Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Need for Redistricting Reform Even More Evident and Urgent/John Doe Investigation

Reform Update
March 28, 2012

Jay Heck – 608/256-2686

  1. Need for Redistricting Reform Even More Evident and Urgent
  2. "Road Map" for John Doe Investigation of Walker's County Executive Misdeeds?
  3. Over 150 Attend Sheboygan "Reform Forum" Last Week

1. Last Friday, the Federal Court three-judge panel hearing lawsuits against Wisconsin's redistricting law -- passed and enacted last year, but not due to be in effect until November -- struck part of it down. The panel said the law was in violation of the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 with regard to the way it diluted the minority population in a predominantly Latino Assembly District in Milwaukee by dividing it up into two Assembly Districts -- each with a diminished Latino population. But the Court said that the rest of the new Wisconsin map of newly-drawn districts could stand and that the Legislature need only go back and redraw the Latino districts in question.

But here is the problem. With the resignation of Republican State Senator Pam Galloway of Wausau last week, the State Senate is now evenly split between the GOP and Democrats at 16 each. So who would control the redistricting rewrite in the State Senate that the judges said needs to be done? The Republicans want the Court to do it and the Democrats want the entire map of Wisconsin redrawn. And there is likely no agreement possible in this most partisan of legislative matters. The Court yesterday gave the parties involved in the lawsuit until April 3rd to come to an agreement and if that didn't happen, the Court would resolve the matter.

The Court also excoriated the Republicans for the secretive, partisan process in which it drew the new legislative districts and rammed it through the Legislature last year -- without public or minority party input and almost completely behind closed doors. The Court strongly suggested that Wisconsin do redistricting differently next time. Like this, for example. Yesterday's editorial in the Wisconsin State Journal agrees.

2. The secret "John Doe" investigation of illegal activities alleged to have been committed by top aides to then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker shows no signs of ending anytime soon. Documents released last week and yesterday point to a possible "road map" of what may lie ahead. CC/WI comments in this recent television report.

3. More than 150 concerned citizens of all political persuasions and opinions filled every seat at UW-Sheboygan last week to hear about and discuss political reform issues presented and debated by five panelists.
The states new photo Voter ID law, public financing of state elections, disclosure of outside special interest money, whether to elect or appoint state Supreme Court Justices, finding a better redistricting process and more were discussed in a passionate but civil manner. The forum panelists were former Democratic State Senator Cal Potter, Sheboygan County Supervisor and Republican Assembly candidate Devin LeMahieu, progressive former attorney, activist and city council member Mary Lynne Donohue, Libertarian and Tea Party activist Charles Windsor, and CC/WI Director Jay Heck. Lakeland College Professor of History Rick Dodgson moderated the very lively event that continued for a half-hour past its scheduled end time due to continued interest in the discussion!

You can read the preview article for the event here. Wisconsin Eye filmed the Reform Forum which you can view on their website here.

Our next Reform Forum is tentatively scheduled for Monday May 7th at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. Stay tuned for more details.......

Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703

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*Updated 3/29/2012

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