Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Perdue: Nobody asked me about a 2001 redistricting commission

Gov. Bev Perdue made a rare appearance before a legislative committee Wednesday morning and asked for three non-budgetary things, WRAL-TV reports, including creating a bipartisan panel to draw new congressional and legislative districts

The station reported on its Website that Perdue said nobody sought such a commission when she was presiding over the Senate in 2001.  But in fact Republicans sought it that year -- and the Observer editorially backed the idea.

(4:35 p.m. Update: Chrissy Peason, the governor's spokeswoman, says Perdue didn't say no one mentioned it that year. She said the governor said that no one asked her about it that year.)

WRAL wrote:

"Republicans have sought such a panel for years, but the Democratic legislative majority never took up the issue. The GOP now controls both the House and Senate, following major victories in last month's election.

"Perdue oversaw the Senate 10 years ago as lieutenant governor during the last redistricting, but she never asked for a bipartisan group to assist that process. She said Wednesday that no one suggested the idea in 2001.

But our Raleigh reporter Mark Johnson -- who now works for Perdue in her communications office -- wrote a story on Feb. 28, 2001 that included the following:

"A coalition of Republican senators and nonpartisan government watchdog groups on Tuesday proposed legislation that would create an independent commission to redraw the boundaries of the state's political districts.

Every 10 years census population data is used to redraw districts for state legislators and members of Congress so that each district has a roughly equal number of people in it. In North Carolina, the General Assembly does the redistricting. Historically, the party in power can draw the lines to benefit its members, giving them safe districts and stuffing opposing party members into districts that are difficult to win in an election.

The Republican-led coalition said creating an independent commission would end the practice of drawing district lines for partisan gain and could end the decade-long litigation over drawing districts that benefit minority candidates.

A commission would "establish districts where voters choose their representatives instead of representatives choosing their voters, " said Sen. Hamilton Horton, R-Forsyth, a sponsor of the legislation. The nine members of the commission would be chosen by the governor, chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court, speaker of the House and Senate president pro tem.

Horton and other GOP senators were joined by representatives of such nonpartisan groups as Democracy South and the League of Women Voters."

And on March 2, 2001, the Observer's editorial page opined:

Enough is enough. The House and Senate should embrace the recommendation of the 1997 Legislative Research Commission to create a redistricting commission to draw districts without regard for party politics or residency of incumbents. One such proposal, offered by Sen. Ham Horton, R-Forsyth, contemplates a nine-member commission, with three members appointed by the governor, two by the chief justice, two by the House speaker and two by the Senate president pro tem. At least one of each appointing official's appointees would have to come from the opposing political party, insuring political parity on the panel.

Nothing will take all the partisan politics out of redrawing districts, but an independent commission could eliminate much of the log-rolling and back-scratching that characterized North Carolina's problem-plagued redistricting efforts of the last 20 years. It's time to try a better way.


John said...

This is news?

Bipartisan commissions are always proposed by the party NOT in power and dismissed as unnecessary or "Un-Democratic" or even "Unconstitutional" by the party IN power.

The first rule of politics is that when you are in power, do everything you can to change the rules to keep you in power. Why else do you think the Obama administration wanted to move the Census into the White House? He who controls the count, controls the country!

Anonymous said...

Ummm....yeah, she just "forgot".