Friday, June 15, 2012

Ballard Vetoes Redistricting Ordinance

Democratic City-County Councilors had promised that things could become very contentious for Mayor Greg Ballard if he vetoed an ordinance recently passed by the Democratic majority to redistrict council district boundaries in conformance with state statute, but he did just that today. Ballard's office released the following statement on his decision:

"The City-County Council legally and fairly redistricted earlier this year.  As the city works to erase an estimated $47 million budget shortfall for 2013, this proposal was an unnecessary expenditure of taxpayer money."

Democrats take issue with the word "legally" used to describe a redistricting plan passed by the council Republicans while they were still in control of the council last year. State law required the council to redistrict this year following the 2010 decennial census. Republicans feared they might lose control of the council and began secretly drawing new boundaries before last year's municipal election. After the election where Democrats captured control of the council, the lame duck Republican-led council rammed through a redistricting plan. Democrats contend that it violated the spirit, if not the letter, of the state law providing for redistricting to be done this year. By waiting until after the first of the year to sign the ordinance into the law, Ballard claims the new redistricting plan satisfies the requirements of the state law.

Given that Common Cause has made redistricting software available for free use, I'm not sure why Democrats simply don't use that free software to devise a new map instead of spending as much as the Republicans spent last year on redistricting, which was about $250,000, if they believe the redistricting plan adopted by the Republicans is so unfair. Any fair analysis of the Republican-passed plan would show that Democrats stand at least a 50% chance, if  not better, of retaining control of the council under the newly-drawn boundaries. At least then the mayor would not be able to cite the unnecessary expenditure of taxpayer money as a reason for vetoing the ordinance.


Had Enough Indy? said...

You are absolutely right. Common Cause software would be free to the Council. It has the added benefit that it is open to any citizen who wants to try their hand at drawing fair districts.

Paul K. Ogden said...

The law specifically says the COUNCIL MUST redraw the districts the second year after the census. The reason for this statutory requirement is undoubtedly because the legislature did not want a lame duck council drawing the distict lines when a new majority would be taking over at the first part of the year. Remember, muni elections are always in odd number issues, every four year, so every two decades your going to have this possibility come up.

The D's really dropped the ball insisting they'd need $180,000 to redraw districts. That's only if there is graft and giveaways to big law firms built into the figure. It can be done much cheaper than that.