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Guest View: Redistricting commission would be accountable to no one

Guest View: Redistricting commission would be accountable to no one

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On Aug. 19, The Southern Illinoisan editorial board urged lawmakers to uphold Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of legislation allowing interest arbitration when negotiating wages for state employees. The paper argued that negotiating authority should not be “hand(ed) to an arbitrator accountable to no one.”

The Southern argued for this position because it believes those who are unelected and unaccountable to the people of Illinois should not have the power to make such important decisions that will impact the 12 million residents of the state.

So imagine our surprise when, on Sept. 30, the very same editorial board gave its full-throated support to so-called and politically motivated “reforms” to how Illinois’ legislative districts are drawn. The paper’s point of view is so wrong and so hypocritical because under the politically motivated movement underway to change how Illinois draws its legislative districts, the power to draw the districts would be given to none other than unelected individuals who are “accountable to no one.”

The Southern mentioned in its editorial Arizona’s redistricting process. What it did not mention is that the maps drawn by Arizona’s so-called “independent commission” have been highly scrutinized. In 2002, the U.S. Department of Justice condemned the map, claiming it “dilutes minority voting strength – possibly intentionally.” An Arizona court overturned the commission’s redistricting plan for numerous violations of the state constitution.

Independent commissions are not necessarily less partisan than legislatures when drawing district boundaries, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But they are unaccountable – something The Southern Illinoisan editorial board finds either unjust or noble, depending on the issue it is advocating at the time.

The Southern Illinoisan believes that decisions affecting the state’s workforce should not be handed over to those who are “accountable to no one.” The politically motivated effort to change Illinois’ redistricting system would likewise affect who represents Illinois’ 12 million residents in the State Capitol by handing the power of drawing legislative districts over to a group people who are “accountable to no one.” The Southern would do well to be consistent in its beliefs and reject this politically motivated power grab.

Hooker is chairman of People's Map and is chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority. 

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