Monday, July 30, 2012


Every ten years, when the U.S. takes its census, there are population shifts that take place across America the Beautiful and as a consequence some states of the 50 lose congressional seats which are then picked up by states gaining population at a greater rate than the loser districts.

Ohio in 2011 was a loser state as a result of the 2010 census and as a consequence lost two congressional seats.

It then became the job of the Ohio Reapportionment Board and the Ohio General Assembly to go about the job squeezing 18 districts into 16.

2011 Apportionment Board

The members of the 2011 Ohio Apportionment Board:
  • Governor John Kasich (Republican) 
  • Auditor David Yost (Republican)
  • Secretary of State Jon Husted (Republican)
  • State Senator Tom Niehaus (Republican) 
  • Representative Armond Budish (Democrat)
 It makes no difference which political party is in power in any given state capital in the United States of America, each is fully capable of and manages to make America's democratic republic not so beautiful.

In 2011, it was the Ohio Republican "organized" Party's turn to demonstrate political ugliness.

In the process Stark County got carved up into three congressional districts which Stark County Republican state Representative Christina Hagan thinks is a good thing.  Her opinion does not square up with that of retired 16th District (when it included all Stark County) Republican Congressman Ralph Regula who thinks the splitting of Stark is an outrage.

And in the case of the 16th congressional district, the process got particularly ugly as it appears that incumbent 16th District Congressman Jim Renacci had a hand to politically mar Stark County by prevailing on his fellow Republican state level legislators to create a peninsula down deep into the heart of Canton in order to pick up The Timken Company, the management of which are heavy Republican candidate contributors.  An interesting aspect to the carve out is that no one actually lives in the geographical foray in to Canton.

But there is now hope in Ohio that the contorting of legislative districts may be about to come to an end.

On September 15, 2011, the Ohio General Assembly passed House Bill 319 which resulted in the congressional district map displayed above.

To his credit, Stark County state Rep. Kirk Schuring (Republican - Jackson, the 51st to be the 48th), voted with four other Republicans against the legislation.

As a consequence of the passage of HB 319, a group (under the name Voters First) of Ohio civic-inclined organizations (with the public perceived non-partisan Ohio League of Women Voters being the lead organization, but the coalition does have a heavy presence of Democratic political candidate supporting unions such as the AFL-CIO, SEIU and the OEA) was inspired to come together as a coalition with the express purpose of circulating petitions to place on November's ballot an amendment to the Ohio Constitution: 

Initially, Voters First collected 450,000 signatures (July 3rd) of which 56.5 percent were valid (about 254,625 of 385,253 required) necessitating a supplemental collection effort which was completed on Saturday past.

Some 300,000 additional signatures were filed with the Ohio secretary of state.  Using the 56.5% validation rate of the July submission, the additional signatures should produce somewhere around 169,500 more valid signature which would produce a grand total of about 424,225 valid signatures which should result in the initiative appearing on the November ballot.

A main player in collecting signatures in Stark County was Hall of Fame AFL-CIO president (29 years) Dan Scuiry.  Recently, the SCPR did a blog with a video in which Scuiry details his signature collection efforts (LINK).

There is no doubt that there is an underlying Republican/Democratic political fight going on with respect to the constitutional amendment petition.

Organized Republicans, for the most part, will be fighting to defeat the constitutional amendment whereas their counterpart Democrats will be fighting for the amendment.

Republicans overwhelmingly control the Ohio delegation to the U.S. Congress (12 of 16 congressional seats) and have lopsided control of the Ohio Senate and the Ohio House of Representatives.  And, HB 319 was constructed by the process of gerrymandering (fashioning districts so that the voter base in a majority of the districts is predominately made of voters registered as Republicans) to ensure that such would continue to be the case for the foreseeable future

Again, let the SCPR emphasize, given the same opportunity Ohio's organized Democrats have done and would do the same.

The Report's attitude is that the best government at national, state and local levels is the result of competitive political races.

Political parties in an ironical sense are anti-democratic in that they are primarily about their selfish interests and each party aspires to dominate American governmental processes so as to freeze out competing ideas, policies, and programs.

An Ohio State University professor puts the activity of the Republican and Democratic Party's to dominate control of the processes of American government in a shocking context, to wit:
Group Says Ohio's New Congressional Map Lacks Competition, Fairness  (extract)

By Joe Hallett
Columbus Dispatch Wednesday December 21, 2011 2:08 PM
Even the 450 members of Russia’s Duma are elected from districts that are fairer and more competitive than the 16 congressional districts drawn by Republicans controlling the Statehouse, an Ohio State University political scientist has concluded.
Richard Gunther today called the new congressional map signed into law last week by Gov. John Kasich “stunning” for its representational unfairness, saying it is twice as unfair as the next-worst democratic systems in the world.
“This is a very, very bad map,” said Gunther, a scholar of world democracies. “This is extremely unfair to the citizens of Ohio.”
Gunther and Daniel Tokaji, an OSU law professor specializing in election law, spoke at a news conference sponsored by a nonpartisan watchdog organization, the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting, to decry the secretive process of redrawing new congressional and legislative districts every 10 years and the outcome that resulted this year.Referring to Ohio’s new congressional districts, Tokaji said, “This is the worst example of elected officials serving their own craven partisan interests of anywhere in the country.
Notwithstanding that it obvious that the Ohio Citizen Independent Redistricting Commission constitutional amendment will clearly benefit Democrats within a few years if the amendment makes it onto the ballot and passes in November; over the longer term the amendment will benefit everyday citizens in creating competitive legislative districts across Ohio and thereby ultimately improve the quality of government.

Ohioans and Stark Countians should keep their eyes on the goal of making our governments the product of competitive political contests and not be distracted by the coming political battle that looms between the Ohio Republican and Democratic Parties over this issue.  And, of course, organized labor (historically allies of Democratic candidates) will become a whipping boy because of its heavy involvement in the petition signature gathering process.

Bottom line is no matter in the Ohio context who helped get the measure on the ballot:

Political competition is a good thing for the citizens!!!

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