Maryland's new legislative redistricting maps, unless overturned by the federal courts, mark a major step forward for regional problem-solving. The new boundaries not only tear down the invisible wall separating Baltimore City from Baltimore County but also retain a delicate political balance between Washington-oriented counties and Baltimore-oriented subdivisions.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer did an admirable job juggling the competing political interests always present in the redistricting process. He refused to use his map-making power to punish enemies and reward allies, or to gerrymander Republicans out of as many seats as possible. Instead, he decided to abide by his committee's recommendations to retain geographical balance in the districts and to think of the Baltimore and Washington areas as regions, not as individual counties.
Yet there was bound to be unhappiness. You can't please everyone in redistricting. Sure enough, as soon as the maps were on the books, a Republican-dominated group marched into court, calling the plan unfair to blacks, Baltimore County voters and to Republicans. Meanwhile, the state NAACP may join the court battle, arguing that the governor's plan dilutes black voting power by packing blacks into four majority-black districts in Prince George's County and five majority-black districts in the Baltimore area.