Inside and outside of Oakland

New commission districts could be final Friday

  Oakland County’s 25 county commissioners — and the people who might run against them in the future — will likely know Friday what their new districts will look like in the 2012 election.

  The five-person committee in charge of redrawing the districts for the next decade based on the most recent U.S. Census counts — three Democrats and two Republicans — has scheduled a meeting at noon Friday with hope of adopting a final plan for the 25 districts.
  “The best thing for this county would be to walk away with a 5-0 vote,” Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper said Tuesday.
  She is one of the three Democrats on the county’s Reapportionment Committee.
  But a unanimous vote on a new map of the districts may not be possible given the partisan leanings of the committee’s members. And it’s more than likely that it’ll be a plan drawn by Democrats that will be finally approved.
  Cooper and Oakland County Democratic Party Chairman Frank Houston both dropped off amended plans by Tuesday’s noon deadline, a deadline set by the committee Monday.
  “For myself, I’m focused on decreasing the (population) deviation on my map without breaking up communities,” Houston said.
  For Cooper, the goal is producing a plan that follows redistricting statutes.
  Those statutes require districts of equal population that are respectful of municipal boundaries. Federal law also requires that areas where minorities are the majority be respected.
Meeting the criteria isn’t easy, says Cooper.
  “It’s like soduku,” Cooper said, referring to the popular number game. “Every time you move one thing, everything shifts. This is no easy task.”
  Cooper says her plan produces districts that either political party can win or lose.
  “Both sides can win a majority and lose a majority” of the seats, she said.
  While Democrats are a majority on the five-person committee drawing the new districts, Republicans are the current majority on the county commission.
Cooper and Houston both say they hope any new plan that’s adopted will avoid a legal challenge.
  “What’s in the best interest here is not to have a lawsuit and acrimony,” Cooper said.
  Said Houston: “Jessica and I are very concerned to do everything possible to avoid winding up in court.”
  Also on the committee besides Houston and Cooper are Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner, a Democrat, and Oakland County Clerk Bill Bullard and Oakland County Republican Party Chairman Jim Thienel, both Republicans.
  In a scenario played out across the country, political districts are redrawn every 10 years following the U.S. Census to account for population shifts.
  Michigan’s 14 new congressional, 110 state House and 38 state Senate districts are in the process of being drawn by committees in the Michigan Legislature.
  Michigan is losing a congressional seat because it lost population while other states gained.
  The most recent plans for county commission districts can be viewed online at www.oakgov.com/clerkrod/elections/apportionment.html.
  Contact Charles Crumm at 248-745-4649, charlie.crumm@oakpress.com or follow him on Twitter @crummc and on Facebook.

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