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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Challengers offer alternative, ask Legislature to consider it

27

October

As another tense chapter in Florida's redistricting drama unfolded Tuesday, the challengers added to the suspense by blasting the proposed Senate map as an incumbency protection vehicle and offering up their own alternative map for the Senate to consider.

In a letter to Senate Reapportionment Committee Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, and House Redistricting Chairman Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, the coalition of voters groups led by the League of Women Voters said they were “very disheartened to witness” the passage of an amendment Tuesday by Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla. They alleged it was a violation of the constitutional ban on incumbency protection, known as a "tier one" standard. 

The amendment “unpairs Senator Diaz de la Portilla — the amendment's sponsor — from facing Senator Flores in District 40 in [map] 9090, and increases the Republican performance of Senator Diaz de la Portilla's new district in 9124 [District 37],'' wrote David King, lead lawyer for the challengers. "These tier-one violations cannot be ignored, particularly when Senators have already criticized the base map selection process as one designed to avoid paring incumbents."

King’s letter included an alternative map drawn by a redistricting expert and Democratic consultant John O'Neill, who drew the map approved by the court in the challenge to the congressional redistricting map. King enumerated the defects in the Legislature's map and requested that lawmakers consider theirs instead.

"As compared with the base maps, the enclosed alternative remedial map, CPS-l.doj ("CPS-l"), offered on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause (the "Coalition") has significantly lower population deviation; better respects political and geographic boundaries, with only 10 split cities (and only 23 aggregate city splits) and 15 split counties; and has superior average compactness, with an average .49 Reock score and average .80 Convex-Hull score,'' King wrote. 

"... In contrast, it appears that the Legislature strategically strung together counties and configured districts in a manner that resulted in significantly higher deviations than necessary. 9090 has many more districts with diminished compactness, deviates more from established boundaries, and creates a more favorable map for Republicans in the process."

Here's King's letter:  Download 2015 10-27 King-Galvano and Oliva re Maps

Dear Chairman Galvano and Chairman Oliva,

Now that the Senate has passed an amendment (9124) to one of the six base maps offered
by the Senate Reapportionment Committee (originally 9078,now 9090), we believe it is appropriate
to comment on 9090 and9l24 and to offer an alternative, significantly more compliant plan for the
Legislature's consideration. In short, the Legislature should not settle on any one of the six inferior
base maps, or on9124 for that matter, over the more compliant alternative which we offer today.

As compared with the base maps, the enclosed alternative remedial map, CPS-l.doj
("CPS-l"), offered on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause (the
"Coalition") has significantly lower population deviation; better respects political and geographic
boundaries, with only 10 split cities (and only 23 aggregate city splits) and 15 split counties; and has
superior average compactness, with an average .49 Reock score and average .80 Convex-Hull score.
In contrast,9090, the original Senate committee proposal (9090) has far larger population
deviation; 9 more split cities (and2l additional aggregate city splits); an additional split county; and
inferior compactness, with an average .42 on Reock score and average .78 Convex-Hull score.

The superiority of CPS-I is the direct result of considering only constitutional compliance
in light of objective criteria. The Coalition's map drawer, John O'Neill, consistently drew districts
in compliance with tier-one criteria, and in a way that maximized average compactness, minimized
population deviation, minimized split cities and counties, and respected established geographic
boundaries where feasible.

In contrast, it appears that the Legislature strategically strung together
counties and configured districts in a manner that resulted in significantly higher deviations than
necessary. 9090 has many more districts with diminished compactness, deviates more from
established boundaries, and creates a more favorable map for Republicans in the process.
It is also troubling that some Senators have opined that the base maps were drawn with
apparent intent to favor incumbents. They note that the maps, in some instances, avoid pairing
incumbents and some have even gone so far as to characterize the committee's selection of 9090 as
"defiant" and designed to influence the race for the Senate Presidency in 2016.

These tier-one problems, along with the tier-two deficiencies identified above, are just some of our many concerns with 9090. And they are certainly not the hallmarks of a map that complies with the FairDistricts
Amendments. No such improper considerations had any bearing on CPS-1 because Mr. O'Neill is
not familiar with Florida's incumbent Senators or candidates, did not review or consider incumbent
locations, and not did review or consider partisan performance (aside from limited functional
analysis of minority districts) at any point in developing CPS-1.

Given these tier-one criticisms, we were very disheartened to witness the Senate's passage
of 9124, the amendment to 9090 offered by Senator Diaz de la Portilla, during this afternoon's
session. 9124 unpairs Senator Diaz de la Portilla - the amendment's sponsor - from facing Senator
Flores in District 40 in 9090, and increases the Republican performance of Senator Diaz de la
Portilla's new districtin9124 (District 37). These tier-one violations cannot be ignored, particularly
when Senators have already criticized the base map selection process as one designed to avoid paring
incumbents. And while 9124 improves the compactness scores of certain South Florida districts
over those in 9090, 9124 still has an average Reock score of only .43 and an average Convex-Hull
score of .79,both of which are lower than CPS-I. In addition,9124 splits 20 cities - 10 more than
CPS-I - and 16 counties - 1 more than CPS-I - and further increases the population deviation over
that in 9090. Thus, CPS-l remains superior over 9124 in two-tier compliance, and carries none of
9 124's tier-one baggage.

It is important to note that CPS-I was not drawn using the updated 2012 and20l4 datathat
we sent you yesterday. The Coalition is now working to determine whether the updated data allows
for drawing more tier-two compliant minority districts. In any event, CPS-I illustrates that neither
the base maps nor 9124 should be adopted, even if you refuse to consider the updated data.
The Coalition remains hopeful that the Legislature will commit to drawing and enacting a
remedial Senate map that is as constitutionally compliant as possible, rather than maintaining the
unconstitutional status quo under the guise of compliance. CPS-1 establishes that the Legislature
can do far better than the six base maps, and far better than 9124. Vy'e sincerely hope that the
Legislature will consider CPS-1 in good faith, which is the spirit in which it is being offered, so that
the citizens of Florida will have the opportunity to vote for candidates in non-partisan and
constitutionally compliant districts in 2016.


With kindest regards, 


Sincerely
David B. King

[Last modified: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 8:18pm]

    

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