Video licensed through ImageProviders
©2011 All Rights Reserved
SALT LAKE CITY –
It became a rhetorical contest by two smiling cobras determined to advance the interests of the people of Utah. One was the president of the Utah state senate, the other the chairman of the state's democratic party. At the end of the day, most declared it all a stalemate.
During the most recent meeting of the Utah redistricting committee, state democratic party chairman Jim Dabakis charged republicans with doing the public's business behind closed doors and said that when this has occured in other states, "democrats have walked out, stopping the process." He added, "That can't happen here." While democrats on the redistricting committee were quick to acknowledge the cooperative efforts of their republican colleagues, Dabakis asked that there be "no more closed meetings where maps are bickered over and fought over internally. It doesn't do the state any good; it doesn't do the citizens any good." He said that to have the entire redistricting process reduced to backroom negotiations in one night by a dominant political party, "is 'sausage making,' but it's the public's sausage," referring to the often distasteful and divisive aspects of public policy efforts by various party leaders.
Because of additional and shifting census information, every ten years the nation's representation in congress must be reconsidered. This year Utah gains a seat in congress and it is the congressional boundaries that are now in play, largely determining where and how the parties will be able to advance their influence at the federal level. Democrats are charging Utah republicans with steamrolling the process and excluding the interests of democratic and progressive voters. They say this keeps people from the polls when people feel that their votes don't matter. VIDEO:
Testimony of JIM DABAKIS, democratic party chairman for the state of Utah
video by Michael Orton for ImageProviders - ©2011 All Rights Reserved
Dabakis said that it has come down to "raw, political, brute force" on the part of a dominant party that is now operating behind closed doors and attempting to convince the public that they are all being served by this partisan effort. This prompted a response from Waddoups who said that since the chairs in the statehouse and in congress were determined by all of the people of Utah, that the seats went to the best candidates.
But the debate about congressional redistricting has recently become a controversy even internally amongst the republicans, many who are now reassessing their candidates running, or about to run, for the new congressional district that is being defined by these very legislators. Utah Representative Gibson said that the doors were closed because there were republicans fighting with other republicans over how the boundaries should be drawn and presumably, for whom. "If I have a fight in my house, I'm sorry but all of the visitors are going to have to leave."