Gov. Pat Quinn (seen here last month) says that pension reform is “the most urgent issue of our time,” certainly of our decade.” | Dom Najolia~Sun-Times
Updated: December 22, 2012 6:22AM
The Illinois elections proved one thing: The voters do not choose their representatives. Instead, the district boundary lines drawn by political party leaders determine whether a Democrat or a Republican will be elected in almost every district.
Strange as it may seem, voters have little to say about it.
Illinois just went through a redistricting process intended to balance each district with equal numbers of Illinoisans.
When the governor and a majority of the General Assembly are from the same party, they control redistricting. As a result, legislative districts were drawn intentionally to maximize Democratic Party victories. If Republicans had been in control, the maps would have been biased toward that party.
Because of partisan redistricting, many voters often have no choice at the polls. In districts drawn to be truly lopsided, the minority party often doesn’t even field a candidate. In the recent campaigns for the Illinois House and Senate, nearly 56 percent of the members elected did not have an opponent in the general election.
It is time to give the power back to the people and to take redistricting out of the hands of the legislative leaders. We need to reform the current system where too many state legislators owe their allegiance to legislative leaders who draw the maps.
Instead, an independent commission should draw Illinois legislative districts.
A fair redistricting system would mean elected representatives would be more likely to vote on issues based on the needs of their constituents and districts, rather than loyalty to the party leaders.
Making this change will require an army of citizens to pass petitions calling for a constitutional amendment, which would be a referendum question on the 2014 ballot. The CHANGE Illinois coalition of community, civic, nonprofit and professional organizations has found considerable support and enthusiasm for such an effort. If we can change redistricting in Illinois, we can begin to restore real representative democracy, take disproportionate power away from legislative leaders and give Illinoisans the ability, and right to choose their representatives. After all, that’s the way a democracy should work.
George A. Ranney, chair; Peter Bensinger, vice chair; Deborah Harrington, vice chair; CHANGE Illinois!
Peter Bensinger, vice chair;
Deborah Harrington, vice chair;
Huntley wrong on Gaza
Columnist Steve Huntley’s defense of Israel’s “disproportionate response” in Gaza comes up way short. What he fails to appreciate is the disproportionate “bombs” of death, destruction and destitution the Palestinians suffer endlessly with Israel’s criminal and always widening occupation of Palestinian land and its people.
Huntley claims “terrorism is not in the Israelis’ DNA.” I hope and trust that’s true. But terrorism clearly is in the will and policies of the current government of Israel. What we need now is a nonviolent but disproportionate response to that Israeli terrorism, starting with letting our own elected officials know that we want the terrorism to stop, including the terrorism that is funded with U.S. military and economic aid.
Larry L. Greenfield, Hyde Park
Don’t drive around train gates!
The penalty for driving around working train gates must be increased. This Monday, thousands of Metra commuters were delayed, yet again, by an individual who broke the law and drove around working gates. Surprise, surprise, the train won. If the common-sense outcome of trying to beat a train isn’t enough of a deterrent for this behavior, maybe mandatory jail time will do the trick.
Eileen Murtaugh, Beverly