* The Chicago Tribune editorial board published a long screed over the weekend which essentially declared that no remap reform proposal would ever get by the Illinois Supreme Court and called upon Bruce Rauner and the billionaires he controls to spend lots more money on Supreme Court elections.
When former Gov. Pat Quinn produced his own remap plan, it was nitpicked to death by the media. We didn’t see hardly any of that sort of analysis of the remap reformers’ two failed plans. Why? You’d have to ask them, but I’m not the only person who believes that the reformers presented a poorly drafted proposal. And some even believed the reformers’ plan appeared as if it was designed to fail. My weekly syndicated newspaper column looks at the political angle and concludes…
Again, the governor, his party apparatchiks and his legislative candidates are not wrong to blame Madigan or Senate President John Cullerton or rank and file Democrats for the lack of action on redistricting reform this year. Have at it. You use what works in campaigns, and this works.
Indeed, Republican legislative candidates have been doing their very best to kick up as much dust as possible since the redistricting opinion was handed down. The common thread, of course, is Speaker Madigan.
“Mike Madigan and the career politicians in Springfield have made a mess of our state, and it is going to take fair maps and term limits to clean it up,” said Tony McCombie, the GOP challenger to Rep. Mike Smiddy (D-Hillsdale). Hers was one of countless statements I’ve seen from Republican candidates throughout the state, and the governor was in her district’s main media market the same day to amplify his party’s case against the ruling.
But knocking down [Quinn’s] proposal before it even gets out of the gate because of the sponsor is wrong and implies that no idea proposed by any Democrat with the slightest bit of taint on this topic will ever be acceptable in the least. And that more than implies that the governor wants a campaign issue far more than he wants an actual solution — which is exactly what the Democrats have suspected from the very beginning.
As we’ve already discussed, I’m not ready to give up on the court just yet
* Rep. Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago) has his own remap reform plan, which he has filed as legislation, but believes could also pass constitutional muster if presented as a citizen initiative…
It has been said that the fundamental problem with the way Illinois draws its political districts is that it lets the politicians choose their voters, rather than let the voters choose their politicians. This year an attempt to solve that problem by Independent Maps was rejected as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. I’d like to offer another solution, one that I have filed as HJRCA 60.
The method for creating an independent commission proved to be one of the stumbling blocks for the Independent Map Amendment in court. I’d keep the formation of the commission the same as it currently is in the constitution, but I would change its function. Instead of drawing a map, the commission would provide data and software for drawing maps to the public. This provides a procedural change as required for a citizen initiative.
A citizen initiative must include both procedural and structural changes and it must stay confined to changes to the legislative article of the constitution. My proposal separates House and Senate districts as was recommended by the Illinois Reform Commission in 2009. This provides a structural change to the legislature as required for a citizen initiative.
Unlike the Independent Map Amendment, my proposal stays confined to changes in the legislative article of the Illinois Constitution. The Secretary of State currently acts to break a deadlock, and I keep the Secretary in substantially the same role. I also leave the roles of the Attorney General and Supreme Court as they are in the current redistricting process.
So how are the maps drawn? I’d let the public draw them. The legislature must first define in law the criteria that will be used and how maps are scored, before the Census data is released. Then by “crowdsourcing” the creation of the map the public can submit maps or improve on previous submissions. The commission acts as the referee, making sure maps meet the law and are scored and submitting the top three maps to each chamber. Each chamber may vote to approve one by a supermajority vote, but the legislature can’t amend any. If a chamber cannot agree on a map, then the Secretary of State certifies the map with the best score.
One state that is often praised for their redistricting process is our neighbor Iowa. Like this proposal Iowa separates the task of drawing the map from the task of approving the map, and the criteria for drawing the map are laws passed by the legislature. Like this proposal the Iowa legislature can only vote up or down on the map.
My proposal is not entirely new. It’s based on a proposal that I filed in 2009. That proposal had a hearing in the Senate and received mention in a few media outlets. The Daily Herald asked its readers to “urge your state representative and state senator to look at this proposal.” (Aug 8, 2009) Maybe it is time to do just that.
That looks a whole lot tighter than the reformers’ plan, which wandered all over the place.
And whether you agree with this idea or not, it puts the lie to the drama queens out there who claim with purist certainty that nothing can ever be done.
The bottom line is that the reformers screwed up badly - again - and almost nobody wants to admit it.