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Archive for the ‘Redistricting’ Category

In 2002, Wayne Smith, the then-serving House Majority Leader, drew the new district maps for the State House of Representatives. 2002 was a Republican year, even in Delaware, and Leader Smith’s electoral engineering was deemed a smashing success. Delaware’s House Republicans had a veto proof majority for two whole years… And then the losses started. By drawing lines for short-term gain, each district added Democrat registered voters. As national trends turned against Republicans; Delaware became more blue; and incumbent Republicans retired or lost, the House of Representatives completely reversed. Looking back 10 years, it is clear that short-term, personal power interests dominated good governance, and Delaware has suffered as a result:

  • Employment in Delaware, excluding government, has shrunk by 5.4% between 2000 & 2010.
  • Real Income, excluding transfer payments (Social Security, Medicare, TANF, etc) has shrunk by 7.6% between 2000 & 2010.
  • Delaware’s fastest growing jobs are earning 8% less than the current State average wage.

With this record of failure, now the House Democrats are trying the same thing. They want to lock themselves into perpetual majorities (maybe be like the State Senate), and are pulling a page out of Leader Smith’s book. So, what have they done?

  • While Federal law bars districts from being drawn in such a way that disproportionately gives advantage to one political party, the maps proposed by the House Democrats seemingly do just that… In the State House of Representatives, Republicans hold only 15 of 41 seats, or less than 37-percent of the total. But of the six incumbents with current home locations that would place them into a proposed representative district with another incumbent, four, or about 67-percent are Republicans.
  • The maps have been carefully crafted to eliminate strong 2010 Republican House candidates from districts now held by the Democrats against whom they ran.
    • Judy Travis was drawn out of State Rep. Bryon Short’s 7th District.
    •  Former Speaker of the House Terry Spence was drawn out of Mike Barbieri’s 10th District.
    •  Beth Miller was drawn out of the new 32nd District, in which she ran against State Rep. Brad Bennett last year.
    •  And John Marino was drawn out of the 9th District, where he lost against freshman Representative Rebecca Walker.
      •  This last case was especially egregious, with the district line dividing the community of Lea Era Farms to draw Mr. Marino out of the 9th District.
  • This plan does a disservice to the minority population in the Georgetown area.
    • The 37th District is radically re-drawn in this plan as an odd, oblong district running from Georgetown southeast to Long Neck.
    • In late April members of the Hispanic Redistricting Task Force urged legislators to make Georgetown a part of a single representative district to maximize the clout of the area’s Hispanic community.
    • The request was in keeping with federal guidelines for drawing new district lines, which requires mapmakers to “keep communities of interest together.”
    • But the new 37th District contained in this plan excludes minority residents just outside of Georgetown, dispersing their voting power.
Competition in business, education, & yes, politics, is a good thing. Better candidates, more debate, and stronger communities result. When you eliminate competition, you begin to rot from the inside out. And while the House Democrats are seething to grow their power, continue to grow does the rot:
Between 2002 and 2009 DE has gone from 17th to 9th among all states in convictions of state and local government officials per capita,

and these convictions don’t include the following:

    • DELDOT sweetheart land deals.
    • Legislators with state jobs or relatives in state jobs.
    • Expanded use of non-transparent “strategic funds” for corporate welfare.
    • $3 million unaccounted for in the “Weatherization” program through ARRA.
Elections have consequences, and Republicans lost. Democrats get to draw the lines with impunity. Theirs is an earned power.
But, I’ll make this one prognostication: History repeats itself, the second time as farce. When we look back on this moment 10 years from now, Democrats will woe the day that they let short-term, personal power interests dominate good governance.

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Great stuff coming from the newly-energized New Castle County Republican Committee. Please check out their website at http://www.nccgop.com. Michael Fleming is doing a super job organizing and directing this organization. While it is a Republican organization, Michael is no shill for the Republican “status quo” (and with our Win/Loss record that is a darn good thing). In fact, prior to taking on this effort, he led a public effort by disillusioned Delawareans to condemn questionable ethics practices by several former Republican lawmakers while those people were still in office. In other words, he let his beliefs in ethics, effectiveness and openness drive his actions not Party politics. Kudos to Michael.

Today, the New Castle County organization released its platform for 2010 — a year and a day before next year’s general election.

“At a time when every major institution in American life is undergoing dramatic transformation, its high time our government too, adopts new ways of working and organizing in line with the dynamic public it serves,” said Michael Fleming, Chairman.  “We have an extraordinary opportunity — and an obligation — to bring some imagination and forward-thinking to the way our County operates, and works with other governments.  Importantly, New Castle Countians must also be confident their government is functioning transparently and with the highest ethical standards, particularly at a time when we’ve all been asked to shoulder a massive 25% tax increase.”

The overall agenda covers 4 basic County Government areas:

• Impeccable ethics and transparency
• Improved government service and accountability
• Enhanced quality of life, and
• Economic growth

A few specifics of the 2010 agenda are:

All members of Council, and senior administration staff, should be required to publicly report and fully disclose any and all personal and family member business interests and dealings in relation to land-use and other areas of county business where conflicts of interest may arise.  This information should be regularly updated and easily accessible on the County website…

[A]ll governments in New Castle County should undergo a top-to-bottom review with the aim of merging/consolidating major functional services where it makes sense.  These include, but are not limited to, major overlapping public services and functions across both county government and the 15 independent municipalities in New Castle County.  Ours is a relatively small county – 500,000 people.  Much larger counties have successfully implemented changes in the organization of back-office functions like payroll, finance, human resources, purchasing, and information services…

[C]ompensation packages should be designed to reward performance and encourage innovation and effective stewardship of precious taxpayer resources.  Excellence should be recognized and rewarded, but compensation and benefits should not be out of alignment with standards in the private sector.  As we have seen, contracts guaranteeing annual salary raises of up to 8 percent were and are not financially sustainable.  Nor are benefits such as the “sick leave” policy that allows employees to bank up to 100 days of leave, payable at retirement.  Currently, the County is obligated to fund over $20 million in sick leave pay…

Laying it all out there for everyone to see. Let’s see how the status quo responds (that is the status quo that has left New Castle County with no economic growth for a decade). Or will they just continue with the same old, same old.

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The Obama administration had indicated that they want to get supervision of the next census out of the control of the Commerce Dept. and under the direct control of the White House Chief of Staff.  I suspect that this may have been a strong factor in Sen. Judd Gregg’s decision to withdrawal from becoming Secretary.

It is worthwhile to think about how much power controlling the census bestows: how much federal money is allotted to an area is controlled by census numbers, where congressional seats added and lost, how many electoral college votes a state gets, state senate districts and state rep districts, county council…  All controlled by census numbers.

Some recent stories about how the census will be making sure to count every illegal in the US remind me of both the last census and the drafting of the Constitution.  You see, there is only one reason that the census is in the Constitution.  The number of residents determines how congressional districts are distributed.  Surprisingly, illegals and other non citizens (non voters) are counted just like citizens for this purpose.

This explains another piece of news that did not seem noteworthy.  This from the Dallas Morning News:

Census officials say they expect a higher participation rate this year because they have dropped the old long-form questionnaire.

I had thought that the Administration dropped it because the long-form was very unpopular.  I thought that it was intrusive.  But now I have discovered that only the long form had the question about being a citizen.  They are a clever bunch.  There won’t even be an estimate if the courts or congress decide to cure this outrage.

This means that strategies to overcount the number of illegals can be used to eliminate congressional seats in one state and add them to another.  Extra national power could be provided to areas where voters lean toward the liberal, conservative, Republican or Democrat.  And coincidentally, as I am editing  this, I just received and email from RNC Chairman Steele on how the census is to be phonied up.  The administration is planning to pay the voter fraud specialists at ACORN to “help” the census bureau.  Here is a quote from the email:

“It seems the Obama Administration has plans to rig the Census results.

President Obama’s old friends from ACORN, the leftist, urban “community” organization with a long history of promoting vote fraud, has been chosen by the Administration as a “partner” with the Census Bureau to determine population counts in cities around the country.”

Unbelievable.  And Kim Jung Il was just “reelected” president of N. Korea.  Somehow, both of these things remind me of the “Really” segment of “Weekend Update” on “Saturday Night Live.”

According to the Center for Immigration Studies the numbers from the 2000 census, even without ACORN creating phony numbers, resulted in 9 congressional seats being apportioned to the wrong states due to non-citizens being counted.  California has 6 more seats than they should have and Pennsylvania, for example, has one less.  Even without the planned fraud, this effect would be magnified in the 2010 census just due to the huge number of illegals that have snuck across the border in the last decade.

It also makes a mockery of the one man one vote concept.  For example, in 2002 it would have taken at least 114,000 voters to elect a congressman in Delaware.  In other places because of the huge number of non-citizens just 50,000 voters get their own congressman.  This also means that states with low non-citizen populations lose representation to places with high numbers.  Certainly not fair.  The answer, of course, is to count citizens only.

This also may be an explanation for why some cities are willing to withstand the increased crime, public health and education expense to be “sanctuary cities”.  They may have weighed the benefit of increased congressional representation and federal funds verses the costs.

This is not the first time that a group wanted to count non voting residents to increase their power.  Slavery was a large issue when the Constitution was being debated.  In 1787 the pro-slavery South wanted the Constitution drafted so as to count every non-voting slave as a whole person because among other things, it would delay the abolitionists in the North from making slavery illegal.  Thus, the pro-slavery position was to count every slave as a whole person and the anti-slavery position was to not count them at all.  The compromise that was reached in order to get the South to agree was to count slaves as 3/5 of a person.

It is so annoying to hear people complain about this compromise as if the founders just wanted to insult blacks by that.  I guess they would be happy if each slave was counted as 10 people in the census even though the horror of slavery might have been legal for decades more.

So slave states wanted to increase their power by counting non-voting slaves and now the first black President (2d if you count Bill) wants to use the same strategy by padding the non-citizen count.

Ironic, isn’t it.

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I’ve got 5 bucks that says that the above bill will never pass the General Assembly (probably won’t even get to the floor of the Senate).

Redistricting is one of the key tools to holding power. There have been attempts in the past to implement a non-partisan redistricting commission. These bills were always “desk drawer” vetoed. As much as I hope that Senator Blevins has introduced this bill with every intention of working hard to get it passed, I view it just like I view Senator McBride’s biennial “Referendum” bills (Senate Bill 12 & 13). Good press, good on a mail piece, but no one is lifting a finger to get them to move (SB 20 has been assigned to the Finance Committee, which is exempt from the highly-touted Senate rules).

The Sponsor and others in the General Assembly will not willingly give up the power of redistricting. In 2010 the liberals in the State Senate will finally gain total control over the chamber because Senator Adams will retire (and Senator Cook may leave as well passing “her” seat to her son). How long have some of the liberals been waiting to eliminate the last vestiges of the southern conservatives? Just check the following chart. I think that it is amazing to point out that the average tenure of a State Senate Democrat is 19 years (and that is with 2 freshman legislators!).

  • Senator                             1st Yr            Tenure
  • Thurman Adams            1972            36           
  • Patricia Blevins              1990            18           
  • George Bunting              1982            24            (split term in House)
  • Brian Bushweller           2008            0           
  • Nancy Cook                     1974            34           
  • Anthony DeLuca            1998            10           
  • Bruce Ennis                     1982            26           
  • Bethany Hall-Long        2002            6           
  • Margaret Rose Henry    1994            14           
  • Michael Katz                   2008            0           
  • Robert Marshall             1978            30           
  • David McBride                1978            30           
  • Harris McDowell           1976            32           
  • Karen Peterson               2002            6           
  • David Sokola                   1990            18           
  • Robert Venables            1988            20           
  • Democrat Caucus avg                 19.0
  • Colin Bonini                    1994            14           
  • Catherine Cloutier          1999            9           
  • Dorinda Connor             1997            11           
  • F. Gary Simpson             1999            9           
  • Liane Sorenson               1992            16           
  • Republican Caucus avg               11.8
  • Total Senate avg                              17.3

This means that in 2010, the liberals in the Senate will combine with the newly minted liberal control of the House of Representatives (given to them as a result of former President George Bush’s unpopularity). They will redistrict to favor ever more powerful liberal incumbents. Tenure in the legislature is about to become easier to hold than tenure at our Universities.

Some may claim that I would do the same thing if I were in power. If that were true, then I would have run for both Lt. Governor and re-election to the State Senate. I stood on principle.

Will this accidental group of liberal freshman legislators force the General Assembly to stand on principle and do the right thing? Will they help ensure that Delaware has a thriving, competitive democracy? Or will they descend into the love of power?

You know where I stand — I’ve got 5 bucks riding on this.

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