Yesterday, I discussed some of my concerns regarding the Redistricting Process, particularly in the manner that it seemed the Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee intentional slighted Anne Arundel County in an effort to minimize Republican participation in the process.
I still believe that however after reading the account of the hearing in Columbia last night, I realized that there are more problems with the level of public participation in this process.
The story regarding the hearing in Columbia notes that only ten people testified at the Howard County hearing. That is roughly the same number as participated in the Anne Arundel hearing in Annapolis last night. One of the things I noted with the Annapolis hearing was the pathetic job that was put into publicizing the time and location change for the hearing, when it struck me.
A ridiculously small amount of media coverage is being dedicated to the redistricting process.
Take a look at the media coverage, and you will note that basically nobody is covering the redistricting process. If you take a look at the media outlets, only two acknowleged there was even a hearing yesterday; MarylandReporter.com (which linked to my posts) the Capital, which mentioned pretty much every person who testified before the committee but me (and I communicated yesterday with reporter Earl Kelley, so it isn't like he didn't know).
It struck me comparing the media coverage and the number of participants in this important process. And then I realized that the media is paying absolutely no attention to these redistricting hearings. The general public seems to have no clue that these hearings are going on. They certainly are unaware as to what is being presented to the Committee, who is saying what, and how the Committee is little more than apparatchiks for the O'Malley Administration who are going to rubber stamp whatever gerrymandered plan he wants.
But of course, the Committee will be able to point to the limited public participation to minimize those people, myself included, who find the redistricting process disquieting, disingenuous, and a serious risk to the public discourse and public debate here in Maryland.
So basically: No reporting leads to limited public input, which leads to a lack of due consideration of public input, which is due to the small number of participants, which is due to the lack of reporting. One nice, tidy, self-fulfilling prophecy for the Maryland Democratic Party establishment.
The media owes it to the public to provide fair and adequate reporting on the redistricting process and the redistricting hearings. The public is not being well served at all, and at this point it is basically left to citizen-activists like us to fill interested parties in as to how to participate and what is actually occurring during this hearings. Because thanks to the near media blackout, the public doesn't know that the majority of those testifying think our districts are a joke, they don't know that the majority of Anne Arundel County attendees support single-member districts in the House of Delegates. The information just isn't getting out there.
Yes, the Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee is a sham committee that has done a poor job scheduling and publicizing it's hearings. But the media certainly is not holding them accountable for that, nor is the media doing a remotely decent job of publicizing what happens in these hearings. The media owes the public better than this...
More below the fold.