Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Romano: Why the redistricting mess is so outrageous

"I don't just want to hear from politicians; I want to hear from people who live in neighborhoods.''

State Sen. Don Gaetz, after he was named chairman of the Senate redistricting committee in 2010.

"The door was open.''

Gaetz, when asked in court last week about secret meetings he had with House Speaker Will Weatherford where the final redistricting map was chosen without any public notice.

The trial over Florida's redistricting maps is soon to enter its second week, and it's probably fair to say insomniacs are the early leaders.

In other words, this case is going absolutely nowhere and taking its sweet time.

In this corner you have a big, stinking pile of plausible deniability, and in that corner you have a bunch of smirking politicos with convenient memory lapses.

The maps they turned in seem as illegal as the dickens, but the chances of them being declared as such seem remote.

Here, then, is a recap of the first week:

Mysteriously deleted documents? Check.

Paid consultants with undue access? Check.

Secret meetings? Check.

Amazing coincidences? Check.

Smoking gun? Not yet.

Instead, what you have is a sneaking suspicion that the process was very cautiously rigged by people such as Gaetz. He talked eloquently two years ago about including the common man, and then pulled a party consultant's map out of his sleeve.

But if you're inclined to dump all of this on Republicans, you might want to think twice. There were plenty of Democrats who were more than happy to go along with the status quo on this one.

You see, the way the maps are drawn, there are a handful of districts with an overwhelming majority of Democratic voters. Sounds good for the liberals, right? Ah, but there are far more districts with a smallish majority of Republican voters.

Ever wonder why, in a state where Democrats are the majority party and where presidential elections are usually razor close, the Republican Party has a stranglehold on the state Legislature and congressional seats?

This is the reason.

Democratic voters are hoarded into a handful of districts, and those incumbents would rather keep their own slam-dunk victories than raise a stink about inequities.

Meanwhile, the Fair Districts amendments passed by the state's voters in 2010 are pretty much ignored.

Those amendments should require districts to be contiguous and compact while making as much use as possible of city, county and geographical boundaries.

And yet you have a Congressional district that stretches from downtown Tampa to St. Petersburg and part of Manatee County, but doesn't venture to Temple Terrace.

On the other side of the state, you have a congressional district that begins in Orlando, travels north, jogs west, cuts back east, takes another left toward the north, stretches beyond Jacksonville and, if I'm not mistaken, has a few voters from south Georgia.

This is important stuff, and it should be more outrageous that your elected leaders seem to have discovered a new strain of communicable amnesia.

Unfortunately, it looks like they might get away with it.

The burden is now on you to remember how they did it.

Romano: Why the redistricting mess is so outrageous 05/26/14 [Last modified: Monday, May 26, 2014 10:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Miscue sends Rays to another stinging loss to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays gave away DJ Kitty onesies on Saturday night. Then they gave away the game.

    Centerfielder Mallex Smith misses a drive hit by Adrian Beltre with two outs in the sixth, allowing the tying runs to score. Beltre put Texas ahead 4-3 when he scored after two wild pitches.
  2. Rowdies shut out Charleston

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies know a thing or two about stalemates, with five of their past 10 games ending in a draw.

    Rowdies in the first half during the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Charleston Battery at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday, Jul 22, 2017.
  3. 13-year-old Janessa's father holds memorial service at Rogers Middle School

    Crime

    RIVERVIEW — About 100 people sat in the tile-floored multipurpose room Saturday at Rodgers Middle School where Janessa Shannon once sat as a student.

    A mourner embraces Nahshon Shannon after the memorial service for Nahshon’s daughter, Janessa, Saturday at Rodgers Middle School in Riverview.
  4. Trump: Aircraft carrier a symbol of America's might (w/video)

    Politics

    NORFOLK, Va. — With praise and a blessing for the military, President Donald Trump helped hand over the USS Gerald R. Ford to the Navy on Saturday and said the state-of-the-art aircraft carrier will send a "100,000-ton message to the world" about America's military might when it is ultimately deployed.

    President Donald Trump commissions the USS Gerald R. Ford on Saturday in Norfolk, Va.
  5. Kushner discloses additional $10M in assets

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner "inadvertently omitted" more than 70 assets worth at least $10.6 million from his personal financial disclosure reports, according to revised paperwork released Friday.

    Kushner