Today’s release of a report by the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting and a cadre of good-government groups including Ohio Citizen Action and the League of Women of Voters about Ohio’s overly partisan and laughable redistricting effort is almost as telling as the predictable Republican response to it.

On Friday, when the report was first announced, Ohio House GOP Caucus Communication Mike Dittoe was defiant, defending the GOP’s handling of reapportionment as the model of transparency by citing the regional public meetings held, the first of the kind in the process.  The GOP communication apparatus also pointed out the Secretary of State permitted people to submit their own maps.  (Ironically, the report notes that one of the outstanding public records requests is one placed to… Mr. Dittoe.)

This is what is called in politics as “window dressing.”  Or in accounting, it’s the equivalent of keeping two books.  One that you keep for public dissemination, and the other which contains the reality.   The regional meeting were hardly informative for public input, since there was no publicly available proposed map for the public to give input on.  So, I’m not sure how much credit the GOP expects for hold public input meetings in which the public was not given the only piece of information that they were supposedly seeking “input.”

As for the redistricting contest, just like the public meeting, you can’t find any evidence that those maps were ever actually considered in the drawing of the maps, unless the GOP actually used them to model what NOT to accept.

In the end, we have GOP spin that talks about ridiculous complaints that suggest the title “Elephant in the Room” of the report reveals some partisan bias that ignores how the Democrats operated in the shadows … doing what exactly?  The Democrats had virtually no say in how these maps were drawn.  There was little public debate made of these maps.  They were finalized in secret, only to be quickly passed after publicly revealed.  That is the undisputed evidence from today’s report, confirming the assumption that we all made: the apportionment board didn’t just draw up the map shortly before they were unveiled, but they had been part of a partisan and secret process.

The fact is that John Boehner’s representatives never went to a public meeting to ask that Timken, a company’s whose executives are major Republican donors, be redrawn into freshman Jim Renacci’s district. Renacci just happens to be facing a major contest by Democratic congresswoman Betty Sutton who found herself without a district thanks to the maps drawn in secret. 

If the redistricting process was nearly as transparent as Speaker Batchelder’s communication director maintains, then why wasn’t Speaker Boehner’s political lackey’s request about Timken not part of some public hearing.  Are we supposed to applaud them simply because they “decided” that the records they created in their secret meetings were still, nonetheless, public records that had to be produced if anyone thought to ask for them?

48 hours.  That’s about as much time as the people of Ohio had from the moment this map was public revealed before it had already passed the Ohio House of Representatives.   Speaker Batchelder publicly denied that the congressional map was so tilted as to create essentially twelve districts while the staffers of the Apportionment Board show, using their own metrics, that the maps they drew created exactly 12 district.

You have an e-mail from a Republican insider and mapmaking consultant (Ray Dirossi) talking about the maps they are drawing will save “millions” over the coming years by making the races so uncompetitive.  Joe Public didn’t have access to the non-governmental e-mail accounts the staffers involved in the apportionment process apparently regularly used to conduct state business, nor did the public know about their secret office being run out of a hotel room paid entirely with tax dollars. 

Yes, this stuff is becoming public now, but it was not made public at the time it mattered, when the map was under consideration.  That, by definition, means the map drawing process was not transparent.  But beyond that, there is simply no reason to believe that this map operated under any other principle than to create the most partisan, Republican map possible.  There is no evidence in these documents that the people drawing the map was motivated by a single good government concept regarding redistricting like compactness, keeping communities together, or competitive districts.  Basically, they sought to draw a map they believed would not draw a successful Civil Rights Act-based challenge.  That’s it.

And if the all-volunteer effort to place this map on a referendum fails to get the signatures necessary to repeal this map, Ohio will be stuck with this map for ten years.  Consider not only signing such a petition, but learn what you can do to help get more signatures before the Christmas deadline.

  • Anastasjoy

    Personally, I believe that the “public hearings” and the Draw The Line Ohio website, rather than make them look better, make them look worse because they did them knowingly as deliberate deceptions. While they sat at those hearings, they knew full well that not one word spoken by any citizen would impact the process. In doing these, they were wasting time and money and lying to the public.

  • Annekarima

    Better get busy.  Don’t want to “dittoe” that.

  • Anonymous

    The Rs love saving money on elections, but don’t mind spending taxpayer money for a second primary…election.  Twisted.

  • Anonymous

    I agree.  I felt all along they were just shams.  The reality is that the GOP doesn’t even deny it.  Not once has a GOPer pointed out how anything in those regional meetings or districting drawing contests played any meaningful role in the final outcome.

  • Anonymous

    I agree.  I felt all along they were just shams.  The reality is that the GOP doesn’t even deny it.  Not once has a GOPer pointed out how anything in those regional meetings or districting drawing contests played any meaningful role in the final outcome.

  • Just a reminder: transparency and openness are not the same – I know you all know that, but it’s important to remind readers and keep the distinctions clear.  The documents gathered so far from the redistricting process demonstrate that the process was neither open nor transparent.  It sounds as though several people involved in the process didn’t and still don’t understand the difference between the two concepts – and the requirements of both when dealing with public service and government – either.

  • Adrienne

    This is how “democracy” is destroyed in America, by using the  tools of democracyto do it  and because people did not vote.


  • Adrienne

    Maybe we need to have the DOJ look at the maps or does the (expletive deleted0 Supremes not believe in civil rights violations with respect to voting rights?

    Lawsuit if we don’t get enough signatures?

    I don’t know who I have a bigger problem with people who don’t vote or who voted for the evil TGOPers.

  • Adrienne

    No they don’t love saving money except to screw regular people. They are the best at waste fraud and abuse then want us to pay for it with their reforms which is another word for eliminate.

  • Jrmiller6020

    Modern, DailyKos is reporting the ODP is broke and is far short of the number of signatures needed to put the redistricting plan on the ballot…What have you heard?  How the hell can the party be so inept?

  • Anastasjoy

    DailyKos is linking to a Cleveland Plainly Republican story that came out last week and they have swallowed it whole because progressives can be such damned hangdogs. The ODP is neither “broke” nor are they “far” short of the signatures needed – not far enough that it’s undoable. It was suggested to me that the PD’s story was fed to them by the professional petition company that was hired for SB 5 and HB 194 perhaps to ramp up the pressure to hire thme again. It’s also interesting that the Columbus Disgrace has not  picked up this story (nor has any  outlet other  than the Plainly Republican). You known when there’s really bad news for Democrats, the Disgrace is right on it.

    The amount we are short right now CAN be collected in the next week and a half, especially given that there are probably plenty of half-filled petitions floating around (I have at least 60 signatures sitting in my car) and, unlike with HB 194, no pressure to keep turning them in every week. If we turn in 231,150 raw signatures, we can keep collecting as we did for HB 194 until the signatures are validated and for another ten days after that.

    With the revelations in this report, this effort becomes more crucial than ever. If you don’t have a petition, get one and get all your friends to sign.

  • Green Iris

    does this make him a ‘dittoe head’?

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