Friday, June 3, 2011

Big Map Attack

Perhaps the last thing an operative wants to look at this weekend is another gerrymandered political map. So as Friday night news dumps go, this was probably the perfect Friday for the Lake County Board to post its own new map of the County Board Districts.
It should come as no surprise to operatives that the board is to be reduced by two districts, from 23 to 21 -- and why:
the move had to be justified. State law says county boards need to be reduced to 18 if county population reaches 800,000. "We might get up to that number in the next ten years," said member Mountsier, "so we should start shrinking now." Huh? You start planning now for a hypothetical situation that might never occur? When do governments ever do that? So the plan is to reduce the board to 21 members. Of course, since the population of Lake County increased dramatically since 2000, each district will be significantly bigger in the remap. Republican plan, apparently: fewer districts, less representation. 'And we'd save $75,000 if we cut two board members,' said Aaron Lawlor. 75K? That's pocket lint in a budget of more than $300 million. Another member mentioned that two Republican county board members were retiring anyway.
County Board Remap Magic
Your LakeCountyEye does concede that the county population might reach 800,000 by 2020 -- there could be an invasion by Red China or something. But everyone knows why two districts really had to go poof. Ha ha, to get rid of Democrats (who are two seats away from a majority). According to the Daily Herald ...
some sitting commissioners will find themselves living in the same districts as other members. That's the case for Grayslake Democrats Pat Carey and Melinda Bush, who live a few blocks from each other in what is proposed to be the new 6th District. Bush represents the 6th District now, while Carey serves the 11th District. "We knew this might happen," Carey said. "That's life in government and politics." Also set to double up are the board's longest-serving members, North Chicago Democrat Audrey Nixon and Waukegan Democrat Angelo Kyle. Both will find themselves in the 14th District, which Nixon now represents, if the proposed map is approved. Kyle, who represents the 12th District, said he was stunned by the proposed boundaries. "We did not expect it, not in the least," Kyle said.
Lake County Board proposes new district boundaries
Carey, Bush, Nixon and Kyle all just happen to be Democrats. Board Chairman David Stolman denies the map was drawn to achieve political goals:
"If we wanted to be political, we could've carved it up and put three people in one district," said Stolman, a Buffalo Grove Republican.
Lake County Board proposes new district boundaries
So, what are the chances that 4 Democratic Lake County Board Commissioners could be chosen at random for district consolidation? Operatives familiar with their probability & statistics will recognize that this is a classic ...
Urn Problem
In this case an urn contains 23 balls, where 13 are Republican-red and 10 are Democratic-blue. What are the odds that the first 4 balls drawn will all be blue? The solution is an easy calculation:
(10/23) * (9/22) * (8/21) * (7/20) = 2%
There is about a 2% chance that 4 Democratic commissioners would be chosen in a fair drawing. 2% is less than the margin-of-error for most polls. Human beings and E.coli share about 2% of their genes in common.

It would even have been as nearly as difficult to select 4 Republicans at random:
(13/23) * (12/22) * (11/21) * (10/20) = 8%
To put this in some perspective, 2% is what your LakeCountyEye pours on the Cap'n Crunch in the morning. There were pictures of Pat Carey, Melinda Bush, Audrey Nixon, Angelo Kyle on the milk carton.

No comments: