Salt Lake Tribune:
"Politics Flare in Redistricting." September 30, 2001
Just after midnight on the day Utah's Senate voted to push Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson's 2nd District into the extreme southern, western and eastern reaches of the state a telephone rang at the Sandy home of Senate President Al Mansell, a Republican.
Matheson was being redistricted into political oblivion, the caller bellowed. How could Mansell live with himself?
Matheson, a member of Congress' Blue Dog Coalition of fiscally conservative Democrats, had given Mansell's home phone number to hundreds of Salt Lake City residents in a large-scale Democratic public relations-campaign designed to deride the Republican-crafted district divisions.
"Do you think it changed my mind?" Mansell asked later. "Just the opposite -- it made what we were about to do easier."
Utah's decennial redistricting session isn't suitable for a ninth-grade civics class, critics argue. The process encourages politicians of all stripes to sink to campaign-style negativity. Case in point: the mudslinging by Mansell and Matheson that dirtied last week's opening of Utah's special legislative session.
It doesn't have to be this way.
In other states, independent commissions have helped raise the level of political debate during the once-a-decade redistricting. With a nonpartisan committee, Utah's political boundaries could be split along constitutionally accepted lines instead of incumbent addresses, argues Cassie Dippo of Utah Common Cause.
"What happened in Utah this year -- with both sides -- I feel made the voters feel more disenfranchised," she says. "It makes them ask, 'Why should I care?' People were fairly disgusted with what was going on."
In Idaho, the most Republican state in the nation, voters have accepted an independent commission as a preferable alternative to a process that relies on the partisan vision of lawmakers to draw political boundaries.
Idaho's commissioners are barred from holding party offices either before or several years after the remapping.
An independent commission in Utah, Dippo says, would not only preserve voter confidence but revive a spirit of fairness on Capitol Hill.
Although redistricting fallout is as predictable as the seasons, independent commissions have succeeded in reducing the number of needless casualties, argues Syracuse University professor Mark Monmonier in Bushmanders & Bullwinkles, a study of the history of political mapmaking.
Seventeen states currently have nonpartisan, or bipartisan, cartographers. After the 1990 U.S. Census, four of the eight states that escaped legal challenges to their redistricting proposals based their maps on the work of independent commissions.
"Although it's impossible to eliminate politics altogether," Monmonier writes, "removing the remap from conventional legislative channels not only promotes balance and fairness but avoids the delays or outrageous solutions that invite judicial intervention."
Lawmakers tend to look out "for what's best for incumbents," Dippo says. As this year's special session approached, "it seemed to be almost completely focused on where incumbents live -- either preserving seats or combining seats."
Republican leaders in Utah, however, argue that the so-called "independence" of redistricting commissions is nothing more than a political facade with which voters are pushed one more step away from the process.
"If Utahns don't like what we do, they can vote us out of office," he says. "You can't vote an appointed commissioner out of office."
Besides, bipartisan commissions are not created in a vacuum, Gov. Mike Leavitt says.
"There are always going to be allegations that the appointments were made in a less than perfect way," he says. "This is a very human process. . . . And there is nowhere that human nature plays out more fully than in reapportionment."
Utah's system is unfair, but it works, says Paul T. Mero, president of the Sutherland Institute, a Utah-based conservative think tank.
While Matheson's "ox may be gored most by redistricting," Mero says, a map drawn by Democrats would be just as unfair to Republicans.
There's no mercy -- that's politics," he says. "I have little sympathy for the complainers. . . . What goes around comes around in politics. If Republicans have overstepped their bounds, it might come back to haunt them in the future."
There is speculation that too many Democrats have been shifted out of Matheson's 2nd District and that the 1st District, controlled by Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Hansen, could become a swing district after Hansen retires. Under the new congressional plan, the 1st District contains Democratic strongholds in Weber, Salt Lake and Summit counties.
"There's no question that the district is less Republican than it was," says Utah GOP Chairman Joe Cannon. "It's pretty safe to say that nobody in the congressional delegation was 100 percent happy with the outcome."
Cannon's brother, 3rd District U.S. Rep. Chris Cannon, a Mapleton Republican, inherits a district that now contains more Salt Lake County voters (366,390) than Utah County voters (310,809).
"That will be an interesting dynamic," Joe Cannon says. "Many of his constituents won't even know him."
Democrats are hopeful they can turn the tables on the GOP mapmakers.
Alyson Heyrend, Matheson's press secretary, is already delivering word bouquets to the congressman's new rural constituents -- a population hugely proud of its link to Utah's original Mormon pioneers.
"He's got five generations of Mathesons buried down in the Parowan cemetery," she says.
Utah Democratic Party Chairwoman Meghan Holbrook says that by attempting to cripple a congressman, Republicans may have hatched a governor -- or at least planted the seeds of a gubernatorial campaign.
If Matheson manages to hold his suddenly huge district his influence and support will grow as well, Holbrook says.
"The new map sets him up to win hands down in the  gubernatorial race," she says. House Speaker Marty Stephens, who is said to be considering running as Republican for governor, "may be sorry."
At the state level, it is tougher to put a positive spin on things.
Republicans probably will move from a two-thirds majority to a three-fourths majority in the Legislature, making it harder for the Democratic Party to recover as it has been unsuccessfully trying to do for years.
"The overwhelming dominance of Republicans in Utah has resulted in "a demoral- ization of moderate to liberal voters," says Utah State University political scientist Michael Lyons.
"The redistricting would heighten that demoralization. You might find it lowers participation [in elections]. . . . At least logically you would expect people to find it rather hopeless," he says. "The opposition party becomes negligible as a check on the majority party and that's not a particularly healthy situation. Party competition is a healthy thing -- it's the essence of democracy."
Still, Lyons' research into 1990 redistricting found partisan-driven mapping doesn't always manufacture the intended result.
"Incumbents handed unfavorable redistricting maps have proven more resilient than you might expect. I wouldn't count Jim Matheson out. . . . He's not doomed by this redistricting plan."
Voters are more likely to judge the individual incumbent on his track record and stand on issues, Lyons says, and less on party affiliation.
Joe Cannon points out that former U.S. Rep. Bill Orton, a Democrat, once held Chris Cannon's 3rd District, and that despite the 1991 redistricting plan that removed 70,000 Democratic voters in an attempt to create a Republican 2nd District, Matheson soundly defeated his Republican opponent.
As the details of Utah's latest redistricting exercise were nearly finalized, the Republican-dominated Utah Legislature offered Democrats a few concessions. The GOP backed away from an earlier proposal to lump the Avenues with Bountiful as a Senate district and left alone the Avenues House district now held by a Democrat.
But other traditional Democratic legislative strongholds were transformed into Republican-friendly districts by virtue of carefully crafted boundary changes. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, who was elected to Congress by a largely urban constituency, acquired a largely rural district under the reapportionment plan that appears to be headed for certain passage.
Despite pleas of Democrats and many lifelong Republicans for fairness and respect for natural communities, Utahns witnessed a reapportionment process driven by self-interest and partisanship. How unfortunate.
It is particularly troubling when district boundaries are deliberately fashioned to protect vulnerable incumbents. Should the process be so artificially manipulated to protect lawmakers whose present constituents likely wouldn't re-elect them to office?
Then again, such gamesmanship is more about party politics than representative government. And it is precisely what is wrong when the legislative body, particularly one that is so dominated by a single party, has the responsibility of reapportionment.
But this page holds little hope that the responsibility for redistricting would be ever be handed over to a nonpartisan commission, such is the case in Arizona. Any change in Utah's process would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to change the state constitution, which this page does not foresee occurring any time in the near future.
If Utahns feel as strongly about the redistricting process as public opinion polls, letters to the editor and public protests suggest they do, they need to sustain that passion until the next election when legislative and congressional races are decided. Yet, most Utahns' memories are short. At a time when our nation has been so shell shocked by the attacks on New York and Washington, many Utahns probably haven't focused on the redistricting debate as they normally would. We suspect many Utahns won't recognize that the boundaries of their respective legislative or congressional districts have been altered until they go to vote.
While the Legislature has established what the field of play will look like for the next 10 years, voters must keep in mind that they alone can determine the fate of the respective players.
A telling thing happened this week during a two-day special legislative session on redrawing the state's congressional and legislative boundaries:
While it likely means more to the state Democratic Party to hold onto Rep. Jim Matheson's 2nd Congressional District than losing any state Senate or House seat, much of the legislators' time in arguing and redrawing boundary lines was not about Congress. It was about themselves.
The passionate speeches. The anger. The bad feelings. They came over fights on the 75 state House seats and 29 state Senate seats.
When it finally came time to debate the congressional plans in the House, the Democrats put forward the official Democratic Party redistricting plan. It failed. And then the GOP plan was adopted.
Democrats didn't even officially present Matheson's own redistricting plan -- although, of course, the Republicans would have voted that down, too.
And, compared to the debate on their own state House redistricting plan, the congressional debate was emotionless and lackluster.
The reality of the redistricting debate showed what Reps. Gerry Adair, R-Roy, and Ron Bigelow, R-West Valley, both members of the Legislature's redistricting committee, later said: When it comes to the issue of legislators redrawing their own district boundaries, there is a lot of emotion and a lot of self-interest.
Oddly enough, while Bigelow, Adair and other Republicans make it clear the Legislature is not going to give up its constitutional duty of redrawing boundary lines every 10 years following a census, the actions of the past two days is a perfect example of why they should.
While Republicans and Democrats alike implored each other to think about the "people," about their constituents, their actions showed they were thinking about themselves and their fellow party colleagues.
"This is the ugliest, most partisan, most personal thing I've seen," said House Minority Leader Ralph Becker, D-Salt Lake. He spoke during an emotionally charged House Democratic caucus where several of the members wept as they talked about how they were being harmed by the Republican majority -- even forced out of office by the GOP redistricting plan.
The thing is, while the Democrats pledged that if they were in control they would change the Utah Constitution to give redistricting powers over to an independent commission, I'm not so sure they would. Or even if they could, considering it takes a two-thirds vote on a constitutional amendment.
If you have the power to redraw your own district boundaries to help yourself politically and harm any current or future opponents, what are you going to do? Draw lines that don't help you? Draw lines that actually help the opposition? The answers are obvious.
The system is flawed.
But don't expect any change.
Why? First of all, this only happens every 10 years. Only a handful of legislators are still around from the 1991 redistricting. If lawmakers don't repeal the current 12-year term-limit law, which kicks in in 2006, then come 2011 you may see only a few legislators who personally were involved in the 2001 redistricting.
And, as with any unpleasant experience, people's memories fade with time.
Finally, the Legislature's redistricting power comes from the state constitution. And it takes a two-thirds vote of the Legislature itself to change the constitution. I see little hope that so many of these 104 people will, of themselves, give up this power.
Arizona passed a citizen initiative to give its redistricting power to a commission. But Utah residents can't change their constitution via citizen initiative.
We could adopt an initiative statute that sets up something like an advisory commission on redistricting, with its recommendations going to the Legislature for action. But even that process is legally suspect, legislative attorneys say.
In any case, the majority party in the Legislature could just ignore or greatly alter what the commission suggested. And citizens couldn't change that outcome.
No. It looks to me that we're stuck with legislators redrawing their own district boundaries for some time to come. And the same charges of unfairness, partisanship, even mean-spiritedness will come to us again in 2011.
The minority gets a voice, but the majority rules.
Utah legislative Democrats had that lesson drilled into them Wednesday when their majority Republican colleagues passed congressional and legislative redistricting plans over their vehement objections.
Among the changes: a big chunk of rural Utah for U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah. Democrats in the Legislature also saw their districts become more Republican.
Her voice choking with emotion, Rep. Trisha Beck, D-Sandy, told the House Wednesday afternoon: "I thank my friends, my colleagues for having had the opportunity to share my thoughts for the last five years" in office. "If anything, I implore you, make this the House of Representatives -- for the people. I'm sorry that the privilege (of serving) is taken from me" with the Republican redrawing of her Sandy district lines.
Beck, now running for Sandy mayor, says she can't win her new district, which is devoid of some Democratic bases such as the White City area.
Legislators didn't finish their work Wednesday. They decided to come back Monday morning. But the heavy lifting in redistricting is likely finished, even though the Senate must still pass the House's 75-member redistricting plan and the House must finish work on the Senate's plan.
Matheson's new district will take in eastern Salt Lake City and parts of the county but also 14 eastern and southern counties. Currently, all of the 2nd District is in Salt Lake County.
Thursday morning, Matheson said: "I will carefully look at the option of legal action." He has threatened to sue before and says he can raise a considerable legal war chest.
But legislative attorneys were careful in preparing a legal paper trail to advantage the state in any such lawsuit.
Matheson reiterated that he is running for re-election in his new district "and soon I'll be traveling to eastern and southern Utah to get to know these folks and give them a chance to get to know me." The end result is not what Matheson expected. "The people spoke clearly" that they wanted a Salt Lake County-based 2nd District, he said. "But the Legislature didn't listen." GOP lawmakers redrew congressional lines to move Matheson's district from around 57 percent Republican to about 62 percent Republican.
Matheson's lone hope is that GOP Gov. Mike Leavitt will veto the congressional redistricting bill. But chances of that are slim.
Speaking Thursday morning at his monthly KUED Channel 7 press conference, Leavitt said he saw nothing in the congressional plan that would make him not sign it. Adding redistricting is a messy process, Leavitt said he'd have to see something that wasn't logical or legal in order for him to act against it. He doesn't see that, he said.
GOP House leaders wanted 10 to 12 Democrats to vote for the bill redrawing the 75 House seats.
They got only nine Democratic votes.
That will likely suffice -- since Republicans can now justly say it was a bipartisan plan. But some conservative House members wanted to stay late Wednesday night and twist some more Democratic arms. In fact, it took a bipartisan vote to even adjourn -- the feelings were running so high. House Speaker Marty Stephens, R-Farr West, said he'll call a GOP caucus Monday morning to see what, if any, further action Republicans want to take in getting more Democratic votes on the House redistricting plan. "But I think we're probably done" with House redistricting, Stephens said.
In the end, Democrats say they will likely lose at least five of their 24 seats -- three for sure because six Democrats are paired up in new districts: In Salt Lake City, Reps. David Litvack and Fred Fife are together; in southeastern Salt Lake County Reps. Patrice Arent and Karen Morgan are together; and in a long, winding district Rep. Brad King, D-Price, is in with Rep. Max Young, D-Moab.
But other districts, like Beck's, will become so Republican it is tough to imagine that the incumbent Democrat can win, Democratic leaders complained. Some of the displaced Democrats talked about running next year for state Senate seats held by Republicans. But GOP senators were watching for that, also, and Democrats claim that some Senate seats were redrawn to disadvantage Democratic House members so they couldn't be viable challengers to the upper body.
There were some winners among the Democrats, however. House Minority Leader Ralph Becker, D-Salt Lake, got Capitol Hill neighborhoods back in his district. But the victory was hollow, he said -- Becker voted against the overall House redistricting bill that accommodated his constituents.
Sen. Paula Julander, D-Salt Lake, likewise got her Avenues base back. No longer is the liberal Avenues lumped into GOP Sen. Dan Eastman's conservative Bountiful district. Eastman's district instead was extended north to Centerville. The only senators lumped together are Democrats Ron Allen, D-Stansbury Park, and Millie Peterson, D-West Valley City. Some Democratic senators voted for the Senate redistricting plan, as well.
Stephens says Democrats got a fair shake considering that 2000 Census figures show real growth in Republican areas that had to be met. The census, on its face, means Republicans would gain two to four House seats, and GOP legislators just weren't going to redistrict out or politically disadvantage some of their own members facing that reality, he said.
Utah House Minority Whip Patrice M. Arent meets with other Democrats outside the House chamber to discuss the Senate's proposed Congressional redistricting plans during the Legislature's special session Tuesday. photo by Leah Hogsten.
After months of demanding an urban-rural mix in Utah's three existing congressional districts, Senate Republicans overwhelmingly approved on Tuesday an alternative plan for four congressional seats that includes a new all-urban district.
If needed, Utah's fourth district would be wholly contained in Salt Lake County and lack the rural component Republican leaders had insisted be a part of the once-a-decade congressional remapping.
And, Democrats pointed out, the new urban district would shift from the historical liberal wellsprings of Sugarhouse, the Avenues and Rose Park to the conservative GOP base along the suburban rim of south Salt Lake County.
More than one Democrat called the plan hypocritical.
"The reality of it is they are just trying to create four congressional districts with Republican strongholds," said House Minority Caucus Manager Jackie Biskupski, D-Salt Lake City. "It just proves it was all a cover-up, this idea of a rural-urban mix."
Following weeks of rhetorical gunslinging, Democrats and Republicans squared off for real Tuesday on the opening day of Utah's legislative special session on redistricting. Debate continues today and, if needed, will conclude next week.
Late Tuesday, Senators introduced a Senate redistricting plan that keeps the Avenues neighborhood contained in Utah senate districts controlled by Salt Lake City Democrats, a compromise from earlier plans that delivered the Avenues to Davis County Republican Sen. Dan Eastman. Proposals to send the Avenues to Eastman had drawn a groundswell of opposition, including calls from Republican Lt. Gov. Olene Walker, who lives in the area.
"It didn't make sense," Walker said. "I said, 'Look, I've got to defend this. It has got to be logical.' The plan they had wasn't. Now it is."
Avenues Sen. Paula Julander praised the bipartisan revisions. "I have the most vocal constituents in the state. I'm proud of them for standing up."
While most of the day was consumed with closed-door caucus maneuvering instead of movement on the floors of the House and Senate, lawmakers approved a statewide school board plan and two resolutions, one noting the service of the late Sen. Pete Suazo, killed a month ago in an ATV accident, and one commemorating the victims of the terrorists attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Emerging as a key player in the redistricting negotiations was retired state Sen. Dixie Leavitt, father of Gov. Mike Leavitt. While Gov. Leavitt preferred to stay above the fray, his father appeared to be pushing the pencil on some of the redistricting map drawing.
Dixie Leavitt watched from the floor as senators approved the four-member congressional plan. The alternative plan was drafted in the event Utah prevails in its lawsuit against the U.S. Census Bureau over statistical sampling and the federal policy of not counting overseas missionaries. A victory would give Utah the additional U.S. House seat awarded to North Carolina after the 2000 Census.
"This is the most important map we're going to deal with," said Sen. Mike Waddoups, who co-chaired the redistricting committee. "Because I believe we're gong to win."
The Plans: Under the GOP's preferred three-member plan, passed in the Senate late Tuesday, Salt Lake City is divided between two U.S. House districts. Republican Rep. Jim Hansen's 1st District lands the majority of Utah's capital city voters. Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson's 2nd District is pushed to the east edge of Salt Lake City and then stretched to the bottom of Utah. Republican Rep. Chris Cannon's 3rd District grabs the southern portion of Salt Lake County and moves south through Utah County.
Under the four-member plan, the new all-urban fourth district would include Midvale, Murray, Taylorsville, West Jordan, South Jordan, Riverton, Draper, Bluffdale and Herriman. Utah's 2nd District, currently the most urbanized and the only district held by a Democrat, would become the most rural.
"It just proves that their only motivation is to target Jim Matheson," said Utah Democratic Party Chairwoman Meghan Holbrook. "The rest is just lip service."
Senators voted 24-2 to pass the four-member plan. Democratic Sens. Julander and Karen Hale, both of Salt Lake City, opposed the plan.
Republicans denied charges that the congressional plans were duplicitous.
"I love the way it's laid out," said Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan. The alternative, Buttars said, is to split Salt Lake County four ways instead of three, "and [Democrats] would have liked that even less. I resist the notion that we're demonizing the state by having a rural-urban split in the first place, or that we want it both ways."
While Utah senators agreed on how to divide up their 29 districts, House members still struggled at Wednesday's special legislative session over Democrats' complaints in cutting up the 75 House seats.
Growth in GOP-dominated areas means House Republicans should get "two to four" more seats in the House, said House Speaker Marty Stephens, R-Farr West. Any accommodations to the Democrats won't give them anything more than that, Stephens said, who made a rare visit to a House Democratic caucus meeting to explain the hard politics of the situation.
Later, House Minority Leader Ralph Becker, D-Salt Lake City, told his caucus, where some members shed tears over the loss of fellow Democrats: "This is the ugliest, most partisan, most personal thing I've seen. It is up to us to speak for people who don't have a voice up here, whether we are in office or not -- and some of us won't be in office" because of the GOP plan.
"Republicans are in the majority, and they can take some of our flesh -- but they are taking more than they deserve," Becker said.
The House did approve by a 49-23 vote the proposal that carves up Utah's three U.S. House seats.
Two Democrats voted with the majority on what has been a hot topic -- how Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson and his 2nd Congressional District are treated.
House Majority Leader Kevin Garn, R-Layton, said that a closed House GOP caucus Tuesday afternoon considered a new plan that would have given Matheson all of Salt Lake City and fewer rural counties than a plan adopted by the Legislative Redistricting Committee.
But the Matheson-friendly alternative "didn't have many votes" in the caucus, said Garn. "So we are back to the plan approved by the redistricting committee."
That plan gives GOP Rep. Jim Hansen most of the city's population, and Matheson gets the east half of the city and 14 rural counties.
Stephens said GOP leaders planned to be done with redistricting by 3 p.m. Wednesday. The 13 new items placed before lawmakers Tuesday by Gov. Mike Leavitt may be pushed aside in a rush to adjourn, he said.
"If we don't get to those, maybe we just come back" in another special session later "if the governor feels they are that important," Stephens said.
Meanwhile, Utah's senators toiled late into the evening Tuesday to rework the plan for re-forming Utah's 29 Senate districts.
The compromise version appeared to resolve some contentious issues. Others, however, were not helped much by the last-minute attempts to make everyone, particularly Democrats, happy.
The revised plan, which could be approved by the House on Wednesday, does the following:
Keeps Salt Lake City's Avenues area in one Senate district -- one that does not stretch all the way across the hill into Davis County. The district, represented by Sen. Paula Julander, D-Salt Lake City, now covers an area between the Davis County line and 3500 South, bordered on the west by I-15 and stretching as far east as 700 East.
Sen. Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, who drew up the original Senate redistricting maps, said he had not realized how strongly Avenues residents felt about keeping their community in the same Senate voting district. But Julander said she knew, and was glad her constituents made their feelings known.
Splits Tooele County into three Senate districts, despite requests from the Tooele County Commission and the county's Democratic and Republican parties to keep it in one district.
That places Sen. Ron Allen, D-Stansbury Park, into the same Senate district as his Democratic colleague, Sen. Millie Peterson, D-West Valley City. They will have to compete against each other in the Democratic primary in 2002 if both seek re-election as expected. "This is almost a unanimous comment from Tooele County that they don't like what happened there," Waddoups acknowledged.
Allen spearheaded the Democrats' efforts to change certain elements of the Republican base plan, but Allen conceded Tuesday that keeping Tooele whole, in one Senate district, was difficult and ultimately not possible.
It just made too much sense, Allen and other senators said, to split Tooele County considering its 7,000 square miles, 153 percent population growth over the past 10 years and proximity to other districts where population numbers needed to be shifted.
Changes Senate Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich's district so that it loses Kane County and a portion of Washington County and picks up southern Utah County.
Puts Cache County communities south of Logan into the same district as the rest of Cache County.
Also Tuesday, the Senate approved a redistricting plan for four U.S. congressional seats -- if needed -- and introduced a redistricting plan for the three congressional seats the state now possesses.
The four-member plan, which the House approved Wednesday morning, creates a new fourth district entirely inside Salt Lake County, stretching from north of Murray to the Utah County border and encompassing the valley's conservative southern suburbs. But that plan won't be activated unless the state wins its lawsuit against the U.S. Census Bureau and is awarded a seat already given to North Carolina as a result of the 2000 Census.
The three-member plan puts both rural and urban parts of the state in each district, a method opposed by Democrats who wanted to preserve one of the seats as an all-urban, all-Wasatch Front voting district -- the seat now held by Matheson.
Utah lawmakers started their multiday special legislative session Tuesday with patriotic songs, prayers and party caucuses before carving up the state's political landscape.
House Speaker Marty Stephens, while unwilling to predict how the 104 part-time legislators will ultimately divide up the three U.S. House seats, 75 state House and 29 state Senate districts, did say he believes at the end of the process Democrats as well as Republicans will approve the final plans.
Monday night Democrats rallied on the steps of the Capitol to reinforce the message in a radio ad they started running Monday: Republicans are being unfair and mean-spirited in their redistricting efforts.
Stephens said some of the members of his caucus were upset over the Democrats' reaction to a modified Utah House redistricting plan offered Monday. "Some in my caucus are saying . . . just go back to the old plan" that eliminates more Democratic House members by combining them together in the same districts or places them in a district with a strong Republican incumbent.
Todd Taylor, executive director of the Utah Democratic Party, said the original plan could well get rid of 12 of the 24 House Democrats.
Stephens says the plans are fair and just considering the movement of populations inside and outside of Salt Lake County.
Tuesday morning, House Minority Whip Patrice Arent, D-South Cottonwood, said the new GOP plan ó which on the surface combines fewer Democratic incumbents ó "could take the Republicans from two-thirds majority (in the House) to three-fourths. The (current Democratic incumbent) seats are made so much more Republican that a number of minority party incumbents couldn't hold their new districts in the 2002 election."
Arent noted that the radio advertisement was not paid for by the Democratic Party or her caucus but by a group of independent Democrats.
In a morning Democratic caucus, Rep. Brent Goodfellow, D-West Valley, said that he and other Democrats worked with Stephens far into the night last week. "We had agreement. If we could see that map, we'd adopt it," said Goodfellow, adding that what Stephens and the Republicans offered as amendments didn't follow what was agreed upon. "We'll never see that agreed upon map," said Arent.
But House Majority Leader Kevin Garn, R-Layton, said the Democrats wanted the Republicans "to accommodate them" on five redistricting issues.
"We met four of those issues. There was never a map, only concepts. Then the Democrats ran to the media (with complaints and a radio advertisement) and negotiations broke down," Garn said.
In the session's opening ceremonies, lawmakers remembered and honored those killed in the terrorist attacks two weeks ago. Olympus High students and cousins Jacci Sharp and Melissa Webb sang a song they wrote just after the tragedy.
Lawmakers also passed a resolution honoring the late Sen. Pete Suazo, D-Salt Lake, who was killed in an ATV accident a month ago. His wife, Alicia, now sits in his seat.
Republicans and Democrats then went into caucuses to discuss various redistricting options.
"I really have no idea where the (House GOP) caucus stands" on the various redistricting plans, said Stephens. However, Stephens said he spoke with Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, on Friday and that other lawmakers have been in touch with GOP U.S. Reps. Jim Hansen and Chris Cannon concerning congressional plans.
"There are some (Republicans) who are saying perhaps Matheson's district should not go so far" into rural Utah, said Stephens, R-Farr West.
Some Republicans reportedly have drawn up a congressional map that has Matheson's 2nd District getting more of Salt Lake City and not going so far into southern Utah. His district would still go into eastern Utah, but he doesn't get as much of rural Utah as a plan approved along partisan votes by the Legislative Redistricting Committee, the group of House and Senate GOP and Democratic lawmakers who worked over the spring and summer on various redistricting plans.
The base plan has Hansen taking most of Salt Lake City, the traditional home of the 2nd District, and Matheson's seat taking the east part of the city, eastern Salt Lake County, four cities in northeastern Utah County and then 14 counties to the east and south.
Some Republicans were busy over the weekend and Monday rethinking the Utah Senate redistricting plan. Senate President Al Mansell, R-Sandy, said he expected some changes to be proposed Tuesday.
Senate Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich, D-Price, said that recent maneuvering left Democrats uncertain of where things stood heading into their Tuesday morning caucus.
Dmitrich said he thought the Senate base plan approved by the redistricting committee was "as good as we can do," but said he doesn't like a new plan he was hearing about Tuesday. That plan reportedly puts San Juan and Iron counties in the same Senate district, which Dmitrich said would disenfranchise San Juan County and its sizable Indian population.
Feeling public pressure, Utah legislative Republicans are moving to lessen the partisan political hit on Democrats in the Legislature's redistricting process.
Getting ready for a Tuesday special session that will redraw legislative and congressional district lines following the 2000 Census, GOP House and Senate leaders have been rethinking boundaries for the state's 75 state House and 29 Senate seats.
House Speaker Marty Stephens, R-Farr West, and other House GOP leaders have been criticized in the past two weeks for developing a plan that lumped seven House Democrats in with each other or with another Republican while only putting three House Republicans at risk, including one who has already said he won't seek re-election next year.
A new plan developed over the past several days would lump only five House Democrats together or with a Republican and splits apart two Taylorsville representatives ó Republican Kory Holdaway and Democrat Cindy Beshear.
The new GOP plan basically eliminates three House Democrats and one Republican, Rep. Glenn Way, R-Spanish Fork, who has already said he's not running again next year.
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans called a Monday morning press conference to say their plans are fair and representative. They also complained that Democrats are just plain wrong in running a new radio ad that refers to the terrorist attacks and national unity movement in criticizing Republican redistricting proposals.
A group called the Wasatch Front Democratic Caucus, put together by current Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson and former Mayor Ted Wilson, paid for the ads, Democratic Chairwoman Meg Holbrook said. "Our party had nothing to do with them."
Stephens and other Republicans were clearly trying to take care of House Democratic leaders in the new plan:
House Minority Leader Ralph Becker, D-Salt Lake, gets back his Capitol Hill constituents, and his new district doesn't stretch ó as the original plan did ó from Memory Grove eastward, through Parleys Canyon, to The Canyons ski resort next to Park City.
House Minority Whip Patrice Arent, D-South Cottonwood, is no longer combined with Rep. Karen Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights. Instead, in the southeast part of the county two Democratic freshmen, Reps. Pat Jones, D-Cottonwood Heights, and Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, are combined.
House Assistant Minority Whip Brad King, D-Price, is no longer combined with Rep. Max Young, D-Moab, and Price City is not split three ways as it was before. Young is now in a district with Rep. Jack Seitz, R-Vernal. King's new district "is a strong Democratic seat in central Utah," Stephens said.
Meg Holbrook, state Democratic Party chairwoman, says it is a good start.
But Becker said: "This is really sad." At a time when Americans are coming together over the terrorist attacks and a new group of leading Utahns ó the Alliance for Unity ó is "acknowledging respect for diversity in Utah, we see (legislative Republicans) taking a partisan political approach to just shuffling the cards again to put different Democrats together and build a large Republican majority in the Legislature to a supermajority."
The new "compromise" only deals with state House members.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, the Democrats' main worry, is still stuck in a new 2nd congressional district that cuts out much of his Salt Lake City base and pushes him out of Salt Lake County and into 14 rural eastern and southern counties.
Matheson has threatened to sue over that plan, while GOP leaders say they would win such a suit.
"The House and Senate members have been working on their own (bodies') plans these past several days," Stephens said Monday morning, "and we haven't talked much about the congressional plans. I think the congressional plan will take up much of the special session, which I think will last at least two days."
Republicans several months ago told House Democratic leaders that at least two Democrats in Salt Lake City must be combined because the city had not grown in population like the rest of the county. Democrats reluctantly put forward Reps. David Litvack and Fred Fife, both freshmen, as their sacrificial lambs. But Republicans put Litvack in with Rep. Scott Daniels, D-Salt Lake, in their original plan.
Under the new GOP compromise, Litvack and Fife are again together and part of Fife's Rose Park district is combined with a South Davis County seat held by a Republican ó a trade to give Becker back his Capitol Hill area.
Stephens said in 1991 seven Democrats and five Republicans were combined in new districts. The new compromise combines five Democrats and three Republicans. Still, considering how conservative the new districts are and taking into account Way's retirement, it's unlikely any incumbent Republican will lose in those combined seats. Democrats say 12 of their 24 members are either out or at risk of losing in their new, more conservative, state House seats.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson stood on a corner Fifth Avenue Wednesday morning with some of his 2nd Congressional District constituents to say, "This makes no sense."
They complained about where legislative Republicans have drawn a proposed boundary between the 1st Congressional District, now represented by Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, and Matheson's 2nd District.
If the Legislature next week in a special session adopts the Legislative Redistricting Committee's recommendation on U.S. House districts, voters to the west and south of the Avenues line in Salt Lake City next year would be voting for Hansen or his opponents; to the east voting for Matheson or his opponents.
"This decision is not final. It goes before the Legislature next week, and we want people to know that," Matheson said at the media event Wednesday.
"One of the questions we have is: Who drew this line? I think it was drawn by national and state Republican Party leaders; drawn on computers in the Utah State Republican headquarters" in downtown Salt Lake City, Matheson said.
"That's fine. But someone should admit it."
Earlier this week, state GOP Chairman Joe Cannon said he could say for sure that no national GOP staffers or leaders drew the Utah congressional districts, and he doubts national leaders drew any state redistricting maps.
While the new recommendation, approved by the redistricting committee with all Democrats and one Republican voting no, could be considered a variation of a plan originally put forward by Reps. Glenn Way, R-Spanish Fork, and Matt Throckmorton, R-Springville, it is quite a change from their original presentation.
And so far GOP legislative leaders have refused to say where the map came from. "A number of people worked on it," said Rep. Gerry Adair, R-Roy, co-chairman of the redistricting committee.
Meg Holbrook, state Democratic Party chairwoman, said Democrats tend to place the map "at the feet of Marty Stephens and Al Mansell." Stephens, R-Farr West, is the speaker of the Utah House; Mansell, R-Sandy, is president of the Senate. But Republicans on the redistricting committee said no members of their legislative leadership drew the map.
In any case, Matheson said Wednesday that he would be glad to represent any people in Utah. "But this plan moves 684,000 people from one district to another. Look how simple this could be ó the plan I submitted moved just 63,000." Matheson's district, now wholly in Salt Lake County, needed around 42,000 more voters to keep it equal in population with the faster-growing 1st and 3rd districts. To get those, Matheson suggested lawmakers just move his Salt Lake City boundaries west to include areas of Rose Park and Glendale.
Admittedly, he says, that would give him more Democratic voters. But his district votes 57 percent Republican in the first place, he adds.
Instead, following a pledge they made last spring, Republicans moved the 2nd District to include rural counties ó 14 to be exact from eastern to southern Utah. Matheson would no longer represent most of Salt Lake City residents ó Hansen would come into the city more and get about 52 percent of city residents.
Republican leaders said it was time that Utah's three U.S. House representatives spoke with one voice on rural and urban matters and giving each district a rural element provided balance.
"And why do (Republicans) divide Utah County?" asked Matheson. He would get the northwestern Utah County cities of Highland, Alpine, American Fork and parts of Lehi. "I've heard no other reason except to put more Republicans into the 2nd District."
Matheson may sue over redistricting. Win or lose that, he will run for re-election next year and has around $350,000 in his campaign account. "It will be harder, more expensive, to run in a new, geographically larger district with about 300,000 new constituents out of 740,000 people," he said.
"I do have roots in southern Utah." Matheson would get Iron County and the town of Parowan. "And I would look forward to campaigning before and representing anyone in Utah. But this redistricting makes no sense, and people have to see that."
As Utah legislators prepare for a Sept. 25 special session on redrawing the state's U.S. House district boundaries and legislative boundaries, two items should be clarified, GOP leaders said this week.
First, Sen. Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, said Monday that a "mistake" in the final drawing of the 29 Senate districts will be corrected in a floor amendment in the special session and two Democratic senators won't be combined in the same district.
In an effort to "smooth out some lines" between the new districts of Sens. Paula Julander and Gene Davis, both D-Salt Lake, Davis' house was inadvertently placed in the southern tip of Julander's district, Waddoups said.
"The line was supposed to go in a different direction. I'll have an amendment to fix that" and Davis and Julander should not be in the same district, Waddoups said. In fact, GOP Senate leaders agreed, in effect, to create a new district for Julander and push Davis into an uninhabited central valley district so the two Democrats would not be in the same seat come 2002.
Davis said last week he was chagrined to discover the change just before a Thursday Legislative Redistricting Committee, but trusts his GOP colleagues when they say it will be fixed.
Julander, however, does lose the heart of her old district ó the Avenues section of Salt Lake City, which now goes to a Davis County GOP incumbent. The former nurse from Federal Heights now lives in the far northeast corner of her new district, which is still likely a Democratic seat. After the amendment, Davis, too, will live at the far north end of his new district and could have a viable GOP opponent in a politically mixed district.
Utah law requires that legislators live in their districts, so if they are redrawn outside of their old districts they would have to move or run in a district with basically new constituents.
Also, in a Friday story on legislative redistricting the Deseret News failed to mention that two Utah County GOP House incumbents were placed in the same district under an adopted plan for the special session. The newspaper reported previously that Rep. Glenn Way, R-Spanish Fork, and Matt Throckmorton, R-Springville, were placed in a southeastern county district.
Way sat on a special subcommittee of the Legislative Redistricting Committee and drew the new Utah County House boundaries. Way has already announced that he won't seek re-election to the House in 2002, and so he and Throckmorton won't face each other for the GOP nomination in the new district. A new district with no incumbent is created in Utah County, but no Democrat has won a House seat from the county in a decade.
Way says he may run for the Utah County Commission next year.
An accurate count of legislators who are now placed into new districts with other incumbents ó considering the correction in the Davis/Julander issue ó shows that 12 incumbent legislators are paired up, nine of them are Democrats and Throckmorton is not in jeopardy because Way isn't running again.
The pairings break out like this:
In the 75-member House, 10 incumbents are placed in districts together, all but three of them Democrats. Reps. David Litvack and Scott Daniels, both D-Salt Lake; Reps. Patrice Arent, D-South Cottonwood, and Karen Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights; Rep. Kory Holdaway, R-Taylorsville, and Cindy Beshear, D-Taylorsville; Reps. Way and Throckmorton in Utah County; Rep. Brad King, D-Price, and Rep. Max Young, D-Moab.
In the 29-member Senate, only two senators are slated ultimately to be in the same district: Sen. Ron Allen, D-Stansbury Park, and Sen. Millie Peterson, D-West Valley. Allen says he doesn't know now if he will run for re-election in 2002. Peterson says she will and will face Allen in a Democratic primary if need be.
Allen and other Democrats are displeased that GOP map-drawers split Tooele County three ways in the Senate redistricting. For 75 years, Tooele County has had its own state senator, usually a Democrat. But with tremendous growth in the county, the numbers are changing. Allen actually lost the Tooele County vote to his GOP challenger two years ago, but he won big in his Magna and West Valley City neighborhoods to take the seat.
Allen said about 60 percent of his new district is his old Salt Lake County constituency, but it is unclear if Salt Lake County voters would want a senator from Tooele County when the district only includes the relatively small Tooele County communities of Stansbury Park and Erda.
State Rep. Patrice Arent is one of the few Democratic stars in an overwhelmingly Republican state.
The dynamic attorney and mother of two won a seat in the Utah House five years ago by toppling a sitting Republican state legislator in a traditionally GOP community. Since then, Arent has weathered two stiff challenges and risen to the rank of minority whip.
But come the 2002 election, Arent might well be a political has-been. Her defeat would be driven not by a surge of voter discontent, but by a manipulation of political geography.
Arent is one of nearly a dozen Democrats in the Legislature put at risk by redistricting plans pushed by Republican lawmakers, who already control the Capitol by a 2-1 margin. Fourteen incumbent lawmakers are combined into joint districts in new maps, including 11 Democrats.
The GOP-authored maps are scheduled for final approval during a Sept. 25 special session of the Legislature. If they are as devastating to Democrats as they claim, the minority party might as well pack it up in Utah -- they are done.
Take Arent's House District 41 in east-central Salt Lake County. Her immediate neighborhood has been attached, through a quirky extension, to the district of fellow female Democratic Rep. Karen Morgan. The rest of Arent's district was drawn out from under her.
"My district no longer exists" under the new Republican map, says Arent.
One line, she claims, rips right through the middle of an apartment complex.
"It makes sense for voters to choose their legislators, not legislators to choose their voters," Arent grouses. "Too many funny lines are being drawn."
In the parlance of redistricting -- the once-a-decade readjustment of voting boundaries to reflect population shifts -- funky map-making to benefit one party over another is called "gerrymandering."
The term stems from a salamander-shaped map created nearly 200 years ago for Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry.
One of the common ways in which rival partisans are handicapped is by drawing two officeholders of the same party into the same district, thereby forcing the retirement of one or a bloody intra-party primary fight.
Proposals endorsed in Utah Republican caucuses last week and rubber stamped by the committee overseeing redistricting merges 10 Democrats into five districts and places an 11th Democrat into a district with an existing Republican representative.
In the only case in which two Republican lawmakers are combined, one of the two incumbents, Rep. Glenn Way, R-Spanish Fork, already has announced he is retiring next year. In the remaining instance, a moderate, independent-minded Republican -- Rep. Kory Holdaway, R- Taylorsville -- is paired with a Democrat.
Democratic lawmakers being forced into involuntary mergers are Sens. Paula Julander and Gene Davis, both of Salt Lake City; Sens. Ron Allen of Stansbury Park and Millie Peterson of West Valley City; Reps. Arent and Morgan; Reps. David Litvack and Scott Daniels, both of Salt Lake City; and Reps. Brad King of Price and Max Young of Moab. Cindy Beshear, D-Taylorsville, is lumped in with Republican Holdaway.
"Is there a theme here?" asks Arent. "It was like they put a little circle around every one of their [Republican] people and said, 'Don't touch our seats.' "
Many Republicans openly acknowledge that redistricting is inherently political. It is designed that way.
"We have heard the minority, and the majority rule," says Rep. Gerry Adair, R-Roy, and House chairman of the Redistricting Committee.
"Redistricting is a partisan process," says House Speaker Marty Stephens, R-Farr West. "The Republican Party has not been overly aggressive in the process," although "we certainly have the political muscle to get those [more one-sided maps] through if we wanted to."
Stephens suggests some Republicans called for more punitive redistricting in the wake of Democratic charges they were targeting women and minorities, including the Legislature's only two Jewish members (Arent and Litvack.)
"The antics of the Democratic Party in calling us religious bigots and sexists has caused some feelings in my caucus," Stephens says, adding the majority rejected retaliatory redistricting. "We could have been a lot more aggressive than we have on the House districts."
Scott Parker, executive director of the Utah Republican Party, also says the GOP was much more evenhanded than it might have been given its overwhelming dominance in the state.
"There are plans that can hurt the Democrats far worse. But that's not our plan and that's why you haven't seen those," says Parker. "In other states, minority parties are treated far worse."
Parker, too, expresses anger at Democratic charges of sexism or racism.
"These are fairly typical scare tactics when something doesn't go the way they want it to go," he says. "If they want to remain as partisan as they are sounding, there are a lot worse things that could happen."
But some of the boundaries follow a distinctly Republican bent:
The Democratic stronghold of Price is split between two House districts -- part of a three-way division of Carbon County.
Salt Lake City is hacked into separate congressional districts so more than half its residents would be represented by Republican Rep. Jim Hansen. And the capital city's Avenues community is grafted onto a Senate district whose population base is in more conservative Davis County.
Tooele is hacked into two Senate districts.
Park City is sheered away from Summit Park and other communities.
Some splitting of political subdivisions and so-called communities of interest is to be expected in achieving the goal of equal populations in all 75 House districts and 29 Senate districts. Even Republican strongholds of Farmington and Fruit Heights are carved up into separate House Districts and St. George is cleaved with state Senate borders.
But Democrats seem to have taken the worst of the fracturing.
One example of seemingly creative mapmaking involves Arent's Republican counterpart: House Majority Whip David Ure, R-Kamas.
Ure's last election opponent, Democrat Becky Richards, just happens to be in a piece of Summit County cut out of Ure's redrawn district. That means Richards, a nurse, couldn't make another run at the conservative Ure.
"It looks like blatant gerrymandering," says Richards, who last year drew more votes than the incumbent in Summit County, but trailed badly in more rural and Republican Morgan and Rich counties. "David Ure will save his portion of his district, which voted more Republican."
Ure has publicly insisted he had nothing to do with plans to split Summit County between House districts. But legislative staffers say he has made some visits to the so-called "war room" of mapping computers in the State Capitol.
The Capitol itself, along with some surrounding neighborhoods, is relocated on political maps -- scooped into state House and congressional districts based in Davis County.
Capitol Hill resident Erika Fiske, newly arrived from Texas, is fighting mad over what she views as clear-cut gerrymandering.
"I appreciate having a vote, but it appears our vote isn't going to matter," Fiske fumes, adding it is "cowardly" for Republicans to be plotting divisions of Democrats at the same time the country is trying to unite and heal following terrorist bombings.
"I just moved here and I didn't realize what I was moving into -- that they were so antagonistic toward Democrats here."
With only a few flashes of temper, a special legislative redistricting committee voted Thursday, mostly along partisan lines, to redraw the state's three U.S. House seats, 75 state House, 29 state Senate and 15 State School Board districts.
While redrawing the Senate seats went rather well ó until a last-minute hitch that split Tooele County three ways, angering Democrats ó the Utah House plan proved a bitter pill for members of the minority party.
"Twelve Democrats (in the House) out of 24 are eliminated or put in jeopardy" of defeat by the Republican-adopted plan, said Todd Taylor, executive director of the Utah Democratic Party.
Republicans on the Legislative Redistricting Committee adopted a "base" plan for all 75 House seats a week ago. Late into Wednesday night, House Democrats worked to modify that plan for the 30 House seats in Salt Lake County, hoping the Republicans would give in to some of their proposed changes.
House Minority Whip Patrice Arent said the "adjustments" made by Democrats didn't really affect any of the seats now held by Republicans. Instead of six sitting representatives, five of them Democrats, being lumped into the same districts in the county under the Republicans' plan, only four would have been placed together under the Democratic plan.
"If we could have (redrawn the Republican map) from scratch, it would have made a lot more sense," Arent said, adding that the original Democratic plan had few representatives pushed into the same districts.
But GOP members would hear none of the minority Democrats' changes. When Arent wanted to quiz GOP committee members on why their map made more sense ó after she was grilled by some GOP representatives over her map ó committee co-chairman Rep. Gerry Adair said her questions were "inappropriate."
In the end, eight sitting representatives across the state are lumped in pairs in four new districts. And only one of those, Rep. Kory Holdaway, R-Taylorsville, is a Republican.
The pairings are: Reps. David Litvack and Scott Daniels, both D-Salt Lake; Holdaway and Rep. Cindy Beshear, D-Taylorsville; Arent, D-South Cottonwood, and Rep. Karen Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights; and Rep. Brad King, D-Price, and Rep. Max Young, D-Moab.
In the Senate, only Sen. Ron Allen, D-Tooele, and Sen. Millie Peterson, D-West Valley, are in the same district. All current GOP senators and other Democrats are in separate districts.
Arent said the pairings aren't the only problems with the GOP plan. For example, House Minority Leader Ralph Becker, D-Salt Lake, now represents Capitol Hill. Under the GOP plan a GOP-held House seat from Davis County would come over from Bountiful to take in Capitol Hill. Becker's district would stretch from Memory Grove, up Parleys Canyon all the way to The Canyons ski resort outside of Park City. What sense does that make? asked Arent.
If the Legislature ó where Republicans hold two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate ó finally adopts the committee's recommendations in a Sept. 25 special session, then come the 2002 elections at least four sitting House Democrats and one Democratic senator will be gone ó unless they move out of their district and into a GOP-held district and win there. That is unlikely.
"We know you (Republicans) hold two-thirds majorities" in the Legislature," Arent said. But redistricting every 10 years "should not be a process where overall representation is shifted" by political parties. "It should not just be one party losing" because of population shifts, she said.
Republicans on the committee, as they have all along, said they redrew the lines based on what is best for the citizens, not what is best for individual lawmakers, keeping the one-man-one-vote goal paramount.
Plans for redrawing the three current U.S. House seats, a four-seat congressional plan (which could take effect if Utah wins a federal law suit seeking another seat), the 75 state House and 29 state Senate seats and the 15-member State School Board can be found on the Legislature's web site at www.le.state.ut.us.
Salt Lake City, welcome who may be your new Republican congressman: Rep. Jim Hansen.
And Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson, start getting to know a lot of Republicans. Your district, which used to contain about 57 percent of them, could have nearly 70 percent next year.
The Utah Legislature's House and Senate Republican caucuses Wednesday afternoon endorsed a congressional redistricting plan that would drastically change the make-up of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd congressional districts starting in the 2002 election.
The recommendations were adopted by a special redistricting committee Thursday and now go to the full Legislature for final approval in a Sept. 25 special session. The committee's party-line votes Thursday generated complaints from both Republicans and Democrats.
U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, speaking from his Washington office, said that he is "disappointed that in this long process, the Republicans did not listen to local elected officials, editorial boards of local newspapers, and most importantly, the people who testified in all the hearings" that the 2nd District should not be split up as it is.
"It looks like we will very well be going down the path" of a lawsuit, Matheson said. "If they wouldn't listen to the elected officials, the newspapers and the people, then I guess they will have to hear it from the courts."
Salt Lake County GOP Chairman John Solomon complained the committee had been too accommodating to Democrats, despite Democratic complaints of discrimination.
"Accusations of racial bias are disturbing," Solomon said, who added that threats of legal action amounted to "political terrorism, and I hope you will not respond."
If the whole Legislature ultimately adopts the plan ó and Republicans hold two-third majorities in the House and Senate ó it's likely to land the state in court, sued by angry Democrats and Matheson, the only Democrat in the state's congressional delegation.
Todd Taylor, executive director of the Utah Democratic Party, wouldn't say Wednesday for sure that Democrats would sue if the new plan becomes law. But he was clearly disappointed.
"This just reflects what the Utah Republicans tried to do 10 years ago," said Taylor. Then, he and other Democrats called a press conference to complain that more of Salt Lake City should be in the 2nd Congressional District.
The new boundary between Matheson's 2nd District and Hansen's 1st District appears to be 700 East in Salt Lake City, again.
"The public rose up and complained so loud, so long, that Republicans changed" what was finally done, recalled Taylor. "The public will have to rise up again."
The great difference this time is that Matheson's 2nd District also includes 14 rural counties along the eastern and southeastern parts of the state.
Ten years ago, Republicans were still keeping all of the 2nd District in Salt Lake County.
Under the new GOP plan, which can be found on the Legislature's Web site under alternative C5.2, Hansen would get most of Salt Lake City, one of the most Democratic cities in the state. Currently, Hansen just has a small northwestern slice of the city.
Matheson, who lives in the upper Avenues area of the city, would get some east-side Salt Lake City neighborhoods and South Salt Lake, Murray, Midvale, Sandy and Draper. He also would dip into Utah County for the first time, picking up the very Republican cities of Highland, Alpine, American Fork and parts of Lehi.
Hansen would pick up part of Capitol Hill and the lower Avenues.
Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, would lose his current west-side Salt Lake City neighborhoods, taking in most of the south, southwestern part of Salt Lake County south of the city.
GOP leaders have examined voting patterns in the 1998 elections, believing that election fairly reflects political party voting. And under their analysis Matheson's district would go from voting, in 1998, about 57 percent Republican to voting nearly 70 percent Republican.
That would make his district the most Republican of the three House districts in Utah, and it would be very difficult for him to win re-election.
The 1st District ó even with Democratic voters on Salt Lake City's west side and Central City areas ó would still be about 64 percent voting Republican, the analysis shows. Cannon's 3rd District, with Utah County as its base, would be about 63 percent Republican.
Utah House Majority Leader Kevin Garn, R-Layton, has said no matter what kind of congressional plan legislative Republicans ultimately approved, Salt Lake City would remain whole and not be divided.
On Wednesday, Garn smiled and said: "I spoke prematurely." More than 38 House Republicans, a majority in the House, voted for the new congressional plan in a closed caucus Wednesday, said Garn.
The Senate GOP caucus also approved the plan in a closed meeting.
"We looked at what was best and said, 'Sure, it makes sense, we'll do it,' " said Sen. Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville.
Waddoups said Democrats need to be "realistic" and realize they don't have the numbers to pass the Democratic plan for congressional redistricting.
But no one would admit to drawing up the new GOP plan.
"A lot of people had input," said Rep. Gerry Adair, R-Roy, co-chairman of the Legislative Redistricting Committee. He declined to name anyone, only saying it was not legislative GOP leadership.
The plan is a variation of one presented a week ago to the Legislative Redistricting Committee. But that plan, put forward by Garn, was not one the committee ultimately approved.
The new plan was changed slightly Wednesday, giving Hansen Morgan and Summit counties, because the 20-year veteran of the U.S. House didn't want so much of Salt Lake City, Garn said.
Some Senate Republicans, mostly rural lawmakers, were unhappy with the base plan for redistricting in the Utah Senate. That plan puts Sen. Beverly Evans, R-Altamont, and Sen. Mike Dmitrich, D-Price, in the same district.
"Everybody is trying to rework it," Waddoups said.
"The other complaint is Cedar City wants to have their five-county area that they have for their government (planning organization), and they're not willing to compromise with anybody. They want what they want, and they want everybody else to give to them."
If it's true you can confuse people by throwing a lot of paper at them, then members of the Legislative Redistricting Committee and the public watching them must wonder what day it is.
Last week, the committee juggled half a dozen new looks at redrawing the state Senate's 29 districts, briefly looked at two options on redrawing Utah's U.S. House seats ó both with the current three seats and the hoped-for four seats ó then quit before considering any Utah House plans, which could number more than 20.
The committee did adopt a plan for redrawing the State School Board's 15 seats ó one which will be tweaked later. Residents with a computer Internet link can view dozens of plans for Congress and the Legislature on the Legislature's Web site: (www.le.state.ut.us).
But co-chairmen Rep. Gerry Adair, R-Roy, and Sen. Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, were frustrated by the committee's progress. "We've got a long way to go," Adair said after the meeting dragged an hour late in the Capitol.
That's for sure. An Oct. 1 special session date has now been moved up to Sept. 25 to decide school board, congressional and legislative redistricting.
And a looming deadline is only one of the pressure points.
Several Democratic members of the committee peppered committee attorney John Fellows with questions about how the staff made decisions concerning racial minority makeup in the redistricting calculations, perhaps setting the legal paper trail now for anticipated lawsuits later.
"Low- and moderate-income people (of color) feel abandoned," warned Robert Gallegos, who works to register minority citizens to vote. "They feel their vote doesn't count" because their communities are often lumped into white majority areas in school board, city council or legislative districts, making it difficult or impossible for their voices to be heard, he said.
And more than a dozen local officials from southern and central Utah paraded to the microphones to endorse or lambast two different proposals on redrawing state Senate boundaries in districts south of Salt Lake County.
Sens. Mike Dmitrich, D-Price, and Leonard Blackham, R-Moroni, tried to fend off efforts by Iron County and Cedar City officials to lump the two men into the same Senate district and create a new district with Cedar City as its hub.
There was former Sen. Dixie Leavitt, R-Cedar City, father of Gov. Mike Leavitt, pleading with the committee to make the "right" decision for the people of the state and not try to carve up districts to save an incumbent.
And there was Sanpete County Commissioner Eddie Cos saying it would be impossible for either Dmitrich or Blackham to settle a 60-year-old water dispute between Sanpete and Carbon counties ó "the only thing we agree on is that we don't want to be together" in one Senate district.
Finally, Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, showed up to push his own idea of how his 2nd Congressional District should be divided up, putting a map to his request originally made last May to just move his district's Salt Lake City line a few blocks west into the Rose Park and Glendale neighborhoods.
He says the "minimal disruption" of current boundaries theory should be followed. By just moving 60,000 residents between his 2nd District and the 1st and 3rd Districts, a "simple and elegant" solution can be found, he said.
One GOP plan ó drafted by some Utah County House members and made public two months ago ó would shift 1 million people around. His own state Democratic Party plan (which he also opposes) would shift 600,000 people around. It's likely neither one of those will ultimately be adopted.
Committee members blocked out all of Thursday for a day of reviewing even more plans. "Maybe we can take some votes" to firm up recommendations then, Adair said.
Utah will have another day in court Wednesday as state attorneys battle the Census Bureau in an attempt to gain a fourth U.S. House seat, though this time the arguments won't deal with LDS missionaries excluded from the 2000 count, but with the "phantom" residents who were included.
"If we win this, it will breathe new life into the case," said Ray Hintze, chief deputy of the Attorney General's Office.
In April, after a three-judge panel in U.S. District Court rejected Utah's argument that either missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serving abroad should be added to the 2000 Census numbers or overseas federal employees be left out, Utah appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court and filed this second lawsuit. It will be heard 9 a.m. Wednesday by 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Michael Murphy, U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball and U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Greene.
Utah's team of attorneys, which includes members of a Washington, D.C., firm and a Brigham Young University law professor, are basing their arguments on issue of "imputation," an argument the judges ruled could not be added to the original complaint.
North Carolina and the Census Bureau contend it was OK for the bureau to use imputation, or guessing, which was used by census officials for about 0.2 percent of the population. When a household could not be reached after several attempts, census enumerators would estimate how many people lived in the home based on similar homes in the neighborhood.
"It's a very unscientific method," Hintze said. "We think it is a form of statistical sampling . . . but more offensive than statistical sampling."
State leaders and attorneys are convinced the imputed numbers should be thrown out based on a 1999 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that requires a count of actual persons and prohibits guessing or scientific adjustment. Imputation benefited North Carolina by adding 32,457 residents to the state's population, while giving Utah only an additional 5,385. If those numbers end up being discarded, it will more than make up for the 857-person shortfall that cost Utah a fourth representative. That seat instead went to North Carolina.
The Utah Democratic Party has wanted the state to focus on imputation rather than LDS missionaries all along, and Hintze has called the imputation argument Utah's best chance at winning an additional seat.
But the state still isn't giving up on having a fair overseas count.
Utah's first lawsuit against the bureau, filed in January, claimed the Census Bureau was discriminating by excluding 11,176 Utah residents who were serving LDS Church missions overseas on April 1, 2000, the official date of the census count. The count included foreign military personnel and their families, but no other groups. Federal judges in Salt Lake City sided with the Census Bureau, and Utah filed an appeal of that decision with the U.S. Supreme Court. The state hopes that case as well as the imputation case will reach the Supreme Court at the same time. Utah attorneys believe it is inevitable that whoever loses the imputation case will appeal it as well.
Hintze says even if the state loses the first round in its second lawsuit, he won't be discouraged. Though he said he believes the three-judge panel in Salt Lake will be fair, it is difficult sometimes for local judges to take on Washington, D.C.
"We have the real upper hand with this case. There is a considerable greater likelihood of success, even if it doesn't come at this level," he said.
Utah leaders aren't the only ones complaining they didn't get a fair count in 2000.
Some critics say there is an undercount of minority groups and homeless people; some communities contend census-takers missed addresses.
While the scrutiny is normal after every census, the complaints are louder than ever, said Jorge del Pinal, a longtime bureau official who oversees race and ethnicity statistics. More people have quicker access to figures via the Internet and more powerful computers.
"There have always been differences" of opinion on how the census should be done, "but it is more noticeable now because there are more data-savvy people," del Pinal said.
In Washington, most of the debate has focused on whether the bureau should release statistically adjusted data in addition to the actual head count available now. And some have complained that the 2000 Census offered a lower-than- expected tally of smaller Hispanic subgroups, such as Dominicans and Colombians, and a higher tally of a generic "other Hispanic" category.
"This is kind of normal," said Barbara Everett Bryant, who was bureau director during the 1990 count. After results are released, "every group feels they are being undercounted."
New district lines for Utah's 29 state senators are close to being finalized, GOP Senate leaders say.
The Utah House also is moving toward a now-scheduled Oct. 1 special legislative session where new lines for Utah's three U.S. House seats, 75 state House, 29 Senate and 15 state school board districts will be adopted. But decisions on Utah House seats are farther away.
Republicans control the Senate 20-9. They control the House 51-24. GOP legislative leaders have said for some time that Democrats will lose seats in the House and Senate through redistricting because of population shifts away from traditionally Democratic areas into areas won by GOP lawmakers in the 1990s.
Sen. Mike Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, is the Senate co-chairman of the Legislative Redistricting Committee. After a closed GOP caucus a week ago where maps of the different scenarios were passed out and discussed, Waddoups said senators ó at least Republican senators ó are "feeling pretty good" about what is happening.
Some issues must still be worked out, but Waddoups said current plans call for two new, empty seats. One runs down the center of the valley, with Murray basically the home base.
The other includes Iron, Garfield, Kane and San Juan counties and a few surrounding areas.
Rep. Chad Bennion, R-Murray, said he would "seriously consider" running for the new Murray Senate seat in 2002. But it's likely a number of other candidates would file for that one, too.
Rep. Tom Hatch, R-Panguitch, may run for the new southern Utah Senate seat. But others mentioned former Southern Utah University president Gerald Sheratt as a possible candidate. Before the 1991 redistricting, Cedar City was the home base for a Senate seat ó held then by Dixie Leavitt, Gov. Mike Leavitt's father. Dixie Leavitt retired from the Senate in 1992 (when his son was first elected) because he knew he couldn't win the new southwestern Senate district headquartered in larger St. George. Under the 2001 plan, Washington County would have its own Senate district.
The new district "has a population that is about half in Cedar City and about half outside the city," said Waddoups. So Hatch, a noted conservative voice in the House, may have a shot at winning the new seat even though he doesn't live in Cedar City, Waddoups said.
Democrats could lose up to three seats under the proposed GOP plan.
One of those is Sen. Mike Dmitrich, D-Price, who could end up paired with either of two GOP senators ó Leonard Blackham, R-Moroni, or Bev Evans, R-Altamont. Either way, it's unlikely Dmitrich, a 33-year veteran of the Legislature and the Democratic Senate leader, could win re-election next year. Dmitrich recently said pairing him with Blackham, who heralds from Sanpete County, which is in a bitter water rights battle with Carbon County ó would be the most unfair thing Republicans could do.
Waddoups said it is up to Sen. Paula Julander, D-Salt Lake, whether she wants to be placed with Sen. Dan Eastman, R-Bountiful, or lumped in with a fellow Democratic senator, either Sen. Gene Davis or Karen Hale, both D-Salt Lake.
Julander lives in the Federal Heights area near the Avenues and, said Waddoups, Eastman's Davis County district will have to come over the mountains and pick up some north-side Salt Lake residents to meet population requirements.
Democrats do have a shot at winning the open Murray district, but the area has elected Republican House members in the 1990s.
Sen. Ron Allen, D-Tooele, will likely have his district pushed out of Salt Lake County ó where he had solid Democratic majorities ó and into northern Utah County ó a heavily Republican area.
Allen, the Senate minority whip, said last week he believes he has a shot at keeping his Tooele County-based seat at re-election. But, he said, it would be tough for another Democrat to win it in the future.
The Republicans' actions mean the top two Democratic leaders in the Senate could be eliminated in 2002 ó something the Democrats decry.
Waddoups said in an Aug. 9 redistricting committee that final maps for the 29 Senate districts will be made public and votes on the proposals taken.
Meanwhile, House Republicans are a bit farther behind in drawing final maps. Committee votes on House districts won't take place until later in August, Waddoups said.
House Republicans held a closed caucus last week, and then House GOP leaders met for three hours to discuss possible redistricting alternatives.
Basically, said House Speaker Marty Stephens, R-Farr West, Democrats will lose one seat they now hold in Salt Lake City. GOP leaders have asked Democrats to suggest which two city Democratic representatives should be lumped in together.
On Salt Lake County's east side, five Democratic women hold seats that roughly run along the foot of the Wasatch Mountains. Stephens said it's likely two of them will be lumped together.
"I've seen a proposal where three Democrats are actually put into one district out there. We could do that, but we won't," Stephens said.
Rep. Trisha Beck, D-Sandy, says she has been told that she will be placed in a redrawn district with Rep. Karen Morgan, D-South Cottonwood. Beck is running for Sandy mayor this year, and if she wins she would leave her House post.
One GOP incumbent will likely be placed in a new district with an incumbent Democrat, said Stephens, who declined to name the two incumbents. The Republican "doesn't like that, but he understands that because of the way the districts' populations have changed, it has to be that way," said Stephens.
Stephens said GOP map-drawers are taking into account legislators who are seeking other offices, who have quietly said they are retiring next year and other "personal" situations. "We want to hurt as few (incumbents) as possible," he said. "But the numbers require that at least two Democrat seats must be lost. It's just the way the population has grown and shifted."
He said he saw one plan that would cost the minority Democrats five House seats next year. "We're not doing that," he said.
However, depending on how the last House maps come together, it is possible House Minority Leader Ralph Becker, D-Salt Lake, and Minority Whip Patrice Arent, D-South Cottonwood, could end up lumped into districts with other incumbents and ó like Democratic Sens. Dmitrich and Allen ó face elimination in the 2002 elections.
Most rural voters in Utah back a plan to expand
freshman Rep. Jim Matheson's (D) Salt Lake City-based district into the
state's rural reaches, placing them at odds with city voters who favor
keeping the district's urban nature, a new poll shows.
Utah's pair of lawsuits against the Census Bureau, which aim to win a fourth Utah representative in the U.S. House, are inching their way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
An appeal filed Friday, which will proceed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, challenges a 10th Circuit Court decision that rejected Utah's arguments that either some 11,000 overseas LDS missionaries should be added to the state's census count or that overseas military should be left out.
The addition of overseas federal employees gave North Carolina an 857-person edge over Utah when the House reapportionment was announced in December, giving that state, not Utah, the additional seat. Gov. Mike Leavitt, members of the Utah Legislature and other state leaders filed a lawsuit Jan. 10, saying the Census Bureau acted contrary to the Constitution when it arbitrarily counted only federal employees living abroad but not religious missionaries.
The state last week also filed a request for its second lawsuit against the Census Bureau to be decided speedily and without a prolonged trial.
The motion for summary judgment challenges the legality of imputation used in the 2000 domestic count. Imputation is a form of statistical sampling, or guessing, that census enumerators used when they could not reach anyone in a home. Utah attorneys say imputation accounted for adding 32,457 residents to North Carolina's domestic count compared with 5,385 to Utah's count.
"The bureau included phantom residents of phantom households," Tom Lee, Utah's lead counsel in the case, said in a written statement. State leaders filed the second lawsuit in April just after the original case was rejected and judges decided the imputation arguments could not be added to the original case.
State attorneys expect whoever loses the second round will appeal that decision as well. The two cases probably won't reach the Supreme Court until fall. Utah waited until just days before the deadline to file an appeal in its first lawsuit in hopes that the first and second lawsuits will reach the U.S. Supreme Court at about the same time, said Ray Hintze of the Attorney General's Office.
"We're hoping these cases will catch up with each other," Hintze said.
Judges J. Thomas Greene and Dale A. Kimball and 10th Circuit Judge Michael Murphy, all from Utah, will hear the second lawsuit Aug. 29. The Salt Lake Tribune, June 19, 2001 Hearing in August for Utah's Second Census Suit
Utah continues to gear up for the next round in its bid for a fourth U.S. House seat. A hearing has been set for Aug. 29, when a three-judge panel will hear Utah's second lawsuit challenging the 2000 census based on the Census Bureau's practice of imputation -- estimating the number of residents in households it could not contact.
The state also has notified the panel that it is appealing its decision to dismiss Utah's first lawsuit, which challenges the bureau's policy of counting federal employees and military personnel living overseas, but not similarly situated groups such as LDS Church missionaries serving abroad.
"The longer we look, the more we are absolutely convinced that Utah was robbed of an additional voice in Congress," Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said.
In a motion for summary judgment filed last week, Utah is asking the panel to rule that both the Census Act and the U.S. Constitution require an actual count of the population instead of statistical sampling. Utah attorneys say the bureau counted 99 percent of the population based on actual data returned on census forms. But the bureau estimated the size of the remaining households, and in many instances failed to verify if they even exist, according to Utah lead counsel Tom Lee.
"The bureau included phantom residents from phantom households," he said.
North Carolina, which received the extra congressional seat instead of Utah, is challenging both of the Beehive State's census suits. A three-judge panel dismissed Utah's challenge of the overseas count last March. The appeal of that suit will proceed to the Supreme Court and probably will be heard this fall.