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Monday, June 09, 2008

Legislators controlling redistricting are like alcoholics tending bar

John Baer's latest column blasts legislators who are killing reform - in particular redistricting - for their own self-interest:

And who can forget Speaker Emeritus John Perzel winning re-election in 2000 by 92 votes, then changing his district into the shape of a Rorschach inkblot to cut out areas that backed his opponent?

Legislators controlling redistricting are like alcoholics tending bar.

But since "leaders" such as Bill DeWeese - and before him Perzel and others - run the show; since longtime incumbents such as Babette Josephs and Tony Williams can stop legislation at committee levels (as both did recently on redistricting), our political alcoholics are served.

Then they hide behind the catchall that their constituents never talk to them about wanting reforms, as if constituent desires (for health care, lower gas prices, sensible gun laws, better schools) drive the agenda.

It is precisely because redistricting reform offers a chance for a fairer, more-competitive representative system (thereby threatening incumbents) that those in power make certain it goes nowhere.

Josephs, whose House committee has the issue, says, "I am very committed to reform," but when it comes to redistricting she adds: "This is a political process. I don't believe you can turn it over to anybody."

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