So far in its deliberations, the Governor's Advisory Redistricting Committee has bent over backwards to appease influential congressmen and Democratic Party functionaries. The result: a distorted congressional map that has provoked a furor. Now is the time for the panel to step away from this plan and take a fresh look at the redistricting process -- drawing boundary lines that give priority first and foremost to people, not politicians.
What the committee proposes for Baltimore County is a horror. Had House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell's Eastern Shore been divided among five congressional districts, he'd be apoplectic. Had Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller's Prince George's County been chopped into five pieces, with boundary lines slicing towns in half, he'd be in an uncontrolled rage. Had panel member Norman Glasgow's Montgomery County been the victim five-way partition, he'd be up in arms. And so would all of these members' constituents.
Yet this is exactly what the committee did to Baltimore County. The state's third-largest county won't have a true voice in Congress for the first time in 100 years. The panel also stripped fast-growing Harford County of any influence within a congressional district and placed half of Howard County in a district against citizens' wishes. The panel insensitively ignored arguments of compactness, contiguity and neighborhood compatibility.