Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Baldly Political Farce

The redistricting process was expected to be political. We all knew that. But we didn't expect it to be this arrogantly dismissive of the concerns and actions of the voters.

First, the congressional districts seem to have been redrawn with the idea of pitting the two Republicans against each other, leaving Rahall safe, and opening up a third. This was too disingenuous because first, the law does not actually require residence in the district. Even if it does produce the desired result, one of the political figures with the most name recognition and popularity in the proposed second district is Republican Clark Barnes. If passed, the second district is not much larger than his currently expansive 15th. It is still an arrogant move for the Legislature to try and nullify the verdict of the election of 2010 on its own.

The House patted itself on the back for breaking up the three member 32nd, but left in place the notorious seven member 30th. Yes, South Hills, your 7% of the House of Delegates is still safe. Sorry southern Kanawha, you are still not truly represented in the House.

House Republicans have fought hard for our rights. Delegate Gary Howell plead on the House floor for the opportunity to have time for public comment before final passage of redistricting. Will we get a chance to voice our concerns? Let us hope so.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Travels of Tomblin and Redistricting Follies

This week is crucial and important for the executive and legislative branches of government. In these weeks, we will see the redrawing of our delegate, state senate, and congressional districts. So far, the proposed maps are alarming.

First, though, we have to wonder at the travels of Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. He called this session and, presumably, would want to be in Charleston as much as possible to observe the proceedings. However, he has fundraisers scheduled in Morgantown, Glenville, and Elkins this Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. While a candidate has to campaign, we are wondering if he is using the state helicopter to expedite his travels. Will the Charleston Gazette be probing this matter to ensure that public funds are not misspent?

Next comes the actual proposed maps. Democrats in the Legislature are proposing to void the voters' choices for Congress last year. They wish to combine the first and second districts, which are represented by David McKinley and Shelley Moore Capito, respectively. This would require a run off between the two Republicans, which, given the fact that we are keeping three districts, is a baldly arrogant political move that is sure to bring national embarassment if it passes. They must know that they cannot beat either of them at the ballot box, so they are trying to create for themselves an open seat in a gerrymandered district.

It does not look like the Legislature will create single member districts this time, either. The wealthy South Hills' neighborhood of Charleston will get to keep its several delegates and the rest of southern Kanawha County will go without representation.

Mineral County may be split between the 14th and 15th senatorial districts, as of right now. Senator Dave Sypolt will continue to represent western Mineral County to a point just east of Keyser. The rest of the county will join Hardy in the 15th. As unusual as it is to divide a county between two senatorial districts, the 49th district, represented by Gary Howell, could straddle the two senatorial districts. The new district lines could also split the town of Piedmont between the 48th and 49th delegate districts, which could cause unnecessary confusion in that area.

Let your legislators know how you feel. As long as they are debating, you can still make your wishes and opinions known.