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The devil, as always, is in the details

Friday, Feb 14, 2020

* From the remap reform proposal

For purposes of reapportionment and redistricting, the Commission shall count each incarcerated person as residing at his or her last known place of residence, rather than at the institution of his or her incarceration.

Prisoners from outside Illinois are exempt, of course. I’m thinking some Downstaters may not love this because their districts will get much larger. Doing this would also make it much easier to eliminate a Downstate congressional district after reapportionment.

* Brian Mackey

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced an amendment to the Illinois Constitution meant to transform the way legislative district boundaries are created here.

The idea is to have an independent commission draw legislative districts for the General Assembly and Congress.

The task is supposed to happen every 10 years after the census, and in Illinois has been handled by whatever party controls state government — presently Democrats.

The commission would be picked by the chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and the next most senior justice elected from a different party. (Today that’s Chief Justice Anne Burke, who was elected as a Democrat, and Justice Robert Thomas, who was elected as a Republican. Thomas has announced his retirement for the end of this month; Justice Rita Garman will then be the longest-tenured Republican on the court).

I respect Justice Burke and I don’t believe she should be judged by her husband. But the time’s are changing, so her power over the remap will be a super-easy talking point against this proposal.

* From former GOP Rep. Peter Breen, who is running against Rep. Terra Costa Howard to get his old job back…

Rep. Terra Costa Howard’s political patron and chief campaign funder, House Speaker Michael Madigan, has held back Fair Maps for years, fighting citizen initiatives in the courts and squashing amendment resolutions in the General Assembly. Everyone in the state knows that no Fair Maps amendment can pass the General Assembly until Madigan resigns or is removed. Yet Costa Howard continues to support Madigan for Speaker, even in the teeth of her campaign promises that she would be independent of and wouldn’t support Madigan. Costa Howard’s filing of another Fair Maps amendment can’t distract from the fact she has no discernible body of work in her time in the General Assembly: all she’s demonstrated is an inability to tell the truth.

That’s why our people-powered movement, FairMapsIllinois.com, has been quietly collecting signatures to put a clean, simple, legally-sound Fair Maps amendment on the November ballot, going around Madigan and his General Assembly enablers, including Terra Costa Howard. The citizen initiative process is the one sure way, free of interference from the corrupt Springfield machine, for the people of Illinois to finally reach their goal of achieving Fair Maps.

While he’s right about Madigan’s recalcitrance, Breen’s Fair Maps Illinois committee has reported raising just $100. And his committee’s website prominently features a photo of… himself.

* More on the leadership angle from Finke’s piece

[Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake] said it will be up to lawmakers to work around any potential opposition from legislative leaders.

“I believe that if we have a mass of legislators that want this amendment to move forward and be on the ballot, that’s the way the leaders are going to pay attention, know we’re serious,” Bush said. “It has to be bipartisan. It’s up to us.”

She cited the Reproductive Health Act from last year that was stalled until rank and file lawmakers put enough pressure on the leaders to start moving it. The bill passed and is now law.

“We must stand together and we must build a mass,” Bush said.

The question is, do rank and file Democrats truly want this to pass enough to say they will shut down the process unless they get what they want? That’s what happened with RHA last year. House Democratic freshmen told Speaker Madigan it had to be called or they were walking. It was called. It remains to be seen whether this proposal has that level of enthusiasm behind it.

Also, the fact that zero legislators of color were at yesterday’s press conference and none are listed as co-sponsors argues against that happening.

* From Hannah Meisel’s piece

Madeleine Doubek, a former journalist and executive director of Change Illinois, said the measure introduced Thursday — dubbed the Fair Maps Amendment — would protect the rights of Black and Latino residents of Illinois and uphold the federal Voting Rights Act as well as the state voting rights law.

“We will do everything to protect voting rights,” Doubek said.

OK, prove it by finding some sponsors of color.

* Um

A 2014 analysis by the Washington Post named Illinois’ 4th congressional district, consisting of western Chicago suburbs such as Cicero and Brookfield, among the 10 most gerrymandered in the country. The district, which elected Democratic U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García in 2018 by a 73-point margin, resembles a pair of earmuffs. The two sides of the district are connected by a narrow patch of grass under Interstate 290.

That district was drawn under Republican dominance of the 1991 remap to create the first Latinx congressional district in state history. That’s not gerrymandering, unless you oppose racial equity.

* Center Square

State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, said the way the maps are drawn now with the majority party controlling where the lines go breeds toxic politics.

“It only pushes incumbents to adopt an extremist political manifesto in an attempt to hold on to that seat,” Bush said. “Democrats become more liberal and Republicans more conservative and we lose any chance to a healthy balance between the two extremes.”

Amid ongoing federal corruption probes involving state lawmakers, state Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, said an independent commission is needed to combat self-interested politicians.

“So if you want to root out corruption in this state, this is the place we need to start,” he said.

It’s true that incumbents in “safe” districts only need to worry about their primaries. But we saw a number of “safe” suburban districts all of a sudden become toss-up districts in 2018. And, I don’t care how fair the maps are, you can’t draw a Democratic Senate district in Effingham nor a Republican Senate District in Englewood.

Also, did unfair maps really prompt Martin Sandoval to take bribes and Luis Arroyo to bribe a Senator? I’d like to see some data to back up that often-used talking point.

* But I do agree with this

“The time for an end to gerrymandering is now so that we’re not saddled with another ten years of maps that stifle competition and suppress voters’ choices,” Doubek said.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

13 Comments »
  1. - Anon y mouse - Friday, Feb 14, 20 @ 11:59 am:

    Well, Michael Madigan is the devil. He is detailed. And he draws the maps … so yes. /s


  2. - @misterjayem - Friday, Feb 14, 20 @ 12:06 pm:

    “Breen’s Fair Maps Illinois committee has reported raising just $100. And his committee’s website prominently features a photo of… himself.”

    If Peter Breen wasn’t always about Peter Breen and only about Peter Breen, Peter Breen wouldn’t be Peter Breen.

    – MrJM


  3. - Annonin - Friday, Feb 14, 20 @ 12:09 pm:

    Every 10 years so one has to ask if any of the proponents can describe what IL looks like after their “fair map” produces the 102nd GA?
    Oh and how is a partisan panel picked by partisans eliminate the notion of this being a non political process?


  4. - JIbba - Friday, Feb 14, 20 @ 12:18 pm:

    “each incarcerated person as residing at his or her last known place of residence”

    This is far more logical.


  5. - Bourbon Street - Friday, Feb 14, 20 @ 12:20 pm:

    “Breen’s Fair Maps Illinois committee has reported raising just $100.”

    Not a surprise given the doomed fate of the last ballot initiative aimed at amending the Illinois Constitution with regard to maps. Hooker v. Board of Elections, 2016 IL 121077.


  6. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 14, 20 @ 12:28 pm:

    === Breen’s Fair Maps Illinois committee has reported raising just $100. And his committee’s website prominently features a photo of… himself.===

    Sure, Mr. Breen is unpopular, but his unpopularity can be spread to things that bear his face too?

    To the post,

    Recently had a discussion, if you will, with someone who’s smart in these things, and a couple things stood out;

    Candidates have been the detriment for the GOP these last few years, not boundaries.

    Headwinds too that the national discussion, not a help either.

    Rauner, his term, the midterm of this POTUS… all not great for the GOP in Illinois.

    Ignoring the Voting Rights Act… yeah, that’s a boo-boo come map-making time… but, I’d add this… I’m always confused, as a Republican, mind you, that those in my party are still seemingly confused how that whole Voting Rights Act and gerrymandering aren’t the same thing. See, they aren’t. It’s like a willful ignorance to that challenge. Those minority districts, the former GOP here in Illinois now, even more overtly, dismiss.

    Then again outreach to minorities or women (as of late) isn’t a “thing” of consideration for this group for a longer time than 1992…


  7. - Soccermom - Friday, Feb 14, 20 @ 12:35 pm:

    Thanks for this, Rich

    “That district was drawn under Republican dominance of the 1991 remap to create the first Latinx congressional district in state history. That’s not gerrymandering, unless you oppose racial equity.”


  8. - muon - Friday, Feb 14, 20 @ 12:46 pm:

    I think one issue for the proposed amendment with minority groups is that the Voting Rights Act guarantees a minimum representation by minorities. In the last cycle Democrats created more black districts than the VRA required. The concern is not that VRA would be followed, but that it would result in fewer districts than they currently are able to win if a neutral group drew the map and only followed the requirements of the VRA.

    IL-4 is a different story. In 1991 the “earmuff” district was the only way to create a Latinx CD that didn’t chop the black-majority IL-7. By 2010 there was a sufficient Latinx population in SW Chicago and adjacent communities in Cook that a compact district could be created without looping to the NW side, and it could reliably elect the choice of Latinx voters based on the VRA. The gerrymander of 1991 didn’t need to persist in 2011.


  9. - Drake Mallard - Friday, Feb 14, 20 @ 12:58 pm:

    MUON Is exactly right. Move, Illinois 3rd cd North to include Cicero and drop the section in Will County. And you would definitely have a majority Hispanic District


  10. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Feb 14, 20 @ 1:25 pm:

    We will never get fair single member districts. Go to three member districts with voting as we did before. Solves gerrymandering while giving minorities representation.


  11. - BigLou - Friday, Feb 14, 20 @ 2:07 pm:

    Question: If we’ve lost congressional seats over the past twenty years why don’t we reduce the number of State Senators and Reps too? Same with Chicago, population has decreased why do we need so many aldermen.


  12. - Homer Simpson's Brain - Friday, Feb 14, 20 @ 2:16 pm:

    I think mixed member proportional representation could work. Each constituency would still have a local rep/ senator to represent them, but with the added bonus that parties would win seats in proportion to the statewide popular vote.


  13. - JIbba - Friday, Feb 14, 20 @ 3:15 pm:

    Big Lou, Illinois has generally increased in population in most years since 1920 (with minor decreases at times). We are losing seats because population elsewhere is growing faster. There are population shifts in-state from rural to urban, though. Some rural counties reached their peaks decades ago and declined ever since.


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