One role of the press is to alert readers to opportunities for civic engagement -- you know, like announcing redistricting meetings, which we have done literally dozens of times over the past year, posting meeting notices, articles and blogs like the one below:
Monday, April 25
If you’re worried that the legislative committee designated with redrawing voting district maps for the next 10 years might color outside ethical lines, then show up and take part in the process. This committee meeting will introduce the Legislature’s redistricting principles, offer a demonstration of redistricting software to be used and include a public-comment period. Take action and don’t let your vote get brushed off the map.
Utah Capitol, 350 N. State, House Building 30, April 25, 9 a.m., Le.Utah.gov
In hindsight, it may have been a huge waste your time and our ink.
To be fair, the Legislature mapped the local universe -- the state school board and the House and Senate districts -- with little drama. Lawmakers appear to have heard citizens, compromised here and there, and even embraced a citizen-drawn map for the school board.
But when it came to the big map -- the most symbolic one, really -- the map for U.S. congressional districts, Republican lawmakers stumbled on the same gnarly root that tripped them in March when they passed HB 477, their infamous secrecy act. As they did in March, Republicans met in private caucuses, several times in fact, then returned to the floor to force a redrawn redistricting map down the throats of the Democrats and the public. Little time was given for those outside the process to get up to speed and consider the impacts of carving Salt Lake County into a three-slice pizza -- slices with lots of urban cheese and toppings slathered with zesty rural sauce.
Gov. Herbert let the indigestion settle for a couple of days before inking his signature to their efforts today, deeming the work "reasonable." He is ever the great shoulder-shrugger.
While the role of the media may be to spark citizen involvement, I have to say, in this case, there may have been better uses of your time.
Republicans should take no pride in stealing away to redraw a map that further favors the GOP. How much more advantage is needed, anyway? The pendulum does swing, and there will be a time when people of fairness and character, regardless of party, will have to push away from the table and distance themselves from such political weasels.
To readers, I can only say, get your life back. Be jaded. Drink hard cider out of Mason jars. Take in this unbelievable October weather. Golf. Ride a bike. Order a pizza pie and stomp on it. Eat, drink and be merry because Election Day is Nov. 8 and the Utah Legislature meets again in general session on Jan. 23, 2012.