Beware the O'Malleymander

November 03, 2011


If you take a close look at Maryland's new Congressional Districts, specifically the new Second and Third districts, you will see a new creature known as the O'Malleymander. Though closely related to the salamander the species is extremely rare, with only eight known specimens in existence, all in Maryland. The O'Malleymander is known for its ability to survive despite parts being extremely slim or disconnected completely. In many cases, parts of one O'Malleymander appear as though they should be part of another. While sometimes compared to the common Gerrymander, the O'Malleymander is far less compact, and far more malevolent in its nature. The venom of the O'Malleymander is known to be highly poisonous to the body politic.

The recently-concluded Congressional redistricting process in Maryland was an exercise in Kabuki theater. Its outcome was predetermined to further the aims of particular politicians in Democratic party rather than the interests of the people. Its aim: pursue one-party rule and special interests instead of good government.

Redistricting represents politicians picking their voters instead of voters picking their Representatives. We Marylanders should be choosing our representatives and not the other way around.

The result of Gerrymandering in Maryland has been a congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., and a government in Annapolis that is out of touch and unresponsive to people they are supposed to be representing. These unrepresentative "representatives" produce only fiscal irresponsibility, more taxes, more spending and bad legislation.

The Gerrymandering in Maryland has continually been used to fortify one-party control in this state. This does not lead to transparency and good governance. The Democrats have turned Maryland into their own plantation. This description fits. The taxpaying citizens of Maryland are treated akin to slaves by their masters in Annapolis. The crop produced is cash. It is demanded in ever greater quantities to be shipped to Annapolis to fuel the insatiable appetite of the politicians and their special interests. It's time to demand a fair, transparent and representative process for redistricting that reflects the geography of the state, its political diversity and the interests of the citizens. It's worth noting that 15 of Maryland's 24 political jurisdictions, or 62 percent, are not controlled by the Democrats.

The goal of redistricting should be the reallocation of population among districts to account for population changes while maintaining good governance. However, members of the commission have publicly stated other goals.

Groups are lining up to file suit against the map on the grounds it appears to violate the Voting Rights Acts of 1965 as well as the 14th amendment. The commission should stop the dilution of minority votes by dispersing those voters among three congressional districts as in the case of Baltimore City. This paper's editorial last Friday said the voters get the final say if they are dissatisfied. However, this is impossible when the lines are drawn to dilute the influence of those voters.

I call on the commission to draw legislative district lines that:

• Are fair and respect existing community and municipal boundaries.

• Split those communities and counties as infrequently as possible.

• Create a map that promotes good, transparent government and protects the interests of the voters rather than the interests of incumbent politicians and the special interests that fund them.

I also call the legislative leadership to introduce legislation the 2012 General Assembly to move the redistricting process to a non-partisan commission like 21 other states that share the diversity of Maryland.

Scott DeLong

Bel Air

The writer is chairman of the Harford County Republican Central Committee.

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