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News: Don't forget to get your 2013 Gubernatorial Endorsements and Predictions in!

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1  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: What are gas prices where you're at? on: Today at 06:06:56 pm
I drove across country to MA this week, and I just paid $2.63 in MA today. On Tue in IL I paid $2.47, but the best in between was OH at $2.13 on Wed. The worst was $3.07 in NY along the Thruway.
2  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Forum Redistricting Commission on: December 18, 2014, 11:36:59 pm
The status of ICs under Item 8 also affect minority county clusters which is another community of interest. A black MCC consists of connected counties where the BVAP is 40% or or more. Chops of an MCC add to the chop count and discourage cracking the minority population in the MCC.

A BVAP map of VA look like this, with the following key.
yellow 25.0-33.3%
lime 33.4-39.9%
green 40.0%-49.9%
dark green > 50.0%



Contiguous counties across water without a bridge or ferry are not connected. If independent cities are all counted as counties then there are two clusters shown in medium green. If ICs are merged into their counties then the light green areas are added and there is only one large MCC.

3  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Forum Redistricting Commission on: December 18, 2014, 10:37:34 pm
Item 8 is still unresolved, so I want to show how it would impact future rules about scoring. One type of cluster is the urban county cluster (UCC) and is defined as those counties in the same metropolitan statistical area that have an urbanized population of 25K or more or have at least 40% urbanized area. The idea is that UCCs represent a community of interest as important as a county. Chops of a UCC in excess of the minimum required count towards the total chop count. One assumption is that UCCs must consist of more than one county, otherwise a chop of that county results in two chops instead of one, which may be excessive.

Here's the map of VA UCCs.



The pink areas don't depend on whether the independent cities (ICs) are merged into their counties or not. The numbers on those UCCs represent the minimum number of CDs to cover each of those UCCs, so an excess beyond that number creates extra chops. The orange area loses Dinwiddie county if ICs are not merged, but keeps it if Petersburg (32K) is merged into Dinwiddie.

The multiple county rule comes into play when the Item 8 question of ICs is folded in. The tan clusters meet the standard if ICs are always separate, but become single counties if merged for ICs under 25K (Montgomery/Radford) or 50 K (Albemarle/Charlottesville, Frederick/Winchester). The yellow cluster (Roanoke/Roanoke&Salem) at 100K would also become a single county cluster. So mergers could cause these clusters to disappear as UCCs.

The grey clusters would not be UCCs if ICs are separate. However, if their ICs merged they would qualify, but at that point they are just single county clusters. Augusta county has 13K (18%) urbanized and urbanized cities of 23K (Staunton) and 20K (Waynesboro). Campbell county has 17K (32%) urbanized and Lynchburg with 74K. Rockingham county has 18K (23%) urbanized and Harrisonburg with 49K. Washington county has 16K (28%) urbanized and Bristol with 18K.
4  Questions and Answers / Electoral Reform / Re: Multi-Member Congressional Districts on: December 18, 2014, 09:43:55 am
Yeah, that's the sketchiest and least thought-out part of it, to be sure. But my vague notion was that something like an STV system would change the dynamics of what it would take to achieve minority representation in accordance with the VRA.

I don't think that STV works here. Consider that the black population is about 15% of IL, and they are sufficiently concentrated to get 3 of 18 seats when the state is gerrymandered, and certainly should have the opportunity to elect at least 2 of 18 reps. Cook plus a couple of adjacent counties is 9 reps (eg. Lake and Kane) and it would be easy to divide that into three districts of three reps each with one at 51% BVAP and one at 36% HVAP. Then an STV could work in those districts, but a district with 3 reps and 15% BVAP would be unlikely to elect a minority candidate of choice with STV.
5  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Jeb is basically in on: December 16, 2014, 08:02:27 pm
Kinda early.

I think people should chill out and announce during summer 2015 at the earliest.

Waste of time and resources otherwise and you are exposed to the media way too early (see Tim Pawlenty).

This exactly the time to be setting up finance committees and the like. The midterms are over and the donor base is looking for signals about where to make their political investments for 2016. There's a reason Obama announced his run in Feb 2007, and that wasn't even exploratory. The year before the primaries is often referred to as the invisible primary since that is when the candidates spar behind the scenes to line up organizations, endorsements, and especially donations.
I thought the invisible primary was the stuff that was going on before anyone announces.

Taegan Goddard's definition is typical.
Quote
invisible primary

The period between when a candidate announces their bid for public office and when the actual primaries take place.

It’s also sometimes called the “money primary” since candidates spend most of their time during this period raising money in an effort to show political strength.
6  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Jeb is basically in on: December 16, 2014, 07:38:59 pm
Kinda early.

I think people should chill out and announce during summer 2015 at the earliest.

Waste of time and resources otherwise and you are exposed to the media way too early (see Tim Pawlenty).

This exactly the time to be setting up finance committees and the like. The midterms are over and the donor base is looking for signals about where to make their political investments for 2016. There's a reason Obama announced his run in Feb 2007, and that wasn't even exploratory. The year before the primaries is often referred to as the invisible primary since that is when the candidates spar behind the scenes to line up organizations, endorsements, and especially donations.
7  Questions and Answers / Electoral Reform / Re: Multi-Member Congressional Districts on: December 16, 2014, 04:59:06 am
One part of your plan that would be difficult is the goal of creating districts that are self-similar to the state. In IL there is a sharp difference between Chicago, its suburbs, and Downstate. To create self-similar districts would entail a number of pie slices out of Chicago. If there were 6 such slices (3 reps each) they would look pretty ugly, and it's likely they would violate the VRA by cracking the minority populations. To guarantee that the blacks and Latinos could each elect the candidates of their choice they would have to be concentrated in certain districts, which would skew the other districts.
8  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Were you born in the same state/province you live in currently? on: December 15, 2014, 04:18:09 pm
Yes, but I moved away as a preschooler only to return as an adult. I've lived just over half my life in the state where I was born.
9  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Forum Redistricting Commission on: December 15, 2014, 09:31:41 am
Since the commission seems to be on holiday, I'll add another set of city subdivisions. In the meantime, as jimrtex notes through his suggestions, Item 8 sets the direction of the scoring for chops and erosity, since it defines the primary units that should be preserved. There are at least four variants for the commission to choose from, and the next sets of rules are on hold until this item is resolved.

Here are the subdivisions for Norfolk and adjacent cities south of Hampton Roads. The five Norfolk subdivisions follow the neighborhood service areas. The four Portsmouth subdivisions follow real estate areas. The six Chesapeake subdivisions follow the official boroughs. The seven Virginia Beach subdivisions follow the former boroughs as now used by the city public works department.



City of Norfolk
Neighborhood Area 1: pop 17,545; BVAP 66.4%
Neighborhood Area 2: pop 45,742; BVAP 68.1%
Neighborhood Area 3: pop 40,459; BVAP 54.2%
Neighborhood Area 4: pop 64,574; BVAP 25.9%
Neighborhood Area 5: pop 74,483; BVAP 23.1%

City of Portsmouth
Churchland Area (6): pop 25,739; BVAP 42.4%
Olde Towne Area (7): pop 22,172; BVAP 67.8%
Victory Area ( 8 ): pop 23,816; BVAP 69.3%
Midtown Area (9): pop 23,808; BVAP 24.1%

City of Chesapeake
Western Branch Borough (10): pop 32,624; BVAP 30.0%
Deep Creek Borough (11): pop 36,223; BVAP 35.6%
Pleasant Grove Borough (12): pop 51,806; BVAP 9.5%
South Norfolk Borough (13): pop 23,894; BVAP 53.6%
Washington Borough (14): pop 68,346; BVAP 31.6%
Butts Road Borough (15): pop 9,316; BVAP 23.1%

City of Virginia Beach
Bayside (16): pop 75,350; BVAP 22.7%
Centerville (17): pop 82,741; BVAP 23.6%
Kempsville (18): pop 56,569; BVAP 16.6%
Beach (19): pop 49,317; BVAP 13.6%
Lynnhaven (20): pop 41,511; BVAP 3.9%
Rose Hall (21): pop 66,857; BVAP 26.1%
Princess Anne (22): pop 65,649; BVAP 11.8%
10  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Attempted Gas Attack on Furries in Chicago! on: December 14, 2014, 08:27:43 pm
A minor update. I was with a friend who was at the con last week when the hotel was evacuated. The evacuation was quite orderly with kudos to both the hotel and con security. Other than the contaminant in the stairwell causing the fumes and health issues there were no other incidents. AFAIK there haven't been any charges in connection with the event.
11  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Forum Redistricting Commission on: December 14, 2014, 05:49:42 am

An alternative definition is provided in the publication Population of States and Counties of the United States, 1790 to 1990.  See Virginia section beginning on publication page 166, PDF page 177.

The BEA standard does provide an objective standard for separating larger cities.   But a state commission would be competent to make its own standard.   I regard the BEA standard for Colonial Heights to be exceptional, rather than other way around.

If creating its own standard based on population of cities, the commission might consider the following:  The largest towns in Virginia are Leesburg and Blacksburg, with populations in the mid-40,000s.   Virginia does not have "independent cities" per se, but rather cities are indepedent of their county, while municipalities which are towns are not.  The independent cities that are of comparable size, Charlottesville, Danville, and Harrisonburg are well interior to their respective counties of Albermarle, Pittsylvania, and Rockingham, such that to even reach the cities with a district boundary, the county would necessarily be split/

The next largest independent city is Lynchburg, with a population of just over 75,000.  A threshold of 50,000 might be used, since that is the threshold for classifying an area as metropolitan statistical area.  On the other hand, metropolitan statistical areas are comprised of counties, so using an independent city is somewhat anomalous, on a national scale.  Lynchburg is also problematic because of its location at the intersection of three counties.   Rather than being treated of a community of interest, it might serve as an attractor for a district boundary.

The 50K threshold is another reasonable alternative to 100K and more consistent with the use of UCCs derived from MSAs. In fact one could go a step further and define an independent city as separate from the county if it has at least 25K in an urbanized area, exactly as for the UCCs. Lynchburg shouldn't be a problem as a border community since the CoI should be addressed by the UCC.
12  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Gubernatorial/Statewide Elections / Re: IL Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka dies at 70 on: December 14, 2014, 12:10:08 am
She lost a winnable race to Rod Blagojevich, which she shouldn't have.  She wasn't that well regarded in the mold of lets say Madigan due to rewarding campaign contributors in state contracts.

RIP Topinka, controller was the only office she was was able to hold. While the G O P held Quinn responsible, Dems still dominate Illinois politics.

The ad by Rod Blagojech which showed Topinka alongside George Ryan highlighted that exact point with campaign contributors with state contracts.

In 2006 there was a draining 4-way primary, and a Dem wave in the fall. There was an active Green candidate who could successfully pick up some of the anti-Blago votes, so they couldn't go to Judy either. I don't see how it was winnable given those external factors she couldn't control.
13  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Forum Redistricting Commission on: December 13, 2014, 05:06:01 pm
Proposed combinations of counties and independent cities.

While independent cities in Virginia are treated as county equivalents by the Census Bureau, they really don't represent separate communities of interest, and in some cases are not totally legally separate, with some sharing county offices with their surrounding counties.  The Bureau of Economic Affairs only treats independent cities as a separate entity if they have a population over 100,000, or have absorbed all of their former county.  To some extent in Virginia, "independent city" and "city" are almost synonymous.  The largest towns that are not independent cities are Leesburg and Blacksburg, both with less than 50,000 persons.

Treating independent cities as counties for redistricting purposes causes problems for erosity and chop measurements because of their typical small size.

Hampton, Newport News, and Virginia Beach qualify under both the population criteria and having absorbed their orignal county.  Chesapeake does in a certain sense, since it has 222,000 persons, and since it was created by the merger of the independent city of South Norfolk and remainder of Norfolk County, not in Norfolk or Portsmouth.   Suffolk city qualifies based on its annexation of Nansemond city, which itself was created from the remnant of Nansemond County not in Suffolk city.

The only large independent cities that have not absorbed all of their original counties are Richmond, Roanoke, and Alexandria.  This leaves Henrico, Roanoke, and Arlington counties as the only remainders of counties from which the larger cities have separated.  Roanoke County also includes the smaller independent city of Salem.   The District of Columbia originally had two counties, Washington (the portion ceded by Maryland) and Alexandria (the portion ceded by Virginia) and three municipalities, Alexandria, Georgetown, and Washington.  When the area south of the Potomac was retroceded to Virginia, it became Alexandria County, Virginia.  The portion not within Alexandria city was renamed to Arlington County in 1920.

The Bureau of Economic Affairs combines Colonial Heights with Dinwiddie County and Petersburg city.  This is problematic since Colonial Heights is barely contiguous with Petersburg, and was created from Chesterfield County.  Placing it with Dinwiddie County would give greater importance to economics than political history, and would call in to question the whole concept of using political subdivisions as representing communities of interest.  So in the following tables, I have placed Colonial Heights with Chesterfield County.

Most independent cities were created from a single county, though some have annexed areas in adjacent counties.   Galax city is the exception, having been created from almost equal population from Carroll and Grayson counties.  The Census Bureau and BEA both place Galax with Carroll County.

Independent Cities that are combined with original counties, or are treated as counties for chop and erosity analysis.

Albemarle + Charlottesville
Alexandria  (IC)
Alleghany + Covington
Augusta, Staunton + Waynesboro
Bedford + Bedford city (as of 2013, Bedford is no longer an independent city).
Campbell + Lynchburg
Carroll + Galax
Chesapeake (IC)
Chesterfield + Colonial Heights
Dinwiddie + Petersburg
Fairfax, Fairfax City + Falls Church
Frederick + Winchester
Greensville + Emporia
Hampton (IC)
Henry + Martinsville
James City county + Williamsburg
Montgomery + Radford
Newport News (IC)
Norfolk (IC)
Pittsylvania + Danville
Portsmouth (IC)
Prince George + Hopewell
Prince William, Manassas + Manassas Park
Richmond (IC)
Roanoke (IC) (Roanoke city is separate from Roanoke County because of its population)
Roanoke + Salem (but Roanoke County includes Salem (IC)).
Rockbridge, Buena Vista + Lexington
Rockingham + Harrisonburg
Southampton + Franklin
Spotsylvania + Fredericksburg
Suffolk (IC)
Virginia Beach (IC)
Washington + Bristol
Wise + Norton
York + Poquoson

Counties with no associated independent cities for measurement of chop and erosity.

Accomack
Amelia
Amherst
Appomattox
Arlington
Bath
Bland
Botetourt
Brunswick
Buchanan
Buckingham
Caroline
Charles City county
Charlotte
Clarke
Craig
Culpeper
Cumberland
Dickenson
Essex
Fauquier
Floyd
Fluvanna
Franklin
Giles
Gloucester
Goochland
Grayson
Greene
Halifax
Hanover
Henrico
Highland
Isle of Wight
King George
King William
King and Queen
Lancaster
Lee
Loudoun
Louisa
Lunenburg
Madison
Mathews
Mecklenburg
Middlesex
Nelson
New Kent
Northampton
Northumberland
Nottoway
Orange
Patrick
Powhatan
Prince Edward
Pulaski
Rappahannock
Richmond county
Russell
Scott
Shenandoah
Smyth
Stafford
Surry
Sussex
Tazewell
Warren
Westmoreland
Wythe


Since there hasn't been much discussion on this point, and only one alternate vote, this seems like a potential amendment to Item 8 before the commission. The originally proposed Item 8 is

Item 8. The primary units of redistricting in VA are the counties and independent cities. Independent cities are treated as equal to counties for redistricting, and are understood to be included when scoring describes counties. Secondary units in redistricting may include larger communities of interest made up of groups of whole counties and smaller communities of interest that wholly divide a county as adopted by the commission.

An amended version to consider is
Item 8A. The primary units of redistricting in VA are the counties. Independent cities are treated as equal to counties for redistricting when the independent cities have populations in excess of 100,000 or have absorbed all of their former county. These qualified independent cities are understood to be included when scoring describes counties. Other independent cities are considered to be part of the county that they are assigned to by the Bureau of Economic Affairs. Secondary units in redistricting may include larger communities of interest made up of groups of whole counties and smaller communities of interest that wholly divide a county as adopted by the commission.

I avoided creating a special exception for Colonial Heights. There are a number of states that have discontiguous counties and municipalities, and I'm not troubled by creating one here in the interest of uniform rules. Of course the commission is free to vote on either Item 8, 8A, or 8A with the Colonial Heights exception.
14  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: What Makes a Good Transit System? on: December 11, 2014, 11:13:13 am
The problem is the existing density of potential transit users, since additional densification takes years if not decades to develop. Consider Des Moines, IA with a population of just over 200K in a metro of 600K. The city density is about 1000/sqkm. Compare that to Halifax with 300K in a metro of 400K and an urban density of about 1000/sqkm.

Des Moines has a bus-only transit system with a mix of fixed routes and on-demand routes that have about 2500 stops, which is comparable to the number of stops in Halifax's system. Halifax maintains more routes, in part because Des Moines has only kept fixed routes that tie to the downtown and capitol. This hub and spoke system in DM caters to the commuters since attempts to create fixed route service that are point-to-point outside the downtown lack the density to provide ridership to justify the service. Des Moines has looked at light rail, but has been unable to justify the cost.

In a city like Minneapolis (pop 400K, metro 3.8M) the city density is closer to 3000/sqkm and that makes a grid of city buses feasible, and provides a user population to support light rail into the downtown. However, there's no realistic planning path to take one from 1000/sqkm to 3000/sqkm over an area the size of Halifax or Des Moines.
15  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Should Corn sold into shops be labelled as Genetically Modified Teosinte? on: December 11, 2014, 09:08:58 am
Someone with more experience in plant biology than I have should explain the difference between artificial selection and genetic engineering.

Artificial selection typically refers to a process where desirable parents are mated and then only those offspring that have the desired trait are preserved. This process might continue for a few generations if multiple traits are desired or a trait is desired that can be passed on to future generations. The result is that the desired segment(s) of DNA become part of a daughter plant's genetic makeup.

Genetic engineering involves sequencing DNA from one or more organisms to isolate the desired trait then splicing it into another organisms DNA. The result is that the desired segment(s) of DNA become part of a daughter plant's genetic makeup.

These are complementary techniques since there is often a need to breed generations of spliced DNA plants to determine if the trait is inheritable or impacts other traits of the plant. Most plant labs use both processes simultaneously to engineer organisms.

Much of genetic engineering merely aids the lab in skipping some of the generations as well as reducing the number of trials to get the desired traits in the organism. This is the case for a number of garden hybrids that are breeding for color or flower shape. The high profile controversies usually involve cross-breeding lines that would not be able to be mated through artificial selection. This includes splicing bacterial DNA into food grains for pest resistance.
16  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: RIP Judy Baar Topinka on: December 10, 2014, 11:31:45 pm
RIP

So is there going to be a special election, or would Governor Quinn (or Rauner) appoint someone?

The current thinking is that Quinn appoints someone until Jan 12 and Rauner appoints some one to fill the new term. Lawyers are plowing through untested statutes to figure it out. A special election presumably requires the GA to come back into special session to create that option, and presumably it would be before Rauner is sworn in.
17  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Forum Redistricting Commission on: December 09, 2014, 11:38:06 am
While I wait for votes on Item 8. Here's another map showing neighborhood areas for a couple of larger independent cities that might be chopped in some plans. The areas are approximated by the voting districts in DRA. Hampton districts are based on neighborhood districts recognized by the City of Hampton. Newport News districts are based on real estate market areas from the MLS.



Hampton Areas

District 1; pop 22,377; BVAP 41.8%
District 2; pop 10,487; BVAP 46.6%
District 3; pop 12,770; BVAP 44.8%
District 4; pop 13,580; BVAP 29.2%
District 5; pop 11,864; BVAP 17.0%
District 6; pop 12,846; BVAP 37.3%
District 7; pop 12,833; BVAP 59.3%
District 8; pop 17,116; BVAP 58.8%
District 9; pop 11,748; BVAP 69.6%
District 10; pop 11,815; BVAP 71.2%


Newport News Areas

Denbigh North (11); pop 52,397; BVAP 37.2%
Denbigh South (12); pop 32,093; BVAP 30.2%
Midtown West (13); pop 26,531; BVAP 14.1%
Midtown East (14); pop 36,973; BVAP 30.1%
South (15); pop 32,725; BVAP 75.2%
18  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Forum Redistricting Commission on: December 08, 2014, 08:43:32 pm
There is no area in Virginia that satisfies the first prong of the Gingles test.

I can construct a >50% BVAP CD that includes none of Richmond or Petersburg and is all whole counties/cities (Brunswick to Surry to Suffolk) plus the black areas of the independent cities of the Hampton Roads. It is compact by almost any standard geographic measure, since the erosity is confined to those relatively small areas in the Hampton Roads. The fact that it links rural and urban areas would not cause it to fail Gingles 1.

Brunswick is at least as far from Hampton Roads as Richmond.   I assume you crack Newport News, Hampton, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.   Do you exclude Isle of Wight?

You have violated traditional redistricting concepts such as integrity of political subdivisions, and unnecessary agglomeration of rural and urbam areas makes it conceptually non-compact.  Your proposed district is no better than the district turned down in Lulac v Perry

I do not exclude Isle of Wight, and as much as we might like it to be otherwise, the VRA does not care if political subdivisions are chopped in order to comply. There is nothing in Gingles to suggest that conceptual compactness has any bearing on prong 1.

LULAC is not applicable here. The question here is not whether the district meets section 2, but whether one is required by section 2. In LULAC there was already a determination that TX needed such a district and SCOTUS found that District 23 had been redrawn in such a way as to deny Latino voters as a group the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice. District 25 was found to be a non-compact replacement, but District 23 as finally drawn after LULAC is a clear linkage of urban and rural areas with much greater separation than the VA district I suggest would meet section 2.
19  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Forum Redistricting Commission on: December 08, 2014, 02:03:28 pm
There is no area in Virginia that satisfies the first prong of the Gingles test.

I can construct a >50% BVAP CD that includes none of Richmond or Petersburg and is all whole counties/cities (Brunswick to Surry to Suffolk) plus the black areas of the independent cities of the Hampton Roads. It is compact by almost any standard geographic measure, since the erosity is confined to those relatively small areas in the Hampton Roads. The fact that it links rural and urban areas would not cause it to fail Gingles 1.
20  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Forum Redistricting Commission on: December 08, 2014, 10:52:58 am
The discussion/voting period for 6, 7 and 8 have passed. Item 6 has four votes in favor from Morgieb, X, Miles and fuzzy, so it is adopted. Item 7 only has one vote in favor from Morgieb, so votes are needed from other commissioners (or alternates) before it is adopted, rejected, or amended. Item 8 has no votes or discussion from the commission, so perhaps an extension of the discussion/voting period is in order.

Would it help if I move the approved items into a separate thread, so one doesn't have to scroll back through multiple pages?

Yeah, that'd be very helpful!  Aye on 7, btw.

I've done that, and those items now approved are in a thread titled The Muon Rules.
21  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Attempted Gas Attack on Furries in Chicago! on: December 08, 2014, 07:53:13 am
A friend of mine was a vendor at the convention, marketing a board game involving anthropomorphic foxes. I'll be curious to hear what she heard when I see her later this week.
22  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Forum Redistricting Commission on: December 08, 2014, 06:25:36 am
The discussion/voting period for 6, 7 and 8 have passed. Item 6 has four votes in favor from Morgieb, X, Miles and fuzzy, so it is adopted. Item 7 only has one vote in favor from Morgieb, so votes are needed from other commissioners (or alternates) before it is adopted, rejected, or amended. Item 8 has no votes or discussion from the commission, so perhaps an extension of the discussion/voting period is in order.

Would it help if I move the approved items into a separate thread, so one doesn't have to scroll back through multiple pages?
23  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: What is your favorite fish to eat? on: December 07, 2014, 08:25:05 pm
Yes snowguy is correct walleye is best.

I grew up in MN, and indeed fresh walleye breaded in Shore Lunch and fried is impossible to beat. However, after spending eight years in MA I would put a fresh broiled scrod (from the sacred cod) near the top. As honorable mention I had a truly yummy sole meuniere prepared tableside at a small hotel near Lyon France.
24  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Forum Redistricting Commission on: December 07, 2014, 06:12:43 pm
That a commission acts after the census has been released is a flaw in process.
If the Census shows the population changes to the district have induced minimal variations to equal population, there is no reason for the commission to act at all. Therefore the commission must wait for the Census results.

Quote
If Virginia had set a more relaxed population standard in order to better conform to political subdivisions and UCCs, then they would never been able to produce VA-3, or if they had, it would have been so off the charts in terms of chops, that it could not be created.  Virginia is hiding their use of exact population equality, and purported intent to reduce chops.
I have no disagreement, other than to add that VA still had the constraint of creating a CD where the black population would be likely to elect the candidate of their choice.

Quote
Experts will advise legislators that they can get away with murder if they adhere to strict population equality.

The principle behind an independent commission is that they don't want to commit murder.  Any advisers would take that into account.
True, but in local redistricting the question is still put the body as to what maximum range they will tolerate, and many adopt a standard tighter than 10%. In light of Tennant, I would expect advisers to congressional commissions to do the same, but pose the question in terms of what range will they consider to be consistent with a minor variance: 0.79%, 1%, 2%, etc.

Quote
Alternatively, the commission could do like was done in Arkansas after the 2000 census, when the legislature passed two plans, one a whole-county plan, and another with three county splits that would make the districts identical in population.

Nobody challenged the whole county plan.

Anybody who sues over population equality is not trying to get population equality.  They are trying to use any population inequality as a basis for a larger attack, which will cause a court to redraw the map.
The range of the AR plan was very nearly 1% (1.002% from the Statistical Abstract for 2003). Even if it was challenged and upheld it wouldn't give us much guidance beyond the 0.8% allowed in Tennant.

Quote
Making small gratuitous chops of a few 1000 people won't be worth the effort of suing.

I have produced a plan with 3 chops, all within UCC within 1% deviation.  If an alternative within 0.5% deviation balloons the number of chops and ignores UCC, then the greater equality serves no legitimate or rational purpose.

And if a 2% range is ok, then someone else will propose a plan with fewer chops or less erosity and a 5% range and claim its ok by the same logic. But at some point variances cease to be minor. I don't know where that point is but it is presumably somewhere between 0.8% and 9.6% based on the facts in Tennant. As an adviser I would leave that decision to the commission.
25  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Forum Redistricting Commission on: December 07, 2014, 08:30:46 am
Ideally, a Virginia commission would have established its other criteria first rather than after the population equality criteria.
I understand that, but a commission will still have a number in mind as to the outside limit of range. Even in local jurisdictions that I've worked with the body sets a range if they want to be tighter than 10% before they weigh in on other criteria. Practicable is still going to be tighter than substantially equal, so the federal standard is going to be stricter than the state standard. How far can SCOTUS go before it looks like the federal standard isn't really different than the state standard?
Wesberry v Sanders was decided on the wrong basis.   Read Justice White's concurring opinion.  And it was a mistake to set a safe harbor of 5% for state and local redistricting.  Both lead to gerrymandering.

Consider the current Virginia litigation.  Virginia reduced the number of chops, but then claimed that some were necessary to get equal population, and therefore it was OK to have bunches for VA-3.  Had they set a higher standard for political integrity, then they couldn't have done all the chops for VA-3.

If we are going to use the fundamental principle behind 'Wesberry v Sanders', then we should be balancing CVAP.

I agree with you about how VA could have fared better in court, but that doesn't address population variance. The theoretical question of constitutional law doesn't necessarily solve the problem that would face a real commission today. In general a commission acts after a Census has released new population data. If the districts are malapportioned due to the new populations, then they must be redrawn. That forces the question as to how much variance in a CD would be construed as malapportioned after a Census, since that then sets the inequality goal for the commission. Despite the lack of clarity on that point in Karcher and other cases, experts will advise redistricting panels as to what range inequality may be a safe harbor when other neutral criteria are used in the plan. Given that SCOTUS has upheld plans of nearly 1% range, that number seems like sound advice to a commission, unless that commission specifically wants to set up a test case to demonstrate that larger ranges will survive SCOTUS scrutiny.

Adding: In Tennant WV had a range of 9.6% of the quota for its CDs after the Census and before redistricting. That would qualify as substantially equal under a state standard, but the  parties recognized that it would not be a minor variation and could not be justified for a federal plan. That prompted the legislature to redraw the districts. The adopted plan, upheld by SCOTUS, reduced 9.6% to 0.8% and that then constituted a minor variation that could be justified by the criteria used by the state. If a plan has more than a 1% range I would expect significant legal debate as to whether that can be considered a minor variation.
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