By Sean Spinello
The following is the methodology I employed to construct the Bayshore Tea Party Group’s “People’s Map.” Thank you to More Monmouth Musings for allowing me to address some of the confusion and misinformation that has been spread elsewhere.
1. The People’s Map was drawn solely based on federal legal requirements and New Jersey Constitutional requirements. No voter registration data or incumbent residency information whatsoever was known specifically so they could not cause intentional or even subconscious bias in the map drawing
2. The map was drawn using only US census data, a map of New Jersey, pencils, paper, calculators and a copy of the New Jersey Constitution. These items do not cost much. No computers or mapping programs were utilized. No “funding” or “support” was provided for the mapping “project”, which consisted of unpaid concerned citizens working for long hours to draw a map that meets federal legal and New Jersey Constitutional requirements.
3. “The People” for whom the map was drawn are all the people, regardless of party affiliation, who want the law followed and do not want the law disregarded in favor of ad hoc self-interested decision making by politicians. Admittedly, if someone wants a gerrymandered map that violates law and results in voter nullification and non-competitive elections, “The People’s Map” is not for you.
4. Some critics of our map are reading the wrong part of the State Constitution as the basis of their complaints, citing Article XI, rather than Article IV. It is no wonder that “no matter how many times I read this provision”(i.e., Article XI), the author did not find the New Jersey Constitutional districting requirements. Specifically, Article IV, Section II, Paragraph 3 of the New Jersey Constitution provides in relevant part:
“The Assembly districts shall be composed of contiguous territory, as nearly compact and equal in the number of their inhabitants as possible, and in no event shall each such district contain less than eighty per cent nor more than one hundred twenty per cent of one-fortieth of the total number of inhabitants of the State as reported in the last preceding decennial census of the United States. Unless necessary to meet the foregoing requirements, no county or municipality shall be divided among Assembly districts unless it shall contain more than one-fortieth of the total number of inhabitants of the State, and no county or municipality shall be divided among a number of Assembly districts larger than one plus the whole number obtained by dividing the number of inhabitants in the county or municipality by one-fortieth of the total number of inhabitants of the State.” (Emphasis Added).
5. Partisan gerrymandering is not one of the “foregoing requirements” that permits municipalities/counties to be split among more districts than prescribed by the New Jersey Constitution. The Commission does NOT have the discretion to gerrymander by manipulating districts as it chooses for partisan advantage at the expense of the REQUIRED New Jersey Constitutional criteria such as population equality and limitation on municipal/county splits among districts. Only when discretionary factors such as the odious practice of partisan gerrymandering do NOT cause non-compliance with required Constitutional and legal criteria may such discretionary factors be considered. Additionally, once we actually adopt a Constitutional map, there will be less dramatic district changes in the future. What the partisan interests seek to do presently is to perpetuate an unconstitutional map by arguing it is in the interest of The People, rather than themselves, to look backward and protect incumbents.
6. While we have not yet seen the final map, based on the press reports of horse-trading districts and attempts to fix match-ups like old time boxing promoters, it is hard to imagine a resulting map that will comply with the New Jersey Constitution’s limitations on splitting municipalities and counties. By way of comparison, the current legislative districting map has 26 additional municipal/county “over-splits”; while “The People’s Map” has 3 since only 3 were necessary to meet the district legal requirements of population equality, contiguousness and compactness. Three was the best I could do. If possible, a different map with either 2, 1, or 0 extra splits would be even better, and I would encourage anyone who may make such a map to offer it publicly prior to Sunday’s vote irrespective of impact on incumbent protection. If rather than the Constitutional limitation on municipal/county splitting, will the map be considered Constitutional if it violates the population requirements – NO.
7. A principle of conservatism is to want the law to be followed and if the law is not suitable, to follow the legal process to change the law. It is not conservative in any way to only want the law followed when it suits one’s personal interests, and to disregard the law when it does not. It is conservative to want our nation to be a nation of laws, not of men engaging in ad hoc lawless decision making while providing aristocratic handouts, such as tenured lifetime appointments as “elected” officials resulting from gerrymandered districts, “cleared primaries,” and no limitation on terms in office. It certainly is not conservative of any elected official to participate in or support lawless district mapping for their self-interest.
8. A government that is not accountable to the people at the ballot box will not be accountable to the people.
9. I will support any map that all meets legal and Constitutional requirements and continue to oppose any map that does not.
10. The Bayshore Tea Party Group fully supported drawing a map based solely on legal requirements (what else should be considered, really?) regardless of the outcome with respect to “incumbent protection” in either party. We have been accused through shameless innuendo, and without any basis whatsoever, of choosing a side in the mapping to further some partisan interest. Whose side are we on? – The side of the law. And we would hope that all Commission members, as well as every one of our current legislators – also known as “lawmakers” who have sworn to uphold the law – would be on the side of the law rather than on the side of legal disregard for self-interest. The partisan interests at stake are not Democrat and Republican; they are The People and the respective party establishments. The bi-partisanship we need now is not an 11th hour power sharing agreement between partisan Commission members, it is the establishment “crossing the aisle” to join The People. If Commission members truly represent the interests of The People, why wouldn’t they support the same map as a Commission member as they would if an independent voting member of the public? Over half of New Jersey voters are independent and neither Democrat nor Republican.
11. While others in the Bayshore Tea Party Group provided significant and time consuming help with the mapping effort, I drew the map’s districting, and re-drew it, and re-drew it until it was of unimpeachable Constitutionality. Others in the Bayshore Tea Party Group learned of the specific districting when the map was completed. I do not know Governor Christie nor any of his staff. No elected official, staff member, or other person related to any political party or agenda was consulted in any way or involved in any aspect of the mapping whatsoever. It is truly a map of People, not party.
12. Although I am concerned by the lack of elected officials and potential candidates seriously addressing the current problems of our great nation, I am not and will not be a candidate for any elected office. It is very clear the impact that a private citizen with a pencil, pad, calculator and desire to follow the law can have on the public arena. I will continue my efforts as a private citizen to advocate for lawful, principled government and leaders of uncompromising integrity. I, and the Bayshore Tea Party Group, encourage all citizens – whether Democrat, Republican, third-party or independent, to do the same to protect The People’s liberty and make a positive impact on our communities, states, and America, the greatest nation on God’s earth.
Most respectfully submitted to my fellow citizens,