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COLUMN

Happytown

The week where we all became political schizophrenics via redistricting, we learned that Florida is heaven for CEOs and we got a taste of what's to come with Orange County's gay registry. Hey, at least we're not North Carolina!

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Ok, so here's the part where you press your fingers to your eyelids and wait to see stars if you have no interest in terms like “gerrymandering” and “redistricting.” In fact, you may have already done that sometime during the past year when you realized that your Republican legislators – despite the traveling choreography of yawns suggesting otherwise – didn't really care what you had to say about how your votes line up in the nonsensical tapestry of district lines. The good news: Everything was virtually settled last week when the Florida Supreme Court validated the legislature's mulligan go at redrawing state Senate maps after being shot down earlier this year. Nothing to see here! Everybody just line up and qualify where you're supposed to, candidate-types. Justice – and “Fair Districts,” the one seeming Democratic victory in the 2010 election – has been served.

But it doesn't taste so good. Just ask Orange County Democratic Party leader and state Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, who admits that, “Unless you're a mathematician, redistricting is boring.”

On May 1, Randolph took to his Facebook account with this missive: “Well downtown Orlando, on Friday the Florida Supreme Court approved you going into a district 75 percent in Brevard. Now the Leon Circuit Court has approved you going into a Congressional district in Lake County. We just suffered a left hook and then a right hook thanks to the Florida courts.”

Yikes. According to the Miami Herald, the Supremes shot down a liberal lawsuit against the latest redistricting maps on the grounds that the case “failed to demonstrate that the revised Senate plan as a whole or with respect to any individual district violates Florida's constitutional requirements.” In other words, we just didn't have much time to listen to said arguments, really.

What that means for those of us living anywhere near downtown Orlando is that we're now suffering a sort of political schizophrenia. Rather than being a compact district that leans heavily to the left, we're now two diffuse situations depending on what office you're talking about: your state senator is likely to be somebody representing the beachcombers of Brevard County, while your U.S. Congressman will be wearing a cowboy hat bought in Lake County. Hooks all around!

“They've attempted to wipe out our influence, which is tough for Democrats in Florida,” Randolph says. “Orlando is a high-turnout area and has a high donor base.” People are less likely to either vote or cut a check in this confusion, he adds.

Republicans, of course, danced a jig of justice, leaning on the idea that somehow all of this improves their standing with black and Hispanic minorities, because that's the sort of shredding machine they feed their talking points through.Which is odd, notes Randolph, considering how hard the Republicans have worked at removing voting rights from minorities. Anyway, what we end up with is a sad situation that we're stuck with for 10 years (the Congressional lines may be reconsidered upon challenge before the 2014 mid-terms).

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