Wednesday, October 5, 2011

STUNNING ADMISSION: Ward reapportionment plan deliberate gerrymandering, Trib publisher says

Waters
COLUMBIA, 10/5/11  (Beat Byte) --  In a stunning admission from a consummate insider, Columbia Daily Tribune publisher Hank Waters wrote that Ward reapportionment "Trial D...is drawn to affect voting patterns" in a surprising Saturday editorial. 
 
Even city attorney Fred Boeckmann, Waters added, "can make a case the First, Third and Fourth wards are gerrymandered by Trial D to influence electoral outcomes." 
 
For neighbors and public commentators who felt poo-pooed by city leaders over gerrymandering concerns, the editorial is powerful vindication.   
 
Given the plan's overt political aims, Waters -- who had previously belittled Trial D critics such as Karl Skala -- came out against it.  "This political baggage gives the council good reason to reject Trial D for a better option," he explained. 
 
Jerry Mander
 
Four Ward reapportionment plans based on 2010 census data are before the Columbia City Council for a presumptive October 17 vote
 
Two plans -- Trials A and D -- appear overt attempts to "gerrymander" several neighborhoods in the center parts of town.  Gerrymandering attempts to shift voting boundaries to create political advantage.  Trials A and D reduce central city and progressive representation on the City Council by consolidating some of Columbia's most politically-active, high-voter-turnout areas. 
 
The two reapportionment plans would be a dream come true for big developers tired of Council representatives friendly to environmental, pedestrian, growth management, planning, sustainability, historic preservation, or central city concerns, critics complain. 
 
The city's Ward Reapportionment Committee "favored Trial E, which would extend the First Ward west to Silvey Street, keeping the entire ward north of Broadway and leaving the contentious Benton-Stephens neighborhood in the adjacent Third Ward," Waters explained.

Residents in neighborhoods affected by the plans also favor Trial E -- by a large margin.  But at the last minute, city attorney Boeckmann declared several of the plans "illegal," opening the door for re-debate.  Fourth Ward Councilman and Chamber of Commerce favorite Daryl Dudley took the bait, stepping up "to work with staff trying to gain favor for Trial D," Waters noted.
 
Developed by former Matt Blunt chief aide Rob Monsees, Trial D "would augment the First Ward by adding Benton-Stephens from the Third Ward and an area in the Old Southwest neighborhood south of Broadway from the Fourth Ward," Waters explained. 
 
By taking those neighborhoods out of their respective Wards, Trial D would reduce by two votes central city representation on the City Council, turning Wards Three and Four into largely suburban voting blocks with far less so-called "progressive" voters.   
 
Simple solution
 
"Monsees and Dudley are conservatives," Waters continued.  "Their Trial D attempt to move the progressive Old Southwest out of the Fourth Ward is seen by political skeptics as a way to secure the ward for Dudley or his like.  Trial D also would move progressive Benton-Stephens from the Third Ward, making the district safer for conservative incumbent Gary Kespohl and harder for prospective challenger and progressive former council member Karl Skala."
 
In the end, the Trib publisher suggests the path of least resistance.  
 
"Trial E simply extends the First Ward west above Broadway without affecting Benton-Stephens or the Old Southwest, gaining the needed population and leaving current voting patterns relatively intact," he concluded.
 
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2 comments:

  1. Of course Plan D is a blatant political gerrymander. Of course Plan D will pass.

    Seriously, the Chamber of Commerce-types (really the more amorphous and more dangerous, special Boone County Repub/Dixiecrat inbreed) didn't throw down $200k-$250k over the past few elections (test marketed their approach in Hoppe's last race in 2009) because they don't like chickens and bicyclists (though, of course, if Dudley can shed his eastern precincts a 4-lane Broadway is pretty much a done deal).

    They introduced big bucks, big media buys, vitriolic character assassination, and stealth candidates into a historically civilized election process for part-time, unpaid council seats in a strong city manager form of government in pursuit of an agenda. Why spend expend the capital, both social and dollars? The answer is easy, to control redistricting.

    Redistricting is the Big Kahuna of American politics. And while it is an exercise in magical thinking to imagine that the folks that brought us the hatefulness of the Johnny Cash-style radio jingle and the sophomoric swipes at females candidates' physical attributes will suddenly "lay down their arms" and forgo their substantial investment in order to choose a redistricting plan that is just and fair, it is reasonable and healthy to point out LOUDLY over and over and over again that gerrymandering and other forms of skullduggery and smoky backroom dealing are alive and thriving.

    Those who control redistricting get a whole decade to reshape the political and physical landscape of their jurisdiction. Both the physical footprint and cultural attributes of CoMo will look very different in 2020 than they do now.

    The bad news is the goal of those championing Plan D is to silence the political voice of those at both ends of the socioeconomic spectrum who are committed to social and economic justice by lumping the geographically contiguous of them together into a single ward and ensuring small minorities of like-minded folks in the other five wards.

    The good news is small town, insider cliques tend to be myopic and self-important. As Columbia continues to grow in population and as the economic engine of the region, CoMo's smart, affluent, relatively well-educated citizens will likely choose competence over lineage and responsiveness over status - as evidenced by the relative butt-kicking of the Dark Side of the Force by Helen "Skywalker" Anthony in this past April's election.

    Mike is right that it's pretty remarkable for Hank Waters, a mover and shaker who surely knows his way around a fine Cuban, to acknowledge the political intent of Monsees' gerrymandered map. Perhaps it's time for CoMo's non-Dixied democrats and fellow travelers to lawyer up...

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  2. Lawyer up -- and WAKE UP! We are getting our collective heads handed to us by the special interests that control this town.

    Who wants giant parking garages? THEY DO! Who wants prime development land all around the North Village? THEY DO! Who wants to pay illegally-low utility rates, like sewer bills, and pass the difference on to us? THEY DO! Who wants surveillance cameras to keep an eye on black people and collect fines? THEY DO!

    We don't want any of this crap, yet it keeps coming, fast and furious. So far, no one with any balls has stood up to these clowns.

    Why? Because Columbia and Boone County are run by Democrats in Name Only and Republicans who are only real Republicans when there's no public trough around for them to feed at.

    This stuff HAS to change or we're not going to have a Columbia/Boone County anyone will want to live in about 10-15 years from now.

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