Redistricting: Grudgingly coming soon to a laggard city near you.

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For more than a year, the single most hypocritical game in a city widely known for its jaw-dropping talent at self-deception has been the irony-free ability of its tub-thumping “law and order” advocates to be magically transformed into defenders of flagrant illegality when the topic turned to the city council’s abysmal failure to heed pertinent statutes and to redistrict.

In other words, the failure of the council to simply do its job.

The same people shrilly demanding audits, full investigations and ritualistic scourgings have been capable of mind-bending, 180-degree turnabouts at the mere suggestion that a council charged with the task of maintaining fair representation might actually pause briefly from the task of masturbatory game-playing and do the type of work job it was elected to do.

Instead, any mention of “redistricting” has revealingly prompted a collective Pavlovian response of epic dimensions, wherein politically-charged partisans would drop everything they were doing to quickly circle the wagons around the since defeated councilman Bill Schmidt, whose 2nd District just happens to be “home to 42 percent more people than Dan Coffey’s District 1, the second-most-populous district.”

Obviously, such a discrepancy is Exhibit A in the case for redistricting, and yet in the end, it was never about the fading Schmidt, or the perpetually scheming Larry Kochert, or an obviously frightened Dan Coffey, who rightly or wrongly looks up at Silver Hills and spies the apocalyptic end to his petty, ward-heeling career.

It was, however, about the letter of the law, and as expected, U.S. Magistrate Judge William Hussman has agreed:

Deal near for new districts in New Albany, by Eric Scott Campbell (News & Tribune).

A tentative settlement hammered out in federal court Friday evening directs the New Albany City Council to redraw the boundaries of its six voting districts by Nov. 22.

The accord cancels a Dec. 3 trial in the lawsuit brought by 20 city residents in May 2006, alleging unequal representation. It hinges on the council paying undisclosed court costs, something that would need to be approved at an upcoming meeting …

… The redistricting plan defeated in 2002 was conceived jointly by political party chairmen, Kochert said. (Plaintiff Jeff) Gillenwater stressed that that wouldn’t be acceptable this time.

“It’s important to me that it’s done correctly and done in such a way that the public has the opportunity to monitor this,” Gillenwater said.

Council obstructionists, now burdened with the responsibility of fulfilling the redistricting mandate publicly, and with transparence, can now be counted upon to mobilize the misdirected malice of downtrodden ratepayers and (what else?) strenuously object to being forced to pay the legal costs accrued solely by reason of the council’s own vacuous indolence.

Indeed, it will be grandstanding hypocrisy of a high order, and in the rich tradition of New Albanian consent decrees, another sad reminder of the persistent failure of a local political class that possesses too many scofflaw heels to drag, and not enough fresh ideas to harness.

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