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Snyder Signs Controversial Oakland County Redistricting Bill

County Executive L. Brooks Patterson says Democrats who oppose the new law should 'get over it.'

Gov. Rick Snyder has reportedly signed a controversial bill that could overturn a map drawn by an Oakland County committee charged with redrawing districts after the 2010 Census. 

Quoted in the Detroit Free Press, Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said the governor signed the bill because it "brings greater transparency to the process" by ensuring that only elected officials participate in redrawing boundaries after the dececennial census. 

The new law puts the board of commissioners in charge of drawing new districts in counties with a population more than 1 million and an optional unified form of government with an elected county executive. Wayne County also meets the population threshold, but has a charter form of government, so Oakland is the only county affected by the new law.

With 25 commissioners, Oakland is also the only county affected by a new rule that limits the number of county commissioners to 21 in counties that have more than 50,000 residents. 

State Rep. Vicki Barnett (D-37th District) that she believes HB 5187 likely violated the state constitution, and county Democratic party chair Frank Houston told the Detroit Free Press today that a legal challenge to the new law is "imminent."

Monday, the Royal Oak City Commission  “Letting elected officials choose their voters… that could very well negatively impact Royal Oak and other communities throughout the county," Commissioner Kyle DuBuc said.

Democrats in the Legislature and on the Oakland County board voiced strong objections to the new law, calling it a partisan power grab. Seven of 10 Democratic commissioners walked out of a county board meeting last Thursday, after a resolution opposing the bill failed, The Detroit News reported.

Legal challenge to new map

The redistricting map was drawn by a bipartisan committee that includes county Republican and Democratic party chairs, the county clerk/register of deeds, county prosecutor and county treasurer. 

While the committee has a Democratic majority, the Board of Commissioners has a Republican majority. 

County Commissioner David Potts (R-Birmingham), Troy Mayor Janice Daniels and Southfield resident Mary Kathryn Decuir have filed a lawsuit that claims the map was gerrymandered to give Democrats a partisan advantage. According to The Detroit News, "the petition claims the map creates 'numerous non-compact districts' and 'unnecessarily divides communities of interest in the Pontiac and Southfield areas.'"

Two weeks before state Rep. Bradford Jacobsen (R-Oxford) introduced HB 5187, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the original map. Barnett said Dec. 9 that the timing makes the new law unconstitutional, because the legislature cannot pass a bill that reverses a legal court decision. The new law would require Oakland County to go back and redraw its map with a smaller number of districts, effectively overturning the appeals court ruling, she said. 

Barnett also believes the law qualifies as "local and special" under the state constitution, and such laws require a two-thirds majority vote, as well as an affirmative vote of the citizens in the affected jurisdiction. She said the law qualifies because it only affects Oakland County and will require the county to change its charter to reflect the smaller number of commissioners. 

Republicans apparently plan to continue their fight in court. Potts told Bloomfield Township officials at a recent meeting that his group intends to file an appeal of the map with the Michigan Supreme Court, . 

County Executive L. Brooks Patterson told the Detroit Free Press that he supports the new law, because of the estimated $250,000 in savings and greater efficiency with fewer county commissioners. He also argued that Democrats have made similar political moves at the state level on behalf of the city of Detroit and said Democrats should "get over it." 

DCC December 21, 2011 at 03:00 PM
"While Brooks Patterson chooses to focus on savings and efficiency ..." ???? Oh, please. Brooks just proudly presented a 3 year budget for Oakland County which included increased expenditures over that time. At no time did he present any interest in eliminating 4 county districts. Let's stop being disingenuous, please. The real controversy is who is going to draw the districts. Will Oakland County continue like the other 82 counties in Michigan and use the defined County Apportionment Commission, or will it, unlike all the other counties in the state, have sitting commissioners draw their own districts - whether 25, 21, or whatever.
Tim Bencsik December 21, 2011 at 03:06 PM
Reply to Darryl Conliffe: Dear Sir, I must say, spoken like a true LIBERAL.. As if the Democrats are such SAINTS? LOL You seem to be accusing Tom of being BIASED. Yet you ignore your own selective perception??? I quote you: "provides cover for GOP tyranny and suggests Democrats should ignore the adherence to the rule of law and a sense of fairness when if fact it is their duty to defend both." Who has been running Michigan for the past 10 years or so? Who runs the school systems? Who runs the Unions? ACORN and so on??? Calling Tom a WHINER is hypocritical!
Ardy December 21, 2011 at 03:09 PM
More grab, slash and burn by Republicans. Stupid? Nope, very calculated. Each and every one of them knows that they have only this one time to snatch as much as they can because after the next election; they will never see the light of day again. People who voted Republican should be completely embarrassed, give up their gamblers mentality and stop dividing this great country. They are all acting very close to traitors through purposefully dividing this country for their own political benefit. Also, they hope that by engaging in this type of action it will cleanse their souls of all of the responsibility and blood of the false war in Iraq. By creating false emergencies with a BAMN mindset they hope to crash our economy and make Obama a one-term President. What they take for granted; the rest of us see right through it. Enjoy; Republican politicians days in government are numbered; you too, LBP.
Thomas Gagne December 21, 2011 at 03:18 PM
Daryl, I was unaware an apportionment commission existed for redrawing districts. Before the election that brought Democrats to Oakland’s prosecutor and treasurer offices, I don't remember any of the candidates discussing the importance of their office to apportionment or how they'd bring impartiality to redistricting. In that same election, however, voters elected a majority Republican commission. I don't think it's intellectually honest to believe that a partially-elected body is better equipped for redistricting than a fully-elected board of commissioners. But here we are, you, me, and uncounted others debating the blatant partisanship of what happened rather than what I believe should be the more important issues, legal or not, of how it affects representation. In addition to the questions I raised earlier, fewer districts means larger districts, and larger districts increase campaign expenses. Is that a good thing? I don't think so. Perhaps we should be beating Republicans up for intentionally raising the barrier to entry for citizens interested in serving as commissioners and reducing our choices. It is not my mission to provide cover for Republicans or Democrats. Instead it is my intent to look past divisive partisanship and consider what is or isn't good public policy. If voters are distracted by partisanship, how can we expect our elected officials to act otherwise?
Tim Bencsik December 21, 2011 at 03:22 PM
'Long-term effects of money printing explained' By Michael Lombardi http://www.commodityonline.com/news/long-term-effects-of-money-printing-explained-44512-3-1.html Two trillion dollars: that’s how much the Fed has increased its balance sheet by buying securities. And where did the two trillion dollars come from? It was created. My final question for you, dear reader: how can you create two trillion dollars, on top of the five trillion the Obama administration has expanded its debt, and have rapid inflation not become a problem? Here is the simple formula: Rising government debt plus lots of money printing = rapid inflation, which = higher interest rates
Thomas Gagne December 21, 2011 at 03:30 PM
Tim, interesting information, but how does it relate to the redistricting controversy?
DCC December 21, 2011 at 03:31 PM
Tim, calm down. ACORN doesn't exist any more. Was there a problem with the logic or facts of my post you would like to address? Do you have any information you would like to interject into this discussion?
Tim Bencsik December 21, 2011 at 03:34 PM
Tom, It probably does not. It was more a response to ARDY who always blames the Republicans for crashing the economy or power grabs..... I think you cleared it up just fine as you just described in your last reply... It all boils down to our tax money; and that should be a common ground! Thanks for asking. Ever so RESPECTFULLY to you.........
Tim Bencsik December 21, 2011 at 03:40 PM
Dear Darryl, "ACORN doesn't exist any more". I'm not that gullible! You watch the next election; call it what you want, but if it walks like a duck? And No. I'll let the MASTER exchange with you. At least he trying to be fair!
Tim Bencsik December 21, 2011 at 03:58 PM
Lets pass the blame around, after all it is due to this economy! Is it not? Watch this then. LOL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY8LKII_MNA
DCC December 21, 2011 at 04:03 PM
Tom, most people were "unaware an apportionment commission existed for redrawing districts". However, it does exist - or at least did - for all 83 counties in Michigan. You said, "I don't think it's intellectually honest to believe that a partially-elected body is better equipped for redistricting than a fully-elected board of commissioners." On the contrary, consider this: the people involved in the apportionment commission are not drawing their own districts! This is key to the issue of fair redistricting! "It is not my mission to provide cover for Republicans or Democrats. Instead it is my intent to look past divisive partisanship and consider what is or isn't good public policy." And I apologize for interpreting your motives otherwise. However, there are more public policy issues here. Besides the number of districts, there is the changing of the method of redistricting in Oakland County. I for one reject that being decided outside of the county, retroactively, without discussion nor vote of the county. The GOP introduced this mayhem. Their actions should be castigated. It is not merely a small tit-for-tat political issue. Your argument read as a blanket condemnation of both parties; by its silence it seemed to give cover to the GOP's role in this conflict. We can discuss a change in districts - let it be studied, debated, and costs examined, but let's have that debate separate from determining the electoral map in Oakland County for 2012.
Thomas Gagne December 21, 2011 at 04:33 PM
"The people involved in the apportionment commission are not drawing their own districts! This is key to the issue of fair redistricting!" It would be, except the commission is apparently partisan as well, which is what the fight is over. If there really should be a formula based on demographics and contiguity, it seems a computer program should be able to redistrict impartially. Even if not accepted, it should be the one whomever's in-charge should start with, and argue why their adjustments are improvements and not favors to their party.
DCC December 21, 2011 at 06:35 PM
Tom, your response to my statement "The people involved in the apportionment commission are not drawing their own districts! This is key to the issue of fair redistricting!" was that "It would be, except the commission is apparently partisan as well, which is what the fight is over." Two points: 1) The fight is over whether the GOP in Lansing should have the power to RETROACTIVELY change the way Oakland County, and only Oakland County, manages redistricting - AFTER the redistricting was done! 2) In Michigan, all counties (except Oakland) use 3 COUNTY WIDE ELECTED officials on an apportionment commission to handle redistricting. In all of those counties, none of the sitting county commissioners get to draw their own district lines! None! What the GOP has imposed is an abomination where it transfers control from the OC apportionment commission to the OC county commissioners themselves. The uproar is about the GOP in Lansing changing the rules after the fact in a way that is highly controversial, designed for their own political advantage, while standing behind the fig leaf lie that this new change was prompted by an interest in saving money! You may not have a problem with that lie being held up as the reason, but many people do. Disregarding the underlying motivation of the GOP would be dishonest, intellectually and in every way else. After all, tyranny, the arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power, is something Americans resist, not ignore.
Thomas Gagne December 21, 2011 at 06:45 PM
Darryl, yours is the best synopsis of the issues I've read. Thanks. Your point about the apportionment commission including county-wide, and not just district-wide folks makes sense--though I'm still not thrilled with the county party chairs. What I like best about your points is how much clearer they are when made without partisan nonsense.
DCC December 22, 2011 at 02:17 PM
Thanks for the compliment, Thomas. Unfortunately, partisanship is at the core of this issue. It was OC Commissioner Potts who filed suit in July challenging the Apportionment Commission's proposed redistricting plan, primarilly since it would pit him against fellow Republican incumbent Shelley Goodman Taub for re-election next year. It appears he thought he'd lose. He's pressing on to the Supreme Court since the Michigan Court of Appeals has already upheld the proposed boundaries. After the GOP lost in court, it launched its end-run of both the court and the voters. The "saving money" part was a ruse. In addition, please note that the Michigan Constitution provides for two classes of laws: those that impact the entire state, and those that impact only one county. Those that are written in a fashion that impact "one county only" require a two-thirds majority in both houses as well as a vote of the citizens in the county. The GOP, assuming itself all powerful and above the law, just ignored the constitution and rammed through the law. I hope you can now join those in opposition to this unconstitutional law, at least in sentiment if not in your posts. Democrats' and others' exhortations to overturn the law and for a return of normal order are fully justified. The argument is not a mere squabble between two political parties, but rather a matter of constitutionality, election integrity, fairness, and truthfulness. Have a great day, and Happy Holidays!
Daryl Patrishkoff December 22, 2011 at 05:51 PM
Tim, That was so funny, however a very sad ending. If we do not change course now, we will never recover as a Nation. We are in serious trouble as a Nation, State and City because we cannot get the politicians to do the right things. All you have to do is read the paper today about the City of Detroit and the serious trouble they are in; we are on the exact same path, but our day of reckoning is farther out. People stand up and want fiscal responsibility and they are called "Radical." I suggest the people that are continuing the unsustainable path are the radical ones. However, no one wants to cut spending and let's just take shots at the people trying to bring things under control. How long can we continue on this path?
Marty Rosalik December 22, 2011 at 06:21 PM
Come on guys and call this "redistricting" what it is. Suppression of local control. Many here support it because the GOP is doing it. Many are outraged because some of their Democrats are feeling the brunt of this. Tim and Daryl: please try and look at this as if the Democrats did it to Republicans in the same vein. Are you aware of that forced unionization by the previous administration of day care providers? If so. How did that play with you? This is what it is, destruction of local control. It may be the right fiscal thing to do but it is the meat fist of big govenrment doing it. Either way it makes the centralized government MORE powerful. I don't like that.
Tim Bencsik December 22, 2011 at 06:35 PM
Responce to Mr. Daryl Patrishkoff, Dear Sir, You have no idea the kind of names I am called! Talk about tolerance? People have no idea how close we are to the brink; all walking around like the music playing on the TITANIC.. All this stuff is small, compared to what we are facing! We are close though! Watch these guys.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ub1pXIM-vA&feature=related http://peterschiffchannel.blogspot.com/
Daryl Patrishkoff December 22, 2011 at 06:47 PM
Marty, I only responded to Tim's video and commented on it, I also understand I did deviate from the real topic of these posts, but felt compelled to comment on our fiscal situation. I call this redistricting issue just plain politics, not real useful and whoever is in control gets to play the game. This has been going on for years whether it is Democrats or Republicans in control. Politics a waste of time and money, we need to get back on track financially regardless of your affiliation with a particular party or we will no longer be a viable nation. That is the point I was trying to make.
Jay Parker December 23, 2011 at 05:41 PM
The Redistricting Song: http://www.propublica.org/article/video-the-redistricting-song/single
Tim Bencsik December 23, 2011 at 07:24 PM
Just when you think you've heard it all, our illustrious Congress quietly comes up with a new zinger to put their hands in your pockets, and pick them while you aren't watching. Isn't this just wonderful ? I was standing in line at the checkout counter at Wal Mart and as I looked at the line behind me, I saw a couple of people talking about what looked like identical new cell phones, bragging about the fact that their phones were free and so was the airtime. recipients are now eligible to receive what he described as (1) a FREE new cell phone, and (2) approximately 250 FREE minutes of air time every month.' SafeLink Wireless is a government supported program that provides a free cell phone and airtime each month for income-eligible customers. In other words, your tax dollars are being distributed to a wireless phone provider to provide welfare recipients with free cell phones and airtime. We are $14 Trillion in debt, Congress is balking at continuing unemployment payments to those who want to work, and Congress is increasing the dole-out to dead beats.The old concept of getting ahead through hard work has flown out the window. It has been replaced by Obama's and Congress' idea of Hope and Change. "Why should I work for it, when I can get it for free?" https://www.safelinkwireless.com/EnrollmentPublic/Home.aspx I work every day, pay for my Own Cell Phone and buy My Own minutes. Doesn't this just burn you up ?
Tim Bencsik December 23, 2011 at 07:26 PM
Good video though!
Guy Fawkes December 23, 2011 at 10:20 PM
Bensick, you've done about as much damage to our economy by shopping at The Peoples' Republic of Walmart as some non-descript, anonymous, imaginary person has done by getting a cell phone for free.
Lianne Mathie December 23, 2011 at 10:35 PM
Guy, that is funny, but remember if we didn't have Walmart, we wouldn't have all that comedy material either. ;)
Guy Fawkes December 23, 2011 at 11:38 PM
Laugh less. Live better. :-)
Tim Bencsik December 24, 2011 at 12:44 AM
I dont shop at Walmart; please explain what is so bad about it! Not even sure what is so inteligent about non-descript, anonamous, imaginary person reference? It all about buying votes, at the top of Wallstreet, or enableing the welfare society. Free Cheese is Free Cheese! While we are fighting and using us in this game of more Debt and Welfare to get rich. Fawkes is a oxymoron; he hates government by his inuendo of a name he hides behind; but will take the government money from it; AKA Tax Payer Money? I don't see the logic of being right, or even rightous; just self rightous! Our Country has lost it's way; and the Constitution is the PREAMBLE; a few pages that is very clear to understand. aparently you all are much smarter than the founding fathers; too bad you were not there to consult them?
Lianne Mathie December 24, 2011 at 04:46 AM
Guy. Laugh MORE, Live better .Much better, my friend.
Daryl Patrishkoff December 24, 2011 at 12:00 PM
Tim, Guy is a coward, he hides behind a fake name, spews hate, bullies people and thinks he does not have to follow the rules of the Patch. He is not worth the time to respond to, he is on a hidden agenda. It would be nice if he grew up. There are several people just like him acting like fools that think they are clever, but just have nothing to add.
Tim Bencsik December 24, 2011 at 03:35 PM
Thanks; I feel alone out here! You would be supprised; my wife came from another Country; went throught the Detroit pubilc school system, and is working on finishing up her 3rd Masters Dergree; Finance, Accounting, MBA, and multiple languages. Worked for Large CEO's and he views, as well many other ethnic groups are more Conservative and self-reliant that the Americans. Nobody ever said to her, "Come here you poor little disinfranchised minority, you are too stupid, we need to help you." She did everything the right way, and pulled her self up by her own boot straps the hard way, working 3 jobs, 2 jobs since age 17 and helped her family move out of Detroit! I know the people around the world are laughing at us; and can you blame them? We are a joke!!!
DCC December 27, 2011 at 11:00 AM
In this and the new year, people should remember Governor Snyder teamed up with County Exec Brooks Patterson and County Commissioner Dwyer to indicate that it’s okay to circumvent the process by retroactively changing the results of an election. Snyder's veneer of "bipartisanship" has been totally stripped away. Fair-minded people can clearly see these "leaders" as the power hungry "band of brothers" they are, as well as how completely opposed they are to the democratic process. Remember, in each of Michigan’s 83 counties, the County Apportionment Commission - consisting of the county cleark, county treasurer, county prosecutor, and the heads of the county Republican and Democratic parties - draws the county commission districts every 10 years. The GOP seeks to change this in Oakland County ONLY, AFTER the Oakland County Apportionment Commission's map has received approval in court. They hope people were not paying attention, and shamelessly seek to obfuscate the move as a budgetary one. It is wrong, and those who support this power grab should be held accountable and thrown out of office. In the Farmington area, this means Commissioner Dwyer should be retired, again. We need representatives concerned with fairness, the rule of law, and regional progress for the county, not power grabs to ensure their control.

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