My question to you is if we start down the slippery slope of “exceptions” where do we stop? The one thing that makes this great country unique among nations is that we, via the Constitution of these United States have agreed and committed to live by a rule of law. We’ve also taken solace in the fact that no man was, is, nor will (unless we the people choose to allow it) be above the law!
“We the People” can make that choice in one of two ways. We can do it by taking action (voting for it to be so) or by inaction (standing idly by and watching our legislators make decisions that may or may not be what is best for us “as a whole” community/nation!)
Now as that concept applies to the discussion we’re having here. The Common Council’s requirement to realign our voting districts following every 10 year Federal Census is a rule of both Indiana State Law and the aforementioned Constitution.
The second fact of the matter that is not being heard is that the odds of realignment occurring without one or more of our sitting council persons being somehow affected are millions to one. The official 2000 Census numbers are what they are. They were confirmed by all six people on the committee as well as the County Clerk (and if anyone should be able to accurately do so, it is she.)
The requirement by law is to take the total population (via those numbers) and divide the area within the city limits into six districts as close in equal population as possible. They must also be contiguous (meaning bordering up against each other). And lastly, there must be an effort made to not split precincts’ in the process.
Note that I said effort.
If precinct lines have to be crossed in order to attain near equal numbers, it is the legally necessary thing to do in order to assure equality of representation.
The number of registered voters in a given district does not enter into the equation at the city level at all.
Neither does the physical size (square feet/blocks/miles/ etc.)
Now to the heart of the matter. The recommendation that was on the agenda Monday night was just that, a recommendation. All of the wailing & gnashing of teeth about the Council’s right to do otherwise is nonsense. The only thing preventing them from doing so is their own unwillingness to do the job the law requires of those holding that office.
So long as they bring to the table an alternative plan that equals or betters this one in numbers of population per district and do so in a timely manner, their Constitutional duty will have been served.
Did I mention that waiting until the 2010 Census is completed or until the ever elusive annexation occurs is not an option?
As to the question of individuals favorite voting venue getting moved here are a couple of points.
First of all, when I lived on Market Street my polling place was moved between the two elections that occurred while I was located there. I now live on Spring Street and my polling place has been in two different locations there as well. All those different venues in less than ten years!
Pardon me but it is an insult to my intelligence to assume I’m not smart enough to get to the proper poll if the information is forthcoming from those whose job it is to do such. Naïve as I am, I trust that others both young and old would be equally appalled at being judged so. After all, one would think it should be the perfect opportunity for a candidate desirous of my vote, to actually knock on my door to pass that information on to me. Hell he/she might even take the time to discuss issues with me (a mere voter)!
Moving on to the idea that redrawing the lines may pit two or more current office holders in the same district. My first question is to the prospective candidates. Is ones desire to serve the public good as is always voiced, or is it to get reelected time & time again for some perceived claim on immortality? Why is it that we hear this constant mantra about “serving our constituents” when I can count on two hands the number of individuals that I’ve talked to all over this city who testify to having been blessed with a visit from their council person. Now that is a true exception!
Could it be that amongst all the rhetoric about close knit neighborhoods, they tremble at the thought of actually having to work to get elected & stay elected?
My heart rejoiced at the point in the meeting when another citizen rose to the podium to proclaim her belief that all nine council persons were her representatives as opposed to just one from her district! This is a view I’ve held for a lifetime as most of those now in office can attest to. When I pickup the phone to call about an issue, the majority of them get to hear my voice.
To wrap this up even with the very best of efforts and intentions the end result is always some win & some lose. The trick is to ensure that the winning side is for the betterment of the whole and the losing side, though inconvenienced is not totally devastated and left lying in a pool of blood on the sidewalk. Graphically overstated but I think you get the point.
So the crux of the matter comes down to this. Who among us decides which is which? AND THE ANSWER IS!***** We the People!
Either by speaking up, putting our name to it and insisting our elected representatives act or by remaining silent, hiding behind anonymity and leaving them to their own devices, WE ultimately decide!
Those that win rejoice in the moment. Those that lose crawl off to lick their wounds and regroup to come back and engage again another day!
As it is and has always been, so hopefully it shall always be. Let us not endanger that prospect by allowing “exceptions” to reign supreme!