It appears the Florida Legislature is going to get through the bloodletting over redistricting earlier than usual.
After each Census, legislators must redistrict and reapportion the legislative and congressional political boundaries. While this is boring to most Florida residents, it is meat and potatoes for politicians and political junkies.
For about 50 years, Democrats held the Legislature and – would you believe – drew districts that protected incumbents and gave Democrats an advantage over Republicans in most districts.
Then Republicans gained a majority and suddenly a great concern arose about “fairness.”
Democrats insisted that some districts be drawn to discriminate against people of a certain color, and in favor of people who vote 90 percent or more for Democrats, and so that was done. Then it dawned on them that it left the other districts with a majority of people of another color.
So there were complaints about “bleaching” districts, but the courts refused to allow any unbleaching -- so here we are in 2012 focusing on the color of a man’s skin rather than the content of his character as the late Rev. Martin Luther King urged us to do.
Voters also approved constitutional amendments that require “fair” districts.
Unfortunately the definition of fairness given in the law is virtually impossible to meet.
In attempting to meet those requirements, the House and Senate held hearings throughout the state, attended by hundreds of people, with input from all interested parties. Anyone could go online and draw districts with a software tool provided by the Legislature.
In drawing new districts, legislators did not factor in the addresses of incumbents. Inevitably, however, some incumbents will live in the new districts and so there will be accusations of favoritism.
In fact, I venture to say any maps approved by the Legislature will be challenged in court by somebody. That’s one reason for the rush, so that it can be resolved before the fall elections.
Perhaps the judges, in their wisdom, can fashion districts in which any Democrat or Republican would have a 50-50 chance of winning. No incumbent would live in any of the new districts and so an entirely new Legislature of 80 Democrats and 80 Republicans would be chosen.
This would result in total gridlock. Many people might Tebow over such an outcome.
More likely is that the judges, who have no expertise or computers programmed for mapmaking, will choose from the plethora of maps, probably one that increases the number of districts likely to produce more Democrats.
Still, we should be grateful that after decades of unabashed gerrymandering, Florida Democrats finally – after becoming a minority in the state government – decided to embrace the concept of “fairness” in districting.
The conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus could hardly be more miraculous.
Lloyd Brown was in the newspaper business nearly 50 years, beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville.
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