Tag Archive: gerrymandering

Fun with Redistricting

Less than a year from now, data taken from the 2010 census is going to provide the major political players in the state with the information that they will need to produce our state’s congressional and legislative district maps, which will play a major role in determining who will be representing us at the state and federal level over the next ten years.

Whether one calls it redistricting or gerrymandering, it is a process that has historically been an inside baseball game with virtually no public input and scrutiny.  It is my belief that this is something that the progressive community should be engaged with and about which it should have an opinion.

Recently, a friend sent me a link to Dave’s Redistricting App, which is an online tool that allows us to use existing data to construct our own congressional and legislative maps.

Using this tool, I was able to redistrict New Jersey’s 40 legislative districts as I thought they should be.  If you’re interested in taking a look at my new districts, they are below the fold.

Texas-Style Redistricting in Reverse

When Tom DeLay was able to engineer the Texas Congressional redistricting effort that was deemed to be constitutional by the United States Supreme Court, which resulted in the loss of 5 Democratic seats, it was not like 5 formerly Democratic districts were overhauled and became Republican districts overnight.

Instead, 5 competitive districts represented at the time by moderate to conservative Democrats (depending on how one would define Martin Frost et al) were adjusted enough to make them impossible for a Democrat to retain or reclaim (except under extreme circumstances – i.e. the 2006 political climate).

Assuming for a moment that the blessings of our state’s 7 Democratic Congressman could be obtained for an initiative to redistrict New Jersey so that all 13 of the state’s incumbent-friendly Congressional districts could be redrawn to make them more competitive, why wouldn’t our Democratic majorities in the State Senate and State Assembly pass such an initiative?

Monday News Roundup and Open Thread

  • Today the needle exchange bill is back on the docket in Trenton.  The most recent holdup as been a block in the Health Service Committee.  The bill’s two biggest foes:  Tom Kean Jr. (whose wanton stupidity has been well-chronicled on this site) and Ron Rice Senior (whose Newark constituency has HIV transmission rates higher than most 3rd world nations.)  Courier Post:

    In NJ, injection-drug use accounts for 25 percent to nearly 40 percent of HIV cases in the municipalities with some of the highest infection rates. Drug users often put their partners at risk, helping to increase heterosexual transmission, which is another top route of infection in NJ.  We urge committee members to join state Sen. Robert Singer, R-Ocean County, and put aside their misgivings and useless rhetoric. Committee members should release these bills today and allow the full Senate to weigh in and, we hope, approve them. People’s lives are on the line here.

  • Today’s Star Ledger reports that Gov. Corzine signed an executive order yesterday creating a Division of Minority and Women Business Development “and directing all state agencies to help direct business to minority- and women-owned businesses.”

    “Today I’m pleased to announce that New Jersey will be using its purchasing power to help facilitate growth among New Jersey’s minority- and women-owned businesses,” Corzine said.

  • While some of the hottest Congressional races of this election cycle are happening next door in Pennsylvania, the same can’t be said  for us here in NJ, says today’s Philadelphia Inquirer.  In fact, the suggestion in this article is that the Garden State has been gerrymandered into a knot and we can look forward to incumbents carrying the day for the foreseeable future.
  • Have you heard the joke about why California has the most lawyers while New Jersey has the most toxic waste sites?  (The punchline: we got to pick first.)  No offense to lawyers, everyone should have a good one, but the joke does make a powerful statement about the effects of New Jersey’s industrial past.  That legacy has reared its caustic head once again, this time in Cumberland County where a six-acre radioactive waste dump is demanding some attention now that the Shieldalloy Metallurgical Corp. is taking it’s deadly ways offshore to Brazil to cut costs and avoid further stringent regulations.  First of all, there’s the notion that we’re dumping our crap in the laps of our Latin-American neighbors, which is disgusting.  Secondly, what to do with the mess left behind?
  • The movement to ban the death penalty in this state benefits mightily from an out-of-state ally.  Marylander Vicki Schieber, whose daughter Shannon was violently murdered in Philly back in 1998, has become a champion of persuing less-violent alternatives to punishing violent crimes and abolishing the death penalty.  Mrs. Schieber and her husband Sylvester have been in NJ with New Jersey for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (NJADP) to “win public and political support for the elimination of execution as a form of punishment in New Jersey. It is our conviction that the death penalty is by its nature unjust in application and immoral in principle.”

    If you’re still the least bit unclear about the moral and public-policy repugnance of capital punishment, have a listen to the podcast I did with Kirk Bloodsworth, who was the first American ever to be exonerated from Death Row with DNA evidence.

  • Finally, if you’re wondering why I didn’t tell you how I really feel about Ron Rice Senior’s emphatic stupidity and ignorance and denial vis a vis needle exchange in this state, well this is why:  (from today’s Press of Atlantic City) ”  If you think your ex-husband (or in Newark’s case a State Senator) is a lying, cheating, scamming, con artist with no conscience and no soul, you’re entitled to your opinion.  But posting warnings about him on the Web amounts to cyberstalking, a Florida judge has ruled.”  So what does this ruling mean?  Press of AC:

    The case could have widespread ramifications for bloggers like Donna Andersen, of Atlantic City, whose Web site, www.lovefraud.com, dedicated to teaching the public to recognize and avoid sociopaths, contains profiles of several scamming, lying and occasionally murderous spouses whom Andersen believes are sociopaths, including her ex-husband.