Friday, October 2, 2009

What Would You Waste $290,000 On ? -- Part 6 of Series

There is only one way that the $290,000 budgeted to the Council for redistricting could be anything but a waste of taxpayer money, and that is if the Council leadership puts it in an interest bearing account and doesn't actually spend it.

Redistricting is called for whenever data from a new Census is available and the timing of that redistricting does not interfere with an ongoing election. The 2010 Census data will not be available until April, 2011, according to the Indianapolis Star. Filing to run for a Council seat ends in February, 2011; to file, one must prove residency within one's chosen district. The Primary and General election for Council will follow that same year. Clearly, the new Census data cannot be used to form new Council districts in time for the next Council election. We don't even have to consider the possibility of any court action to decide it cannot happen. Its as secure a conclusion as the fact that gravity will still take hold on the Earth come 2011.

The only other way the Council leadership can spend that money is to use Census estimates of population block by block. If they were to do so, the folks they hire might be happy about it, but few others would be. The districts likely would be challenged in Court - the same Courts that drew the current districts in 2003. And, the districts would have to be redrawn after the 2010 Census data was available anyway. Another conclusion as dependable as gravity : Redistricting before 2012 is just thowing money away.

It was stated during the budget hearings that the Council leadership wanted to budget the $290,000 for 2010 and an equal amount for 2011. Even pretending that redistricting is a good idea before 2011, one must ask why Todd Rokita, Secretary of State, can redistrict 9 Congressional districts, 50 State Senate districts, and 100 State House districts for the low low price of $50,000 - while the Council leadership can't redraw 22 districts for anything less than $580,000.

I will say it again - the pork tent is open.


Anonymous said...

Census estimates between official Census years are only done down to the township level. There are no estimates or unofficial Census numbers until the 2010 Census is released. And the Star is wrong. April 2011 is the deadline when Census data must be delivered to the states. Indiana usually gets the data first. Mid March was when the data came in 2001. This whole exercise is an excuse to use tax dollars to pay lawyers to fight a suit they will lose.

Paul K. Ogden said...


As I've pointed out in my blog, there is an express prohibition on redistricting in the approximate year before a muni election. A statute expressly prohibits redistricting between 11/8/2010 and 11/3/2011.

I think Anon is probably right. There is simply no way they can use new census data, in any form, for a redistricting before the 2011elections.

What they legally can do (and what I believe they are going to attempt to do) is take 2000 census figures and redistrict before 11/8/2010 for the 2011 elections. While that would be legal, it will also cause WW III to break out on the council. Here's what will happen:

1. Democrats walk out denying R's the quorum necessary to pass the new maps.

2. Rs accuse the Ds of being selfish and not staying in the chamber to do the people's business. (The public never likes walkouts. It's virtually impossible to explain the reason to them.)

3. Ds accuse the Rs of wasting $290,000 on big law firms and a well paid politically-connected company that has drawn up the new maps.

While I think this is the strategy they are going to use, there is another explanation. That explanation is that the Rs are simply getting bad legal advice. City legal is very inexperienced and their advice is often very tained by politics.

Citizen Kane said...

There are many people inside the City-County building who could do the redistricting. This could all be done in-house for pennies on the dollar. Only the desire to spend money (not those limited government republicans!)and pass our political favors would prompt anyone to do this. Any redistricting should start with the townships as a base, and should be drawn using natural neighborhood boundaries and physical boundaries as a guide. It really is not that difficult.

Paul K. Ogden said...

CK, I agree. With modern technology it costs very little to redistrict anymore. To charge $580,000 (don't forget it's $290,000 in 2010 and 2011) is outrageous. That money is just going for political graft.