Maryland's Own Little Coup

August 23, 1991

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller calls his congressional redistricting proposal "a people's plan." That assertion is remarkably similar to Gennady I. Yanayev's remark that the failed Soviet coup leaders stood "for genuine democratic reforms." Both statements lack credibility.

The Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee has produced -- behind closed doors -- a redistricting proposal that is maliciously destructive. Its intended purpose is to deprive the Baltimore region of true local representation, eviscerate entire counties and leave city and county communities divided. A "people plan"? Hardly. It is a revanchist strategy hatched by plotters pretending to speak for the Democratic Party.

If anything, this is an anti-people plan. It chops the three-quarters of a million people living in Baltimore County into five congressional districts. It engages in blatant gerrymandering. It divides the region's Jewish community. It splits apart stable city and county neighborhoods. And it tosses communities into the same district that have virtually nothing in common.

How does the congressman from the new First District represent Lutherville in Baltimore County and Snow Hill in Worcester County? Or the new Fifth District congressman represent Woodstock on the Howard-Baltimore County line and Leonardtown in St. Mary's County? Or the new Sixth district congressman represent Pylesville in Harford County and Friendsville in Garrett County?

It would take that congressman four hours to drive from one end of the district to the other. In the new Fourth District, the congressman can't even travel from one end to the other without traversing two other districts -- or using a row boat.

The plotters responsible for this ridiculous map ought to be ashamed. Their plan is undemocratic. Though it was hatched by Democratic Party leader Nathan Landow, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and Rep. Tom McMillen to preserve Democratic seats (especially Mr. McMillen's), it actually puts in jeopardy all of the delegation's most productive members of Congress. Democrats might awake to find Republicans holding the bulk of state congressional seats. In light of the partisan high jinks on display, that may not be a bad idea.

The plan, in our view, has obvious constitutional defects. It is so politically ham-handed it should be rejected by state legislators. If anything, this rancid concoction ought to convince elected Democrats to oust Mr. Landow as party leader. As for the coup plotters, they have a chance not offered to Mr. Yanayev and the deposed junta in Moscow:

They can redeem themselves after a Sept. 3 public hearing by junking their plan. In its place, they should adopt a redistricting map that treats all Marylanders fairly. Gov. William Donald Schaefer opposes cynical gerrymandering. We are counting on him to help put things right.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.