Article IV, Section 6

February 22nd, 2012
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Many state lawmakers are unhappy with the districts they ended up with in the proposed reapportionment plan.

Several in the House dissident faction, in particular, are not pleased with the new maps. In the six situations where sitting lawmakers were placed into the same House districts — meaning they would have to either run against another lawmaker or move into an open district — four involve dissidents.

The new maps have led to questions about whether the Reapportionment Commission adhered to the criteria set in the state Constitution.

From Article IV, Section 6:

2. No district shall be so drawn as to unduly favor a person or political faction.

The lawmakers who are researching the issue say they do not believe there has ever been a legal challenge testing the “political faction” criteria.

House dissidents have unsuccessfully sought to topple state House Speaker Calvin Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Wilhelmina Rise-Palolo Valley) for several years.

Dissidents, if they pursue a lawsuit, may have a difficult argument that they alone were targeted. Three House Republicans were also placed in the same districts as other lawmakers, a fairly high ratio given there are only eight Republicans in the House. Three of Say’s loyalists were paired with other lawmakers.

Here are the pairings in question, with an asterisk next to the dissidents:

Rep. Jerry Chang (D) v. Rep. Mark Nakashima (D)*

Rep. Barbara Marumoto (R) v. Rep. Mark Hashem (D)

Rep. Scott Saiki (D)* v. Rep. Della Au Belatti (D)*

Rep. K. Mark Takai (D)* v. Rep. Heather Giugni (D)

Rep. Rida Cabanilla (D) v. Rep. Kymberly Pine (R)

Rep. Jessica Wooley (D)* v. Rep. Gil Riviere (R)

11 Responses to “Article IV, Section 6”

  1. Chicken Grease:

    Yeah, uh, this is what’s identified as disappointment due to the machinations of gov’ment, lawmakers. Feels weird, ehy? It’s how the average local taxpayer feels, too, when you Einsteins force, say, same-sex union against the will of the peoples. That and wasting time on plastic bags.

    That list above actually looks like . . . like . . . A fight card!!! Yeah! Yeah! That’s IT! Let ‘em fight for their office (“round 1, DING!!!!!!!!!!”).


  2. Kolea:

    To those “pairings,” I would add the disadvantageous mapping inflicted on Denny Coffman’s Big Island House district. He lost most of his voter base in what strikes me as the most obvious deliberate gerrymandering in the earlier draft maps. Denny is also one of the dissidents.


  3. Auto De Fe:

    Forget “Article IV, Section 6″. Sue under Federal law and overturn illegal discrimination against military personnel. That’s a tested and proven winner which extracts the process from Hawaii’s highly politicized state courts.


  4. Manoa_Fisherman:

    Life’s tough ain’t it. Live with it.


  5. Bart Dame:

    The Commission is designed to be bi-partisan: half Democrats, half Republicans. The Commissioners are appointed by the Speaker of the House, the House Minority Leader, the President of the Senate and the Senate Minority Leader. So Calvin Say, Gene Ward, Shan Tsutsui and Sam Slom each of a representative on the sub-committee which draws the maps.

    Some of the districts are easy to draw and everyone on the committee will agree. But at times a decision has to be made, do we go mauka or makai? Should we stop here or go a few more blocks? Those decisions require majority approval and, sometime, negotiations. Deals are made. Sometimes one person gets their way, creating an obligation to yield to others in the next dispute.

    Only those interests sitting at the table get to deal. In the House, there are three factions: Speaker’s, the Republicans and the “dissidents.” But the law governing the commission’s make up only recognizes the two parties. So the dissidents do not have someone on the Technical Committee to look out for their interests. I am not saying the Speaker and the GOP are out to target the dissidents. But when push comes to shove and incumbents will be helped or hurt by how the lines are drawn, when a decision has to be made, Speaker’s people and Gene Ward’s people will be protected first.

    So it is not surprising it was the dissidents who were disproportionately hurt by how the lines were drawn.

    I take the phrase “political faction” mean both “political parties” (which are formal factions) and less formal political alliances, like “Speaker’s group” vs. “the dissidents.” The structure of the Commission protects recognized parties from abuse, but provides no protection for factions which are less formal than parties.

    We can make the general observation the dissidents got the short end of the stick. To prove to the satisfaction of a court the dissidents were consciously picked upon would require a step-by-step review of the decisions faced by the Technical Committee as they drew the maps. Given the time pressures, I doubt they could succeed.


  6. Goober:

    Sue on Any Article, Section 8. Assumptions and Approximations.
    I live on the mainland but comment on Hawaii issues.

    There will always be discrimination against military in Hawaii. Same as it is around the World. American Military seems to be wanted but the people cannot be tolerated. Send in Military and you send in “Missionaries” who try to convert and preach. Seen it happen in Greece.

    MMA in politics. Debate in the ring, winner take all. No need to vote or vote by popularity like American Idol. Text message by district. Those who are not American Citizens cannot vote.


  7. ohiaforest3400:

    Dunno, but I think you could actually make a decent case if you tease those numbers a little bit.

    4 dissidents (or 5 if you add Coffman per Kolea’s note), three Republicans, and 2 loyalists got jobbed. Since the Democrat factions are about even in number, these gross numbers mean that dissidents were twice (or two-and-a-half times) as likely to be forced into a district with another incumbent (and, in the case of Bellatti and Saiki, twice as likely, again, to see a reduction in their ranks). As for the Republicans, since they are but one-sixth of the Democrats in number, these gross numbers translate to being something like nine times as likely to be forced into a district with a fellow incumbent.

    Bellatti has shown an inclination to speak up even when it’s not popular or in her “best” interest (her first day on the floor, accusing Say of strong arm organzing tactics; supporting a Con Con; etc.) so I wouldn’t be surprised to see her take this on.


  8. Bart Dame:

    To ohiaforest3400,

    Going beyond the statistics to the specifics of each case, I do not think the Hashem v. Marumoto conflict could have been avoided without grossly distorting the redistricting process. So if we are looking for instances were discretion was employed, or avoided, to affect the outcome, I think we can strike those two names from the list. I have also looked at the Jessica Wooley and Gil Riviere conflict. In that case, it would have been extremely easy to have avoided that particular conflict, as Jessica lives just inside the beginning southernmost edge of the district in Kahaluu and GIl lives at the fringe at the Waialua end.

    If Hashem and Marumoto were put in the same district through an unbiased working of normal redistricting criteria, BOTH Jessica and GIl appear to have been completely optional additions to their district. Had the Technical Committee truly tried to respect the cohesion of existing communities and aimed at producing districts with (relatively) equal populations, the boundary between HD 47 and 48 would have been drawn at Chinamen’s Hat, the longstanding boundary between Koolaupoko and Koolauloa. This would have put Jessica in HD 48, where instead of competing with the Republican Gil, she would have faced Ken Ito, a Say supporter. (NOTE: I am NOT advocating for Ito’s defeat. I am trying to evaluate the redistricting plan without bending it to suit my political preferences).

    Not seeing any other obvious factor at play, I am inclined to believe a conscious decision was made to protect Ken Ito and shift the risk to Wooley and Riviere.

    But if we look at the northern end HD 47, where it splits Haleiwa from Waialua, we can see problems at that end as well. First off, Gil Riviere lives in a small residential area which did not need to be attached to HD 47. That was fully discretionary. HD 47 already exceeded the ideal target population for a House district and did not need more people.

    But the bigger question needing to be resolved in that region is how to fix HD 45, which is CLEARLY illegal. It extents from the North Shore side of Kaena Point, through Mokuleia up through central Oahu and onto the mountaintop portion of Makakilo. Using standard reapportionment criteria, the placement of Gil Riviere’s home within a district depends upon how they solve the mess with HD 45.

    I have not looked at the third contest where a Republican is allegedly put at risk. Despite my attempt to divorce my personal feelings in analyzing this, I cannot care a whit whteher Rida Cabanilla or Kym Pine wins the election. Beyond that, I am not familar enough with the Ewa plain to recognize a plan which follows valid redistricting criteria and one which is being distorted for political purposes. Besides, I think most people, probably including the members of the Technical Committee, are assuming Pine will be running for the City Council, which undercuts the suspicion she was being targeted in this manner.

    So, in my view, a look at the specific circumstances of the three Republicans does not offer strong evidence of willful gerrymandering, though the Riviere case does raise questions. I have not done the same sort of analysis of the House dissident examples, so I am forced to remain, for now, at the level of a generalized suspicion, given the fact they are disproportionately put at risk. If I have the time, and if I am overcome by an internal urge to be fair, I may examine their situations with more scrutiny. I do not want to unfairly lend credence to charges of gerrymandering. The process is complicated and it is too easy to ascribe to malice results which may be the result of other, perfectly reasonable factors.


  9. Bart Dame:

    And as to the Saiki versus Bellati contest, it may be extra hard to not see mischief as playing a role. It is just such a “win” for Speaker’s side either way. How could he–or people acting on his behalf–not be tempted, if the opportunity arose, to put them in the same district. And maybe add Sylvia Luke in to sweeten the pot!

    OTOH, no matter how suspicious it might look, it MAY be possible that this conflict was truly simply a result of where the lines fell. There may be no God, but universe does have a sense of humor.


  10. NikkiHeat:

    More than the HTH contests, you should look at how the districts were “re-built” to see that not only the dissidents but the lukewarm Say supporters (Manahan, Yamane, Cullen, M. Lee, Rhoads) also got jobbed– how many new voters they have to educate and whether they lost pockets of strong support? It’s not just facing another incumbent but effectively becoming a newcomer for much of your district makes you more vulnerable. On Maui, the dissident Central Maui Rep who helped shepherd Civil Unions last session lost a small progressive precinct as the district became not just more compact but also more conservative. Of course, some dissidents like the Joker, actually got a more favorable districts- losing a weak Waikiki precinct to the Rapper formerly known as Tom Brower, and gaining more of Kapahulu.


  11. Goober:

    Hilarious that one can assume and approximate and that is called facts. Not a penny more than 2 cents.


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