John Dillon on re-districting reform.

dennis-fitzsimons-tribune

The leader and spokesperson of the Independent Maps movement is a former Tribune CEO, Dennis FitzSimons.

-By John Dillon. A founding member of our bloggers’ Perfection Caucus, John posts regularly at Pension Vocabulary.

The Independent Map petition was deemed unconstitutional in its design, straying outside of the constitutionally prescribed “structural and procedural” limitations of Article XIV, section 3.  In the 4-3 partisan finding of the Court, Justice Kilbride questioned an outline of added duties to the office of the Illinois Auditor General (previously Representative Frank Mautino), noted language within the petition which drifts into revenue seeking or enhancements, and criticized a narrowly prescriptive methodology for a plan to redistrict.

Rauner was quick to react and seize upon his old saw of “corruption” and a “rigged system.”

“’What drives people away from Illinois is the sense that our political system is broken and our government is unaccountable to the people,’ Rauner said in a statement denouncing the ruling.”

In fact, Illinois is one of another 36 states where the legislature is responsible for drawing the voting districts in the state.  In these legislatures, adoptions of such districts are accomplished by simple majority votes.  This is especially frustrating for a governor like Rauner, who has vowed to “change Springfield” and “set term limits” and “drive them all nuts.”

The last promise has been evidenced in his refusal to settle on a state budget for over a year; and with new demands for pension ‘reform,’ term limits, and now an amendment on redistricting being included – well, the budget may be suspended until the next redistricting plan is presented to the office of the governor for signing in 2021.

By the way, the Governor in Illinois does have the power to veto any planned map.  And, the state also allows for the establishment of a backup commission comprised of members appointed by the leaders in the General Assembly if there is inability to agree upon a plan.

With a solid Democratic majority in place, that would never suffice.  Rauner also scolded the Court: “Today’s court decision to deny Illinoisans the right to vote on a redistricting referendum does nothing to stem the outflow or change people’s views of how the system is rigged and corrupt.”http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/states-top-court-knocks-redistricting-ref-off-november-ballot/

The Tribune likewise published blistering opinions in its editorial pages regarding the partisan divide evidenced in the Court’s decision.  “Once again machine politics won. Voters lost. Independent Maps, a group of civic leaders and volunteers…”

This is not to say that the Independent Maps Organization does not have some back history itself in politics, the Chicago Tribune, or connections to Illinois as a better business model.  In fact, the leader and spokesperson of the Independent Maps movement is a former Tribune CEO, Dennis FitzSimons.  According to an article published by Dennis Rodkin, FitzSimons had “spent 25 years at Tribune Co. before stepping down after helping to engineer its sale to Sam Zell and an Employee Stock Ownership Plan.” As you know, Zell masterminded the bankruptcy of the newspaper and forced the building’s recent sale.  At least it wasn’t Donald Trump. (http://www.chicagomag.com/Radar/Deal-Estate/February-2011/Former-Tribune-Chairman-FitzSimons-Sells-His-North-Shore-Home/)

And what was in the plan that Rauner argues would make Illinois free of the political corruption and rigging under which we have all suffered?  It will be accomplished by the Independent Redistricting Commission, comprised of 11 Commissioners.

It sounds so, well, non-partisan doesn’t it? But if you thought the rubrics of the Hunger Gamesseemed a bit obtuse, the Independent Maps Plan appears as impervious to manipulation as a wealthy parent’s desire to get his child into a great school like Walter Payton High through some clever intrigue and an under-the-table donation.

Read the entire blog post here.

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