Déja vu, again and again and again in TallahasseeI guess the old expression “try and try again until you get it right” doesn’t apply to the members of our legislature in Tallahassee who have been, under Florida’s Supreme Court orders, trying to redraw our legislative district voting boundary maps. They just can’t get it right.
Seems they can’t — or don’t want to — understand the meaning of public service. The motto in our state capital is “one for all and all for one.” That is as long as the all and the one is a member of the legislature trying to preserve their job and their control of the state’s government.
The story is starting to get a bit old with graying whiskers. But the voters of Florida, so tired of the gerrymandering of our voting district boundaries to preserve their control of the legislature, went to the polls and amended the state’s constitution requiring that boundaries be drawn to accommodate the commonality of community interests — not to favor those in power, be they Republicans or Democrats.
The vote was overwhelming. We sat back satisfied that the gerrymandering games of the past were behind us and logic would prevail the next time a redraw took place.
Wrong! The legislature drew the map as if the state’s constitution were never amended to protect the interests of its residents. They got it wrong. Three times the legislature has been called back into special session — financed, of course, by the taxpayers of Florida.
Each time an attempt to redraw, conforming to Amendment One, failed. Each time the court sent first the Florida House of Representatives then the Florida Senate back into session. Each time they failed.
Now it is up to the Florida Supreme Court to (1) redraw the district boundaries themselves, (2) send it back, again, to the legislaturewith instructions to not go home until a redraw meets the constitutional requirements and that of the court, or (3) appoint an independent group to settle the boundaries.
The League of Women Voters and Common Cause have petitioned the court to not send it back to the legislature, but to appoint a bipartisan committee to comply with Amendment One. Perhaps it is time to think about a Constitutional amendment designating a nonpartisan committee, appointed by the Supreme Court, to amend boundaries every 10 years.
There are several problems with the long delay in finally settling on the voting district boundaries. Prominent among them being the inability of elected officials running for reelection being able to know who they will represent. Some find themselves running against a fellow elected official who with new boundaries are representing the same voters.
It is equally disenabling for those planning on running for a seat in the legislature. Who will they be representing? Also, do they live in the district they were anticipating representing? If this goes on too long, the Supreme Court might find it necessary to delay the elections, give time as we discussed above, to those running for reelection and those running for the first time to identify their “new” district, align their financial supporters, hit the streets meeting the voters or just deciding it is too much and forget elected office.
Florida just can’t seem to get it right. Every election cycle we do something absolutely crazy that makes our state the laughing stock of the nation.
Here is what it comes down to: We have a body of elected officials in Tallahassee, including our governor, who believe that they can rule without regard for the interests of the people they serve. While I deplore the actions of our elected officials, I am angrier with those of us that keep electing them to office.
Perhaps the way our elected officials are running our state is just what we the voters of Florida want. Maybe that is why they are elected to office. If that is the case I am going to start looking around for a state with a more intelligent voting base.
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