Time for a little tour of the editorial pages. The Chron says "Enough already" and slams most of the main participants, especially Governor Goodhair:
Gov. Rick Perry bears ultimate responsibility for pointlessly prolonging the agony of the redistricting battle in a special session.
Perry might not care that editorials in most of the state's major papers oppose redistricting. He might not care that most of the voters who attended public hearings on redistricting spoke vehemently against it. But he should have some regard for his own honor and credentials as a leader who puts the good of the state above the whim of a Washington powerbroker.
Perry, like other state leaders of both parties, acknowledged before the start of the regular session that Texas had more crucial needs than redistricting. Many of those needs, such as school finance reform, have not been met. Perry should not have wasted the Legislature's time and the taxpayers' money on a divisive issue that offers benefits to few and harm to many.
This plan moves on to the Senate, where it can only be hoped that the grown-ups will see it for what it is -- pure politics -- and stop wasting their time and the people's money on this unnecessary effort.
The Senate map could be very much like the one that the House Democrats went to Oklahoma in May to block by preventing a quorum.
That map would have made McLennan County a minor appendage of a district in which the major voting clout would be in Greater Fort Worth. Other options now would be to marginalize an intact McLennan County in a district that contains the Dallas or Austin suburbs, or even Greater San Antonio.
Some will say, correctly, that if the situation were reversed (as it was for decades, when Texas was solidly Democratic), Democrats would be working just as hard to ensure their pre-eminence.
Fair enough. But in this presumably enlightened age, the heart of the once-a-decade redistricting process is, or should be, the notion of one man, one vote: District boundaries should reflect the composition of the populace as a whole.
The San Antonio Republican wants his colleagues to create an independent redistricting panel. Republicans would name four members to the body, and Democrats would name four. Those eight Texans would then select the all-important ninth member. Together, the group would draw the lines for Texas' political boundaries in 2011 and every 10 years thereafter.
This idea stands out for several reasons, but particularly because it would generate more competitive elections. An independent panel would have the gumption to draw lines that reflect real communities of interest and encourage real political contests – not just partisan slam dunks.
Texans would then see candidates working hard for every vote, not just for the Republicans or Democrats in their district. That's healthy for democracy.
A sensible way to redistrict is to turn the matter over to a bipartisan committee, as state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, has proposed. That would ensure a degree of fairness to both parties, a focus on communities of interest and lively elections.
The GOP can live with urban liberals such as [Rep. Maxine] Waters, Norquist said; it's moderates such as [Rep. Charlie] Stenholm who are its prime targets. If the Texas redistricting plan is adopted, Norquist said, "it is exactly the Stenholms of the world who will disappear, ... the moderate Democrats. They will go so that no Texan need grow up thinking that being a Democrat is acceptable behavior."
At 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, nearly eight hours into a congressional redistricting hearing, Lenox Waciuma Wanjohi elicited a newsworthy answer from State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, the architect of the map designed to get more Republicans elected to Congress.
Wanjohi appreciated King's "refreshing candor" in saying that electing Republicans was the goal, then said, "Normal campaigns have market checks -- to get elected one has to get votes and donations. But this campaign to get Republicans elected is being paid for by public money." The cost to Texans of the special session has been pegged at $1.7 million, and many observers foresee millions more in court costs incurred by challenges.
"Is there a point when you, Mr. King, would say that this campaign costs too much, and it can wait until 2011?"
"No!" King replied vehemently.
Wanjohi was called to the podium earlier, but deferred until King returned to the hearing room. When King was present, he worked at his laptop computer rather than paying undivided attention to the hundreds of people who arrived for the hearing at 2 p.m. Tuesday only to find it postponed for five hours. At 7 p.m. so many people came that another hour and a half elapsed to move to a larger room.