Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida's ballot initiative to ban gerrymandering starts to draw foes

Forget that the governor's office, a U.S. Senate seat and every other statewide office are open this election cycle. The 2010 campaign that could have the farthest-reaching implications for Florida is a redistricting ballot initiative that would change the way congressional and legislative districts are drawn.

"We're going to establish some fairness standards so the legislators can't choose their own voters and we the voters have a chance to really pick our legislators," Miami lawyer Ellen Freidin, leader of, said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9.

If the two constitutional amendments pass, congressional and legislative voting districts could not be designed to favor any political party or incumbent. Districts would be neatly shaped and take city and county boundaries into account, rather than the current system where state lawmakers use computer programs to map districts based on voter demographics and partisan leanings.

"The city of Temple Terrace right now has four different members of Congress representing it. That shouldn't be," said Freidin.

There is no organized opposition lined up yet, but Republican lawmakers with a stake in protecting their majority are likely to mount an aggressive campaign against it. Though prominent Republicans, including former comptroller Bob Milligan and lawyers Thom Rumberger and Nathaniel Reed are among FairDistrict's co-chairmen, it is heavily funded by Democratic-leaning groups such as the Service Employees International Union.

State House Majority Leader Adam Hasner sounded the alarm last weekend at a state GOP conference.

"It is a stealth agenda funded by the left to do in the courts what they can't do at the ballot box," Hasner thundered. "This is the top priority of Democrats in 2010 and it must be stopped. … The 2010 election is still not going to be easy. The permanent Obama campaign — Obama 2.0, Organizing for America — is already setting up shop right here in Florida."

Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Yes, we can, evermore

Here's a number that may worry the Florida GOP: 11. That's the number of paid staffers Obama 2.0 has in Florida at the moment.

We checked out the new statewide headquarters for Organizing for America, Barack Obama's grass roots organization, in Tampa last week. It's a busy crew led by statewide director Ashley Walker, who said that in two months volunteers have held at least 1,000 events across the state, ranging from canvassing to phone banks to attending town hall meetings.

Volunteers kicked off the opening of the Ybor City headquarters, 1702 N 14th St., with a phone bank, encouraging support for health care reform.

Quote of the week

"It's the Second Amendment — not the 11th — the Second Amendment." — Charlie Crist on the importance of the right to bear arms.

What's in a name

In case you wondered, soon-to-be Sen. George LeMieux's name in French means "the best," though some Florida editorial boards are not convinced. Crist's pick of LeMieux was panned as self-serving by the editorial boards of the St. Petersburg Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Palm Beach Post, and Florida Today of the Space Coast.


of the week

U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores. While Charlie Crist traveled to every TV major market inviting venerable public servants and would-be Senate appointees to fawn over him before the cameras, Young showed off a mischievous streak. Rather than just tell Crist's staff no thanks over the phone, he showed up to Crist's interview in Pinellas dressed like he was in the midst of mowing the lawn and told the surprised governor had no interest in the job — nor, apparently, his dog and pony show.


of the week

State Sen. Charlie Justice, D-St. Petersburg. Justice is running for Young's Pinellas-Hillsborough congressional district and the prospect of Young retiring for a Senate appointment must have had Justice's heart pounding in anticipation of an open seat. Alas, Young sounds like a man ready for a 21st term, which means Justice is back to trying to convince people he has a snowball's chance of winning.

Florida's ballot initiative to ban gerrymandering starts to draw foes 08/29/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 29, 2009 8:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals


    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. No lack of issues facing St. Petersburg's six council candidates


    ST. PETERSBURG — The six candidates for City Council gathered Monday evening in the very chamber to which they aspire to serve.

    St. Petersburg City Council candidates (from left)  Brandi Gabbard and Barclay Harless in District 2; Jerick Johnston and incumbent council member Darden Rice in District 4; and Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll of District 6. All six candidates appeared at Monday night's forum at City Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  3. Iraq's Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears


    IRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi Kurds voted Monday in a landmark referendum on supporting independence, a move billed by the Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination but viewed as a hostile act by Iraq's central government. Neighboring Turkey even threatened a military response.

    People celebrate Monday after voting closed in a referendum on independence in Irbil, Iraq.
  4. North Korean diplomat says Trump has 'declared war'


    UNITED NATIONS — North Korea's top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump's weekend tweet was a "declaration of war" and North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers, even in international airspace.

    North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, center, speaks outside the U.N. Plaza Hotel in New York on Monday.
  5. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]