Is Sweeney man-enough for real reform?

Will Senate President Steve Sweeney drop his pussy attempt to rig every legislative election that follows the next round of redistricting... or is he man-enough to put real reform on the ballot and take on all comers in a fair fight?

The odds don't look too good.  After all, he's an Ironworker Union boss and they are known for their bullying.  Members of his union -- of his own District Council when he was President -- are on trial for an arson attack against a house of worship that wouldn't play ball.  Yeah, a church!  What's next, mugging nuns?

Now Sweeney wants to use the same scumbag tactics to bully the Legislature into enshrining "one party democracy" in the state Constitution.  Hey, this aint "On the Waterfront" and you aint Johnny Friendly (no, that would be Georgie Norcross), though you try to play the part:

What with the all-powerful executive and the legislating courts, democracy in New Jersey is pretty thin already.  And now you want to kill it forever by making it a one-party state.

Come on Sweeney, fight fair.  Don't rig the ring.  If it's reform you are looking for, how about real reform?  Adopt redistricting the way they do it in Iowa.  Here's an overview:

Iowa conducts redistricting unlike any other state.  The Iowa system does not put the task in the hands of a commission, but rather non-partisan legislative staff develop maps for the Iowa House and Senate, as well as U.S. House districts, without any political or election data (including the addresses of incumbents).  A five-person advisory commission is also formed.  This is different from all other states.  The redistricting plans from the non-partisan legislative staff are then presented to the Iowa Legislature for a straight 'Up' or 'Down' vote; if the Legislature rejects the redistricting plans, the process starts over.  (Eventually, the Iowa Supreme Court will enter the process if the Legislature fails to adopt a plan three times.)

Here are some excerpts from a great Boston Globe story on Iowa's redistricting process: 

In a locked windowless chamber across the street from the Iowa State House, three bureaucrats sequester themselves for 45 days every decade after census data is released. Their top-secret task: the “redistricting” of the state’s legislative and congressional boundaries.

But here, unlike in most other states, every care is taken to ensure the process is not political.

The mapmakers are not allowed to consider previous election results, voter registration, or even the addresses of incumbent members of Congress. No politician — not the governor, the House speaker, or Senate majority leader — is allowed to weigh in, or get a sneak preview.

Instead of drawing lines that favor a single political party, the Iowa mapmakers abide by nonpartisan metrics that all sides agree are fair — a seemingly revolutionary concept in the high-stakes decennial rite of redistricting.

Most other states blatantly allow politics to be infused into the process, leaving the impression — and sometimes the reality — that the election system is being rigged.

...Iowa, with its impartial way of drawing congressional districts, the results are viewed as a model of equity — and a model for the nation...

Moreover, Iowa’s system has led to some of the nation’s most competitive races. In a country where the vast majority of members of Congress coast to reelection, Iowa’s races are perennial tossups.

“This puts the voter as the primary consideration,” said Ed Cook, the agency’s unassuming legal counsel who leads a mapmaking team that also includes two geographers. “The basic concept is if it’s a blind process, the result will be fair.”

...This is done by making population size the primary metric when determining a district’s boundaries, followed by the goal of compact, contiguous districts that respect county lines.

“Having a more competitive district encourages somebody to really try to represent not just the ideology of his or her party but to represent the people of the district,” said Iowa’s governor, Terry Branstad.

You can read the entire article here:

Sweeney is hoping to push through his "vote rig" amendment tomorrow, during a "lame duck" session of the Legislature.  Lame duck is when they push through all the lame dick legislation that wouldn't get through any other time.  So if you want to comment on having representative democracy stripped out of the state constitution, tomorrow would be the time to do it.  There will be two hearings on "vote rig".

Thursday, January 7, 2016

10 AM

Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation

Committee Room 7, 2nd floor

State House Annex

SCR 188

Legislative Reapportionment Commission

Thursday, January 7, 2016

11 AM

Assembly Judiciary

Committee Room 12, 4th floor

State House Annex


Legislative Reapportionment Commission