MARK JULY 27 ON YOUR CALENDARS....
By Ann Hellmuth
redistrict. tr.v.To divide again into districts, esp. to give new boundaries to administrative or election districts.
I have redistricting on my mind. I dream that scores of you will be at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center on Wednesday, July 27, when the Legislature brings its redistricting road show to Orlando.
Visions of redistricting maps dance in my head. When I close my eyes at night maps of various colors and shapes guided by an invisible computer guru often invade my consciousness. They get bigger, they get smaller, they disappear altogether then come screeching back, the boundary lines shimmying and shaking like a pole dancer.
They are old maps of state legislative and congressional districts as well as proposals for Orange County Commission districts. For me, redistricting is everywhere! While preparing for the July 27 hearings, I also am serving on the Orange County Redistricting Advisory Committee, which has been tasked with coming up with proposals for the six commission districts by the beginning of October. This has entailed having lessons from computer experts on how to draw maps based on the 2010 Census, an intricate, time-consuming task. With a click of a mouse you can move 50,000 people out of one district and plop them down in another but that doesn’t mean the problem is solved.
A major issue is that Florida lawmakers are NOT providing maps for citizen-comment at any of their 26 public hearings on redistricting. The is a move that the League has called a “total waste of time” because it seeks comment “in a vacuum.” The Legislature plans to approve district maps at the end of the 2012 session guaranteeing a time crunch as qualifying closes on June 8, 2012.
Redistricting and I became buddies when I joined the League and agreed to help gather signatures to get Fair Districts Amendments 5 and 6 on the 2010 ballot. Within days I found myself accosting strangers on streets from Winter Park to Winter Garden explaining what gerrymandering meant and asking them to sign the petition. We succeeded and the amendments passed last year garnering 63 percent of the vote. They forbid the drawing of legislative and congressional districts that “favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party” and seats must be “compact,” respecting city or county lines. Once the 2010 Census figures were released the stage was set for the once-in-a-decade redistricting battles to begin.
Now this is where you all come in.
We need a big turnout when the redistricting hearings come to Orlando on July 27. There will be two sessions at the Bob Carr from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
I’ve signed up to speak on behalf of the League along with LWVOC Vice President Michele Levy, board members Caroline Emmons-Schramm, LWVOC Fair Districts chair and secretary Nancy Rudner Lugo, board member Lynn Eberly and Charley Williams, LWVOC past president and state board member. LWVFL President Deirdre Macnab will lead the way. Seminole League members will also be speaking.
We are appealing to as many of our members as possible to turn out for the Orlando sessions. We want you to sign comment cards and turn them in. You can get an idea of what to expect by tuning into the Florida Channel at www.thefloridachannel.org and watching reruns of earlier hearings.
And remember, wear your League button.
Meanwhile, I’ll practice my speech and work on banishing the last traces of my English accent. Must remember to say “skedule” not schedule and clerk not clark. Something else to haunt my dreams.