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Q&A: Gerrymandering heads for vote

Gerrymandering heads for vote

There were petitions out to get enough signatures to vote on putting a halt to gerrymandering. What has happened to that project?

Fair Districts Florida is a nonpartisan organization that is trying to put measures on the ballot to guide the drawing of state legislative and congressional districts.

Its officials say that in Florida, where state legislators control how districts are drawn, the process inevitably becomes a political exercise designed to benefit the party in power, a practice known as gerrymandering. It has led to some oddly shaped districts cobbling together widely disparate areas of the state.

In January 2009, the Florida Supreme Court approved the language for the measures. Now Fair Districts Florida has to collect 677,811 signatures on petitions for each measure by Feb. 1, 2010, to make the November 2010 ballot.

Ellen Freidin, the group's campaign chairwoman, said they have more than enough signatures and have submitted them to the county supervisors of election for validation. The supervisors will report their findings to Secretary of State Kurt Browning.

Here's what the measures say:

(Note: Language is identical for each, except for the first word)

"Congressional (legislative) districts may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, as equal in population as feasible, and where feasible must make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries."

For more information about the organization, visit www.fairdistrictsflorida.org/home.php.

Hissy comes from Texas

A recent story said that someone "threw a good hissy fit." Exactly what is a hissy, and how did this term originate?

The Dictionary of American Regional English defines it as a tantrum and says it may have come from the word hysterical. The DARE traces it to the late 1920s or early '30s in Texas.

Last draftee serving

Who is the last military draftee still serving?

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Mellinger, who was drafted on April 18, 1972, is believed to be the last active-duty draftee serving in the Army. "I'm a relic," Mellinger told Time magazine earlier this year. Command Sgt. Maj. Leon E. Caffie, who was drafted on April 2, 1970, retired in October as the Army Reserve's top enlisted soldier, according to the Department of Defense.

Mellinger says he's likely to retire in 2010.

Q&A: Gerrymandering heads for vote 12/13/09 [Last modified: Sunday, December 13, 2009 3:30am]
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