Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summerís horror movie: the decapitation of District 25?

No one around here has to rent the old movie "Frankenstein" to see a real monster created.

All they have to do is look at what the Idaho Commission on Reapportionment could do as it tries to align legislative and congressional districts to ensure equal "one-man, one-vote" representation as required by law.

Urban growth that's occurred primarily around Boise could move the commission to dismember District 25 if it simply draws lines on a map instead of looking at the economic and cultural ties that bind the district together.

District 25 includes the counties of Blaine, Camas, Gooding and Lincoln.

Despite the fact that the district falls within the required population range of between 42,549 and 47,027 people, members of the commission said in a hearing last week that balancing other districts might require splitting Blaine County in two.

Republican Party Region V representative Dale Ewersen testified in favor of cleaving it from the district altogether and annexing it to another district.

As bad ideas go, these are real stinkers.

Ewersen wants to split off Carey and Picabo in Blaine County and put them with Jerome and Minidoka counties in District 26. His plan would kick Blaine County into District 35 with Custer, Butte and Lemhi counties.

That would be like cutting off a foot and then suturing the head to the ear of a creature that looks like Blaine County, but doesn't speak the same language.

The rationale is that tiny Carey and Picabo are agricultural areas that should be joined with similar ones and that the rest of Blaine County should be joined with counties to the north that share tourism as a component of their economies.

Such a split would disregard the critical ties among the counties in District 25.

The counties are synergistic. Growth in Blaine County has spread south, not north. Workers who commute to Blaine County live mostly in Lincoln and Camas counties. Some come from as far south as Twin Falls, 75 miles and 1.5 hours away from where the jobs are in Blaine County.

Joining Blaine to Custer, Butte and Lemhi counties would create an unmanageable monstrosity that would stretch to the Montana border. Its mountainous bloat would be served by only treacherous highways. Driving bottom to top would take four to five hours—about the same time it takes to drive to Salt Lake City, Utah.

The commission also should consider the fact that dismantling District 25 would dismember one of only five districts represented fully by Democrats in the Legislature. Dismembering it would be the antithesis of "nonpartisan."

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