Washington's Redistricting News
(October 16, 2001-December 30, 2001)

 

 The Olympian: "Redistricting woes: Citizen panel stumbles badly." December 30, 2001
 The Olympian: "Yelm and Rainier could shift districts." December 18, 2001
 Tacoma News Tribune: "Compromise should be at heart of redistricting." December 18, 2001
 Tacoma News Tribune: "Lawmakers not eager to get into redistricting." December 18, 2001
 Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "Redistricting reaches a political stalemate." December 17, 2001
 News Tribune: "Redistricting Panel a Day LateˇAnd a Map Short." December 17, 2001
 The Olympian: "No Decision on Redistricting." December 16, 2001
 Tacoma News Tribune: "Lawmakers not eager to get into redistricting." December 18, 2001
 Tacoma News Tribune: "Compromise should be at heart of redistricting." December 18, 2001
 Spokesman-Review: "Redistricting Panel Misses Deadline." December 17, 2001
 Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "Redistricting Reaches a Political Stalemate." December 17, 2001
 The Olympian: "Redistricting Plan Still Evolving." December 13, 2001
 The Olympian: "Redistricting Deadline Near." December 9, 2001
 Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "Deadline Nears for Redistricting Panel." December 7, 2001
 The Olympian: "Our Views: Keep Olympia in 3rd District." December 6, 2001
 Washington Post: "Safe But Sorry; The Way We Redistrict Destroys the Middle Ground." December 2, 2001
 The Olympian: "Redistricting Panel In Home Stretch." November 30, 2001
 The Olympian: "Baird's district last to be redrawn." November 20, 2001
 Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "State Redistricting Panel Now in Horsetrading Stage." November 6, 2001
 The Olympian: "Latest redistricting Plan Keeps Olympia Together." November 6, 2001
 Seattle Times: "Redistricting Deadline Draws Near." November 1, 2001

 Seattle Times: "Parties All Over Map on Redistricting." October 18, 2001
 Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "Redistricting Fight Pits Parties Against Each Other and Urban vs. Rural Folks." October 18, 2001
 The Olympian: "Oregon High Court Mum on Redistricting." October 16, 2001

More Recent Redistricting News from Washington

More Redistricting News from Washington (December 29, 2000-October 15, 2001)

 

The Olympian
Redistricting woes: Citizen panel stumbles badly; Process turns out messy, frustrating
By David Ammons
December 30, 2001

If anyone thought taking redistricting out of the hands of the Legislature would make the process any less partisan, messy and frustrating, the 2001 Redistricting Commission has proven otherwise.

The citizen panel -- two Democrats and two Republicans, headed by a nonpartisan, nonvoting chairman -- tried its darndest, but did a royal belly-flop.

After nearly a year, with a million-dollar budget, staff and fancy computers, the commission ended up a day late and a plan short: They approved new legislative district lines, but not until hours after the midnight deadline Dec. 15, and they flubbed their effort to redraw congressional boundaries.

Barring some late-breaking development, such as informal commission negotiations that bear fruit, the whole mess lands in the laps of nine state Supreme Court justices.

The high court already has begun talking about how to handle the matter. "This is really uncharted waters for us," says Chief Justice Gerry Alexander.

Spotty history ... and reform

From statehood until the 1980s, the Legislature and governor had sole power to draw the legislative and congressional boundaries after every decennial Census to make each district have roughly the same population. Old-timers remember it as the most blatantly partisan and self-serving thing lawmakers did, with numerous examples of drawing lines to punish or reward incumbents and, always, to try to perpetuate the majority party in the following decade.

Not only was the process ugly, time-consuming and diverting, but it often didn't work. Outraged citizens frequently seized the authority by running initiatives or by heading to federal court.

Finally, in 1983, after congressional lines had been thrown out, lawmakers decided to try something new. Gaining the necessary two-thirds support from both houses and approval of the voters, they created the commission process.

The panel provides arm's length separation from the Legislature, but it's still an intensely political process. Each of the party caucuses in the Legislature appoints an outsider to represent their interests and to draw the congressional lines as well.

The kicker: At least three of the four voting members must agree on a plan. Neither side can get "rolled."

The Legislature retains only a tiny role, the power to alter boundaries by a smidgen -- population shifts of less than 2 percent. Lawmakers don't approve the maps and cannot veto them. The governor has no role at all.

The system worked fine for congressional redistricting in 1983. The 1991 commission came close to missing the deadline, but pulled it out of the fire at the end. Neither plan was challenged in court.

Everyone assumed the 2001 gang would do fine, especially given the high caliber of the appointees.

Stubbing their toes

Just as the 1991 commissioners had done, the 2001 panel took forever to get started with negotiations, put their deals together in secret, and waited until the 11th hour to start voting.

The commission was unusually open in some respects, holding a gazillion public hearings, accepting homemade plans and placing various maps on the Internet so ordinary folks could see, comment and counter-propose.

But when it mattered, when trade-ins were discussed and lines were drawn and moved, the public wasn't in the room. To keep it all legal, commissioners met no more than two at a time, since three constitutes a quorum and triggers the Open Meetings Act.

Commissioners didn't give a hint as to their thinking until September, when each member released his or her individual plan. For the most part, they were unwilling to discuss their political aims or to characterize their maps in any way. Everything you need to know is in the maps, they'd say.

Eventually, in the dying days of the process, commissioners from the two parties agreed among themselves and produced two partisan plans. That meant four maps, a legislative and congressional plan from each party.

Then they stared at each other.

Public commission meetings were short affairs, with commissioners sometimes officially releasing revisions that were already posted on the Web -- but no debate, horse-trading or negotiating in public or through the media.

Republican Commissioner Richard Derham eventually complained that Democrats were stonewalling without any true negotiations and that time was running out. Democrats sat, pokerfaced and arms folded, not responding.

On the final day, a Saturday, they met publicly seven times, recessing after a few grumpy comments but no open negotiations. Derham finally started talking in specifics, complaining about Democrats' "packing" GOP voters into the heavily Democratic 6th and 7th congressional districts, rather than allowing them to marginally increase GOP influence on outlying swing districts.

Democrats, angry at GOP efforts to hurt their more vulnerable incumbents, Rick Larsen and Brian Baird, replied that Republicans were being too radical and asking for too much.

More staring.

More recesses.

Finally, they reassembled, literally in the 11th hour.

They announced that they had agreed, in principle, to legislative district boundaries, but that because they needed to check computer runs, they wouldn't be able to meet the legal deadline of midnight to actually vote on it.

And, they announced with long faces, the two parties were deadlocked over a congressional plan.

To underscore their point, they publicly voted down each other's plan.

Republicans had made a final counteroffer, keeping Olympia in Baird's 3rd District and Everett in Larsen's 2nd District, as Democrats wanted. But Democrats weren't buying. They offered no further concessions, at least publicly, and the GOP voted down their plan, too.

They reconvened at 4:25 a.m., passed the legislative plan, and went home, tired and discouraged.

No kudos this time

Many of the state's newspapers ripped their failure, calling it a big waste of time and money.

"What is it with these people? Is it the air down there in Olympia?" asked a Seattle Times columnist.

The Columbian in Vancouver called it "map farce," saying partisanship had infected commissioners.

The Tri-City Herald said the gridlock was reminiscent of the 2001 legislative session. "What is it about this state? Put equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans in the same room and you get not leadership, but a partisan stalemate."

Lawmakers were upset that their new system hadn't worked -- and that a legal cloud hangs over their own district boundaries.

Congressmen -- and prospective candidates -- were furious that commissioners couldn't negotiate away their differences. It could be months before they know the makeup of their districts.

Party leaders were satisfied with the legislative plans, each side presuming it had won a slight advantage. They were critical of the failure to come up with congressional boundaries.

Still, key legislators said the semi-failure this time around doesn't mean the process should be jettisoned.

"When the Legislature did it, it was pretty ugly, sort of like performing self-surgery," says Senate Majority Leader Sid Snyder, D-Long Beach.

"I'd hate to throw ourselves back into the process," agreed House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam.

Richard Morrill, population geography expert at the University of Washington and federal court "master" who redrew the boundaries in 1972, says the commission should be retained, no matter the occasional failure.

He says the two parties have gotten too consumed with getting the upper hand. District boundaries are "close to inconsequential," since voters flip back and forth between the parties depending on the issues, the candidates and the trends of a particular year, he says.

What's next?

Insiders have suggested that commissioners may yet agree on a congressional plan, the deadline notwithstanding. U.S. Reps. Jennifer Dunn and Norm Dicks, senior Republican and Democrat in the delegation, respectively, were reported trying to broker a deal that commissioners could consider.

The Legislature could retroactively pass a law giving the commission more time, or the plan could simply go to the court for consideration and, presumably, approval. Legislative leaders are leaning against a retroactive law, meaning the courts would take over.

Most capital observers figure the justices would give strong weight to whatever the commission produces -- such as the tardy legislative plan -- rather than reinvent all that work.

Alexander says the justices met recently to "talk in general terms about various options," including possible appointment of a special master, but firm plans aren't expected until after the new year.

David Ammons is the AP's state political writer and has covered the statehouse since 1971. He may be reached at P.O. Box 607, Olympia, WA 98507, or at [email protected] on the Internet.

The Olympian
Yelm and Rainier could shift districts; GOP might fight redistricting in Supreme Court
By Patrick Condon and Brad Shannon
December 18, 2001

The state Redistricting Commission's failure to accomplish half its mission during the weekend has political watchers scratching their heads.

"We've been scrambling to find out what happens next," Chris Vance, the state Republican Party chairman, said Monday.

The commission completed its charge of redrawing the state's 49 legislative districts -- though it took four hours past the legal deadline -- but it completely broke down in its effort to realign the state's nine congressional district borders.

Vance called the failure another sign of an ailing government in Washington state.

"We've got a paralyzed Legislature, we've got a huge budget hole that no one knows how to fill, we've got a primary election (system) that's completely up in the air -- this feels like the most ill-governed state in the nation," Vance said.

There seemed to be a consensus Monday that the legislative plan should stand, even though it missed the deadline by a few hours. The Legislature will likely have to grant a retroactive extension.

The biggest change for South Sound in the legislative redistricting is that the cities of Yelm and Rainier were moved out of the Lewis County-dominated 20th District and into the 2nd District, which takes in a large chunk of southern Pierce County.

That means Yelm residents, who had been represented by Sen. Dan Swecker, Rep. Gary Alexander and Rep. Richard DeBolt -- three Republicans -- will have to adjust to new representation in the form of two Republican representatives and a Democratic senator.

"It concerns me only to the fact that our representatives have been so great to Yelm," Yelm Mayor Adam Rivas said. "I hope we don't lose any ground in what's important to our community."

Rep. Tom Campbell, a Spanaway Republican who represents the current 2nd District, said he's happy about the addition.

"I think that culturally and geographically we have a lot in common with Yelm and Rainier," said Campbell, who said he does most of his grocery shopping in Yelm. "I think it's a good fit, and I'm excited."

The 20th District will take in more of conservative Lewis County, but Alexander said he doesn't mind the switch.

"There certainly will be a little more conservatism in the makeup," Alexander said. "My car goes down to Lewis County a lot. It'll just go down to Lewis County a little more."

The 22nd District, which includes Olympia and the cities of Lacey and Tumwater, retains a lot of its present shape. Although Republican redistricting commissioners had proposed splitting Cooper Point off from the district, putting it in the 35th District with Shelton, the final plan leaves the northern part of the county in the 22nd District from Mud Bay to the Nisqually Delta.

"I think that will be generally satisfactory to most people in the area,'' said state Sen. Karen Fraser, a Democrat who moved to Cooper Point a couple of years ago. She would have been forced to challenge 35th District Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, next year if the GOP's initial plan had been adopted.

"I inquired of people closely involved in the process off and on about what might happen with Cooper Point," Fraser said. "I was always told, 'Don't worry, when all is said and done it'll probably be in the 22nd.' I care about that not just for me. The people of Cooper Point would feel disenfranchised if they were in the 35th.''

The Evergreen State College community would have become a liberal island in the more conservative 35th District, she said.

Rep. Sandra Romero, D-Olympia, expressed relief at seeing the boundaries finally fixed.

"I am relieved because you never know. Shenanigans can happen," Romero said. "I'm pleased to have Evergreen still in the district. There was some concern that would be moved out.''

The commission failed to redraw congressional lines because its two Democrats and two Republicans couldn't reach an accord. The Republican commissioners charged that the Democrats were trying to water down the voting power of Republican areas by shifting them into Democratic districts.

What's ahead

The congressional plan now goes to the state Supreme Court, which could pick either the Democratic or the Republican plan, or hand the work over to an independent third party.

Vance said he held a conference call Monday with the chiefs of staff for Washington's three Republican members of Congress and officials at the Republican National Committee to begin laying the groundwork for a possible Supreme Court fight.

It's still possible such a battle could be headed off if the members of the commission decide to reconvene and keep negotiating, assuming the Legislature is willing to grant an extension.

"There's still a window of opportunity," said Filiz Satir, spokeswoman for the Redistricting Commission, although she added she knew of no movement in that direction Monday.

About a dozen states have assigned the work of redistricting to an independent commission, with the rest leaving the work directly in the hands of the Legislature. Washington voters took that task away from legislators with a 1983 initiative.

Independent commissions in other states have different makeups, and some are structured to avoid the deadlock that afflicted Washington's process this year. Vance suggested the process here could easily be fixed with a tie-breaking method the King County Commission uses.

Like the state, King County employs a four-member redistricting board with two Democrats and two Republicans. Also like the state, a nonpartisan, nonvoting fifth member chairs the King County redistricting commission.

But unlike the state's process, in King County the chairman gets to vote in the event of a deadlock.

"It's a strong incentive for the commission to get its job done right," Vance said.

Brad Shannon and Patrick Condon can be reached at 360-753-1688.

Tacoma News Tribune
Compromise should be at heart of redistricting
By Peter Callaghan
December 18, 2001

There was a time when Washington state was like every other state.

After every census, our legislators would unleash their animal instincts of survival and try to redraw legislative and congressional boundaries to help their friends and harm their enemies.

More often than not, they failed. In the first 90 years of statehood, the Legislature successfully redistricted the state just four times. The court or the voters had to step in the other years.

That began to change in 1982. A legal challenge to an adopted congressional map was successful, tossing the issue back to a Legislature weary of the mess it had created. So lawmakers agreed to a reform plan that would give the job to a bipartisan commission. Two Republicans and two Democrats would meet with a nonvoting chairman. Three of the voting members would have to agree on a final plan, assuring that neither party could dominate the other.

Few expected the process to be nonpartisan. But they did expect the parties to balance their self-interests. They were right. That first commission worked so well that the Legislatureˇand then the votersˇadopted a constitutional amendment to make it permanent.

After a difficult but successful redistricting in 1992, it was clear that Washington state was different. We had figured out a way to avoid the crass political mud-wrestling that still confronts most other states.

That's a big deal. And that's what was tossed in the trash heap over the weekend by the four members of the current commission. The appointees arrived at new legislative districts four hours after a statutory deadline and now hope the next Legislature will change the deadline retroactively to turn their failure into a success.

On congressional redistricting, they don't even have that meager result. They simply gave up.

So because of the failures of Democrats Dean Foster and Bobbie Krebs-McMullen and Republicans Dick Derham and John Giese, Washington is again rolling in the mud of redistricting debacles with most of the other states.

"I'm deeply disappointed. I just felt terrible," said former Secretary of State Ralph Munro, one of the fathers of the commission idea along with the League of Women Voters.

No one said the job was going to be easy. In 1992, the commissioners reached agreement on new congressional lines just 45 minutes before the constitutional deadline of midnight Jan. 1. They worked New Year's Eve and New Year's Day (missing the Rose Bowl victory that gave the University of Washington its only national championship).

But the system was set up to give commissioners strong motivation to make a deal. They're supposed to know that compromise is far better than the alternative - a plan approved by the state Supreme Court.

The 1991 commission succeeded and proved that a different system could work. The 2001 commissioners failed and placed the entire reform in doubt.

What now? The nine-member court likely will adopt the commission's legislative plan as its own. But it should not, as some have suggested, pick between the final Democratic plan and the final Republican plan. That would turn failure into victory for two of the commissioners. And it might convince future commissioners that they might get their way by refusing to compromise.

The court could appoint a special master to draw a new plan. Or, as Munro guesses, the court could make the current commissioners go back to work until they do what they were appointed to do. Maybe they could be sequestered, like a jury, until they reach a verdict.

That might be a proper punishment for their choice of partisanship over compromise.

Reach Peter Callaghan at 253-597-8657 or [email protected]

Tacoma News Tribune
Lawmakers not eager to get into redistricting; HANDS OFF: Supreme Court likely to decide fate of panel's tardy recommendations
By Beth Silver
December 18, 2001

Senate Majority Leader Sid Snyder said he has no plans to help out a tardy Redistricting Commission, which missed its deadline to draw new legislative district boundaries by 41/2 hours over the weekend.

After approving a new legislative map at 4:30 a.m. Sunday, commissioners said they hoped the Legislature would retroactively shift their deadline from midnight Saturday. State law set Dec. 15 for its completion.

But Snyder said Monday the Legislature will be reluctant to step into the political predicament. The process of carving out the 49 districts to accommodate shifts in population over the last 10 years is among the most partisan of exercises. Even a simple "yes" or "no" on whether to amend the law would give each of the 147 lawmakers an opportunity to vote on the plan based on how they fare under it.

The voters, in fact, took the job out of the legislators' hands in 1983 and created the citizen commission - made up of two Republicans and two Democrats - to strip some of the politics out of redistricting.

"I think it's a lot better than when the Legislature did it itself. It was like performing self-surgery," Snyder (D-Long Beach) said.

Instead of putting the plan before the Legislature, it will be up to the state Supreme Court to decide the new boundaries. Snyder said he expected the nine justices would accept the commissioners' plan rather than write their own.

But Bill Collins, senior assistant state attorney general, said there is no way to know how the high court will react. The court could draw its own lines, accept the commissioners' plan or appoint a nonpartisan "special master" to come up with a map.

The justices have yet to discuss how they will proceed, according to Supreme Court clerk Jerry Merritt.

The legislative districts that commissioners agreed upon are fairly close to the current boundaries. Snyder and House Speaker Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) said it appeared there are the same number of strong Democratic and Republican districts and districts that swing between candidates from both parties.

But two Democratic legislators were written out of their districts: Reps. Eileen Cody of Seattle and Hans Dunshee of Snohomish.

Dunshee said he has not decided whether to run against Republican Rep. Dave Schmidt (R-Bothell) or give up his legislative career. But he has no plans to move into what may be his new district. Either way, he said, he does not want the Legislature to get involved in approving the commission's legislative map.

"Redistricting done by legislatures puts a lot of blood on the walls and people get a real sense of how partisan and how ugly it can be. It's just evil what goes on on both sides," he said.

The high court also will have to decide what the state's nine congressional district boundaries look like. The commissioners deadlocked over the map and said they could not foresee an agreement even after the deadline.

"Frankly, we don't know what's going to happen," said Ethan Moreno, the Redistricting Commission's executive director. "We are all participating in the unfolding of this process together and the crystal ball is just very cloudy right now."

Staff writer Beth Silver covers politics. Reach her at 360-754-6093 or [email protected]

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Redistricting reaches a political stalemate
By Neil Modie
December 17, 2001

By flunking the job of redrawing Washington's congressional and legislative district boundaries, a bipartisan commission has dumped the contentious political chore onto the state Supreme Court.

The two Democrats and two Republicans on the state Redistricting Commission deadlocked over how to reshape the nine congressional districts. The stakes were several politically competitive Western Washington districts held by Democrats.

Commissioners did agree on a way to carve up the state's 49 legislative districts, but the process of computer-crunching the maps and population data prevented them from adopting it until after the statutory deadline of midnight Saturday. Approval of the plan at 4:25 a.m. yesterday left it legally clouded.

The commissioners announced their failure to agree on a congressional plan just before midnight Saturday, after a week of intense, closed-door negotiations in Olympia. Each side blamed the other for the failure.

Some participants in the once-a-decade process held out hope that the commission might yet compromise on congressional districts in the next two weeks and ask the Supreme Court to accept its plan. Another long-shot option could be to ask the Legislature, after it convenes in January, to extend the adoption deadline retroactively.

Nobody knows how the Supreme Court would go about doing redistricting since it has never been handed the job before. But some observers think the court would be only too happy to be relieved of the job by accepting whatever plan the redistricting commission might work out, even if it's tardy.

But after nearly a year of work and more than 40 meetings and public hearings, and with a $1.4 million budget and a staff of seven, some of the citizen commissioners yesterday all but ruled out further negotiations.

"I think we've reached an impasse. The Supreme Court will do its own plan," said Dick Derham, a Republican commissioner from Seattle. The state constitution, as amended by voters in 1983, hands the task to the nine-member court if the redistricting commission fails.

"I don't really have any idea what happens next," Bill Collins, the commission's attorney, said yesterday.

Democratic Commissioners Bobbi Krebs-McMullen of Mount Vernon and Dean Foster of Olympia didn't rule out further negotiation. Foster said he plans to review both sides' final proposals today to see "if anything is possible. But overexcitement shouldn't be read into this message."

The collapse of the redistricting process leaves citizens and political party activists wondering who their federal and state lawmakers will be, and incumbents wondering who their constituents will be. Those are factors that shape lawmakers' legislative agendas and political decisions.

"How much more chaos does this state need?" state Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance wondered yesterday. "We're going into a legislative session with the House and Senate virtually deadlocked, a huge budget deficit, no law on how to conduct the primary election (because of a constitutional challenge), and now no congressional and maybe no legislative district plan."

Democrats have much more to lose than do Republicans, especially in congressional redistricting. The Democrats have six members of Congress to protect, compared with the GOP's three, and two of the latter represent non-controversial Eastern Washington districts.

Vance, the GOP leader, contended that demographics favor Republicans "because downtown Seattle, downtown Spokane and downtown Tacoma are losing population vis-ř-vis the rest of the state."

But Vance admitted that Democrats have done a good job of recruiting suburban candidates.

Republican commissioners accused the Democrats of trying to "pack" GOP voters into two Democratic strongholds, the 7th District of Rep. Jim McDermott of Seattle and the 6th District of Rep. Norm Dicks of Port Orchard, to try to diminish GOP influence in the politically shakier districts of neighboring Democrats.

Democrats accused Republicans Derham and John Giese of Bellevue of trying to upset the political balance of the districts of two endangered Democratic congressmen: the 3rd District of Brian Baird of Vancouver and the 9th District of Adam Smith of Tacoma.

Derham said the Democrats rejected the GOP's final offer even though it gave in on two key Democratic demands: that Democratic Olympia remain in Baird's district, and that freshman Rep. Rick Larsen's Democratic base of Everett remain in his 2nd District.

The Republicans made other changes, however, that rendered their plan unacceptable to the Democrats -- in particular, displacing Smith from his 9th District by putting Northeast Tacoma, where he lives, into Dicks' neighboring district.

"That was unintentional," Derham said afterward.

The congressman yesterday countered that, "I don't think the Republican commissioners are negotiating in very good faith, trying to draw incumbents out of their districts."

The redistricting plans are necessary to reflect population shifts and growth in the 1990s.

That means they slightly diminish the representation of the state's slow-growing, Democratic central cities like Seattle, Tacoma and Spokane, and expand the political clout of fast-growing, mostly Republican-leaning suburbs, especially in south and east King County, Clark County and Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties.

The legislative plan displaces only two of the state's 147 incumbents, Democratic representatives Hans Dunshee of Snohomish and Eileen Cody of West Seattle, by removing Dunshee from his 39th District and Cody from her 11th District.

Cody is considered likely to run for re-election next year from the 34th District, her new bailiwick, where a seat is about to be vacated by resignation.

Dunshee hasn't decided what to do yet. He said last night his options are to move back into the 39th, which he won't do; run against Rep. Dave Schmidt, an entrenched Republican in the 44th District, or leave the Legislature.

The plan also removes from the 32nd District the would-be Democratic successor to Rep. Carolyn Edmonds, who is resigning to join the King County Council. The county Democratic Party has recommended Maralyn Chase to fill the vacancy, but the redistricting plan would leave Chase no longer in the 32nd.

"It's no big deal. I'm just going to move" back into the district, Chase said last night.

Derham said the agreement makes the state's 49 legislative districts -- where Democrats have bare majorities in both houses of the Legislature -- ever so slightly more Republican than they are now. But Foster said he thinks the two parties broke about even -- something the voters will decide in future elections.

Collins, the commission's lawyer and a senior assistant attorney general, said he thinks there is a chance the Legislature next month could be persuaded to retroactively amend the law setting the Dec. 15 deadline for adopting redistricting plans.

The state constitution sets a deadline of Jan. 1, but the Legislature put the earlier deadline into law after the last redistricting effort, 10 years ago, was completed just minutes before midnight Jan. 1, 1992.

"I don't see any reason why the Legislature couldn't (amend that statute) to say essentially you ... can do it by Dec. 16 or Jan. 1," Collins said.

The lawyer declined to guess whether the Supreme Court would find the legislative half of the overall redistricting plan valid in the absence of the congressional half.

"There is no precedent. .. We are in uncharted territory," he said.

News Tribune
Redistricting Panel a Day LateˇAnd a Map Short; Group wants court to do congressional boundaries
By Beth Silver
December 17, 2001

A state Redistricting Commission agreed to new legislative district boundaries early Sunday but threw the task of drawing new congressional lines to the state Supreme Court after a deadlock appeared unbreakable.

Commissioners met until 4:30 a.m. Sunday - well after a midnight Saturday deadline set in state law - before agreeing on how to redraw the 49 legislative districts. But the late hour puts even the legislative map's viability in legal doubt.

Political consultants were scrambling Sunday to determine the ramifications of the commission's actions. The Washington State Supreme Court has never had to come up with its own plan. And how - or even if - the justices would do so, or instead send the task to a nonpartisan redistricting expert, was still in question.

"It never occurred to me I would wake up the day after the deadline with this sort of chaos," said Chris Vance, chairman of the state Republican Party.

Also to be determined is whether the Legislature and the courts would accept just one of the two prescribed maps, said Bill Collins, a senior assistant state attorney general. State law says the commission must turn in both maps. But Collins said he thought the Legislature could amend the law retroactively to accept a single plan completed after the Dec. 15 deadline.

Commissioners - two Republicans and two Democrats - met for hours Saturday to negotiate the new district lines. The state has gained 1 million people since the last redistricting and must accommodate population increases in Seattle suburbs and in southwestern and northwestern Washington.

In the end, they redrew the legislative boundaries close to the way they've existed for the past 10 years. Two Democratic lawmakers - Reps. Hans Dunshee of Snohomish and Eileen Cody of Seattle - were displaced from their districts.

The commissioners' political stalemate over the nine congressional districts centered around the highly Democratic 6th and 7th.

Republican commissioner Dick Derham accused the Democrats of trying to "pack" Republicans into the districts to dilute their voting power in the surrounding, more politically volatile districts.

But Democratic commissioner Bobbi Krebs-McMullen said the Republicans' plan would have changed the political makeup of the western half of the state. She said their plan would have drawn the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 9th districts, which have swung between Republicans and Democrats in the last decade, to the advantage of just one of the parties.

Another glitch emerged early Sunday.

Derham's plan would have written Democratic Rep. Adam Smith, who lives in Northeast Tacoma, out of the 9th Congressional District that he currently represents. Derham said he did not intentionally write Smith's neighborhood into Rep. Norm Dicks' 6th Congressional District and would have changed the lines if commissioners were closer to agreement on the plan.

Vance said it appeared commissioners, appointed by legislative leadership, spent too much time on their legislative work and not enough on a congressional plan. Now he said he planned to get national party lawyers involved.

Richard Morrill, a geography professor emeritus and redistricting expert from the University of Washington, said the parties are wasting their time. Washington's voters have proven their political independence over and over again. At one point in the last decade, they elected seven Republicans and two Democrats to Congress. Right now, six Democrats and three Republicans make up the delegation.

"All this is is a silly waste of time. They spend all this effort to get a few more blocks, and it's basically silly, and they know it's dumb but they are compelled to do it. It's just part of a game that's played," he said.

A federal district court judge appointed Morrill to come up with legislative and congressional boundaries in 1972 after the Legislature's version was thrown out in court.

Morrill said he would be surprised if the state's high court took the same route this time. Instead, he said he thought the justices would choose one of the commissioners' four congressional plans.

The nine elected justices are nonpartisan. Morrill and other political observers said there was no way to tell which plan they would choose based on their partisan preferences.

"They'll try to wiggle out of it on some technical grounds. They'll choose the plan with slightly better equal population and use that as an ostensible reason for choosing one plan or another," Morrill said.

Washington voters created the independent redistricting commission through an amendment to the state's constitution in 1983. The idea was to take some of the politics out of a process that legislators had controlled.

The Olympian
No Decision on Redistricting; Commission misses its deadline, but extension possible
By Brad Shannon
December 16, 2001

A citizen commission redrawing the state's political boundaries missed its midnight deadline Saturday for completing a redistricting plan, but members said they intended to keep working this morning.

John Giese, a Republican member of the Washington State Redistricting Commission, said they were near agreement on a new map for the state's 49 legislative districts. But the commission appeared deadlocked on a map for the state's nine congressional districts.

One big hang-up, according to Republican Dick Derham, was how many GOP-dominated areas the two Democrats on the commission want to shift into the heavily Democratic 6th and 7th Congressional Districts. This, in effect, would dilute the strength of Republicans who now hold three of the state's nine congressional seats.

The latest plans on the table would leave most Olympia-area voters in the same legislative districts, but the congressional district boundaries could vary widely. Parts of Thurston County could land in as many as three congressional districts.

The last-minute deal- making was a virtual replay of the previous commission's antics in 1991, when a final plan was hatched at the last possible minute to rebalance the populations of the districts, which is required after every U.S. Census.

"We're a lot closer than we were. We're not done yet," Democratic commissioner Dean Foster of Olympia said shortly after 8 p.m. as the four voting members of the commission took a recess to negotiate, two people at a time, behind closed doors.

Deadlines, questions

The redistricting job appears to be headed to the state Supreme Court, which by law must complete a plan by April 30.

One option, however, might be for Gov. Gary Locke to call the Legislature back into session and ask lawmakers to give the commission until Dec. 31, the state constitution's absolute deadline.

Another option would be for the Legislature, when it convenes in January, to retroactively set a Dec. 31 deadline.

"The 15th is the statutory deadline. The Legislature enacted that deadline, and it seems to me they could change it," said Bill Collins, a senior assistant attorney general who has been advising the commission during its yearlong effort to equalize population in the political districts.

If commissioners agreed on a legislative plan but not a congressional one, there is a legal question about whether the legislative map would be valid, or if both the legislative and congressional maps have to be finished for either to be considered legal.

Collins, the commission lawyer, said the law was ambiguous on this point.

Collins said he was unaware of any other citizen redistricting commission in the nation that had ever missed its deadline.

The plans

The incorporated areas of Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater and peninsulas to the north now fall in the 3rd Congressional District and 22nd Legislative District, but several plans revealed by Republicans and Democrats in recent days would change that.

Under the Republican congressional plan, the Steamboat Island and Cooper Point areas outside of Olympia would shift into the 6th District with Mason County. Although the GOP would leave west Olympia and Tumwater in the 3rd District, it would split the rest of Olympia and most of Lacey into the 9th District, represented by Democratic Congressman Adam Smith of Tacoma.

Democrats, meanwhile, were proposing to keep all of Olympia and Tumwater, along with northwest Thurston County, in the 3rd District, while Lacey and much of the south county east of Interstate 5 would go into the 9th District. The size of the 3rd District in South Sound will have to shrink because of growth in the Vancouver area, which is forcing commissioners to trim about 33,000 residents from the district's northern edge.

Legislative maps on the table appeared to leave most of Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater in the 22nd Legislative District, but differing plans put parts of the Nisqually Valley in the 22nd District or the 2nd District. A Republican plan also shifted the Steamboat Island peninsula from the 35th District into the 22nd District.

Parties disagree

Derham complained openly that Democrats were insisting on "packing" too many Republican-leaning voters into the two Democratic strongholds -- the 6th District that includes part of Tacoma and the Olympic Peninsula, and the 7th District that includes most of Seattle.

"Our proposal has tried to spread the increase (in population) in what we feel is a more equitable manner," Derham said.

Foster and the other Democrat, Bobbi Krebs-McMullen, did not comment on Derham's complaints.

But it has been clear for weeks that the Democrats have been resisting similar Republican efforts to carve the liberal Olympia voting base from U.S. Rep. Brian Baird's Democrat-leaning 3rd Congressional District.

Derham and Giese also were pushing to place most of northwest Thurston County, which now is represented by Baird, into Democratic U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks' 6th District.

Foster and Krebs-McMullen also were resisting Republican efforts to pull Everett out of the 2nd Congressional District, which could give Republicans a better shot at beating Democratic Congressman Jeff Larsen in the mainly rural district that would result.

The head of the state Democratic Party, Paul Berendt, has criticized the commission setup, which was approved by a public vote in 1983.

Berendt blames the 1991 commission's boundaries for the virtually equal balance of power in the Legislature at a time Democrats control most statewide offices.

"My concern all along is this commission is made up of two Republicans and two Democrats," Berendt reiterated Saturday. "We have six Democrats and three Republicans in the congressional delegation. It doesn't take any real brilliance to see those Republicans (on the commission) are going to try to steal some of our Democratic congressional seats.

"It's incumbent on our Democratic commissioners to dig in their heels and make sure no one's base is raided."

Brad Shannon, political editor for The Olympian, can be reached at 360-753-1688 and at [email protected]

Tacoma News Tribune
Lawmakers not eager to get into redistricting
By Beth Silver
December 18, 2001

Senate Majority Leader Sid Snyder said he has no plans to help out a tardy Redistricting Commission, which missed its deadline to draw new legislative district boundaries by 41/2 hours over the weekend.

After approving a new legislative map at 4:30 a.m. Sunday, commissioners said they hoped the Legislature would retroactively shift their deadline from midnight Saturday. State law set Dec. 15 for its completion.

But Snyder said Monday the Legislature will be reluctant to step into the political predicament. The process of carving out the 49 districts to accommodate shifts in population over the last 10 years is among the most partisan of exercises. Even a simple "yes" or "no" on whether to amend the law would give each of the 147 lawmakers an opportunity to vote on the plan based on how they fare under it.

The voters, in fact, took the job out of the legislators' hands in 1983 and created the citizen commission - made up of two Republicans and two Democrats - to strip some of the politics out of redistricting.

"I think it's a lot better than when the Legislature did it itself. It was like performing self-surgery," Snyder (D-Long Beach) said.

Instead of putting the plan before the Legislature, it will be up to the state Supreme Court to decide the new boundaries. Snyder said he expected the nine justices would accept the commissioners' plan rather than write their own.

But Bill Collins, senior assistant state attorney general, said there is no way to know how the high court will react. The court could draw its own lines, accept the commissioners' plan or appoint a nonpartisan "special master" to come up with a map.

The justices have yet to discuss how they will proceed, according to Supreme Court clerk Jerry Merritt.

The legislative districts that commissioners agreed upon are fairly close to the current boundaries. Snyder and House Speaker Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) said it appeared there are the same number of strong Democratic and Republican districts and districts that swing between candidates from both parties.

But two Democratic legislators were written out of their districts: Reps. Eileen Cody of Seattle and Hans Dunshee of Snohomish.

Dunshee said he has not decided whether to run against Republican Rep. Dave Schmidt (R-Bothell) or give up his legislative career. But he has no plans to move into what may be his new district. Either way, he said, he does not want the Legislature to get involved in approving the commission's legislative map.

"Redistricting done by legislatures puts a lot of blood on the walls and people get a real sense of how partisan and how ugly it can be. It's just evil what goes on on both sides," he said.

The high court also will have to decide what the state's nine congressional district boundaries look like. The commissioners deadlocked over the map and said they could not foresee an agreement even after the deadline.

"Frankly, we don't know what's going to happen," said Ethan Moreno, the Redistricting Commission's executive director. "We are all participating in the unfolding of this process together and the crystal ball is just very cloudy right now."

Staff writer Beth Silver covers politics. Reach her at 360-754-6093 or [email protected]

Tacoma News Tribune
Compromise should be at heart of redistricting
By Peter Callaghan
December 18, 2001

There was a time when Washington state was like every other state.

After every census, our legislators would unleash their animal instincts of survival and try to redraw legislative and congressional boundaries to help their friends and harm their enemies.

More often than not, they failed. In the first 90 years of statehood, the Legislature successfully redistricted the state just four times. The court or the voters had to step in the other years.

That began to change in 1982. A legal challenge to an adopted congressional map was successful, tossing the issue back to a Legislature weary of the mess it had created. So lawmakers agreed to a reform plan that would give the job to a bipartisan commission. Two Republicans and two Democrats would meet with a nonvoting chairman. Three of the voting members would have to agree on a final plan, assuring that neither party could dominate the other.

Few expected the process to be nonpartisan. But they did expect the parties to balance their self-interests. They were right. That first commission worked so well that the Legislature -áand then the voters -áadopted a constitutional amendment to make it permanent.

After a difficult but successful redistricting in 1992, it was clear that Washington state was different. We had figured out a way to avoid the crass political mud-wrestling that still confronts most other states.

That's a big deal. And that's what was tossed in the trash heap over the weekend by the four members of the current commission. The appointees arrived at new legislative districts four hours after a statutory deadline and now hope the next Legislature will change the deadline retroactively to turn their failure into a success.

On congressional redistricting, they don't even have that meager result. They simply gave up.

So because of the failures of Democrats Dean Foster and Bobbie Krebs-McMullen and Republicans Dick Derham and John Giese, Washington is again rolling in the mud of redistricting debacles with most of the other states.

"I'm deeply disappointed. I just felt terrible," said former Secretary of State Ralph Munro, one of the fathers of the commission idea along with the League of Women Voters.

No one said the job was going to be easy. In 1992, the commissioners reached agreement on new congressional lines just 45 minutes before the constitutional deadline of midnight Jan. 1. They worked New Year's Eve and New Year's Day (missing the Rose Bowl victory that gave the University of Washington its only national championship).

But the system was set up to give commissioners strong motivation to make a deal. They're supposed to know that compromise is far better than the alternative - a plan approved by the state Supreme Court.

The 1991 commission succeeded and proved that a different system could work. The 2001 commissioners failed and placed the entire reform in doubt.

What now? The nine-member court likely will adopt the commission's legislative plan as its own. But it should not, as some have suggested, pick between the final Democratic plan and the final Republican plan. That would turn failure into victory for two of the commissioners. And it might convince future commissioners that they might get their way by refusing to compromise.

The court could appoint a special master to draw a new plan. Or, as Munro guesses, the court could make the current commissioners go back to work until they do what they were appointed to do. Maybe they could be sequestered, like a jury, until they reach a verdict.

That might be a proper punishment for their choice of partisanship over compromise.

Reach Peter Callaghan at 253-597-8657 or [email protected]

Spokesman-Review
Redistricting Panel Misses Deadline; Legislative Plan Done, But Late; High Court Could Decide Matter
By David Ammons
December 17, 2001

What's next?

Now that Washington's citizen Redistricting Commission has failed to agree on new congressional districts and waited hours past the deadline to approve a legislative plan, the process enters murky waters.

The Legislature may try to rescue the new legislative boundaries by passing a retroactive law. But the real power now shifts to the state Supreme Court, which is listed in the constitution as the backup power if the commission fails.

"We're in uncharted water here. The crystal ball starts getting rather cloudy," said Ethan Moreno, the commission executive director.

The commissioners, two Republicans and two Democrats appointed by the four political caucuses in the Legislature, were visibly disappointed when they failed to bridge their partisan differences and produce new maps by midnight Saturday.

"We haven't been successful in meeting the statutory deadline of Dec. 15 and we're all sorry about that," Democratic commissioner Dean Foster of Olympia said early Sunday. "We worked very hard."

After weeks of exchanging maps, the panel finally agreed on new legislative boundaries about 10 p.m. Saturday. But they didn't vote on the proposal until 4:30 a.m. Sunday because they wanted to study the latest computer runs to make sure the two sides agreed completely on every boundary.

The plan displaces only two incumbent lawmakers.

Democratic Reps. Eileen Cody of Seattle and Hans Dunshee of Snohomish will find themselves in new districts. The plan preserves the status quo in most areas of the state, with significant changes required only in areas that grew -- or shrank -- the most.

In the end, the vote was unanimous, if late.

But the plan isn't a done deal. First, the panel's power to vote expired at midnight. And secondly, when the constitution and laws refer to approval of a redistricting plan, that includes both legislative and congressional maps -- something the panel didn't achieve.

Bill Collins, senior assistant attorney general, said Sunday that the legislative boundaries are quite defensible. The 1983 constitutional amendment creating the process set midnight Jan. 1 as the deadline and the Legislature later added a more restrictive Dec. 15 deadline, he noted.

So when lawmakers convene next month, they could easily amend the law to make it conform with the Jan. 1 deadline -- retroactively validating what the panel did, he said.

The legislative maps probably will still be reviewed by the Supreme Court, but the justices likely wouldn't want to substitute their judgment for the commission's, said Collins.

One of the country's leading redistricting experts, University of Washington geography professor Richard Morrill, agreed.

"I would guess they won't want to open up that whole mess and get into what is a very political process," he said in an interview Sunday.

What about the congressional boundaries?

The commission deadlocked, with Republicans rejecting the plan offered by the Democrats and the Democrats voting down the GOP plan. By law, it takes at least three of the four commissioners to approve a plan, so a partisan standoff kills all action.

Republican Commissioner Dick Derham said Democrats were "packing" GOP voters into the heavily Democratic 6th and 7th districts. That would negate the Republicans' voice, Derham said.

Democrats, in turn, said the GOP plan was too radical and that current districts in central Puget Sound should be left largely the same.

Before conceding defeat, the Republicans produced a new draft that kept Olympia in the 3rd District and Everett in the 2nd, two of the Democrats' main objectives. The GOP proposal also placed Grays Harbor County wholly within the 6th, Tacoma entirely in the 6th, Bellevue wholly within the 8th and Seattle mostly in the 7th.

Democrats still didn't like the plan. Both Foster and fellow Democratic Commissioner Bobbie Krebs-McMullen of Mount Vernon suggested that the commission continue working on the congressional plan, but Republicans nixed it.

That would seem to shift the task to the nine-member high court, fallback authority if the commission fails. The Legislature and governor have virtually no role in the process. Legislative approval is not required and lawmakers may make only minor changes, with two-thirds votes required in both houses.

Morrill predicted that the justices will simply pick one of the two parties' maps, probably the one that meets the criteria listed in the constitution with the simplest, least disruptive lines.

He declined to say which party's plan would better meet that test, but said neither party should get too worked up. As the wild election swings of the 1990s showed, most districts are competitive regardless of where the boundaries are drawn, he said.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Redistricting Reaches a Political Stalemate
By Neil Modie
December 17, 2001

By flunking the job of redrawing Washington's congressional and legislative district boundaries, a bipartisan commission has dumped the contentious political chore onto the state Supreme Court.

The two Democrats and two Republicans on the state Redistricting Commission deadlocked over how to reshape the nine congressional districts. The stakes were several politically competitive Western Washington districts held by Democrats.

Commissioners did agree on a way to carve up the state's 49 legislative districts, but the process of computer-crunching the maps and population data prevented them from adopting it until after the statutory deadline of midnight Saturday. Approval of the plan at 4:25 a.m. yesterday left it legally clouded.

The commissioners announced their failure to agree on a congressional plan just before midnight Saturday, after a week of intense, closed-door negotiations in Olympia. Each side blamed the other for the failure.

Some participants in the once-a-decade process held out hope that the commission might yet compromise on congressional districts in the next two weeks and ask the Supreme Court to accept its plan. Another long-shot option could be to ask the Legislature, after it convenes in January, to extend the adoption deadline retroactively.

Nobody knows how the Supreme Court would go about doing redistricting since it has never been handed the job before. But some observers think the court would be only too happy to be relieved of the job by accepting whatever plan the redistricting commission might work out, even if it's tardy.

But after nearly a year of work and more than 40 meetings and public hearings, and with a $1.4 million budget and a staff of seven, some of the citizen commissioners yesterday all but ruled out further negotiations.

"I think we've reached an impasse. The Supreme Court will do its own plan," said Dick Derham, a Republican commissioner from Seattle. The state constitution, as amended by voters in 1983, hands the task to the nine-member court if the redistricting commission fails.

"I don't really have any idea what happens next," Bill Collins, the commission's attorney, said yesterday.

Democratic Commissioners Bobbi Krebs-McMullen of Mount Vernon and Dean Foster of Olympia didn't rule out further negotiation. Foster said he plans to review both sides' final proposals today to see "if anything is possible. But overexcitement shouldn't be read into this message."

The collapse of the redistricting process leaves citizens and political party activists wondering who their federal and state lawmakers will be, and incumbents wondering who their constituents will be. Those are factors that shape lawmakers' legislative agendas and political decisions.

"How much more chaos does this state need?" state Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance wondered yesterday. "We're going into a legislative session with the House and Senate virtually deadlocked, a huge budget deficit, no law on how to conduct the primary election (because of a constitutional challenge), and now no congressional and maybe no legislative district plan."

Democrats have much more to lose than do Republicans, especially in congressional redistricting. The Democrats have six members of Congress to protect, compared with the GOP's three, and two of the latter represent non-controversial Eastern Washington districts.

Vance, the GOP leader, contended that demographics favor Republicans "because downtown Seattle, downtown Spokane and downtown Tacoma are losing population vis-ř-vis the rest of the state."

But Vance admitted that Democrats have done a good job of recruiting suburban candidates.

Republican commissioners accused the Democrats of trying to "pack" GOP voters into two Democratic strongholds, the 7th District of Rep. Jim McDermott of Seattle and the 6th District of Rep. Norm Dicks of Port Orchard, to try to diminish GOP influence in the politically shakier districts of neighboring Democrats.

Democrats accused Republicans Derham and John Giese of Bellevue of trying to upset the political balance of the districts of two endangered Democratic congressmen: the 3rd District of Brian Baird of Vancouver and the 9th District of Adam Smith of Tacoma.

Derham said the Democrats rejected the GOP's final offer even though it gave in on two key Democratic demands: that Democratic Olympia remain in Baird's district, and that freshman Rep. Rick Larsen's Democratic base of Everett remain in his 2nd District.

The Republicans made other changes, however, that rendered their plan unacceptable to the Democrats -- in particular, displacing Smith from his 9th District by putting Northeast Tacoma, where he lives, into Dicks' neighboring district.

"That was unintentional," Derham said afterward.

The Olympian
Redistricting Plan Still Evolving; Different Plans for Thurston County Offered as Deadline Nears
By Brad Shannon
December 13, 2001

Parts of Thurston County would end up in three different congressional districts under a joint Republican redistricting plan offered Wednesday.

The plan would split Olympia into the 3rd and 9th Districts.

The most recent Democratic map, meanwhile, keeps all of incorporated Olympia and Tumwater in U.S. Rep. Brian Baird's 3rd District, but splits Lacey east of the Chehalis-Western Trail into the 9th, which runs to King County and is represented by U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Tacoma.

Those are the latest permutations of plans as the citizen Redistricting Commission races to meet a midnight Saturday deadline for approving new boundaries for 49 legislative and nine congressional districts.

The new maps are required every decade after the U.S. Census to ensure that each district contains roughly the same number of people and that votes have equal weight.

Olympia is in the middle of the action because the 3rd District needs to shed 33,000 people from its northern boundary.

But the new lines are fragile like those of an Etch A Sketch, as old lines disintegrate each time a new plan bumps the bargaining table.

"Anything can happen between now and Saturday," said Dick Derham, a Seattle attorney and Republican commissioner who said population numbers leave few options for where boundaries can go. "There's no magic about any of these things. ... You just run out of numbers."

Democratic commissioner Dean Foster of Olympia agreed that options are running out. So the latest Democratic plan, drawn jointly by Foster and commissioner Bobbi Krebs- McMullen of Mount Vernon, splits the traditional Lacey-Olympia connection in the 3rd Congressional District.

"It's a population issue," Foster said. "We're getting to that point in a lot of the areas."

Aberdeen and Hoquiam were shifted from the 3rd into the 6th District a decade ago, and now one remaining debate is whether to shift the rest of Grays Harbor County there, as Republicans want to do.

Democratic congressman Norm Dicks represents that district.

As for splitting Olympia into two congressional districts, as Republicans suggest, Foster said it's possible, although it's not his preference.

Also still up for grabs is placement of Everett. Democrats want to keep it in U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen's 2nd District, while Republicans want to shift it into U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee's 1st District.

Commissioners also are debating whether Renton should move from Seattle's 7th District into Republican U.S. Rep. Jennifer Dunn's 8th District, which has similar transportation issues, Derham said.

Republicans originally had put most or all of Olympia and Cooper Point into the 6th Congressional District, but Derham said both Dicks and Baird objected. Also objecting was Baird's Republican campaign opponent, Trent Matson, Derham said.

The commissioners also received a petition signed by 38 people this week urging that Olympia be left in the 3rd District.

In other developments, a new legislative plan from Foster would move the Nisqually Valley and Yelm out of the 22nd Legislative District and into the more conservative 2nd District, which takes in much of southwest Pierce County. That plan also draws the southern boundary of the 22nd District mainly along the city limits of Tumwater and Lacey.

Yvonne Kinoshita Ward, who worked with several minority groups to draw up a "unity plan" earlier this year, said the Republicans' emerging legislative districts for Eastern Washington could disenfranchise Latino voters in the 14th and 15th Legislative Districts around Yakima and in the 9th and 16th Districts in the state's southeast corner.

Brad Shannon, political editor for The Olympian, can be reached at 360-753-1688 or [email protected]

The Olympian
Redistricting Deadline Near; Solutions Are Not; Panel must redraw districting boundaries by Dec. 15
By Brad Shannon
December 9, 2001

The state's political landscape might change dramatically by Saturday night -- or perhaps it won't change at all.

With less than a week to finish drawing new boundaries for legislative and congressional districts, citizen members of the state Redistricting Commission appear a long way from finishing their job.

One, Republican commissioner Richard Derham of Seattle, says there has been so little negotiating in recent weeks that he questions whether it's worth convening the four meetings the commission has planned starting Monday.

"If we're not going to negotiate, why spend a lot of time up and down the freeway?" Derham told the other voting commissioners Thursday. "If we're not going to accomplish a lot, I guess I'd ask oneself if we're really trying to do anything."

An independent citizen commission with four voting members has been taking on this task for nearly two decades, ever since Washington voters agreed to scrap the legislative process for redrawing boundaries every 10 years. If three commissioners cannot agree on a plan, the job will go to the state Supreme Court.

"I'm confident we will be done by the 15th," said Democratic commissioner Dean Foster of Olympia, who disagrees with Derham's view that no negotiating has occurred since commissioners put their proposed redistricting maps on the table in early November.

"I think we have different approaches to what the word negotiating means. ... Things have been going back and forth," Foster said.

At issue are the boundary lines for the state's 49 legislative and nine congressional districts.

By law, states must readjust boundaries after each Census to ensure the districts have roughly equal populations, in effect ensuring that a vote has the same clout in every district.

Rapid growth in areas such as Vancouver -- and Seattle's relatively slow growth compared to its suburbs -- are causing the state's political map to heave and crack in places. The population shifts won't affect the overall balance of power between Eastern and Western Washington, which have warred politically in the Legislature, but they are forcing changes.

The pressure to adjust boundaries in Vancouver and in the higher-growth Central Puget Sound is having a ripple effect in South Sound, turning it into what Derham has called "a convergence zone."

Here are a few proposed changes to the political map in South Sound:

22nd Legislative District: As of last week, most of the four voting commissioners' plans kept virtually all of incorporated Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater in the 22nd Legislative District.

Republican commissioner John Giese put part of Tumwater and some of Cooper Point into the 35th District, which includes Shelton and parts of Bremerton; Derham pushed the district's western boundary to the Mason- Thurston county line, including the Steamboat Island peninsula in the 22nd.

Giese's plan appears to push Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Thurston County, out of the 22nd and into the 35th District, a move she and 35th District incumbent Sen. Tim Sheldon oppose.

The commissioners also differ on the southern boundary of the district. Some put the line closer to the city limits, and others take in more of the unincorporated parts of the county.

35th Legislative District: As noted above, one plan could move the Steamboat Island Peninsula out of the 35th and into the 22nd. The district, which now sprawls into four counties, would continue to take in all of Mason County, Elma and McCleary, and parts of Bremerton.

20th Legislative District: Three proposed maps now show Yelm moving from the 20th Legislative District into the 2nd, joining Eatonville and much of unincorporated southwest Pierce County in a single district. Only Giese would keep Yelm in the 20th.

Sen. Dan Swecker, R-Rochester, and Rep. Gary Alexander, R-Thurston County, both have spoken in favor of keeping Yelm in their 20th District.

3rd Congressional District: U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, a Democrat, lived in Olympia when he was first elected in 1998, but the two Republicans' plans could carve off Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater from the 3rd; they instead would include the urban area with Bremerton, Tacoma and the Olympic Peninsula in Democratic U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks' 6th District.

The Democratic commissioners, Foster of Olympia and Bobbi Krebs-McMullen of Mount Vernon, both retain the liberal Olympia voting base in the 3rd, which Baird wants.

The Republicans also would push the 3rd District boundary back to the Nisqually River on the Thurston-Pierce county line, in effect pushing the 9th District out of Thurston County.

The lines around the 3rd won't be drawn in isolation apparently. Giese says that for the congressional map, placement of Olympia, Everett and the northern boundaries of the 7th District (represented by U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott) and 8th District (represented by U.S. Rep. Jennifer Dunn) all are in question.

9th Congressional District: U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, a Tacoma Democrat, represents an arc of land in eastern and southern Thurston County that is just a small part of a district that sprawls north into King County. Under Democratic plans, Smith's district would continue to take in most of Thurston County that is east or south of Interstate 5, with some areas of southeast Lacey retained in the 3rd District.

But the Republican plans would put the 9th District boundary at the Nisqually River. An exception would be the Nisqually Delta, which would go into the 6th District.

Leaders with the state Democratic and Republican parties have complained that the 1991 redistricting effort, which was the first done by a citizen commission, resulted in too much balance in power. In effect, it helped create the recent gridlock in the Legislature.

Foster said he disagrees, noting that Democrats swept majorities in 1992, losing the House and Senate in 1994 to Republicans and then winning back clout in 1998. He predicted that neither party's commissioners will gain an upper hand politically this time around either.

"We all have access to the same information. We're all political and we've been around a long time, so we're fairly sophisticated about this," Foster said.

What's next

The state Redistricting Commission has scheduled four 1 p.m. meetings for Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday as the five-member group works to meet a Dec. 15 deadline for submitting a plan for new legislative and congressional districts to the Legislature.

All meetings will take place at commission headquarters, 505 E. Union Ave., Olympia.

Information about the most recent maps drafted is available at the headquarters or via the Web at www.redistricting.wa.gov.

TVW, the state's public affairs network, won't televise the discussions live because the commission's headquarters aren't wired for that. TVW does plan to tape some of the discussions and air them at a time and date to be announced.

If they fail

The commission's plan is subject to the Legislature's approval, and lawmakers can make only minor changes. If the commission cannot meet its deadline, the job of writing new political boundaries for 49 legislative and nine congressional districts will be given to the state Supreme Court.

Debate on Tuesday

Former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton and other public figures will discuss the state's past redistricting battles during an event Tuesday evening at the State Capital Museum in Olympia. One former redistricting commissioner has described the redistricting efforts of the 1970s as "a bunch of pigs fighting."

Other panelists include Joan Thomas, former president of the League of Women's Voters; geography professor Richard Morrill, who was given the job of redistricting in 1971 after the courts intervened; and Dean Foster, a Democrat on the 2001 Redistricting Commission.

The event will start at 7 p.m.; the museum is at 211 W. 21st Ave. For information, call 360-753-2580 or visit www.wshs.org.

Brad Shannon, political editor for The Olympian, can be reached at 360-753-1688.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Deadline Nears for Redistricting Panel
By Neil Modie
December 7, 2001

Facing a deadline just over a week away, members of Washington's bipartisan Redistricting Commission appear far from agreement on a plan for redrawing the state's congressional and legislative districts.

The four citizen commissioners have been swapping proposals and counterproposals for reshaping legislative districts. But Dick Derham, representing state Senate Republicans, complained at a meeting yesterday that serious negotiating over those districts hasn't begun yet, and "we haven't even started to talk about congressional districts, let alone negotiate."

Others were more optimistic. Dean Foster, representing House Democrats, said, "There's absolutely no doubt in my mind we'll get done" by the Dec. 15 deadline.

Using 2000 Census data, the commission must divide the state into nine congressional districts having about 654,900 residents each, and 49 legislative districts with about 120,290 each.

Commissioners say two of the big sticking points are the districts of two politically endangered Democratic lawmakers: Rick Larsen of Everett, who represents the 2nd District, and Brian Baird of Vancouver, representing the 3rd District.

The two Democratic commissioners want to keep Democratic Olympia in Baird's district and Democratic Everett in Larsen's district -- issues that party officials have said are non-negotiable. The two Republican commissioners want Olympia and Everett shifted to adjoining districts because the fast-growing 2nd and 3rd districts are too populous.

Two other congressional battlefronts are the northern boundaries of Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott's heavily Democratic 7th District in Seattle and GOP Rep. Jennifer Dunn's Republican-leaning 8th District in eastern King and Pierce counties.

The GOP commissioners want to push the 7th District, which must be enlarged, farther into North King County, which would remove Democratic voters from neighboring Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee's 1st District, making him more vulnerable.

The Democratic commissioners want to move the 8th District north, deep into eastern Snohomish County, which could remove Republicans from Democrat Larsen's district.

If the commission fails to meet its deadline -- a week from tomorrow -- the highly political redistricting process will be dumped on the state Supreme Court to resolve. Derham, noting that the commission agreed long ago to spend November negotiating, remarked, "Here we are Dec. 6, and I wonder when we're going to start negotiating."

Several tentative proposals discussed yesterday, however, appeared to move commissioners close to agreeing on legislative boundaries in Seattle, eastern King County and several other regions.

The biggest problem areas aren't the heavily partisan regions such as Democratic Seattle or predominantly Republican Central Washington, but the more politically volatile districts in fast-growing Puget Sound-region suburban areas.

Once a redistricting plan is adopted, the Legislature can make only minor changes.

The Olympian
Our Views: Keep Olympia in 3rd District
By Editorial Staff
December 6, 2001

The Democrats have it right on redistricting. The Republicans are wrong. Olympia should remain in the 3rd Congressional District represented by Rep. Brian Baird. The capital city has an historic tie to the 3rd District. It makes no sense to move Olympia into a district with Bremerton, as the Republicans propose.

Every 10 years, after the national census is taken, a panel of five redistricting commissioners redraw the boundaries of congressional and legislative districts.

The commission's assignment is to rearrange the boundaries to account for shifts in population. The districts should be as close to equal in size as possible.

Commissioners are to keep communities of common interest together. Redrawing boundaries has become a political exercise, and there is a great deal of pressure to protect incumbent office holders by creating districts they can win in the next election.

Democrats and Republicans each get to appoint two people to the Redistricting Commission. The four individuals then select a fifth, nonvoting commissioner to chair the meetings.

The 2001 commission has been hard at work for several months. They face a Dec. 15 deadline for reaching an agreement on the legislative and congressional district maps.

Republican appointees Richard Derham and John Giese want to move the city into the 6th Congressional District, represented by Rep. Norm Dicks, a Bremerton Democrat.

They also want to shrink the boundaries of the 9th Congressional District, leaving Rep. Adam Smith, a Democrat from SeaTac, without the Thurston County portion of his district.

Democratic appointees Dean Foster and Bobbi Krebs-McMullen want to keep things pretty much as they are with Thurston County divided into the 3rd and 9th Congressional Districts.

While it would be ideal -- for the sake of simplicity -- to have all of Thurston County in a single congressional district, that's not likely to happen.

Given the fact that Thurston County is going to be divided into two districts, the Democrats' plan is superior to that of the Republicans.

First, there is the matter of continuity. Olympia voters are accustomed to being in the 3rd District. Capital city voters have cast ballots in that district for decades and there is no compelling reason to switch them into a new geographic voting district.

Then there is the confusion factor. It's taken 10 years for South Sound residents to understand that Thurston County is split into two districts. Already South Sound residents have a difficult time figuring out which representative -- Baird or Smith -- is their voice in Congress. Why confuse matters more by injecting Congressman Dicks into the mix?

Finally, Olympia has more in common with southwest Washington cities like Chehalis and Centralia than with Bremerton and the Olympic Peninsula.

We understand the Republicans' motivation to move Olympia out of Baird's district. Republicans believe by weakening Baird's base of Democratic support in Olympia, a Republican would have a chance of winning the congressional seat.

Olympia is the largest and most dominant city in Thurston County. Its voters should not be shuffled into another congressional district for political expediency. Olympia belongs with other South Sound communities in the 3rd Congressional District.

Washington Post
Safe But Sorry; The Way We Redistrict Destroys the Middle Ground
By Joanne Dann
December 2, 2001

Barely six weeks after the post-Sept. 11 sheathing of partisan swords on Capitol Hill, politics was -- in House Majority Leader Dick Armey's understated phrase -- "back to usual." The rancorous congressional debate over the stimulus package and the airport security bill should have surprised no one: The polarization of the House of Representatives, which took decades to develop, is so deep-rooted that not even a terrorist attack is enough to reverse the trend for very long. The moderate voices who once forged compromises have all but vanished from committees and the floor.

Where has the House middle ground gone? That's a good question. Here's a better one: Why don't more moderates get elected?

The answer, in part, can be traced to changes in the redistricting process, that once-a-decade ritual undertaken by each state after the Census Bureau releases new population figures. A century ago, moderates had a strong voice in a House where competitive elections were the norm (election records show that fully half the seats in the 1890s were won by margins of 10 percent or less). Today, in all but a handful of states, the lords of redistricting engage in fierce partisan battles to create "safe" districts for one party or the other (in most congressional elections over the past 40 years, fewer than one-fifth of the seats were decided by margins under 10 percent).

There are still a few states, such as Iowa and Washington, which routinely host some of the most hotly contested congressional elections in the country. It's no coincidence that both states have handed over redistricting to a nonpartisan or bipartisan group -- and that both have a track record of sending independent-minded moderate representatives to Capitol Hill. "I can't believe everyone doesn't use our system," Marlys Popma, executive director of Iowa's Republican Party, told me.

Ironically, the overall decline in competitiveness -- and the House's current fractured state -- can be seen as an unintended consequence of a landmark series of Supreme Court rulings that were intended to open up the political process: the "one-man, one-vote" cases of the 1960s. The court, citing Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, required congressional districts to have roughly the same number of people. Before the court's rulings, districts could be of varying population; boundary lines generally were redrawn only when population changes caused a state to lose or gain a seat.

Creating districts of equal population was clearly a better way to ensure equal political power. But in effect, the court's ruling opened every district to redistricting mischief every 10 years. The process had always been highly political, but now the majority party in each state capitol had a greater opportunity to carve out safe seats. Or, in cases where the two parties share power, they can dicker and bargain over which districts will be primarily Democratic and which will be primarily Republican. Working with increasingly sophisticated computer programs, consultants hired by state legislatures can draw these partisan districts with ever sharper expertise. These designer districts now dominate the political landscape. As Tom Hofeller, the Republican National Committee's redistricting director, recently told the National Conference of State Legislatures: "In the politics of redistricting, politicians get to choose the voters."

These safe districts encourage hard-line views. "If you have districts drawn so that incumbents are always safe and don't worry about being reelected, it leads to less attention paid to the constituency," says Rep. Adam Smith, a Democrat from Washington state's 9th District. Think about it: If you represent a district that votes 80 percent Republican or Democratic, why worry about the views of voters from the other party? It's the winners of close elections who often are willing to soften an uncompromising stance.

Over the past four decades, redistricting has twice caused a blip of renewed competitiveness in the first election after new maps were released, with the number of close races higher in 1972 and 1992. Perhaps the process itself, and the accompanying hoopla, attracts both new candidates and voters. But as the decades wore on and the parties became entrenched in most of these carefully crafted districts, competitiveness tended to decline again; in 2000, for example, only 57 of the House's 435 seats were decided by margins of 10 percent or less -- an astoundingly low 13 percent.

Will this year's redistricting follow this familiar pattern? There's no reason to think otherwise. Eighteen states have already finished their work, and lawsuits spawned by cutthroat redistricting politics already clog more than a dozen state judicial dockets, with especially contentious battles underway in Texas and Georgia. Incumbents continue to petition their state legislatures to draw district lines in their favor, or at least so their districts remain on the map.

Now is the moment to take a serious look at less partisan methods of reshaping congressional districts. Iowans may have the most experience with the nonpartisan approach; in 1981, disgruntled by never-ending lawsuits, the state legislature handed the job to the Legislative Service Bureau, a highly respected agency that also drafts bills and does research for the legislature. Under the law that created the bureau, it is not permitted to use party data in its redistricting. The law also stipulates that counties not be divided and that contiguity must be maintained.

The bureau submits a redistricting plan to the legislature, which can accept or reject the first two attempts but cannot offer amendments until the third try. If no agreement is reached, the process goes to the courts. That has never happened.

This year, the legislature turned thumbs down on the first map, but approved the second -- which almost guarantees competition in four of the state's five districts.Thirteen-term Republican moderate Jim Leach, thrown into the 1st District with incumbent Republican Jim Nussle, has chosen to move from his home in Davenport to Iowa City so he can run in the unfamiliar terrain of the newly designed 2nd District. "We have zero input," Leach said. "The maps are put on the Internet at a given hour, and we have no pre-knowledge." None of his House colleagues quite believe it, he added.

Leonard Boswell, a Democrat from Iowa's 3rd District and former president of the state senate, says he watched carefully 10 years ago to see if the redistricting plan truly surprised state legislators when it was put on their desks. "Guards were at the doors," he recalls. "I watched the face of the majority leader when he opened his envelope. I know it was a real surprise." To run in the newly shaped 3rd, Boswell also must move from his hometown.

After the initial shock of having to move their political bases, Leach and Boswell maintain they support Iowa's nonpartisan approach. "It's the fairest way I know of," says Democrat Boswell, who manages to please both the AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce. Leach, who frequently bucks Republican leadership, agrees: "Good nonpartisan redistricting is good for the public," he says.

There is, of course, internal political grumbling, criticism and accusations about how Iowa's system sometimes works. "There's still politics in the process," the chair of the Democratic state party, Sheila Riggs, emphasizes. As there should be; after all, this is politics at its most raw. But so far, Iowa's nonpartisan approach has produced the desired result, at least according to the people in charge of it. "You've got to say the process shuffles incumbency," Gary Rudicil, the computer expert on the Legislative Service Bureau team, told me. Ed Cook, the head honcho for this last redistricting, agreed. "It's difficult to create safe districts using our method," he said.

Washington state, meanwhile, has gone the bipartisan route, setting up its first commission in 1991. The commissions consist of two Democrats and two Republicans chosen by the state legislature, and a non-voting fifth member picked by the four others; the panels go out of existence after each redistricting is complete. The redistricting plan must be favored by three of the voting commissioners and passed by the legislature.

In 1992, the state added a new district, the 9th, as a result of population gains. A Democrat won in 1992, and then the seat changed hands -- and parties -- in 1994 and again in 1996. Democrat Smith has held the seat since then. The commission drew the boundary lines, he said, with the intent of creating "a 50-50 district," with an equal number of Democratic and Republican voters.

"A split is good public policy," Smith said. "But it's bad for me personally. Obviously, I would like to be guaranteed my seat. But redistricting that sets out to protect incumbents harms democracy. It polarizes people and it makes the district less competitive."

Both Iowa and Washington have more than their share of congressional moderates. Leach, known for his independence, bucked President Bush on three energy-related votes in August. Democrat Boswell, meanwhile, broke from his party ranks to vote with the president on the same issue. Three of Iowa's five representatives frequently vote independently, as do five of Washington's nine representatives.

Only a half-dozen larger states now have redistricting panels or commissions that bypass the legislature, but the number is growing. Arizona, which gained two congressional seats in the 2000 censusand will have a total of eight for the 2002 election, recently joined the fold in an attempt to avoid the legal fights of the past. It remains to be seen whether this year's multiple legal hassles will lead more states to take the nonpartisan route.

Let's hope so. That may be the best way to create more competitive districts and bring back the voices of moderation and compromise that are so urgently needed on the House floor.

Joanne Dann, a Washington writer and former journalist, has been studying the effects of redistricting.

The Olympian
Redistricting Panel In Home Stretch; Commission wrestles over Olympia, Everett
By Brad Shannon
November 30, 2001

The cities of Olympia and Everett remain sticking points in plans for redrawing the state's congressional boundaries, but the state's Redistricting Commission reported Thursday that it still is on target to meet a Dec. 15 deadline.

The commission, which met in Olympia and began negotiating a third round of draft political maps, must send its plan to the Legislature in two weeks or the state Supreme Court will be given the job of redrawing boundaries.

"The group is still very cordial, very congenial," said Graham Johnson, the nonvoting chairman of the commission, which includes two Republican and two Democratic appointees.

Despite the lack of a clear consensus on a plan, commissioners have completed two rounds of draft maps and are negotiating the third, Johnson said, insisting there is much progress that can't be easily seen. "I'm reminded of that old saying, 'Still waters run deep,' " he said.

Still, there are divisive issues that include South Sound.

Democrats want Olympia to stay in the 3rd Congressional District which is represented by U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, D-Vancouver. Republicans want to move the city into the 6th, represented by Rep. Norm Dicks, a Bremerton Democrat.

There are good arguments on both sides, according to Republican John Giese of Bellevue and Democrat Dean Foster of Olympia.

"Do you look at Interstate 5 as your primary corridor?" asked Giese. "If you do, there is a certain logic to putting Olympia and Vancouver together."

But looking at much of southwest Washington's traditional ties to the Portland area and its regional television market, it's hard for residents in much of the district to feel much affinity to the rest of the state, Giese said. That's why his plans have kept Grays Harbor County in the 3rd, while shifting the Thurston County area into the 6th.

Foster, who noted that Olympia has long been a part of the 3rd, has drawn the district to include the capital city.

Republicans also would move the 9th district, now held by U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Tacoma, completely out of Thurston County, where it now takes in an eastern and southern slice of the population.

On the legislative district front, both parties are coming closer to agreement on what to do with the 22nd District, which now takes in Olympia, most of Lacey and Tumwater, and the three north-county peninsulas that jut into Puget Sound.

Republicans have suggested carving off part of Cooper Point and putting it into the 35th with Shelton and Bremerton, while adding some areas south of the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater city limits. Democrats include all of the north-county inlets in the 22nd but include less of the southern areas outside the cities and they shave off parts of the incorporated areas.

In a bid to find common ground, the parties may not be able to fit all of north Thurston County's peninsulas and incorporated areas into a single district, however.

Elsewhere in the state, the Democrats and Republicans also are split on Everett, with Republicans wanting to move it out of U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen's 2nd district, which takes in Whatcom, Skagit and most of Snohomish counties.

Republicans would put it into the 1st district, held by U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island.

A major area of agreement is on Eastern Washington's 4th and 5th congressional districts and Spokane's 3rd Legislative District.

As the commissioners haggle down to the wire, commission staffers expect to see their workloads increase in the middle of December. "The 13th, 14th, 15th, I think it's conceivable there will be 24-hour operational days," said Ethan Moreno, executive director for the commission.

Brad Shannon, political editor for The Olympian, can be reached at 360-753-1688 or [email protected] hotmail.com.

The Olympian
Baird's district last to be redrawn
By Patrick Condon
November 20, 2001

Whether Olympia remains in Rep. Brian Baird's congressional district -- or is shifted into the Olympic Peninsula district of Rep. Norm Dicks -- will likely be one of the final decisions made by the state Redistricting Commission, a commissioner said Monday.

"It will depend on a lot of other decisions we have to make first," said Commissioner John Giese, one of two Republican appointees on a commission that also contains two Democrats and a nonpartisan, nonvoting chairman.

Partisan Decision

With less than a month left before the commission must submit its plan to the Legislature, commissioners are preparing for the once-a-decade process of carving out legislative and congressional districts to grow more baldly political in the final days.

At a meeting Monday, commissioners asked staff to give them political data that show voting patterns of the hundreds of precincts that make up the state's legislative and congressional districts. These are records that, up until now, haven't played into the calculations.

"Let's not fool ourselves -- this is a partisan group, and we're going to look at those numbers," said Commissioner Dean Foster, a Democratic appointee. "It's probably time to acknowledge that."

Which congressional district Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater fall into could be one of the most politically contentious disputes left to tackle.

Most of the three cities are in the state's Third Congressional District, which is represented by Baird, a Democrat who lives in Vancouver.

Baird's district stretches south from Olympia to the Oregon border, and from the coast east to the Cascades.

The Olympia area is considered a Democratic stronghold, and if Baird loses it he would face a much tougher fight to defend his seat from a Republican challenger who could draw support from conservative Lewis County and suburban areas around Vancouver, which have increasingly voted Republican in recent years.

Republicans hold three of the state's nine congressional districts, and would like to pick up a fourth by toppling Baird, who is serving his second term.

The plans presented by Republican members of the commission move the Olympia area into the 6th District, represented by Rep. Norm Dicks, a Bremerton Democrat -- a seat Republicans have less hope of ever winning.

Giese presented revised plans at Monday's meeting that maintain the proposed switch. While he said holding to that premise would remain a priority, it could depend on a number of other decisions made first about where other congressional district lines fall.

"We just haven't talked as much yet about the congressional lines," Giese said. "It all depends on where you start, but we'll probably push that decision to the end."

To finish their work, three of the four commissioners must agree by Dec. 15 on a plan to present to the Legislature. At Monday's brief meeting, the group was already talking about needing to work into the final hours.

"It's kind of like a college term paper," said commission staff director Ethan Moreno. "You're not going to be finishing it with a couple of days to spare."

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
State Redistricting Panel Now in Horsetrading Stage
By David Ammons
November 6, 2001

Washington's citizen Redistricting Commission, fast approaching a deadline for redrawing congressional and legislative district boundaries, has entered the horsetrading stage of the deliberations.

The two Democrats and two Republicans on Monday floated their revised proposals, the first changes since they released their first set of maps in September. Commissioners included some concessions to their colleagues, as well as a sales pitch for the key features of their earlier designs.

Examples of the changes:

Dean Foster, a Democratic commissioner from Olympia, agreed with the other three commissioners to move Eastern Washington districts westward through the Columbia Gorge.

Bobbi Krebs-McMullen, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, proposed keeping Mercer Island in the 8th Congressional District, as Republicans prefer, instead of moving it into the Seattle-dominated 7th District, as both Democrats originally proposed.

Republican Dick Durham of Seattle stuck with his original plan to move Everett to the 1st Congressional District -- from the 2nd -- but revised both his 1st and 8th district lines to dovetail with plans offered by fellow Republican John Giese of Bellevue. Durham also places Bellingham in one legislative district and divides Whatcom County into two, rather than three, districts.

Giese proposed linking Bainbridge Island with the Seattle-based 36th legislative district and agreed to leave Olympia largely in the 22nd district, as Democrats want.

The commissioners said the various moves brought the panel closer to agreement, but stressed that all of the lines are fluid until the final votes next month.

The commission has until Dec. 15 to adopt new maps. At least three of the four commissioners must approve the new plan. The Legislature can make only minor changes, and then only with a two-thirds vote in both houses. The governor's signature is not required.

If the commission fails to meet the deadline, the task would be turned over to the state Supreme Court.

Giese said Eastern Washington is fairly easy to redistrict, because of relatively stable population growth. The real challenge is to redraw the Interstate 5 corridor, he said. Clark County at the southern end has experienced explosive growth in the past decade, as has the area from the King-Snohomish county line north to the Canadian border.

After listening to comments at public hearings and seeing the commissioners' new plans, it's becoming clear that people from both parties want to maintain current districts as much as possible, he said.

The commissioners' maps would move less than a quarter of the state's population to new districts, he said.

Giese and Foster suggested that the commission try to agree on how close in population size each district must be and how to measure the partisan competitiveness of each district.

Giese said many of the decisions will be made on sheer numbers and without political calculation. That's because vast areas of suburbia are full of "swing" voters that either party can capture with the right candidate and right message, he said.

"Political mischief" is overrated as a goal of the process and is harder to achieve than most people would think, Giese said.

Using data from the 2000 Census, Washington must be carved into nine congressional districts of about 650,000 people each. The 49 legislative districts must be drawn with about 120,000 people apiece.

The commission's next public meeting will be at the panel's Olympia headquarters at 1 p.m. Nov. 19.

The Olympian
Latest redistricting Plan Keeps Olympia Together; Plan to meld west Olympia with Shelton, Bremerton withdrawn
By Brad Shannon
November 6, 2001

Odds got a little better Monday that most -- if not all -- Olympia voters will remain in the 22nd Legislative District next year.

One of the four partisan members of the citizen Redistricting Commission, Republican John Giese, withdrew his proposal to shave part of west Olympia from the 22nd district and link it with the 35th District, which includes Shelton and parts of Bremerton.

"It looks like it's moving in that direction" of a single Olympia-area district, said Democratic commissioner Bobbi Krebs-McMullen. "It certainly makes sense to do that.''

"I thought there were good comments on it," Giese said after Monday's special meeting of the commission, during which he and other commissioners offered revisions to draft plans they announced in September. "I was kind of out of step with the other three" commissioners.

New plan

Giese's new plan puts Tumwater into the 35th District, restores west Olympia's city limits to the 22nd District and runs that district south as far as 93rd Avenue.

However, Giese said, he's willing to consider bringing that southern boundary to the north to bring more of Tumwater into the district with Lacey and the north Thurston County peninsulas.

Monday marked commission members' second formal exchange of plan ideas.

The commissioners are working hard to meet a Dec. 15 deadline for giving the Legislature a map that draws new boundaries for the state's nine congressional and 49 legislative districts.

The task is required every 10 years to reflect population shifts identified in the U.S. Census to ensure that everyone's vote gets roughly equal representation.

Growing consensus

Krebs-McMullen said she thinks the group is making good progress and staying on schedule.

The commission's growing consensus on what to do with legislative boundaries around Olympia was one of several instances where commissioners who had proposed radical changes decided, on second thought, to withdraw them in favor of keeping things closer to what is on maps today.

Dean Foster, a Democratic commissioner from Olympia, withdrew a plan to link the eastern half of Lewis County with an Eastern Washington legislative district that includes Yakima.

Foster was the only commissioner to suggest the change.

In a less controversial move, Republican commissioner Dick Derham of King County said he wanted to move the 20th District, which takes in the southern part of Thurston County, completely out of Pierce County, which all three 20th District legislators want to see happen.

Despite the political gamesmanship that lurks near redistricting efforts, Krebs-McMullen said the map changes represent a good-faith effort by all the commissioners to respect city and county lines as well as common communities.

Krebs-McMullen said that her new maps keep Bothell in a single district and Renton in two, down from the half-dozen that have crisscrossed Renton the past decade.

Foster said the goal of keeping communities intact might take precedence over striving to get a perfect population balance in the political districts.

More issues

Commissioners left one major issue largely untouched.

The commission reserved discussion of U.S. congressional boundaries for a later date.

However, the two Democrats did drop proposals to move Mercer Island into the 7th Congressional District with Seattle.

Still up for discussion are the Republicans' proposals to move all or part of Olympia out of the 3rd Congressional District, which is served by U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, and into the 6th, which is served by Rep. Norm Dicks.

Commissioners said they need time to review each others' revised proposals to see what the new maps show.

They'll return to Olympia to further their discussions at 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19.

What's next

The Washington State Redistricting Commission will meet at 1 p.m. Nov. 19 at its Olympia head-quarters, 505 E. Union Ave.

Brad Shannon, political editor for The Olympian, can be reached at 360-753-1688 or [email protected]

Seattle Times
Redistricting Deadline Draws Near
By Eric Pryne
November 1, 2001

Under their own schedule, Republican and Democratic members of the committee charged with drawing new boundaries for Metropolitan King County Council districts have just one more week to agree on where those lines should run.

Yesterday, that seemed about as likely as the Taliban breaking bread with President Bush.

Geographer John Schlosser, hired by the five-member redistricting panel to draw the new map, presented what was supposed to be a compromise.

The committee's two Democrats applauded it. Their GOP counterparts gave it two thumbs down.

The panel is supposed to adopt a plan by next Thursday for a public hearing Nov. 14. If the four partisan members can't resolve their differences by then, the outcome will hinge on the vote of Chairman Jeffrey Fisher, the committee's only nonpartisan member, who was appointed earlier this year by the other four.

But Fisher, a Seattle lawyer, said he wanted to facilitate compromise, not cast the tie-breaking vote unless it's absolutely necessary. "That is what we all view as the worst-case scenario," he said.

By law, boundaries of the 13 council districts must be redrawn to reflect population shifts. The new districts will take effect in January.

The map Schlosser presented yesterday would displace no incumbents or council candidates. He said 11 of the 13 districts would be more compact, a redistricting goal.

He also said his map was nonpartisan and based on technical criteria. But in several key areas, it looks a lot more like the last Democratic proposal than the most recent Republican plan.

One example: It removes almost all of Auburn from the 13th District, now represented by Les Thomas, R-Kent, instead extending the district west and north to take in almost all of SeaTac, Burien and Des Moines. Democrats had argued those cities, now split among four council districts, are united by a common interest in Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and belong in the same district.

But Republican committee member Mike Patrick, a former state senator, said consolidating the airport communities would leave them with less representation: "These people lose clout."

And Bellevue City Councilwoman Connie Marshall, the other GOP member, said Schlosser's plan ignores history and shared interests by dividing Auburn from Kent.

Schlosser's map also doesn't reflect the GOP's wish to make North King County's 1st District, now represented by Democrat Maggi Fimia, D-Shoreline, entirely suburban by replacing North Seattle precincts with Woodinville. Seattle still would account for about one-sixth of the 1st's population under Schlosser's plan.

Excluding Seattle from the 1st would create problems elsewhere, Schlosser said, by putting the University District in a different council district from the rest of Northeast Seattle or by dividing Queen Anne Hill between two districts.

Schlosser's plan does split Lower Queen Anne into two districts on either side of Mercer Street, a feature former House Speaker Wayne Ehlers, a committee Democrat, said he disliked. Overall, however, Schlosser's plan is fair, Ehlers said.

Eric Pryne can be reached at 206-464-2231 or [email protected]

Seattle Times
Parties All Over Map on Redistricting
By Eric Pryne
October 18, 2001

Republican and Democratic members of the committee charged with drawing new boundaries for King County's 13 council districts remain far apart on where the new lines should be drawn.

Both sides unveiled their final proposals yesterday. Each party's representatives took turns touting their own map and poking holes in the others'.

Democrats said their proposed districts would be more compact and follow more-logical boundaries. Republicans said their plan wouldn't tinker as much with existing district boundaries and would give greater voice to residents in unincorporated parts of the county.

No one talked much about what this is really all about ˇ politics ˇ until after the meeting. Each party charged the other had designed a plan that would give it the advantage in eight of the 13 districts.

While the committee's work will not affect next month's council elections, the Democrats' plan would redistrict state Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, a council candidate, out of the district she seeks to represent.

"That really upsets me," said former state Sen. Mike Patrick, a GOP committee member.

"We (Republicans) could have easily done the same thing to Julia (Patterson, D-SeaTac, Roach's rival for the 13th District seat), but we didn't."

A master hired by the committee now will try to piece together a map that can win the divided panel's approval. The committee ˇ two Democrats, two Republicans and a nonvoting chairman ˇ must adopt a plan to reflect population shifts by Jan. 15.

Patrick and former House Speaker Wayne Ehlers, a Democratic committee member, agreed that five Seattle-based districts ˇ the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 8th and 10th ˇ would remain largely Democratic under either plan. They also agreed that both plans would keep five suburban districts ˇ the 3rd, 6th, 9th, 11th and 12th ˇ in the GOP column.

That leaves three battlegrounds: the 1st, along the county's northern tier, and the 7th and 13th in South King County.

Ehlers said the GOP would have the advantage in all three districts under the Republicans' plan. Patrick said all three would tilt Democratic under the Democrats' proposal.

One example: The Democrats' plan would drop Auburn ˇ Roach's home ˇ from the 13th District and instead add neighborhoods in Burien, SeaTac and Des Moines. The Republicans' plan would make less-dramatic shifts in the district's existing boundaries.

Voters throughout the county don't want big boundary changes, and the GOP plan reflects that desire, said Bellevue City Councilwoman Connie Marshall, the other Republican committee member.

"People don't understand change, and they don't really like it," she said.

But Ehlers said the Democrats' plan would unite four cities ˇ Burien, SeaTac, Normandy Park and Des Moines ˇ that share an interest in Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The cities now are split among four council districts, a pattern the Republican plan would continue.

Congressional aide Michael Mann, the committee's other Democrat, said his party's proposed districts, including the 13th, would be more compact than the GOP's. That's one of the criteria the panel must heed, he noted.

Marshall and Patrick criticized the Democrats' plan for giving too much representation to Seattle and too little to unincorporated residents.

All or part of six districts would fall within the city limits under the Democrats' plan, while unincorporated residents would constitute a majority in just one district. The GOP plan would carve the city into five districts and give unincorporated residents a majority in three.

Unincorporated residents deserve more say, Patrick said, because the county provides most of their local-government services, such as police protection.

But Mann said that was not one of the committee's criteria.

He and Ehlers criticized the Republicans for, among other things, proposing to move the 1st District entirely outside Seattle and not making the Lake Washington Ship Canal the boundary between Seattle's 2nd and 10th districts. How to add your voice

The King County redistricting committee will accept public comments on its proposed council-district boundaries through Wednesday. Comments should be mailed to the King County Council, Room 1200, 516 Third Ave., Seattle, WA 98104, Attention: Darryl Cook. The panel also is accepting comments online. To submit comments by e-mail, go to www.metrokc.gov/mkcc/redistricting .

Eric Pryne can be reached at 206-464-2231 or [email protected]

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Redistricting Fight Pits Parties Against Each Other and Urban vs. Rural Folks
By Neil Modie
October 18, 2001

A partisan tussle over redrawing the boundaries of King County Council districts is boiling down to Seattle vs. the suburbs and urban dwellers vs. rural folks.

The main sticking point is whether Seattle should lose some of its clout on the 13-member council. Republicans think it should. Democrats think it shouldn't.

The two Democrats and the two Republicans on the county's bipartisan redistricting committee yesterday presented opposing plans for reshaping council districts to reflect population shifts between 1995 and 2000.

The most intense arguments were over Seattle's representation.

Six existing council districts, all held by Democrats, are entirely or partly in Seattle. The other seven, all held by Republicans, are entirely outside.

Democrats are optimistic about winning a seventh seat in the Nov. 6 election.

The council Democrats' representatives on the committee want to keep six districts that would cover some parts of Seattle. Four would be all or mostly in the city, while two would be mostly outside.

The Republicans want to reduce to five the number of districts containing any part of Seattle.

The 2000 census dictates that Seattle residents are entitled to the equivalent of 4.2 council districts, meaning that at least five districts must include parts of the city.

"Six, that's just unfair. Seattle is only about one-third of King County," Mike Patrick, a committee Republican, complained after the meeting. Seattle is not growing as fast as the suburbs.

The committee's other Republican, Bellevue City Councilwoman Connie Marshall, has said suburban officials have long felt Seattle is over-represented on countywide transit, sewer and other committees that deal with regional issues.

Patrick said residents of unincorporated rural areas also have problems, such as flooding, stream buffers and disposal of livestock waste, that are foreign to city dwellers.

But with the Democrats proposing only four predominantly Seattle districts, Michael Mann, a committee Democrat, argued, "We think we've accommodated the needs of the suburban cities when they've asked for fewer Seattle-majority districts."

The Republicans, on the other hand, want the county's outermost rural areas to have more representation than they say the Democrats would give them.

Patrick said the GOP plan has three districts composed mostly of unincorporated areas while the Democratic plan has only one, although it has two other districts with unincorporated near-majorities. But Wayne Ehlers, a committee Democrat, said the definition of rural areas should include rural towns like Carnation and Duvall, not just the unincorporated land around them.

Patrick maintains that it's possible to draw a Democratic-majority redistricting plan but impossible to draw a Republican-majority plan.

He said the best the Republicans can hope for is at least to be competitive in a majority of districts.

One of the main battlegrounds is the 1st District, which stretches from Shoreline almost to Woodinville and includes a small portion of North Seattle. Its council member is Maggi Fimia, a Democrat who isn't seeking re-election.

The Democrats want to keep about 14 percent of the 1st inside the city. The Republicans want it to stop at Seattle's north city limits and stretch eastward almost to Duvall.

Ehlers told reporters that he believes five existing council districts are Republican, five are Democratic, one leans Republican and one leans Democratic. The remaining one, the 1st, now leans Democratic but under the Republicans' plan would lean Republican, he contended.

In Patrick's view, though, the 1st District is clearly Democratic -- "not even a swing Democratic district" -- and would remain so under either party's proposal.

John Schlosser, the committee's redistricting master, who was hired to help prepare a redistricting plan, will try to draft a compromise agreeable to both sides before the committee meets next on Oct. 31.

The panel has until Dec. 31 to agree on a plan for the next 10 years, to take effect next year. Adoption requires at least three votes. The committee's non-partisan chairman, Seattle attorney Jeffrey Fisher, may vote only in case of a tie.

Although the committee isn't required to keep all incumbent council members inside their existing districts, both parties' proposals would do that -- with a couple of exceptions.

State Sen. Pam Roach, a Republican who moved into an apartment in Auburn this year to run for the 13th District seat on the council, would have to move again if she is elected Nov. 6 and the Democrats' plan is adopted. The Democrats would put her home into the 9th District.

The Democrats also inadvertently put the home of Councilman Dwight Pelz, a Democrat, a block or two outside his Southeast Seattle and Tukwila 5th District. Mann said it was a mistake and would be fixed.

The Olympian
Oregon High Court Mum on Redistricting
October 16, 2001

The Oregon Supreme Court on Monday indicated it might order changes in Secretary of State Bill Bradbury's legislative redistricting plan but gave no clues about possible revisions.

The court said only that it had no decision to announce on the day that is one of the deadlines in the process of redrawing the new state House and Senate district lines.

The state constitution says the court must dismiss challenges to the plan by Oct. 15 if it agrees with the secretary's version. The court now has until Nov. 1 to decide what Bradbury should change.

Bradbury has agreed that two minor changes are needed because of errors found after the plan was released in August. One error was caused by a federal Census glitch.

There were 13 challenges to the plan. Several involve pleas on behalf of Republicans seeking major changes on grounds that Bradbury, a Democrat, illegally drew lines to help his party pick up legislative seats in next year's elections.

Their protests include that Bradbury breached county lines too often and split areas between districts that have shared common interests.

"We're confident we have followed all requirements for the plan and that it's legal," Bradbury spokeswoman Marian Hammond said Monday.

The Republicans now control both houses, by counts of 32-28 in the House and 16-14 in the Senate.

Bradbury has denied there were partisan influences, saying he didn't consult any party registration figures as he drew the maps.

Legislative district lines must be redrawn following every 10-year Census to reflect population changes. Bradbury got the job by law this year after legislative Democrats and Republicans couldn't agree on a plan.

With Bradbury's approval, the Yamhill County city of Sheridan has asked the court to redraw lines to show that a 1,200-inmate federal prison is inside the city despite a Census mistake showing it located outside the town. Hammond said the error causes a new House district to deviate from the ideal district size by more than the 1 percent target used by Bradbury. Each districts must be as equal in population as possible.

Another guideline was violated in one instance in assigning lawmakers to new districts.

 



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