FairDistricts - Hold Them Accountable

Posted by Vicki | Florida Today | 06/14/2011

The FairDistricts Amendments overwhelmingly approved by Florida voters have now been approved by the Florida Supreme Court and the U.S. Department of Justice. The amendments require that the legislative redistricting committee strictly adhere to "compact, contiguous" districts ending gerrymandering by political parties.

Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon released the following statement. “The preclearance of Amendments 5 and 6 was a necessary step before the legislature could implement them as part of the upcoming redistricting process. More importantly, the preclearance of Amendments 5 and 6 is validation that Florida’s new constitutional standards for redistricting promote and protect the ability of racial and language minority communities to equally participate in the electoral process and elect candidates of their choice.”

Despite House Speaker Cannon's statement, he and the Florida House of Representatives continue to waste taxpayer money fighting to overturn Fair Districts and the will of voters.

I attended Representatives Workman and Tobia's Town Hall and legislative update on 5/18 in Satellite Beach. Constituents had many questions concerning the upcoming redistricting process but received few answers.

When questioned how much taxpayer money has been spent so far to invalidate Fair Districts and the will of voters, both Workman and Tobia "had no idea". Additionally, Representatives Workman and Tobia could not tell us how much more the lawsuit would cost Florida taxpayers in our lawmakers attempt to invalidate a provision to our state constitution that was overwhelmingly approved by Florida voters.

Progress Florida reports "the House and Senate have set aside upwards of $30 million to fight Amendments 5 & 6 in court and promote their version of a redistricting plan." For a process that State Senator Haridopolos assured us would be "in the sunshine" why is Speaker Dean Cannon and the Florida House representatives proceeding with their lawsuit and why are they unable to tell us how much their lawsuit is costing taxpayers?

Representatives Workman and Tobia encouraged attendees to visit www.floridaredistricting.org, a website created by the Legislature to encourage citizen input and to attend one of the 26 redistricting public meetings held across the state this summer.

In reality the public hearings and website are nothing more than a smoke and mirrors attempt by our lawmakers to appear as if they are listening to voters while they simultaneously fight the implementation of Fair Districts in court.

Many states have already completed their redistricting process. Other states have provided proposed legislative maps at their public hearings to allow citizens the opportunity to comment on actual proposed maps. Why haven't our Florida legislators provided proposed legislative district maps? How can voters comment on proposed districts when we haven't been provided maps?

Our Legislators efforts to manipulate the system, preserve their power and political careers while enriching themselves financially does not stop there. They have also established a redistricting timeline which ends later than almost every other state in the nation. Challengers or new candidates will have little if any time to mount campaigns and this timeline protects incumbents.

House Speaker Dean Cannon, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, Governor Rick Scott and the Republican Tallahassee majority took an oath to obey and uphold the state constitution. Amendments 5 & 6 are now a part of the state constitution. They must immediately end the lawsuits, roadblocks and delays.

Our Legislators should be working to uphold the constitution and the will of the voters, not spending our money to manipulate the system protecting their own interests and seats while they cut funding for critical services that benefit millions of Floridians.

Do Opinion Matters readers agree?

Florida Senate President Haridopolos responds to "FairDistricts" questions.

Where are YOUR maps Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon?

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