Oh, was that not what you ordered?
A few weeks ago we discussed a new redistricting/reapportionment proposal that was making its way toward the 2016 ballot.
The so-called “Initiative 55” redistricting proposal popped up almost out of nowhere in late November, and language for a new constitutional amendment was rushed out for review. It was clear from the jump that there were severe problems with the wording of this proposal, particularly in regards to diminishing minority voter strength. As we wrote on Nov. 24th:
When you skip the details and rush past the fine print, you risk enacting a policy that ends up doing the opposite of whatever was intended.
As it turns out, the “review and comment” process was the end of the line. There were a lot of problems with the wording of the proposed amendment; the “Initiative 55” group was supposed to respond to those concerns last Friday, but that deadline passed without comment. Supporters of this redistricting proposal will now almost certainly have to start the process all over again in January. An extra month might help them figure out how not to create a constitutional nightmare for the 2016 ballot, but this entire effort has been such a clumsy disaster that it may not have any supporters left on board after the Holidays.
As Joey Bunch wrote for the Denver Post late yesterday:
The issue is whether it’s better to continue to allow the legislature to draw the maps — which often wind up in court — or create a bipartisan, independent commission.
Since it was announced last month, the discussions have been slowed by long-held distrust between the parties and questions about ulterior motives and overemphasizing or diminishing minority voting strength. [Pols emphasis]
Some Democrats think Republicans are trying to inconspicuously bust up minority voting power, which has traditionally favored Democratic candidates by making “communities of interest” less important than geographical boundaries and partisan balance.
Today, dozens of civil rights and community organizations dropped a pretty harsh press release condemning the entire process as a partisan attempt to minimize minority voting in Colorado. The full release is available after the jump — and the quotes are pretty strong — but here’s the gist of it:
A group recently announced they are attempting to restructure the way Colorado draws legislative and congressional maps. It is not known who is providing their financial backing. Without any public outreach, language was filed to put a measure on the ballot next November that would ban enhancement of minorities in voting districts and minimize communities of interest, resulting in outrage from civil rights and community organizations.
Dozens of people, representing NAACP, minority caucuses, the Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance, Common Cause, ACLU, Mi Familia Vota, Los Servicios de la Raza, businesses, local officials and education met Thursday at Escuela Tlatelolco in Denver to denounce the private discussions that are aimed at creating a ballot question to change how Colorado draws legislative and congressional boundaries.
State Rep. Angela Williams, chair of the Colorado Black Caucus, is quoted in the release as saying: “These so-called bipartisan efforts to create an independent commission to draw legislative and congressional boundaries are laughable. Our voices were not at the table from the beginning.”
And then there’s this from Supt. Rev. Patrick Demmer of the NAACP and Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance: “There is no trust in this effort – it’s fatally flawed. We’re tired of people going behind closed doors and deciding these issues – and giving no voice to communities of color. They haven’t even had a conversation with the people it will impact.”
What has 2 thumbs and the political acumen of a walnut?
D’oh! This thing is sinking faster than Ben Carson at a foreign policy debate. The “Initiative 55” group has been touted as a “bipartisan” effort — but only because Republicans found two former Democratic lawmakers to stick their names on a press release, and because Denver Democrat James Mejia is leading the effort through his consulting firm.
Mejia is a former Denver School Board member who in 2011 was thought to be a leading contender for Denver Mayor. But then the campaign began, and Mejia was so bad that he didn’t even make it to the runoff. For his sake, we hope Mejia got a big check for agreeing to direct this turd, because he’s probably already burned through any political capital he might have had. You can tell from the Post story that Mejia is realizing the problems (albeit too late):
“We’re working off language that I assume will please Democrats with regard to whether this would dilute minority votes — which absolutely was never the intent of this initiative,” Mejia said. “… We want to make no mistake as to what we’re trying to do here. Our intent, first and foremost is to be more transparent and inclusive.”
Yeah, that worked out well.