Last night, I had an opportunity to speak with a person from the Mississippi Gulf Coast who asked how things were going at the Capitol and where things stand on redistricting. After I explained that Republicans claim to have "drawn" the maps but weren't ready to show their work, he responded, "This is no way to govern." It think he has a fair point.
As Republicans continue to hide the maps, more and more questions emerge.
1. Who drew the maps? There has been some talk of certain individual legislators being brought in to see their districts. Based on the reports I've received, this exercise involves an indivudal member being shown a proposed map of the district they currently represent. While this seems to be happening with more and more regularity, particularly in the House, there is very little information regarding who did the actual drawing. We all know that Rep. Bill Denny (R - Jackson) and Sen. Merle Flowers (R - Southaven) didn't sit down at a computer and put the maps together themselves, so that leaves the question: who drew the maps?
2. Who paid the cartographer? Last year, Republicans arranged for a Louisiana consultant to help them draw their redistricting maps. Did they bring in another consultant to help with the process this time? If so, who paid for this service? Were these folks paid with public or private funds?
3. Whatever happened to the end of the gentleman's agreement? Last year, then Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant got a lot of press for calling for an end to the "gentleman's agreement," the term applied to that process whereby one chamber accepts the work of another chamber without scrutiny. It would appear that the gentleman's agreement is back in effect as most members of the legislature have not seen their own chamber's plans much less the maps being proposed in the other chamber.
4. Transparency anyone? Transparency was the Republican rallying cry for years, as they fought to gain a stranglehold on state government. Now that they have it, will they practice what they preached?
If Redistricting 2012 is the measuring stick, we already know the answer is no.