By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — For all their talk about “fair maps,” liberals whistle a different tune when said maps threaten their political power.
Case in point, the left-heavy Milwaukee County Board’s Judiciary, Safety and General Services Committee, which recently rejected the redistricting plan forged by the Independent Redistricting Committee (IRC) — created by the Milwaukee County Board.
Supervisors don’t like the new maps because they put some incumbent liberals in the same district.
The committee voted unanimously in rejecting the boundaries.
“It’s not fair, to the members of this body, to commit political hari-kari by signing their own political death warrant, by asking them to vote themselves out of office,” wailed Steven Shea, according to Urban Milwaukee. The board member, a local teachers union member, has been endorsed by the far left Wisconsin Working Families Party, led by liberal Milwaukee Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic.
They’re the same groups and people that have gnashed their teeth over how the Republican-led Wisconsin Legislature draws “gerrymandered” political lines.
Of course, local Democrats like Shea have long manipulated the redistricting process in Madison, Milwaukee and other urban parts of the state to protect their power centers.
Milwaukee’s Independent Redistricting Committee, like other local liberal map drawers,
struck the appearance of “non-partisan” map-making. It’s all in response to Gov. Tony Evers’ “People’s Maps Commission.” Maps must “be free of partisan bias and partisan advantage,” according to the executive order that created the state commission. The order prohibits election and public officials, lobbyists or political party representatives from serving on the commission.
Evers’ People’s maps earned sharp criticism from redistricting expert Joe Handrick, a former Republican lawmaker who now serves as executive director of Common Sense Wisconsin.
“In summary, it is hard to take their maps seriously when they ignore their own criteria and ignore one of the foundational civil rights laws of the nation. Governor Evers’ People’s Maps Commission has been a massive failure,” Handrick said of the proposed boundaries that “decimate Milwaukee’s minority districts.”
The “people” on Evers’ People’s Maps Commission are predominantly liberal, and they seem very interested in protecting and expanding the Democratic Party’s base of power.The panel includes a co-president of the left-wing League of Women Voters, a teacher and progressive podcast producer, and a library representative involved in a Sheboygan Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging initiative. It’s not really a group interested in protecting conservative representation.
The same goes for Milwaukee’s map-making dog and pony show. The IRC includes Fred Kessler, a former judge and far left member of the state Assembly. Even “Red” Fred, as he was known around the Capitol, knows the disconnect between a purportedly independent maps commission and incumbency bias.
“Redistricting is not for the benefit of the elected officials. Its intent is strictly for the people in that district who vote, it is all citizens in our county, no matter which corner of the county they live in,” IRC member and former judge Mary Kuehnmuench told the piqued county board members, according to Urban Milwaukee.
That explanation didn’t sit well. Sup. John Weishan, Jr. felt like supervisors were being treated unfairly. “
We are not the enemy, I have had tens of thousands of people go to the polls and vote for me. Now should we get special priority, of course not, but it is something that should be taken into consideration like any other community advocate. And we definitely should not be targeted,” he said.
The enemy, of course, is the rare conservative politician who would dare to run for a seat on a liberal Milwaukee or Dane County board or council.
The enemy is the Republicans who, by benefit of winning in 2010 and 2020, have the constitutional right to draw up maps to be approved or rejected by the governor. The Republicans who are drawing lines to their advantage just like Democrats are doing in liberal-led cities and counties in Wisconsin that they control.