Inside and outside of Oakland

GOP accuses Democrats of gerrymandering county maps

  A new map of 25 county commission districts was approved Friday that potentially puts three Republicans at risk in the 2012 election, as well as GOP control of the county commission.

  Here are the current county commission districts. Here are the new commission districts to take effect in 2012.
  The five-person reapportionment committee — three Democrats and two Republicans — approved the amended map submitted by Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper in a party-line vote.
  Besides Cooper, the other Democrats are Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner and Oakland County Democratic Party Chairman Frank Houston.
  Republicans on the committee are Oakland County Clerk Bill Bullard and Oakland County Republican Party Chairman Jim Thienel.
  New political districts across the country are drawn every 10 years following the U.S. Census. The Michigan Legislature is in the process of drawing new congressional and state legislative districts.
  But at the county level, commission districts are drawn by a five-person committee. This is the first time Democrats have had a majority on that committee.
  “I voted no because it was a partisan gerrymandered plan,” Bullard said. “The prosecutor’s first amended plan was a fair plan. The plan that the prosecutor presented Tuesday after changing all the rules is a partisan gerrymandered plan.”
  District maps approved by the committee can be challenged in court by any person to see that they meet requirements under state law. Those requirements are districts of equal size, compact districts and respectful to the degree possible of municipal boundaries.
  “There was a challenge 10 years ago,” Bullard said. “Any citizen can challenge the plan.
  “Someone shouuld challenge the plan because it’s not a good plan,” Bullard said.
  Republicans have a 15-10 majority on the county commission.
  Bullard said the map approved by the committee puts Republicans John Scott of Waterford, Bill Dwyer of Farmington Hills and Mike Bosnic of Clawson at risk because their new districts would have more Democrats.
  Assuming all else stayed the same, a loss of three Republican seats in the next election would swing control of the county commission to the Democrats for the first time.
  “Scott would have no chance to win,” Bullard said. “I think it makes the Bosnic and Dwyer districts more Democrat then they are now.
  “Apportionment is only one factor” in an election, Bullard said. “People who are good candidates can go against the grain but it makes it that much tougher.”
  Houston, the Democratic party chairman, said the map that was adopted was “very fair, very legal and a very responsible way to make sure Oakland County residents are well represented.
  “For anyone to claim that the map is gerrymandered or a partisan hack job is living in a fantasy world,” Houston said. “If they want to go to court, they’re well within their rights. The map is responsible, legal and will hold up in court.”
  Cooper, the county prosecutor, said her map will withstand challenges because it has the lowest population deviation by district, and a lower number of split precincts and split communities.
  Her map also recognizes growing Hispanic populations in Waterford and growing Asian populations in Troy and Rochester Hills, Cooper said.
  "The bottom line is it's fair," Cooper said. "It's not a majority map for anyone."

Contact Charles Crumm at 248-745-4649, or follow him on Twitter @crummc and on Facebook.

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