Thursday, the County approved the GOP redistricting plan — no real surprises here, it’s the same one presented two weeks ago:
Over at MLive, there are plenty of disgruntled reactions, as well there should be. The plan comes with several flaws, repeating the same flaw of the Dem’s plan, but also adding in the more problematic weighting of districts. The most notorious being the difference between districts 17 and 19 — a near ten percent spread. Add to all this the problems with Hispanic representation and this is a plan almost certain to be going to court.
But for now, perhaps a few broad observations can be made (detailed notes will come later).
The plan speaks to a surrender of the city, metaphorically and literally. What is so striking about the 18th and 19th districts is that they go outside the City to gain some sort of (presumed) partisan edge. The action alone functions as a concession that in the present configuration the seats are too marginal, and behind that the realization that the City itself cannot support the GOP in state races. When you go outside for help, you admit that you no longer possess the electoral power to hold the City.
There also appears to be a metaphorical surrender when it comes to Grand Rapids and perhaps urban areas generally in Kent County. However much the proposed districts meet the formal requirements, their broken quality most notoriously seen in the twisting 15th suggests a lack of understanding for how the urban area is actually linked. This is a map composed by some one on the outside, not one who lives here. Contrast again the map developed in 2000 by the late Glenn Steil Sr., a conservative map that understood these inner connections far better.
The map also hints at what appears to be an intra-party feud within the local GOP, between the true believers and, as they would have it, the RINOs. There is of course, the lack of urban understanding (the city being where RINOs like to roam), but it can be most clearly seen in the split of East Grand Rapids, the separation of Lowell from its namesake township, and in the putting of Commissioners Boelema and Ponstein in the same district (7). The combination of the older urban central neighborhoods of Wyoming with the suburban and even more conservative neighborhoods in districts 8 and 9 also seems to reflect his same trend.