Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Boehner stations troops in Canton area's remap

CONSIDERING THE current decline in property values, what would an entire congressional district be worth these days? $25 million? $509 million ? $2 million? Not even close. For John Boehner's real estate reappraisal team, try a skimpy $210,000. That's what the Timken Company has donated to Republican Rep. Jim Renacci, of the 16th Congressional District (Canton area).

According to media reports, Boehner's aides played a leading role to redraw the district from the earlier proposed map in order to include the Timken Company in the new boundaries. The Plain Dealer reported:

"Tom Whatman, executive director for Team Boehner, the Republican speaker's political team, was making key recommendations on how to configure Ohio's new congressional districts out of public view". His mission, of course, was to create the friendliest possible map for Republicans such as Renacci.

Emails recovered by the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting, which include the League of Women Voters and a coalition of progressive groups , revealed that the political mapmakers met secretly in a Columbus Hotel to lay out the new maps. The emails contradicted Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder's assurance that the entire process was transparent. And, as we have been told, Batchelder never lies. (But the people who swear to that do lie.)

The smoking gun for this back-room deal came from a Whatman email, in which he thanks the locals for agreeing to the last-minute change in the district's boundaries that now has Timken back in Renacci's district. "Very important to someone very important to us all," he says.

Nothing could be more transparent than those words.

Renacci, former Wadsworth mayor and adminstrator of a group of nursing homes, faces Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton in the new district. A wealthy (millions) conservative, he has become a corporate darling as an enemy of government regulations. With the big investors and the new district map on Renacci's side, Sutton, who has experienced trench warfare in the past, will face another tough race. But I have a feeling that he will, too.



JLM said...

Standard GOP modus operandi. There's a reason it's called Republican Dirty Tricks.

David Hess said...

Such shenanigans are commonplace and will continue to persist until reapportionment and redistricting are removed from the hands of the politicians who benefit from it. Though it has survived largely intact since the days of Elbridge Gerry (Massacusetts governor in 1812), computerized gerrymandering has transformed it into a science. Now it is possible, since the federal courts refuse to heed the U.S. Supreme Court's one-man-one-vote recommendation for compact and contiguous districts, to precisely manipulate voting patterns and draw "safe" districts for (or against) incumbents -- thus enabling the politicians to choose their own voters instead of the other way around. Military folks call it "fail-safe." A few states have authorized special, non-partisan commissions or boards to revise the shape of congressional and legislative districts after each decennial census. Some have argued that the current embedded polarization of politics in America is largely the cause of the gridlock and dysfunction in Congress that makes effective governing impossible. Gerrymandering has led to the proliferation of "safe" districts in which as few as 10 percent of the 435 congressional seats are competitive. This, in turn, has fostered the takeover by the extreme wings of both parties of the primary-election process so that candidates with irreconcilable political views win the nominations and usually the general elections, then remain firmly ensconced in their safe seats -- sometimes for decades. In the Republican Party, for instance, the number of politically moderate members of Congress has dwindled to a handful and continues to disappear. Ironically, the number of moderate Democrats has remained roughly the same over the past decade, though a few have lost to conservative Republicans in recent elections, and because of GOP-controlled gerrymandering in several states, more slightly left-of-center Democrats are likely to succumb.