Stop The Maneuvering And Adopt The Constitutional Map

By Art Gallagher

The stakes are apparently very high as the Legislative Reapportionment Commission works almost around the clock this week to settle on a map that could determine the partisan control of the New Jersey State Legislature for the next 10 years.

The 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans on the commission are working to convince the 11th “Independent” member or the commission, Dr. Alan Rosenthal, PhD of Rutgers to choose their proposed map.  Rosenthal is said to be trying to either forge a compromise map or will choose one.  Politickernj is reporting that Rosenthal is using the Democratic map as his foundation.

But who are the stakes high for?

Ultimately the stakes are high for all New Jersey residents, as what is decided this week will inevitably impact the quality of all of our lives  over the next decade. But are most New Jersey residents even paying attention?

Are the commissioners in New Brunswick working so hard this week for the good of the people of the State, or are they fighting for power, control and the money that comes along with it.   Certainly there are commissioners that have pure motives.  I’d like to think that they are Republicans.  Surely my Democratic readers hope the same of their side.

The Bayshore Tea Party Group has proposed a map that meets all the requirements set out in the Constitution.  Turns out that, as a side benefit that proposed map also increases the competitiveness of the districts, and likely would increase minority representation, according to Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray’s analysis of the map.

So why are they working so hard in New Brunswick?  Why can’t both sides and Rosenthal just embrace the BTPG’s Constitutional “People’s Map?”

It turns out that there are “principles” not found in the State or U.S Constitutions driving the efforts.  Perhaps I should say principals rather than principles.  The principle principals are incumbents.  The districts belong to them.  The office’s they hold are theirs, not the people’s.  That’s how it is in practice.

Even Rosenthal buys into incumbent protection.  He puts it in noble sounding academic jargon, espousing the “continuity of representation” and the value of crafting a map that is “minimally disruptive.”

Continuous for who?  Minimally disruptive to who?   Rosenthal’s rhetoric and scholarly writings make it sound as if “continuity of representation” and “minimal disruption” are of value to the electorate.  But are they?

It seems to me that most people are oblivious to what legislative districts they live in and relatively few know who their representatives are.

I don’t have empiracle data to back that hunch up, so I called Patrick Murray.  He said that he is unaware of recent polling data of residents awareness of their districts or their legislators, but that he shares my hunch.

So I took to the streets. Main Street in Belford actually, to find some data. This is what I found:

Watch the video.  Some of it is pretty funny.  While not as scientific as one of Murray’s polls, I doubt the results would change with a larger statistical sample and with interviews throughout the state.  Decades of miserably low turnout in legislative elections are statistically significant enough to conclude that most people are not paying attention to the legislature, and don’t know who their legislators are.

Maybe a Constitutional, non-gerrymandered map would change that.  Maybe people would pay attention and vote if their vote mattered.

Sure, I feel for my friends in the legislature who would be maximally disrupted by the adoption of the BTPG’s map.  But the offices they hold and the districts they represent don’t belong to them.

There won’t be real change in Trenton, the city won’t be turned upside down, unless there is a legislative map adopted that does not take into account the residency of incumbents.

The Republicans on the commission should embrace the BTPG’s map and invite Rosenthal to join them.

Posted: March 29th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Legislature, Reapportionment, Redistricting | Tags: , , | 14 Comments »

14 Comments on “Stop The Maneuvering And Adopt The Constitutional Map”

  1. gracie said at 8:39 pm on March 29th, 2011:

    No..wait…provolone is cheese….please break that into a clip so I can watch it every day. That’s the best thing I’ve seen all week. Thanks for the laugh!

  2. Just what I thought said at 10:55 pm on March 29th, 2011:

    Just pull that handle….. Just what I thought, Republicans vote blindly in Middletown…. By the way, they don’t know Amy because Amy does not come out until she sees her shadow on a re-election year.

  3. brian d said at 10:57 pm on March 29th, 2011:

    At least Middletown voters are smart enough to, year after year, beat the D’s like the rented asses they are.

  4. Barbara said at 10:57 pm on March 29th, 2011:

    Just when I think you can’t possibly get better….awesome! Frank Provolone!!!

  5. Janice said at 11:08 pm on March 29th, 2011:

    And these are the people complaining about TODAY’S failing school system?
    Exhibit A- but for an entirely different trial!

  6. Russ said at 12:19 am on March 30th, 2011:

    Bravo Sir.

  7. Firesign58 said at 2:01 am on March 30th, 2011:

    Excellent article and wise suggestion to the GOP to adopt The People’s Map. If they have brains they will do so. The People do not have the desire to have our votes diluted for the next 10 years. If elected officials do not know how to look after the will of the people, then the people know how to primary the elected officials.

  8. Mlaffey said at 9:18 am on March 30th, 2011:

    I bet the could have told you all about the teams in their “Bracket” and Paris Hilton’s latest boyfriend. Poor Rob, his cousin thinks he is in the legislature.

    On the other hand really sad. It explains why we are in the mess we are in.

  9. Brenda said at 10:23 am on March 30th, 2011:

    Except for one man, that was 9 minutes of shameful apathy.

  10. Name said at 12:18 pm on March 30th, 2011:

    Apathy, yes.

    A reflection on the uselessness of Thompson and Handlin, yes.

    Required viewing for self-impotent pols, yes.

  11. You're kinding me... Right? said at 11:16 pm on March 30th, 2011:

    Legislators??? Districts ???? You’re confusing me already. I was told just vote down Column #1. So Forgetaboutit.

  12. Marissa said at 11:27 pm on March 31st, 2011:

    Ladies and Gentlemen, meet “We the People”. Not a constitutional scholar in the bunch and certainly not a group I want drawing up legislative maps. There’s a reason we have representative government folks.

  13. MoreMonmouthMusings » Blog Archive » Could Pallone Be A Redistricting Target? said at 2:50 pm on June 5th, 2011:

    […] during a redistricting battle, an argument could be made along the lines of “continuity of representation.”  Pallone first went to Congress as the representative of the 3rd district after the death of […]

  14. MoreMonmouthMusings » Blog Archive » LD 16 Assembly Race: A Classic Grassroots vs. Establishment Matchup said at 1:18 pm on November 22nd, 2011:

    […] death and Coyle’s decision not to move really messed up Dr. Alan Rosenthal’s theory of continuity of representation, at least as it applies to LD […]