I couldn't find anything in today's paper, and perhaps it's not that noteworthy, but yesterday the entire Milwaukee County Board did vote 9-7 to seek state permission for a special redistricting to downsize itself. Couple things about that:
- It's not a vote to approve a downsizing to 13 members. It's simply to allow the Board to seek permission from the State legislature to allow for redistricting. There's been some confusion about this from a few places. The Board can only modify it's districts once every ten years (to coincide with the census). Since they just did that a year ago, they need special permission to do it again before the 2020 census.
- Even if the State allows for this to happen, it's just the start of a long process where competing plans for what the new districts should like like will be presented and voted on. You'd probably be looking at 2016 before any actual changes took effect.
- Again, even if it happens, it will certainly be challenged by groups like the NAACP and Hispanic Chamber who will make the argument (Which I don't disagree with) that redistricting adversely affects the amount of minority representation on the Board. A lawsuit will hold up any proposed cuts for years.
- If the vote was 9-7 just to ask the legislature for approval to change the districts, is there any hope there will be any approval for actual cuts to take place? Remember that a number of Supervisors would essentially be voting themselves out of a job by doing so. When is the last time you saw a politician do that?
In short, I personally don't see any benefit in having any more or less Supervisors at this point. It's a solution in search of a problem. Even if it clears all the hurdles listed above, how is a plan to have 5 fewer Supervisors in place 5 years from now addressing the problems facing our transit system, our parks or our mental health services?
Here are some competing press releases from the Supervisors who took the time to respond to the vote yesterday for your viewing pleasure: