsorbing the District of Columbia, demonstrates that you have very little understanding of the arguments against the proposed legislation. No one, like me, who opposes the bill on constitutional grounds, would ever make that suggestion, because such a plan would also be unconstitutional!

The framers of the Constitution had a terrible real-life experience that convinced them that the seat of national government needed to reside in a neutral zone that only it controlled, not some individual state or any other kind of local government jurisdiction. So, the Constitution provides for the creation of just such an area--the District of Columbia.

The only proper way to get around that requirement would be to amend the Constitution.

During the Carter Administration, just such an effort was attempted, but it failed. Within our system of federalism, the people spoke. The answer was "No."

Now, the current proposed legislation would try to achieve the same result, but by degree, and by going around the Constitution. First, the District of Columbia gets representation in the House. Once that precedent is established, there would be no basis for denying it representation in the Senate. Then, all the rights and privileges of statehood would eventually follow, step by step, because there ultimately would be no basis for withholding them.

But, that is not what the Constitution mandates.

And, I personally agree with the framers' original vision. The same dangers that existed in their day are also present in our own. Indeed, their provision may actually be more relevant for our day.

Remember the anarchy that manifested itself in the city of Seattle when the WTO met there several years ago? What if such a crowd came to the nation's capital, but unlike Seattle's leaders, the local authorities were actually sympathetic with the demonstrators and refused to disperse them? The nation's elected officials would then be held hostage to the whims of some local leaders over whom they had no control.

A similar thing happened to our founding fathers, and they wanted to protect the nation from that ever happening again. That is why we have a District of Columbia, instead of the capital of our nation residing in a state. It was a good idea then, and I think it is still a good idea.

Now, as for achieving some kind of representational justice for the folks living within the District of Columbia, that is another question. It may be appropriate for us to address their situation. But, we should do so only by following the proper procedures for amending the Constitution, and I further believe that we should do so without abandoning the framers original vision of having the capital located in a federally controlled district.

That is all I am saying. Dear Anonymous,

Let me see if I understand you correctly: In response to most of the beltway pundit's assertions, that I have heard, claiming that a lame duck President Bush will not be able to get any major piece of legislation "THAT HE WOULD WANT" through this Congress, you come back with "passing a budget" and "renewing No Child Left Behind" as examples of things he would need to sacrifice the Constitution to achieve?

Wow! That's quite a trade off, isn't it?

I do not mean to make fun of you, my friend, but please try to remember that the Democrats also need to pass a budget. And, they already want to renew most of the provisions of No Child Left Behind. So, your argument is not persuasive.

And, in fairness to the all-wise pundit class, they are talking about LEGACY type pieces of legislation, not house cleaning items. They claim that the administration acknowledges that its legacy will be the War in Iraq. History, they say, will judge the President by what he is able to salvage from this immensely difficult situation. Thus, his administration is supposedly going to set aside any futile attempt to pass new landmark legislation, and focus its energies on stabilizing Iraq sufficiently to sustain a face saving withdrawal for the US.

These same pundits tell us that the Democrats also see such a withdrawal from Iraq as being where their mandate lies. Thus, neither will they entertain delusions of liberal grandeur in seeking to pass all kinds of Great Society type legislation.

Well, I guess we will see about that, won't we? Pundits are frequently wrong.

For me, where your argument has merit is in the fact that history demonstrates both President Clinton and the first President Bush supposedly defying conventional wisdom to compromise with hostile congresses. We remember the first President Bush being pressured into going back on his "Read my lips, no new taxes!" pledge in order to pass a budget with the Democrats. And, President Clinton ended up abandoning his socialized medicine plan, only to later pass major cuts in welfare with the Republicans. So, legislation of consequence is certainly possible for the President, but is it something "THAT HE WOULD WANT?" That is the question.

I personally hope that the President's tenacity, that you reference, is fully employed in resisting the unconstitutional piece of legislation seeking to grant both the District of Columbia and the state of Utah new seats in Congress. This horrible proposal creates precedent that is bad for America. Utah is part of America. Thus, the answer to your question is this: Utah does not need to rush to get a fourth seat in Congress so badly that it is worth sacrificing the Constitution. It would be better to simply wait until the next census in four years, and get that new seat legitimately. What little the state would gain in the short run would not be worth the damage done to our country in the long run.

Please forgive me, but your comment regarding the unfeasibility of Maryland reabsorbing the District of Columbia, demonstrates that you have very little understanding of the arguments against the proposed legislation. No one, like me, who opposes the bill on constitutional grounds, would ever make that suggestion, because such a plan would also be unconstitutional!

The framers of the Constitution had a terrible real-life experience that convinced them that the seat of national government needed to reside in a neutral zone that only it controlled, not some individual state or any other kind of local government jurisdiction. So, the Constitution provides for the creation of just such an area--the District of Columbia.

The only proper way to get around that requirement would be to amend the Constitution.

During the Carter Administration, just such an effort was attempted, but it failed. Within our system of federalism, the people spoke. The answer was "No."

Now, the current proposed legislation would try to achieve the same result, but by degree, and by going around the Constitution. First, the District of Columbia gets representation in the House. Once that precedent is established, there would be no basis for denying it representation in the Senate. Then, all the rights and privileges of statehood would eventually follow, step by step, because there ultimately would be no basis for withholding them.

But, that is not what the Constitution mandates.

And, I personally agree with the framers' original vision. The same dangers that existed in their day are also present in our own. Indeed, their provision may actually be more relevant for day.

Remember the anarchy that manifested itself in the city of Seattle when the WTO met there several years ago? What if such a crowd came to the nation's capital, but unlike Seattle's leaders, the local authorities were actually sympathetic with the demonstrators and refused to disperse them? The nation's elected officials would then be held hostage to the whims of some local leaders over whom they had no control.

A similar thing happened to our founding fathers, and they wanted to protect the nation from that ever happening again. That is why we have a District of Columbia, instead of the capital of our nation residing in a state. It was a good idea then, and I think it is still a good idea.

Now, as for achieving some kind of representational justice for the folks living within the District of Columbia, that is another question. It may be appropriate for us to address their situation. But, we should do so only by following the proper procedures for amending the Constitution, and I further believe that we should do so without abandoning the framers original vision of having the capital located in a federally controlled district.

That is all I am saying.

11/25/2006 3:27 AM  
Anonymous Curt Bramble said...

Dear Fellow Wonk

Thanks for weighing in!

According to Leg Research, we are required to use the most recent census numbers, which are from the 2000 census, for purposes of redistricting. This does not allow us to account for any interim growth since 2000.

We have been advised by our legislative attorneys that this is because the city estimates you are referring to do not "drill down" to the individual census blocks or voting precincts, and are not based on actual census counts.

Under the parameters that our legal counsel have advised, the population of each of the congressional districts under a 4-district plan 3 congressional districts should each have a population of 558,292 and 1 district should have a population of 558,293. These numbers again are based on the 2000 census.

Since Salt Lake County had a population of approximately 1,000,000 in 2000, it will need to be divided into at least 2 districts. This was probably one of the most controversial issues that we dealt with in the 2001 redistricting.

One of the issues that was discussed extensively both in 2001 and in the current committee is whether we should create districts that have both an urban and rural component or whether the districts should be uniquely urban or rural and not mixed. The prevailing thought of the majority party is that districts containing a mixture of both urban and rural components will serve the citizens best. However, this issue will continue to be discussed and is the basis of Plan G, the proposal by Representative Litvack, Representative Biskupski, and Senator Davis which attempts to create uniquely urban and uniquely rural districts.

If you would like to send me your suggestions, my email address is cbramble@utahsenate.org.


As the Senate Co-chair of the redistricting committee we welcome your input and suggestions.

Curt Bramble
Senate District 16
(801) 361-5802

11/25/2006 6:53 AM  
Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

I am sorry, Anonymous. I wrote the piece above in a sleep deprived state, in the middle of the night, while attending a fussy baby. I apologize for the arrogant tone I adopted, and for my proclivity for run-on sentences. I’m not sure which is more annoying, but I sincerely hope you will forgive me.

Please remain engaged in the discussion. I want to hear and understand your side of the debate. Please respond to my arguments with more of your own. Eventually, we will understand each other. Until that happens, we won’t be able to accommodate our respective concerns. Thanks, my friend.

11/25/2006 11:13 AM  
Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Senator Bramble,

I appreciate you responding to concerns expressed here. I think that is wonderful.

What do you think about the constitutional concerns that many of us have? Does Mike Christensen and his staff typically present both sides of an issue to you all, or do they tend to advocate one position over the other? What have they said regarding our concerns toward this particular piece of legislation?

Thank you, in advance, for your response. I think your willingness to make yourself accessible here is great.

11/25/2006 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an absolute stinkin' nightmare! I've worked and re-worked scenarios for over 10 hours. I'll press on as I watch the big game.

A Fellow Wonk.

11/25/2006 11:25 AM  
Anonymous Some Guy said...

Option G is a turd. It's not designed to be a serious proposal. That map was designed to be shot down so urban democrats have something they can yell about. Any policy maker can see that map is an obvious non-starter. If they want to be taken seriously, they should make a serious proposal.

11/25/2006 8:39 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

With all due respect to both sides, I don't see how either side could come up with a decent proposal in the 2, yes 2, whole days that were alloted to drawing maps.

I was there at the committee meeting and Sen. Buttars barely left the table, even in recess as others were trying to draw last minute proposals. PLAN J, by the way, was agreed to be sent out, without discussion as the committee had one foot out the door and was in jeopardy of losing a quorum.

These 'Urban-Rural' districts only exist to divide the voting power of the majority population in the state anchored in Salt Lake County. The Democratic proposal was not created merely to whine about, believe me Dems have enough to whine about in Utah already. Instead, it was, in my belief , developed to create an open discussion on the 'Urban-Rural' districts that Republican members are so adamant about.

Look at the other states with 3 or 4 congressional seats; They consistently have urban districts comprising a relatively small land area, and then suburban or rural districts.

None of these maps are acceptable. Rushing through the process just to give Utah a 4th seat is a blemish of the political process.

11/27/2006 1:41 AM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Plan G is somewhat intriguing to me. I like the idea of a uniquely rural district, so that the rural voices are not lost in the clamor of the urban voters. The downside of Plan G is that it will be a lot of work for a politician to represent all of those rural areas. The upside of Plan G is that it will take a lot of work to represent all those rural areas. Citizens in that large rural district will really be able to tell whether a politician will work hard for their interests.

I'd like to hear from Sen. Bramble about the advantages of split urban-rural districts. Why is it that the Republicans favor them, other than the obvious reason of splitting the Democratic vote, which is currently primarily urban?

I'd also like to hear his thoughts on whether it is feasible to represent a large rural district such as the one outlined in Plan G.

11/27/2006 10:57 AM  
Blogger The Senate Site said...

Dear Alienated Wannabe,

Like you, I appreciate the dialog, although some of the acerbic, partisan comments are somewhat limited in value.

I agree that there are significant constitutional issues raised with regard to Washington DC having a vote in Congress. These include many of the arguments that have been raised here and on several other blogs and email forums.

As I see it, the issue for the Utah Legislature and citizens of Utah is really not what will or will not happen in Washington, DC. Our issue is that IF it happens, what will the 4 districts look like. There are no constitutional questions regarding the Utah Legislature re-drawing boundaries that may be different than those that were passed in 2001.

Some will claim that Utah is being used as a pawn in a decades old fight, and that if we fail to act the issue is dead. Others opine that if we fail to act, given the results of November 7th, Washington DC will get its vote next year and Utah may be left behind. Here's the frustrating part - as the Senate Majority Leader-elect and Chair of the redistricting committee, I have personally discussed this with several different primary sources in DC, as have the Governor, President Valentine, Speaker Curtis and others. Our best guess is that we simply do not know what will happen in DC. In many cases, concerns expressed privately do not reconcile with public statements, staff members will privately contradict their congressional bosses, the public statements of members of Congress do not reconcile with private admonitions, the Vote DC gang make certain claims that are both reinforced and opposed by many of the policy makers (including some who both agree and oppose at the same time!). Etcetera.

There are many in the Utah Legislature that believe, as I do, that we are best served by addressing that which is within our constitutional authority, while leaving the rest to play out in Congress, the Courts, or both, which in any event are beyond our control.

Your question about Mike Christensen and Leg Research is a good one. Typically, they will do all they can to present both sides of an issue, I have never seen them advocate one position over another, and they regularly advise us regarding possible legal challenges to proposed legislation. As to redistricting, they have advised us that it is well within our constitutional legislative prerogative to convene to draw new congressional district boundaries. As to the constitutional consequences of Washington DC getting a vote, they recognize the constitutional issues raised, as well as the legal opinions expressed by legal scholars on both sides of the issue and the potential for litigation. It is my understanding that Utah would not be involved in any anticipated litigation over the DC vote, other than in the possible capacity of filing an amicus (friend of the court) brief.

Again, thanks for participating in the discussion.

Curt Bramble

By the way, who are you???

11/27/2006 2:23 PM  
Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Senator Bramble,

Thank you for that excellent response. I appreciate receiving all of that interesting background information. It really helps me to understand the mindset of our legislators going in to this special session. And, I find it reassuring that you are hearing both sides of the issue from legal counsel.

Further, as a former Boy Scout, I understand the value of "being prepared" for any eventuality. So, I do not fault either the Governor or the Legislature for wanting to draw-up and approve potential congressional districts "just in case."

However, I want to make the case to our state and federal leaders that there is actually a more pressing concern for which we need to be prepared:

Defending the Constitution

The current proposed legislation appears to be an attempt to achieve through federal action what had failed to be achieved through constitutional amendment. Thus, it actually weakens our system of federalism.

The amendment process gives each state a say in the matter through local legislatures that have closer ties to the people. The current proposal denies that the states have any say in the matter.

This is so, even though the proposal essentially puts the District of Columbia on the path of eventually receiving all the rights and privileges of statehood--a clear deviation from the original vision of the Constitution’s framers.

Additionally, the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution declares that unless the federal government is given an explicit power in the Constitution, that power belongs to the states or the people. Thus, despite whatever court approved short-cuts have been taken in the past, it is the states that should actually be the ones making these kinds of major constitutional decisions.

In short, what I am saying is this:

You have described how you have been receiving mixed signals from primary sources in Washington. That is why it is all the more important for all of Utah's elected leaders, at both the state and federal level, to not give mixed signals themselves.

By approving new potential congressional districts, and then receiving a new seat early, we would be "approving" of this assault on the Constitution and federalism. Thus, we surrender the moral authority to defend states rights and strict constitutional interpretation.

I therefore urge our elected officials to use this special session to pass a resolution condemning the current proposal, and refusing to accept a new seat illegitimately. Such an action just might get someone's attention. It would be the talk of all the Sunday morning panel shows, and it could start an important national conversation that strengthens, rather than weakens, constitutional authority.

Nothing grants moral authority--credibility--more than a principled stance. Likewise, nothing undermines credibility more than being too opportunistic. We may outfox ourselves by being too prepared for the wrong thing.

Thank you again, Senator. I appreciate your time more than you know.

Sincerely,
Alienated Wannabe

11/28/2006 2:10 PM  
Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Senator Bramble,

As to the question of my identity, I am just an anonymous Republican behind-the-scenes helper. If you need to contact me, Ric has my email address.

Thank you very much!

Sincerely,
Alienated Wannabe

11/28/2006 2:47 PM  

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