Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Follow-Up on Appellate Commission’s Map

I expected some push-back yesterday from an informed source or two.  I figured someone would say the redistricting rumor was untrue, that there was no way the appellate commission would plan to establish the new boundaries this Friday, precisely at a point seemingly calculated to give some unlucky incumbents no chance to continue serving.  But nothing.  Only a fresh source echoing the rumor.  We will see.

 

 

The Riddle of Missouri

How is it that the state has a voter index right round 50-50 split and five (governor, attorney general, treasurer, secretary of state, and a senator) of the eight state-wide office-holders are Democratic, and yet the legislature is dominated (75% in the senate, 66% in the house) by Republicans?

 

Dems will concede they have been beaten on the playing field during the last ten years; Republicans have shown better recruiting, smarter targeting, sharper messaging, and greater fundraising.  However, they feel that the way the districts have been drawn has created an on-going disadvantage.

 

And they think it is happening again…

 

Different Kinds of Compactness

That’s why beyond concerns about the map being “an incumbent destruction plan,” Dems are worried that the map will also result in protecting the Republicans’ huge legislative majorities.

 

We’re firmly in Rumorville here, but they believe Republicans have rigged the appellate commission’s deliberations to work to their favor using the guise of “compactness.”

 

According to the state constitution, “each district shall be composed of contiguous territory as compact as may be.”

 

But there are various ways to measure compactness.  For example, in a powerpoint presentation on Arizona redistricting (See it Here) a district measured most compact according to one criteria is measured least compact by another.

 

One St. Louis observer who has been through a redistricting battle before explains that Democratic districts are more compact in Missouri because Dems cluster in the urban areas.  According to this person if you drew circles, Dem districts would normally be characterized by Dem voting indexes around 80%, while Republican districts would naturally coalesce around 60% GOP indexes.  Therefore more Dems crammed into fewer districts.

 

To counterbalance this Dems argue for districts which extend east-west out of the urban areas to dilute the concentration of Dems.  This can be done depending on the definition of compactness.

 

 

Inputs Determine the Output

Dems believe that the appellate commission has been hoodwinked into agreeing to ground-rules which then necessarily lead to a Republican favored map.  Those ground rules are believed to be having the districts run north-south instead of east-west.

 

If the appellate commission is in fact starting in the population centers and working with this notion of compactness, Dems fear they are being set up for another decade of underperformance.

 

One source says that he believes that unlike the Democratic-appointed judges on the appellate commission who have refrained from ex parte discussions, one or more of the Republican-appointed judges was influenced to adopt these ground rules.  And they think that others on the commission may not realize that once they agreed to these principals they’d locked in a Republican-tilted outcome.

 

 

Fallout for non-partisan court plan?

Jeff Mazur, former staffer to Jay Nixon, tweeted yesterday - #MO Dems and progressives have been staunchest defenders of non-partisan court plan. Will they still be after judges release their maps?

 

That concern was repeated yesterday by others.  One Dem legislator texted me: “Couple Dems I spoke to feel like we might get screwed by the judges we have been defending from being on the ballot themselves.  Hell of a payback.” 

 

 

The Other Side: Why Next Session Might Not Suck

The conventional wisdom is that we’ll have to wait until January 2013 to see any improvement in the productivity of the general assembly.

 

This view holds that since the same personalities and priorities of House and Senate Republicans will be in place next session, there’s no reason to think that we won’t end up with the same result.

 

But the contrarian point of view suggests some optimism.  For starters there is a very healthy pipeline of legislation which has been vetted and is very close to passage.  Therefore at least a few of these should make it into the end zone.

 

Early Site Permit had a deal worked out at the end of last session.  Although the two sides have since separated, assuming they can work through their issues early, legislators would be happy to stop talking about that.

 

All the players in St. Louis’ local control saga are in agreement, another item the legislature should be happy to check off.

 

A few of the “Fix the Six” items passed both chambers in different forms.  If they can pass them early, they might have enough time to overcome the general dysfunctionality of the Capitol. 

 

While there is tax credit reform fatigue, one or two of these business items could get to the governor’s office in this election year: prevailing wage, paycheck protection, workers’ comp, all of which passed both bodies last year.

 

Other issues have acquired more urgency in the off-season.  The foundation formula is at an inflection point where many districts will suffer adverse consequences if a compromise isn’t reached.  And the woes of the Kansas City schools should add weight to the push for a “Turner fix.”

 

Do you believe?

 

 

Bits

Springfield News Leader’s article on e-tailers’ sales tax advantage.  Read it Here.

 

 

Auditor Tom Schweich’s lawsuit against Governor Jay Nixon’s withholds goes to court.  Read it Here.

 

 

The levels at tomorrow night’s fundy for Nixon in Kansas City: Platinum = $25K; Gold = $10K; Silver = $5K…

 

 

Nixon Hearts LaRussa

Governor Jay Nixon issues a statement on LaRussa’s retirement.  Read it Here.

 

Tony LaRussa on Letterman. See it Here.

 

 

Lobbyist Principal Changes

From the Pelopidas website:

 

Zachary Brunnert and David McCracken added Cerner Corporation.