So My Google Alert Says…

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Long-time readers will not have been surprised at what they have read in The Tribune on Sunday, but others may have questions. Do not expect a lot of commentary/opinion to appear from this writer about a pending effort to seek a judicial order compelling a reapportionment of New Albany City Council districts.

However, there is factual information that can be shared, and I’ll do so with this posting and, possibly, future postings.

To alleviate any concerns that this action is related to any current electoral contest, we’ll analyze a recent county-wide general election to lay out some revealing numbers that may enlighten.

This writer is but a bit player in this drama, but you should know that planning for this has been going on for over a year. A broad spectrum of individuals across this community share our concerns over the representational imbalance in city council districts. I was almost as surprised as any of you to see my name in the second paragraph below a banner Tribune headline in Sunday’s editions.

When the City Council sits down to level out the districts, as the state statute requires them to do, they will use Census data from the year 2000, even though estimated data from 2005 is available.

We’ll use actual voting data from an off-year county November election that ought to be somewhat useful.

Make no mistake about it, politics will be a component in the redistricting, and partisan advantage will war with personal advantage if the court orders the redistricting. SO…

In 2002, NA’s First District voted 65.7 percent Democratic. District 2 voted 62.3 Democratic. Remember, this was a county election, but one where Baron Hill faced off with Mike Sodrel (Hill won), and roughly one year after Sept. 11, 2001.

So what? Every city district voted Democratic that year. But remember, partisan advantage will surely be part of the redistricting, and the Democrats hold all the cards this year, with 8 of the 9 votes on council.

But why might those numbers be significant?

Taking this one race’s data, you’d expect (in equalized districts) to see 1,802 voters turning out in each city district, for a total of 10,814 city voters

Here are the actual numbers:

1 (now represented by Dan Coffey (D)) – 1130
2 (now represented by Bill Schmidt (D)) – 3086
3 (now represented by Steve Price (D)) – 1156
4 (now represented by Larry Kochert (D)) – 1641
5 (now represented by Bev Crump (D))– 1701
6 (now represented by Jeff Gahan (D))- 2100

Obviously, population and voting turnout aren’t exactly comparable, but who is to say that turnout isn’t suppressed by unequal representation?

How imbalanced is the actual vote from this snapshot election data?

1 is 37.3% voters fewer than the norm of 1,802
2 is 71.2% voters GREATER than the norm of 1,802
3 is 35.9% voters fewer than the norm of 1,802
4 is 9.0% voters fewer than the norm of 1,802
5 is 5.6% voters fewer than the norm of 1,802
6 is 16.5% voters GREATER than the norm of 1,802

Can anyone doubt that CC District 2 is under-represented, and that 1 and 3 are over-represented?

The underlying claim for EQUAL representation is basic and constitutional. Equal protection under the law is, in 2006, considered an automatic right, and regardless of the constitutional interpretation, redistricting is an Indiana statutory requirement.

Soon, this will become a political question. I’ve little doubt that the council will do the right thing. Horse-trading will commence, and drama is certain. And I know that my colleagues at NA Confidential will keep you posted on the news as it develops, and that they will express opinions thereon. But this writer is retiring from the field forthwith until the pending litigation is settled. NA Confidential will keep you up to date, but All4Word is out of the journalism game on this one. MLOS, until the post-mortem.

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