Saturday, December 02, 2006

as the 4th district turns

In this episode, we will go more into the chances of U.S. Rep. Tom Davis' (R-NoVA) DC-Utah House seat bill. ex-Sen. ex-VP candidate Jack Kemp and Mr. Davis believe the bill still has a chance:
"No one in our leadership has indicated to me that this is not possible," [] Davis [] said [] Friday. "The stars are aligned. The time is now."
"There remains a strong possibility of enacting the DC Voting Rights Act during the lame duck session of Congress," Kemp said. "Conversations I have had with House and Senate leadership about the bill have been positive and encouraging."

"No one [told] me [it's] not possible" and "strong possibility" are not exactly ringing endorsements of the bill's chances. That sounds like much less than the 50% that some pundits (like UVA's Larry Sabbato) have given the bill. When the media asked the Democrat most interested in the bill, this is what D.C.'s delegate told the Tribune:
Eleanor Holmes Norton[] says incoming speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised her continuing support of the bill if the GOP doesn't take up the measure next week. Pelosi is a co-sponsor of the legislation.
It's unclear, however, whether Utah will still be part of the legislation under a Democratic-controlled Congress.

So it sounds like D.C. could get its vote early in January and Utah might get nothing until 2012. But that's OK with the Tribune, whose headline reads "Utah voters' case pales in comparison with D.C.'s:"
While Utah has three U.S. House members and two senators, the district's nearly 600,000 residents have no vote in Congress, which, in addition to its other powers, controls the district's budget and laws.
"The people of Utah have expressed outrage over the loss of one congressional seat for the last six years," Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. testified before a congressional committee in September. "I share their outrage. I can't imagine what it must be like for American citizens to have no representation at all for over 200 years."

There is some interesting history about DC's attempts to get a vote that I didn't know about either
In 1978, Congress sent the states another constitutional amendment that would allow the district to have a House member, but only 16 of the required 38 states ratified the change, and it expired in 1985.
The district also called a Constitutional Convention in 1980, a state constitution was drafted for "New Columbia," and it was submitted to be part of the union. But it was all for naught. The amendment didn't pass.

And of course, almost all of us know why nothing has happened in terms of D.C. getting Congressional voting rights:
Mark David Richards is a political sociologist who did his doctoral dissertation on the history of the District of Columbia. He says for much of the time the district has been seeking full voting rights, the opposition derived, at least in part, from racial undertones. Blacks make up 62 percent of the district's population, according to the 2000 census.
But now, Richards says, some of the opposition to granting the district voting rights is pure politics - if the city gained a House member or senators, there's little doubt the Democrat-filled city would elect only those with donkeys on their campaign signs.

With Democrats in control of Congress, I don't know why they don't try the Davis bill or something else that gives DC a vote. Retrocession the District (save the National Mall and other Federal buildings) back to Maryland would work, but Maryland doesn't want to deal with the mess that Congress has made of DC. Why not just pass a bill to allow D.C. voters to vote in MD's senate race and give DC a vote in the House. Under the constitution, Congress can do whatever the hell it wants within the 10 miles square of the District (Art I, Sec. 8, cl. 17).

I will keep on this story dear reader until the Davis bill fails or another DC bill is brought up in the 110th Congress.

Friday, December 01, 2006

much politisan manuvering about nothing

Thomas Burr of the Trib starts his lede with this non-shocker: "Even as Utah state lawmakers prepare to head into special session to pass a four-seat congressional map in hopes of getting another House member, it's doubtful legislation dealing with the issue in Congress will make it to a vote next week."

Rep. Ben Ferry, R-Corinne, the one committee member who voted against Plan L, has proposed his own Plan M [PDF] because Plan L created a urban 2nd District. "Having a rural component in every district is very important," said Ferry, a Box Elder County stockman. "You try to have comprehensive seats . . . so representatives are aware of rural concerns."

Rep. Ferry, being aware of, caring about, and doing something about are three different things. If you jam in some rural voters into the 2nd on principle, it doesn't mean that Congressman or -woman will do anything for rural Utahns. So Plan M is dead on arrival right?
Sen. Mike Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, has said he also will propose another map at the special session because Plan L divides Taylorsville.
"We are open to any proposals," said Sen. Curt Bramble, a chairman of the 11-person Redistricting Committee. "But when you have a 10-1 vote coming out of committee - that is sending a pretty strong message."

That is saying no more than yes. Speaker Greg Curtis agrees most lawmakers are going to look to the committee, which labored over computer-generated maps, for guidance. "[Ferry] is going to have an uphill battle," Curtis said. "He's going to have to convince members of the committee why his map is better than the one they adopted." So OK that means this Plan M is for naught. But Waddups wants some changes But then again, so is the whole process:
A senior GOP aide told The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday that it's "unlikely" the House would take up a bill that would give Utah a fourth congressional seat that likely would go to a Republican in order to balance a proposed seat for the District of Columbia, which doesn't now have a full-voting representative.
"There's simply too many Republicans who have problems with the bill to bring it up at this late of an hour in the session," the aide said.
Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, signaled similar concerns on Thursday. Asked if the bill had a chance at passing, Cannon said, "It is very dicey, I would say."

So I guess I have to applaud the legislature's committee for listening to that woman in Park City and including Park City with Salt Lake and its 'burbs. At the same time, the whole thing was sham partisan map. They are using 6 year old data, creating 3-safe GOP seats and one safe Democratic district. Except Jim could bust their whole scheme.

It will be interesting to see if Huntsman cannot only keep the legislature in line to pass Plan L but also convince the House and Senate in the US Congress to pass this in the Lame Duck. Personally, i think the chances are less than 50%.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

More on plan L

So this bill is "bipartisan" according to the Tribune because the committee listened to people in Park City who complained about being lumped into rural Utah when they are a cosmopolitan city linked to Salt Lake City and Vale, CO than Mexican Hat, UT..."including a Park City woman who complained about being in the 'hellhole' of the 1st Congressional District. "

But this article does include a new tidbit of information from the past that might link to the future:
After the 2001 redistricting, Matheson contemplated suing the state after Republican lawmakers gerrymandered him into a district stretching from Salt Lake City to St. George. Wednesday, Matheson spokeswoman Alyson Heyrend declined to comment on the new map, calling it "extremely hypothetical."

The Deseret News points out the Utah Republican hypocrisy:
For a decade, GOP lawmakers have argued that there should not be a single U.S. House district in Salt Lake County — that all Utah congressmen should represent both urban and rural areas of the state. But under Plan L, Matheson's 2nd District would take in northern Salt Lake County, Park City and surrounding suburbs in Summit County and North Salt Lake and part of Woods Cross in Davis County.

Oh and by the way, you, Utah Taxpayers, paid for a likely charade
Finally, all the work and cost of paying for the committee's work and a special session may be for naught.
State officials are rushing to get a four-seat plan before Congress so that a lame-duck session next week can consider a special bill that would give Washington, D.C., a full-voting House seat (the current delegate can't vote on final passage of legislation) and give Utah a fourth seat.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The new map

In the end, the Legislature's special committee decided on a plan whose map was never released to the public...Plan L(PDF).

L looks somewhat similar to previous plans. The new 4th district will be Southwestern Utah (Tooele, Juab [save the Eastern jug end where everyone lives], Millard, Beaver, Iron, Washington Counties). However, the 4th also would include Southern Salt Lake County-- South Jordan, West Jordan, Cottonwood Heights, Talyorsville, Sandy, and parts of West Valley. The new 2nd will be like the 1990's 2nd (Northern Salt Lake County, with the Park City part of Summitt County, and a tiny sliver of Davis and Utah Counties [Woods Cross and Alta respectively]). The new 3rd will include Eastern Utah "centered" around Provo (Morgan, rest of Summitt, Daggett, Wasatch, Utah, Duchesne, Uintah, Carbon, rest of Juab, Sanpete, Emory, Grant, Piute, Wayne, Garfield, San Juan, and Kane Counties). The new 1st will be centered around Ogden (Box Elder, Cash, Weber, 99% of Davis, and Rich Counties).

"We've had a significant amount of public input," Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, committee co-chairman told the Tribune. "There's been a great deal of discussion about the public perception that this is a majority party whitewash. That we are simply trying to gerrymander Republican Party seats. Nothing could be further from the case."

Um I say that is complete Bull. No member of the public asked for protecting Matheson, not even Matheson. The number of people wanting a mix of urban and rural districts were solely Republican partisans. Why don't you ask the people living out in the rural areas if they want to fight for attention with Provo, Salt Lake County, or Davis/Weber Counties? Of course they never had a hearing in rural areas, the closest they got was in St. George, our fastest growing city.

clueless in washington

two idiot senators that think they will be president in two year squwalked today:

"When it comes to the field of Democratic Presidential hopefuls," Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) "has clearly decided that there is still a niche to be filled by someone like him," the New York Observer reports.

"While he thinks that Hillary Clinton can be President, he also notes that she is still in the midst of forming her Iraq policy. And as for John Edwards, John Kerry or Al Gore, well, they’ve already run."

Says Dodd: "I sort of have a unique position because I have experience, but I’m sort of a fresh face. I know that’s kind of silly. I’ve been in the Senate 25 years."

"Twenty years ago, I made a mistake. Twenty years ago, I learned a whole hell of a lot getting up off my knees."
-- Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), quoted by the Providence Journal, about the plagarism of a speech during his 1988 presidential campaign.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bush's other other foreign policy failure

That is, not Iraq, not Afghanistan, but Russia. Bush hired a "Russian expert" for his National Security Adviser (Stanford Provost Condi Rice). He met President Putin and looked into his soul and discovered that he was a "good man," his adjective that means "someone who agrees with me" essentially.

Prior to 9/11, Bush was pushing for missile defense, and demanding that Russia join them in withdrawing the conflicting portion of the ABM treaty. Condi was scheduled to give a speech on September 11, 2001 about Rouge states (aka Iraq, Iran, and North Korea) and the need to protect ourselves from such threats (via missile defense). Obviously, she never got her chance.

While the US and its friends were having their adventure in Iraq, and ignoring Afghanistan, Russia was falling deeper and deeper into a thuggish dictatorship. Those who have the most connections to the Kremlin via bribes or whatever get to have the key businesses and all political and business transactions take place with force always in the background. Corruption is unstoppable. Those who try are beaten or killed, or threatened or acid is poured on their faces.

Those who try to buck the will of the Russian government/mob are killed or attempted to be killed. There is no freedom of press, no rule of law, no real democracy.

Clearly, Mr. Bush, Vladimir Putin is not a "good man" unless he really is someone whose methods and policies you agree with and aspire to.