Redistricting hearing likely to be lengthy one GOP, black activists, incumbents decry plan

December 03, 1991|By C. Fraser Smith

Howard County will have 14 General Assembly delegates under a proposed new legislative district map unveiled yesterday -- but 10 of them would not be Howard County residents.

Janice Piccinini, a state senator from Baltimore County, liked the new 11th senatorial district proposed by the redistricting committee appointed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer. She had suggested boundaries quite similar to those it had chosen. One problem, though: She wasn't in it, having been drawn into the new 9th district.

For Martin G. Madden, a freshman Republican delegate, the news was worse: He would lose 23 of 24 precincts he now represents.

"I've been run over by a train," Mr. Madden said after the proposal was outlined at a news conference yesterday.

Benjamin L. Brown, chairman of the redistricting committee, said the plan will be discussed further at a public hearing at 5 p.m. Monday in the Joint Hearing Room in Annapolis.

"Change is inherent in the process," Mr. Brown said. "Comment is invited."

Lengthy and passionate comment -- and perhaps lawsuits -- can be expected, he agreed. The Republican Party and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have said they will scrutinize the final map carefully and go to court if they find that remedy necessary.

The process calls for the committee to hear and consider public comment, then make a formal recommendation to Governor Schaefer. Mr. Schaefer, who has been kept informed of the committee's decision-making, will then propose a new legislative district map in a bill to be presented early in the legislative session that begins in early January.

The assembly would have 45 days in which to adopt the governor's plan or an alternative. If an alternative were not adopted within 45 days, the governor's proposal would become law.

The personal discomfort of senators and delegates, finding themselves shifted about and forced to run in unfamiliar precincts, has brought clearly articulated criticisms.

Senator Piccinini, for example, believes that she was separated from her strongest supporters deliberately -- and she may move to run in the district she likes best. If she does not move, she would run against F. Vernon Boozer, a Republican.

She would not be the only senator running against an incumbent. In Baltimore, the map proposed yesterday would pit two veteran Democrats, state Sens. Julian L. Lapides and Larry Young, against each other in a center-city district.

But the most controversial aspect of the plan presented yesterday could be the multiple linkages it would make between Baltimore and Baltimore County.

The city-county line would be crossed by six senatorial districts, creating a relationship desired by advocates of a closer regional cooperation and opposed by those who want no association with the city.

The committee decided, as a matter of policy, to shore up the political strength of Baltimore and the surrounding region, according to Norman M. Glasgow Sr., a member of the committee, for economic and political reasons.

While the city might have lost two or its nine senators as a result of population losses, Mr. Glasgow said the committee wanted to protect the city's job-producing base.

"The city needs to be kept as viable as possible, economically and politically," he said.

Montgomery County and the fast-growing region around Washington, he said, have been treated fairly. "We got all we were entitled to," said Mr. Glasgow, who lives in Montgomery County.

The new map was adopted on a vote of 4-to-1 with former delegate Donna M. Felling of Baltimore County dissenting.

In a letter to Governor Schaefer, Ms. Felling said she found the plan too disruptive.

"Numerous crossings between the city and the county cause considerable disruptions to established communities and complicates issues regarding representation," Ms. Felling wrote.

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