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OUR VIEW: Legislative maps are another Illinois failure

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Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

Did you make the mistake of believing the promises? Or have the events surrounding state political redistricting reminded you exactly why you’ve been cynical about Illinois politics for a long time, and will continue to be?

The pieces seemed to have fallen into place perfectly. Candidate J.B. Pritzker made equitable redistricting a key plank in his campaign platform. Longtime Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan resigned. If Madigan was an impediment to fairness – as many suspected – his departure combined with Pritzker’s vow gave hope to the optimistic.

That hope lasted until May 20. “News dumps” have become increasingly rare as around-the-clock news is capable of keeping even the least of stories with life and awareness. That’s how your friend who says “they never report about this” gets their information. Unless you think they’re hunting around hidden corridors to break news.

But in the evening on Friday, May 20 – at 7:30 p.m. -- Illinois Democrats redrawing legislative district maps released a mess of incomplete and sometimes incomprehensible decisions. The Friday release certainly slowed reaction, exactly what the timing of the release was designed to do.

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This is the direct opposite of what’s been promised, with Pritzker marching into the governor’s office based on him making those promises. Instead of transparency and a willingness to stand and answer direct questions, the maps were tossed out in a fashion designed to foster mistrust.

The fashion in which news is delivered affects the way it is received. Given how many politicians have mastered the task, the decision-making on releasing the maps is both laughable and troubling.

Democrats say that remap has been an open process involving input garnered from four dozen public hearings. Republicans and special interest groups complain they've been shut out. Using population estimates has been criticized. Pritzker has backed away from his campaign pledge to veto any map drawn by politicians. At subsequent discussion sessions, observers have been puzzled and handcuffed by lack of population data, complaining the discussions are merely about shapes on an indecipherable map.

Unfortunately, redistricting reform falls into that area where too many subjects fall. Mental health, opioid addiction, gun violence, pension reform – talking about It isn’t enough, but when it comes time to make some critical decisions and take actions that might be challenging, someone blinks.

The biggest disappointment? No matter how much the faces change, the result inevitably remains the same. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.


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