Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau releases figures on population shifts. With those numbers, state legislatures draw new district lines. However, the process is not always about population gains and losses. It also is about how populations can be concentrated or diluted in a district to give the advantage to those drawing the lines.
It is the old, time-honored practice of Gerrymandering, and in most cases it comes complete with backroom deals and shady practices.
That’s why we should applaud state Rep. Craig Ford, a Democrat from Gadsden, for taking a stand against the shameless manipulation of district boundaries for political gain.
Ford submitted a plan that would set up a nine-member reapportion commission, a body of Alabamians who would be appointed by members from the majority and minority parties in the Legislature. Free from political influences, these Alabamians would reapportion fairly.
This is where we should express our displeasure at the Republicans, the majority party, for shooting down the proposal.
However, we cannot help but note that Ford and his party did not raise this issue until this year — even though they long had control of both houses of the Legislature.
Apparently, this is a good idea only when the other party is doing the drawing.
It’s natural that the Republicans would have none of it. They pointed out that except for a few court-ordered modifications, the GOP plans to follow the same rules the Democrats followed 10 years ago.
During the upcoming legislative break, there will be a series of statewide meetings where people can voice their opinions. In the 2012 session, the Legislature will take up redistricting.
Republicans are taking delight in reminding Democrats that “what is good for the goose is good for the gander.”
We are left to wonder if, in this case, what is good for either is good for Alabama.