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The Legislature is dealing with the most partisan issue it will ever deal with (unless they take up my proposal to ban all political parties and their activity Nebraska) and that's the issue of redistricting.
If you remember your civics, this is where we are reintroduced to Mr. Gerry Mander, that devious little puke who loves to draw all kinds of funny lines, making all kinds of goofy territories where state senators and federal congressmen will reign. What makes him devious is that Gerry Mander tends to look at polling precincts where people who think like he does tend to gather in larger numbers. Then he conveniently finds other like-minded polling precincts and lumps them together as "best he can" to make a district that will usually vote just like Gerry does election after election.
At this point, I should mention that Gerry Mander's parents actually had two Gerry's - they loved the name so much - so they nicknamed one Gerry "Red" and the other Gerry "Blue."
In Nebraska, Gerry Red has an interesting dilemma. See, in 2008 some guy with a funny name waltzed into Omaha and stole away an electoral vote because Nebraska has a goofy little quirk in their law that allows that. That pissed off Gerry Red something fierce. So Gerry Red's friends tried to fix that law, but an heroic senator put the brakes on that idea because changing the law was stupid.
"That's okay," Gerry Red said. "I'll just get my way by pulling out my Crayola's and drawing a new Congressional map."
So Gerry Red decided to arbitrarily flip-flop Sarpy County by making the west half (where all his like-minded buddies live) move into the Omaha district while Gerry Blue's Birkenstock-wearing, tree-hugging comrades in the eastern half got moved out and lumped in with Lincoln and most of the rest of Eastern Nebraska.
Gerry Red's friends in the Legislative Committee that gets to help decide such matters were tripping all over themselves to be the first one to vote "Yee-haw!" While Gerry Blue's friends on that same committee spit out their soy milk in anger.
Meanwhile, I Googled my handy-dandy 2010 U.S. Census data for Nebraska. According to the numbers, Nebraska's population of 1,826,341 needs to be divided three ways to accommodate our three Congressional Districts. My non-fuzzy math says that number is 608,780.
According to Committee member Scott "I wouldn't be offended if you called me Rush" Lautenbaugh, the core of the 2nd District is Douglas County and "the rest of it is the rest of it." Okay. If that's the case, what if instead of splitting a county (like Sarpy) in half we try to find adjacent counties to Douglas that could make up the difference that brings the district's total population to 608,000.
The population of Douglas County is 517,110. The most populous adjacent county is Dodge, home of Fremont and another famous Gerry. Gdowski. Next in line is Saunders to the west and Washington to the north. Here's the math so far.
Crap! We're about 14,000 short and that takes care of all the counties adjacent to Douglas. But what if we moved further north along the Missouri River? Burt County (Washington's northern neighbor) has a population of 6,858. That brings out total to 601,673. Need another 7,000. Man! It's too bad there wasn't another adjacent county with a population of 7,000.......(dramatic pause)
What's that? What about Thurston County? Thurston County?!?! We named a county after that rich guy stranded on Gilligan's Island? What's the county seat of Thurston County, Lovey? Fine, what's their population?
6,940?!?!? Well I'll be a son-of-an-unnamed-pirate! That's a freakin' miracle right there! That means our population total for the all-new 2nd District comes to 608,613. And if that ain't close enough for government work - and our 608,780 - then I don't know what is! And we have six whole counties that make up the district with nary a town or county commissioner divided.
I literally spent four times the amount of work to type and organize the links on this blog entry as I did to Google the maps and add the numbers. Five whole minutes. 300 seconds.
But I'm sure Jerry Red and Jerry Blue will argue that it "radically alters the scope of the district" and it is unacceptable. But like Senator Lautenbaugh said - outside of Douglas County, "the rest of it is the rest of it."
And "the rest of it" in this plan makes too much damn sense for any politician to ever come to grips with it.
You're welcome, Legislature. If you want me to do the other two districts, It'll cost you.