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COLUMN

Happytown

Wherein we work ourselves up for the redistricting tour of awesomeness only to be summarily dressed down (naked! In prison!) by Polk Sheriff Grady Judd. Oh, the agony.

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If you’re one of the folks who somehow finds a copy of this newspaper the day before it’s issued (wink), and one of the fewer folks who get all hot and bothered upon hearing the word “redistricting,” then you’re likely sitting in the auditorium of the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre scratching yourself during one of the state’s token public input sessions (Wednesday, July 27, 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.) in Orlando regarding the redrawing of Florida’s political map, listening as your more vocal colleagues shout at brick walls about the difficulty in giving feedback on a completely opaque process that has yielded no visible proposals whatsoever. Or, you’re pissing in the wind.

You surely know about Amendments 5 and 6, which were passed last year by Florida voters and add clauses to Florida’s constitution requiring the state’s congressional and legislative districts be drawn in a manner that is “compact, as equal in population as feasible and, where feasible, must make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.” The amendments were a long-overdue response to the masterpieces of gerrymandering, which ensured a 98 percent reelection rate for incumbent state senators and representatives for the past 10 years. Unfortunately, those tasked with redrawing the lines fairly – our representatives – are the people least interested in doing so. Thus, while the Florida House waits for the results of a lawsuit challenging the amendments (which, again, were approved by 63 percent of voters), the denizens of our fair-weather democracy are dragging their heels on drawing these dreadful new maps, delaying the once-a-decade task so much that the Legislature’s own lawyer, Miguel DeGrandy, warned it could cause “rampant confusion,” as it did two decades earlier.

You knew about that, too? OK, well, did you know that in the state’s version of the My District Builder software, the “compactness and geospatial analysis components” have been deleted, which means that the software can no longer “make an overall scoring of compliance with the redistricting requirements?” Ah. Well, there was more where that came from at a July 19 meeting of redistricting wonks at the vaguely institutional International Union of Painters and Allied Trades union hall in southwest Orlando, where Amendment 5 and 6 proponents Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters, State Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, and Doug Head, former chair of the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee, informed the small crowd that the rabbit hole gets infinitely deeper. “Even back in 1939 … [redistricting] was the very first issue that the League of Women Voters went to the legislature to talk about,” Macnab said. “I don’t think you’ll be surprised to hear that they weren’t particularly interested.” Winston Churchill couldn’t be reached for comment.

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