The Sunday night line | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Sunday night line

Posted By on Sun, Mar 27, 2011 at 3:39 PM

Another early start for everyone. One note:

* Amid the Republican shrieking from Fayetteville over the proposed congressional redistricting plan comes a calm voice. It's that of Steve Smith, former state legislator, former Clinton aide, husband of former Fayetteville legislator Lindsley Smith and a UA prof. In an op-ed, he lists the good things that could come to Fayetteville by becoming the largest city, by far, in the 4th Congressional District.

Smith founded a Facebook page supporting the plan.

Here's a link to the Democratic Party of Arkansas's posting of the op-ed. One by one, Smith takes on the arguments against it, noting along the way that John Paul Hammerschmidt once represented 12 of the counties Fayetteville would be joined with and Smith didn't recall JPH objecting. Another argument he addresses:

Having two Congressmen destroys the “community of interests” in Northwest Arkansas. Pshaw. We get along just fine with numerous county judges, state legislators and mayors when they work together, so having extra help in Washington would be the same. The Fayetteville Chamber can still meet with the Northwest Arkansas Council and the Rogers and Bentonville Chambers at the Embassy Suites to discuss shared economic plans anytime they want, regardless of lines on a map.

One opponent said Fayetteville does “not have much in common with either the constituents and/ or the political, educational, social, industrial, agricultural, historic, financial or economic institutions of that area.” I doubt that is the message that the University of Arkansas wants to be sending to alumni, donors, parents and prospective students in south Arkansas, or legislators who vote on the UA budget. Because of the university, its outreach and the diverse student body, Fayetteville has always been a blend of the entire state.

The preamble for the Facebook page comments:

This is first and foremost a fair plan that meets the mandated law for redistricting given the population changes in Arkansas. This is the most logical plan on the table. Since the Third District has gained the most population and the Fourth District has lost the greatest number in population, this is a commonsense and fair approach to balancing the change between the areas where the greatest change is happening. Rather than a total reorganization of the state or a piecemeal approach of nibbling at the edges, this makes direct and fair changes where the changes are happening that necessitate redistricting.

Everyone can now go back to their regularly scheduled emoting. Don't let the decibel level deceive you about the general interest. Excepting the politically involved in the Fayetteville pocket and the Republican noise machine, which is aimed at intimidating Democrats into going for a plan that gives maximum protection to their three congressmen, it isn't the issue of the hour. Example: After three days of non-stop promotion of a Facebook page against the idea, the Republicans have piled up 122 followers. (Quick now, Koch lobbyists, get some more people to "like" that page. That's what the Brothers K are paying you for, aid and support to the Arkansas Republican Party.)

I had to laugh at a Republican's objection on their Facebook page to the part of the plan that moves Van Buren County out of the 2nd District into the 1st, with Delta counties. This happens to be just one of several ways that the Democratic plan HELPS the Republican 2nd District congressman, not much to my satisfaction.

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