Giving Gerrymandering a bad name

Remarks I made at the NC Redistricting Public Hearing – East, at the New Hanover location at UNC Wilmington, 3:00pm – 5:00pm, July 18th, 2011

My name is Greg Flynn. I live in Raleigh, Wake County but I thought it appropriate to speak at a hearing in Wilmington because it appears there is no part of North Carolina, however remote, that can not be drawn into a Congressional District with Wake County.

Actually I am on vacation but am so disgusted by the State House and Senate redistricting plans released just last week that I took the time to drive here from Topsail to register my concerns. After my initial laughter at the absurdity of the boundary diagrams, that can charitably be described a resembling an explosion in a spaghetti factory, my concern grew on closer inspection of the delineation, if you can call it that, of the proposed districts. I couldn’t decide if the inspiration was mitochondria or Machiavelli, but the result is the same: Meandering and artificial division that obliterates all sense of civic geography and community place, and who might best represent it.

My current precinct is Wake’s 01-02, House District 35, Jennifer Weiss, and Senate District 16, Josh Stein. For me the change to Senate District 16 is minimal, but my observation is that the boundaries between districts which were previously relatively rectilinear are now unnecessarily convoluted and interlocked.

The epitome of this convoluted enmeshing can be found in Fayetteville where the proposed Senate Districts 21 and 19 are so enmeshed as to be indistinguishable. If you’ve ever seen the movie “The Fly”, where a telepod accident blended the DNA of a fly and a human, you may understand the new predicament of Hoke and Cumberland counties.

But back to Wake Count where Jennifer Weiss has been so excised from Raleigh and cast into a western Wake district so deliberately that Representative Weiss herself expressed surprise that the boundary was not drawn through her bedroom so that her husband might be compelled to vote in another district.

Now I am part of an absurd crescent shaped district that stretches across Raleigh barely one precinct wide. It is as if some dentist threaded floss between Republican districts to remove the Democratic plaque and debris, and held it up declaring: “Here is the new District 34”.

On one end it reaches up to northwest Wake to knock on Chris Heagarty’s back door [with my right hand], then swoops down to pick me up in 01-02. Then over here on my left shoulder it makes sure to include Grier Martin, while here in my arm pit it takes a detour to grab Deborah Ross.

The redlining of Deborah Ross is most egregious. You had to reach into the middle of her precinct, splitting it in three, to grab her house, so you could hold it up for all the world to see, and declare: “We have removed the Democratic tumor!” Is your manhood so fragile that you must go to such extremes to silence strong, smart women?

Then the arc continues up through Raleigh’s Five Points into North Raleigh and terminates at the precinct of my in-laws, previously and still some distance away in another community.

You call this “fair and legal”? Legal, only to the extent that even an axe murderer caught on videotape is innocent until prove guilty by the court. And fair? By packing black people in few districts you make the rest of the state fair – fair skinned – putting the caucus back in Caucasian.

Instead of chopping the State up you should be uniting it, so that we can join in common purpose to make this great State even greater. Instead of reliving the battles of the past 100 years let’s look ahead at least 10 years, the first 5 of which will need us all to push the wagon out of the economic ruts.

While I am flattered at my inclusion in possibly the most liberal ghetto, excuse me, district, in North Carolina, that is not how I define myself, nor does it address the issues facing my family or my community.

This plan is hideous in appearance, reality and intent. It reflects our basest instincts in political partisanship. It needlessly splits precincts and communities, depriving us of experienced leadership and balanced representation. Please go back to the drawing board, and find a straight edge, or at least a French curve, because these plans give gerrymandering a bad name.


Even worse

It's gotten even worse since Monday. The newest Congressional Districts are even crazier. For example 13 got whiplash and now runs east from Raleigh instead of west. The "map viewer" won't load the districts yet to check the details.

Sure hope Mr. Parker

has his ducks ... um, attorneys ... in a row to challenge this crap.