Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Delegate Ben Barnes Responds

Ok, I feel the need to comment:

1.  There seems to be a sentiment that Laurel has been split up, parsed or is in some way not contiguous.  This is not true; the entire city is still contained in one contiguous congressional district.

2.  There seems to be a sentiment that having Laurel in the 5'th (Hoyer) makes more geographic sense and includes more communities of interest than the 4'th (Edwards).  This also flies in the face of fact.  The fact is that Laurel has much more in Common with Russett, Gambrils, Mt. Ranier, Cheverly and other areas of Prince George's (which are in the new district) than it does with St. Mary's, Charles and Calvert Counties (which were all in the old district).  To try to say that our community has been "split up" because we are no longer in the same congressional district as St. Mary's County, is, well, sort of disingenuous.  Clearly, Laurel, which is in Prince George's County and borders Anne Arundel, has more in common with other areas of Prince George's and Anne Arundel County than it does with Calvert, Charles and St. Marys, all areas included in Hoyer's District.

3.  "The Delegation" never told us.  The Governor's plan was just introduced on Saturday.  Yes, that is this Saturday.  There had been recommentions made on October 4th that then became the plan that was introduced Saturday. Frankly, I didn't anticipate how personally connected we are to Congressman Hoyer.  I didn't anticipate that being put in a district with other areas of Prince George's and Anne Arundel County would be interpretted as a "splitting" of our community.  Maybe because I didn't see it that way.  For that, I am sorry, it was an error of ommissoin and not commission. I think you all will agree that this 21'st District Team endeavors greatly to keep you all informed, and typically does a very fine job.

4.  Wasn't there a way to keep Hoyer?  Redistricting is an extremely complex mathmatic, legal and political process.  Every action has a reaction.  The Governor spent months working on it and its not as simple as saying, give Laurel back Hoyer.  In fact, each and every plan, save the one that has been discussed, that we voted for, had Laurel out of the 5'th District.  Every single Republican plan introduced had Laurel out of Hoyer's district.  The "Fannie Lou" plan had Hoyer out of Laurel, and, of course, the Governor's plan did as well.  All of them accept the one ammendment we all voted in favor of had Hoyer out of Laurel....

5.  Why did all these plans have Laurel out of the 5'th?  Simple math.  Southern Maryland (Charles, St. Marys, and Calvert) are the fastest growing jurisdictions in the State.  That meant Hoyer's 5'th District had to loose considerable population.  Simple logic, geography and math meant that population was probably going to come out of the norther portion of the district. In this case Laurel was the northern most part of the 5'th District.

6.  That just leaves one big problem: Hoyer is no longer our Congressman.  I too am a fan of Steny Hoyer.  But districts change, populations shift and there were few ways to keep Hoyer in Laurel.  I have grown up with Hoyer as my congressman.  I literally can't remember when he wasn't.  But this is the nature of re-districting - populations shift.

Conclusion:  We do the best we can, I know how hard my colleagues work, I see it.  But we are certainly not perfect and certainly can't anticipate every reaction.  I will speak for myself, I mistakenly didn't believe that Laurel being put in a district with Anne Arundel and Prince George's Counties instead of Charles, Calvert and St. Mary's would cause this type of controversy.  For that, I am sorry.  I didn't anticipate how much of this is personal and is about Hoyer himself, rather than the communities we are coupled with.  For that I also apologize.   I am, like you all, saddened that he will no longer be our representative, BUT THERE IS NO QUESTION WHATSOEVER: this new 4'th District includes more communities of interest for Laurel, than the 5'th did or does.

--Ben Barnes


Baron Herb Joint said...

Why the misspellings...? Not to be a dick, but what's up with that?

Ben, appreciate the responsiveness, though a few questions. If you voted for the amendment that would have moved Laurel back to Steny, why would you still vote for the final plan that kept Laurel out? Why was the this amendment introduced? Do you see a major difference in the district Laurel ultimately is placed in, or don't you... because seemingly you don't think it matters who our Congressman is.

And finally, what are your predictions for how Laurel may benefit, or be hurt by this redistricting? Surely there are foreseeable cost/benefits.

Dana Schwartz said...

Plain and simple: Gerrymandering

Anonymous said...

I like Hoyer and Edwards. I don't see what the big deal is.

Frair John said...

What about the stated fact (coming from the Progressive Change Committee and other sources) that she doesn't want to represent us, and has no desire to represent our needs? The fact is that we are closer to the Rt 1 Corridor historically and culturally. We have been, once more, taken for granted by the State and the Party.

Anonymous said...

I know this is a lazy rebuttal, but consider it rhetorical if you prefer - take a look at her voting record and see if you can find an instance where our needs were being disregarded in favor of her old district. She's a federal politician. New pork in MoCo isn't any better or worse for me than in St. Mary's. It's further to drive one way, but more traffic and speeding cameras the other.

Anonymous said...

does anyone else feel that this guy just doesn't get it?