"The public doesn't, for the most part, give a tinker's damn how these lines are drawn."
The legislature's foremost champion of a "people's plan" for congressional redistricting, Senate President Mike Miller, is trying to have it both ways. A month ago, he pushed through the governor's redistricting committee a map that he labeled a plan for the common man, but which was in actuality an exercise in raw, partisan politics. Now he is once again holding firm for this monstrous proposal, this time claiming that the public doesn't give a hoot what politicians do in tracing new congressional boundary lines.
Mr. Miller is wrong on both counts. His proposal remains an abomination. It shreds Baltimore County into five ineffectual pieces, forces Howard County (against its will) into the Washington sphere of influence, illogically lumps suburbs in Harford and Baltimore counties with the rural Eastern Shore and creates an impossibly large Western Maryland district. The Miller plan disrupts neighborhoods and splits communities. It distorts congressional boundary lines to save the political life of Democratic Rep. Tom McMillen -- even if this leaves the Baltimore region in tatters.
No self-respecting senator or delegate from the Baltimore region should endorse this proposal. It is, in reality, an "anti-people plan." Its adoption would be a slap in the face of Baltimore-area citizens, a display of political arrogance by legislators who care more about helping allies than looking after the welfare of ordinary Marylanders.
When the General Assembly convenes its special redistricting session this morning, it should set aside the Miller bill and search for a more sensible solution to this congressional quandary. The most viable plan at this point is the revised map approved last week by the redistricting committee in Mr. Miller's absence. This map is far more sensitive to the wishes of communities in the Baltimore area and is more respective of political boundaries. It has overwhelming support in the House of Delegates, is favored by Gov. William Donald Schaefer and has the backing of most members of the state congressional delegation.
Now is the time for Mr. Miller to bury his plan, just as the redistricting committee has already done. There are plenty of far more appealing options that leave the Baltimore region reasonably intact. The legislature's job is to come up with a map that Baltimoreans and Marylanders can proudly embrace. It should not, under any circumstances, kowtow to the selfish interests of a handful of Democratic politicos.