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 Response Page - Walz / McClure  Interview -      


These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Candi Walz / Sedric McClure Interview of
12-02-2011.
 

Overview

Candi Walz, chair, and Sedric McClure, member, of the Minnesota Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC) discuss their efforts in producing a citizen-lead redistricting plan.  Organized by the non-profit group Draw the Line Minnesota, CRC takes the position that the Legislature is in an impaired position to redraw the boundaries of electoral districts. Walz and McCLure contend that political polarization and partisanship have contributed to a redistricting process that is not in citizens' best interests and inevitably ends up in the court system for a solution. They advocate instead involving a broad array of citizens in the process and disallowing the inherent conflict of interest in incumbent legislators' drawing the lines of the districts in which they will run. They call for districts that are more representative of characteristics of the state's population and that are drawn by the people living in those districts. Using this process they have developed a redistricting proposal that they have presented to the judicial panel now in charge of redrawing district boundaries. They hope the process they have undertaken this year will prove to be a model for redistricting reform after the next Census is taken in 2020.

For the complete interview summary see:  http://bit.ly/rZ9gpP

Response Summary:  Readers have been asked to rate, on a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, the following points discussed by Walz and McClure. Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

1. Representation is now inadequate. (7.7 average response) The current system for drawing boundaries of legislative and congressional districts in Minnesota is excessively political and failing to provide adequate representation of citizens across the state.

2. Preserve communities of interest. (6.6 average response) The most important principle in redistricting  is to preserve communities of interest, including but not limited to cities, counties, towns, sovereign entities, school districts, demographics, transportation corridors, and regional economic patterns.

3. Community outweighs competitiveness. (5.3 average response) Preserving communities of interest is more important than creating competitive districts.

4. Establish citizens' commission. (6.0 average response) A new approach utilizing a citizens commission should be established.

5. Major change unnecessary.  (2.7 average response) Despite charges that legislators exploit redistricting as an opportunity for self-preservation, major changes aren't needed in the way redistricting works now.

 

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree

Neutral

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Representation is now inadequate.

3%

14%

7%

31%

45%

29

2. Preserve communities of interest.

14%

7%

14%

41%

24%

29

3. Community outweighs competitiveness.

14%

28%

10%

31%

17%

29

4. Establish citizens' commission.

7%

24%

14%

34%

21%

29

5. Major change unnecessary.

34%

41%

10%

10%

3%

29

 

Individual Responses:

Jack Evert  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (0)

4. Establish citizens' commission. I live in Arizona in the winter, and we passed a constitutional amendment in 2000 establishing a five person redistricting board including 2 Republicans, 2 Democrats and an independent.  The independent is chairing the commission, and our low quality governor tried to fire her.  The State Supreme Court slapped her hands, and the commission is back in business.  I think this is a good crack at a way to develop good districts.  Citizen input is needed, and it is essential that the legislators not be in charge.  They will only work towards self-preservation and more partisanship.

Ray Ayotte  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (0)

Richard Angevine  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (2.5)

4. Establish citizens' commission. I agree that redistricting needs to be taken out of the hands of the politicians who can benefit from the changes that are made.

John Branstad  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (0)

1. Representation is now inadequate. The key here is excessively political. The process was always somewhat political, but in today's ultra-divisive, win-at-all-costs atmosphere, the redistricting process is disgustingly politicized. The blatant hypocrisy of political parties trying to present their obviously biased redistricting plans as "fair" might be comical if it weren't so dangerous and insulting to the very idea of a representative democracy.

2. Preserve communities of interest. Citizens want their representatives to actually represent their communities. Splitting communities of interest reduces the 'representative-ness' of elected officials.

4. Establish citizens' commission. Citizens should absolutely have a say in how districts are created. Frankly, the redistricting process is too important to be trusted to political parties with motives that are absolutely not in the public's best interest.

5. Major change unnecessary.  "Charges that legislators exploit redistricting"? The conduct of the 2011 legislative majority is prima facie evidence that legislators can and do exploit and bastardize the redistricting process. The goal of redistricting should be to provide fair representation and equal. The goal of political parties is to get as many of their members as possible elected. Those two goals simply cannot be reconciled. If fair and transparent elections are the core of our democracy, the redistricting process needs to be removed from the hands of political parties.

Chris Brazelton  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (0)

3. Community outweighs competitiveness. Competitive districts result in more moderate candidates, so this is a consideration if we want effective representation and less polarized legislature or congress, but I understand the speaker's concern that these two ideas may compete with one another.

4. Establish citizens' commission. I appreciate the process they followed and I agree that a panel that includes judges and citizens (and) that starts well in advance each decade would be best.

Peter Hennessey  (5)  (7.5)  (2.5)  (2.5)  (5)

3. Community outweighs competitiveness. Preserving "communities of interest" and "competitive districts" do not have to be polar opposites, but if they are, then the creation of competitive districts is more important because (1) it leads to more voter interest and involvement in public affairs, and (2) decreases the likelihood of an entrenched political machine preserving itself in perpetuity.

4. Establish citizens' commission.  New, therefore better? Not unless you identify the proposed alternative.

5. Major change unnecessary.  You will never take politics out of politics.

Don Anderson  (7.5)  (5)  (2.5)  (5)  (7.5)

3. Community outweighs competitiveness. Wouldn't preserving communities of interest also create competitive districts?

Dave Broden  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (0)

1. Representation is now inadequate. This is the question each decade and is avoided by the extremes in both political parties. The centrists or moderates of both parties (have) sought to have a representative process, as (it) should be, to collect ideas and input across the state and evolve a consensus via collaboration of key participants.

2. Preserve communities of interest. The political approach is to tailor the criteria for each census and redistricting event rather that address the realism of good government and representation that comes from well defined criteria based on community interest, compactness, and (contiguity). A goal should be to establish common standards for all redistricting events.

3. Community outweighs competitiveness. This topic leads to a strong discussion. Competitive districts offer benefits but the ability to have well representative districts with uniformity of interests as long as the representative does not focus on earmarks and other special projects ensure effective government.

4. Establish citizens' commission. An approach of a redistricting commission should be a priority of the legislature and all levels of government. The specific form is open for dialogue. The Carlson/Mondale plan is a good starting point but (as it is) based only on judges (it) is perhaps a bit biased and should include community leaders. Also a process of citizen input should be considered. A process where the commission provides the plan to the legislature for review and action may be appropriate but if rejected 2 or 3 times the commission plan takes effect. Also need to address both congressional and legislature, which may be somewhat different.

5. Major change unnecessary.  The process is marked with “pet rock” and protectionism. A change in the process, particularly one that ensure citizen input and allows legislative review, would gain strong public support.

Debby Frenzel  (10)  (7.5)  (5)  (7.5)  (2.5)

W. D. (Bill) Hamm  (7.5)  (7.5)  (5)  (7.5)  (2.5)

1. Representation is now inadequate. I would say, though, that the Courts’ final solutions have been more bipartisan and fairer than the legislative plans over the last decades.

2. Preserve communities of interest. Definition of that "Communities of Interest" terminology is crucial to making a decision here.

3. Community outweighs competitiveness. Again I need further definition.

4. Establish citizens' commission. It's all in the “who” and “how” this commission is to be set up. A beautiful concept can be quickly ruined by bad implementation.

5. Major change unnecessary.  Just let us make sure what we replace them with isn't more metro-dominated.

John Sievert  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (0)

David F. Durenberger  (7)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (0)

This is worth a Constitutional Amendment, which could set out the 3 or 4 principles involved.

Joseph Mansky  (10)  (0)  (0)  (10)  (5)

A few comments are in order.
 
2. Preserve communities of interest. Very simply, this flies in the face of the law and practical experience. The first principal is and must be population equality. Compactness measurements and reducing splits in counties and municipalities are effective tools in reducing the impact of partisan gerrymandering.
 
3. Community outweighs competitiveness. Just a personal view, but it seems to me that increasing political competitiveness is one of the most powerful methods available to address the increasing polarization and dysfunctionalism of our legislative bodies, at all levels. That was certainly Governor Ventura’s view and was an important aspect of the plans submitted to the special redistricting panel in 2001-02 by the governor’s citizen redistricting commission. Use of communities of interest is useful, but can easily be used by clever mapmakers as a subterfuge for partisan gerrymandering.
 
5. Major change unnecessary.  It seems to me that the members of the legislature are rational actors in this process and are legally required to adopt redistricting plans. However, it would be best to remove the fundamental conflict inherent in creating election districts to suit one’s own needs and to delegate that responsibility to a citizens redistricting commission that would be given the task of preparing the plans for consideration by the legislature. I think our system is broken, but salvageable for 2021-22. The first step that the current legislature could take toward this objective would be to enact a redistricting standards law before final adjournment in 2012.

Clarence Shallbetter  (8)  (5)  (3)  (7)  (2)

Transparency in the criteria used, how they affect various alternatives and illustration of their impact on resulting districts would be very helpful to increase confidence in the final proposals. This step would be desirable whether the districting is done by the courts, a group of retired judges, or a citizens’ commission.

One objective of an election is to encourage all voters to cast a ballot. This includes the one third who are independents.  Competitive districts are more likely to attract voters and therefore it's important (that) districts be as competitive as possible.

Robert J. Brown  (10)  (0)  (0)  (0)  (0)

First, this group has a distinct leftward tilt that raises questions about its ability to come up with a fair redistricting plan. Unfortunately, the problem of bias comes up with any group doing redistricting whether it be legislative, judicial , or citizens’ groups. The "communities of interest approach" opens the door for all kinds of political manipulation.
 
Having worked on redistricting and reapportionment as a legislator I know how hard it can be to come up with a fair plan. We actually passed a legislative redistricting bill in the state senate in 1971 with an overwhelming bi-partisan vote (something like 49-18 with the vote divided equally between the two caucuses - 25 conservatives and 24 DFLers in favor and 9 of each opposed. The bill passed the House by a large margin with most of the Conservatives and the senior DFLers in favor, but many of the freshman DFLers opposed, so the Governor vetoed the bill. The court then drew up a bill that reduced the size of the legislature. That plan was appealed by the state senate as unconstitutional. (I liked the plan and opposed the appeal) The Supreme Court threw out the plan. Then Judge Heaney (former DFL National committeeman) drew a plan that was a ridiculous gerrymander and that is what we were stuck with for the next decade. We also did Congressional redistricting, but that was a protect-the-incumbent bill as there was (a) 4-4 delegation split, and that seemed to satisfy most people. The bottom line is that my experience led me to believe that you can never have a credible plan unless it is drawn up with minimal human involvement. For 40 years I have argued that the legislature (or courts if you prefer) could draw up some basic measureable guidelines dealing with the size of the population variance that would be allowed (the courts have changed this at times), and the size of the governmental units that should be protected from being divided (e.g., a city of 5000 or less.)  The put all the census data into a computer program that would use those guidelines, randomly select a corner of the state to start and then let the program draw the lines.

Chuck Lutz  (7)  (8)  (9)  (9)  (3)

If “the way redistricting works now” means (a) judicial panel drawing lines, changes may not be needed. But some system of redistricting by an independent, nonpartisan panel should be written into law. 

Wayne Jennings  (10)  (8)  (10)  (7)  (2)

George Pillsbury  (3)  (10)  (10)  (3)  (5)

A unicameral legislature would simply the task.

Larry Schluter  (9)  (9)  (5)  (8)  (2)

We need a better non-partisan solution to this problem.

Lyall Schwarzkopf  (8)  (5)  (4)  (1)  (4)

I think we need to look at the proposal recommended by former legislator Laura Brod or the proposal suggested by Gov. Carlson.

Terry Stone  (0)  (0)  (0)  (0)  (10)

Present redistricting provides representative parity across Minnesota. It represents cultural, geographic and economic segments in real-world proportions.

Communities of interest are simply not a meaningful formula for achieving voter parity. Social planners and political activists masquerading as reformers would do well to look elsewhere.

Competitive districts are our best hope of providing accountability for our political system. Districts tuned to communities of interests tend to wallow in patronage and suffer stagnation.

At the time of this interview, the Redistricting Panel of the Supreme Court had already summarily rejected communities of interest as a primary factor in redistricting.

If a redistricting commission (were) ever adopted by Minnesota, the Minnesota Citizens Redistricting Commission would be a sorry example to follow. The Minnesota Citizens Redistricting Commission is actually the Draw the Line, MN’s Citizens Redistricting Committee that was orchestrated by Draw the Line Midwest.

Ms. Walz’s Committee aspired to be, “a true Citizen’s Commission – initiated for and by the people.” Unfortunately, Draw the Line was doomed to partisan ideology from the onset. The Minnesota players are dependably liberal and partisan Common Cause Minnesota, League of Women Voters Minnesota, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits & TakeAction Minnesota.

Take Action Minnesota is composed of special interests and falls far short of political objectivity:
Advocating Change Together (ACT) http://www.selfadvocacy.org/,
Clean Water Action Alliance http://www.cleanwateraction.org/,
Communication Workers State Council http://www.cwamncouncil.org/,
Community Action of Minneapolis http://www.campls.org/,
Education Minnesota http://www.educationminnesota.org/,IUE-CWA http://www.iue-cwa.org/,
Land Stewardship Project, http://www.landstewardshipproject.org/,
Minneapolis Federation of Teachers http://www.mft59.org/
Minnesota Association for Justice http://www.mnaj.org/,
Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE) http://www.mape.org/,
Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless http://www.mnhomelesscoalition.org/,
Minnesota Nurses Association http://www.mnnurses.org,
OutFront Minnesota http://www.outfront.org/home,
Protect Minnesota http://protectmn.org/,
Saint Paul Federation of Teachers http://spft.locals.educationminnesota.org/,
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare
http://www.seiuhealthcare.org/,
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 63, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Minnesota State Council, http://www.seiumn.org/, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 26, http://www.seiu26.org/, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 284 http://www.seiu284.org/, Somali Action Alliance http://www.somaliactionalliance.org/
UNITE HERE! http://www.local21.com/
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1189 http://www.ufcw789.org/
United Transportation Union (UTU) http://www.utu.org/
Womenwinning http://www.womenwinning.org/

(The) Supreme Court (has) rejected the Citizens Committee’s concept of communities of interest as a dispositive factor in redistricting. Additionally Judge Dale Lindman ruled against ABM, TakeAction Minnesota and Common Cause MN as having standing in the redistricting case. Draw the Line is an example of how eagerly the redistricting process can be hijacked by special interests in the name of reform.

Richard McGuire  (5)  (9)  (8)  (5)  (2)

Tom Swain  (10)  (10)  (0)  (5)  (0)

Bright Dornblaser  (10)  (3)  (1)  (8)  (1)

Arvonne Fraser  (4)  (7)  (4)  (2)  (9)

Life is political and representative democracy is what we have.  Statewide citizens meetings or even district meetings can be equally political and are not accountable to anyone.

Jim Olson  (10)  (3)  (6)  (1)  (0)

The most important consideration must be equality of population. This does not mean precise equality but surely within 1% of the other districts.

Tom Spitznagle  (8)  (5)  (3)  (5)  (3)

Carolyn Ring  (4)  (8)  (6)  (4)  (3)

The two guidelines for re-districting are:  a contiguous area with a common interest.  The commission recommended by Civic Caucus and/or the panel of judges would be preferable to the present arrangement. Broad based citizens input sounds like a good idea, but too often such a group has a "hidden agenda" and does not have "the big picture" in mind.

Bill Kuisle  (3)  (0)  (2)  (3)  (6)

It will be political no matter who handles it. You cannot make up a committee that will not take politics into consideration when drawing the lines.  How the lines are drawn does matter.

    

The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky, John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and Wayne Popham 


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The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.  civiccaucus@comcast.net
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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