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Accountability lost in redistricting: David Pepper and Jennifer Brunner

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mod mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 06:51 AM
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Accountability lost in redistricting: David Pepper and Jennifer Brunner
Accountability lost in redistricting: David Pepper and Jennifer Brunner

By David Pepper and Jennifer Brunner

Ohioans are up in arms about the substantive changes ushered in by Senate Bill 5. The fierce debate will no doubt continue through this November and beyond.

But over the past two months, many Ohioans have also been taken aback by the unseemly Statehouse process by which SB 5 passed. The conservative-leaning Cincinnati Enquirer called it a "shameful performance."

Among the incidents:

Citizens who traveled to Columbus to witness their government in action, or express their views, were barred from hearings or from the Statehouse completely.
For those who could not trek to Columbus, there was less transparency for the hearings for SB 5 than citizens see locally and weekly for most school board, city council and county meetings around the state.
After days of testimony, senators (in the majority) were kicked off various committees because they intended to vote no, ask questions or seek changes. They were promptly replaced by new members who had not attended a single hearing or heard a single witness, but had promised to vote yes.
All the while, amendments and dramatic changes that became the final bill emerged from backrooms and were brought to the floor for immediate roll-call votes -- with no time for the minority (or majority) to review their details or implications. As Sen. Tim Grendell, Republican of Chesterland, pointed out, this behind-the-scenes "rush" led to numerous technical flaws in the bill that most grade schoolers could find.
And now that citizens have begun pursuing their right to force a referendum to repeal Senate Bill 5, legislators are exploring ways to subvert that right through legislative maneuvers.


With Ohio's largely standardless gerrymandering process, the party that holds the pen holds the power to execute a partisan free-for-all in creating district lines, with the politicians choosing their voters and not the inverse. That party, be it Republican or Democratic, can draw districts so unbalanced and convoluted that legislators never worry about their next general election. And why should they, when under the current system, only three Ohio Senate elections out of the last 50 were decided by less than five points. (The vast majority were either blowouts or not contested at all).

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