* Yesterday, Assistant House Majority Leader Lisa Hernandez, House Majority Leader Greg Harris, Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, House Deputy Majority Leader Mary Flowers and Assistant House Majority Leader Marcus Evans held a press conference.
Leader Hernandez, who also chairs the chamber’s redistricting committee, led the press conference. Leader Harris gave a rare budget and revenue briefing [subscribers know more]. Rep. Gong-Gershowitz talked about Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and the increase in racist attacks and her legislative efforts to combat it. Leader Flowers spoke about her Statue and Monument Review Task Force. Leader Evans talked about workers’ rights.
It was quite the show. Not the presentations, but the questions, which (except for a couple like “Why are we even in tomorrow?”) almost all focused on the remap…
The Democratic majority at the Illinois statehouse is continuing on with their process of drawing new legislative boundaries for the next ten years, despite minority Republicans criticizing the process.
Several leading House Republicans held a news conference Thursday outside of a room inside a building at the capitol complex in Springfield they say Democrats are secretly drawing maps. […]
Later in the day at a separate news conference, House Majority Leader Greg Harris, D-Chicago, said they’re looking at all the information brought forth in public hearings. Asked why not invite Republicans to the Democrats’ room, Harris said “we haven’t been invited in their rooms either.”
Spain said Republicans have a map room and they opened it up to the press.
“Which is just a computer screen, the Democrats’ website up, and we’re clicking buttons showing that there’s no public testimony, not data presented, no transparency whatsoever,” Spain said.
That’s quite the framing, by the way. The Democrats should stop doing something just because the GOP complains?
Across the street from the Illinois State Capitol in the backroom of a government office building, Democrats are huddled behind closed doors drawing the legislative maps that will be used over the next ten years.
At his first news conference as his chamber’s top leader in January, state House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch called for a “new day” following the decades-long reign of former Speaker Michael Madigan, saying the redistricting process would be “as transparent as possible.”
But less than four months later, Welch is using the same backroom Madigan used ten years ago to draw the maps in secret. […]
“I asked the chair of the House redistricting committee … if she had anything for me. And she said no. So, we have asked to be involved, we want to be involved. But the Democrats won’t let us,” the Springfield Republican [Rep. Tim Butler] said.
That Democratic chair, state Rep. Lisa Hernandez, called the redistricting process “amazing” at a separate news conference Thursday. She noted that the House has held 30 public redistricting hearings, which was 13 more than were held when the maps were last redrawn a decade ago.
“Amazing” is one word for it. Also, the news media treated the “discovery” of that “secret” meeting room as some sort of big news, when, as the Sun-Times notes, it’s been used for that purpose for quite a long time. House Republican staffers were telling reporters earlier this week where the map room was and encouraged them to go check it out and it was treated as a bright, shiny ball.
* Capitol News Illinois…
Democrats have not said exactly what data has been used in the mapmaking process thus far. They did, however, point to the House Redistricting Committee’s 30 public hearings on the matter, noting they heard testimony from advocacy groups and the public providing input on the process.
During an unrelated news conference Thursday, Democratic leaders brushed off the Republicans’ criticisms, saying this is the normal process that state lawmakers have used in years past.
“We are just following the process like we always do, (the Republicans are) doing the same thing,” said Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, assistant majority leader and chair of the Redistricting Committee.
She said ACS data is just one source, but not the sole source being used to draw the maps.
Look, I get the “secret” room stuff. But, the Democrats ought to be a whole lot more forthcoming about which numbers they’re using. That’s a far more legitimate issue than a super-majority party locking out a super-minority party from the remap process.
“Politicians should not be allowed to select their own voters,” Spain said, looking down the hall at the locked door on the room Democrats had used. “Today, we actually get to see exactly where it happens. It is completely an injustice to democracy that we bear witness to this kind of action.
“This is the doorway to further corruption in the state of Illinois, and it needs to stop,” Spain said.
Added Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Morrisonville, another Redistricting Committee member, “This map has huge consequences for the next 10 years, and if we see this kind of backdoor process play out, that is not one that empowers voters.”
Kudos to the HGOPs for once again winning the media cycle.