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Letters to the editor: Sign the initiative

By Tania Knauer
Salt Lake City


This month the national census begins. You should have received your form in the mail. The outcome of this is critical for Utahns; not only will we probably receive another representative in the House, but all our state and local voting districts will be redrawn for another 10 years.

Here's a quick recap of what happened after the 2000 census; a legislative committee, behind closed doors, drew up voting districts to secure their own re-election. Those that have followed the rules of the supermajority are protected with a "safe" district and while others are packed or split into districts making their re-election more difficult if not impossible. This isn't a Utah phenomenon, it is an incumbency protection scheme and it is done in every state where there is a supermajority - Democrats in California, Republicans in Texas - it's called gerrymandering. After 2000, Utah, along with Texas and Florida became one of the top three gerrymandered states in the nation.

And after 10 years, we have a legislature that runs rampant every session and is completely out of touch with its constituents. Instead of discussing how to bring more jobs to the state, we're discussing a bill to wipe out the pension of our state employees. Instead of discussing how to move out of last place in per pupil spending, we're discussing eliminating 12th grade. Instead of looking at how to improve our math and science test scores, we're talking about adding intelligent design to the 9th grade biology curriculum. "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holiday." Is this really a necessary topic for a legislature that is only in session 45 days? Ethics and integrity - no worries, the legislature policies itself - ask House Speaker Clark why they waited until the 2010 session was over before publicly coming out with the Representative Garn story (the hot tub guy). Ask Senate Leader Waddoups why Senator Buttars got a slap on the hand and kept his committee seats after insulting the gay community. Don't ask the Chair of the Ethics Committee, Senator Killpack, he had to resign after his DUI this session. It's an old boys club and the rules are different for the members. Most state legislation is not something that will benefit Utah, but makes a moral or political statement - generally harming one group or another in the state.

So 10 more years is a long time to live with the status quo of another gerrymander. This means 10 more sessions of ineffective and harmful legislation . There is something you can do today; sign the Fair Boundaries Independent Redistricting. If this this move becomes law an independent commission would put the process of drawing up voting districts in the hands of a non-partisan committee with members that are not trying to secure their own re-election. This isn't going to magically change the legislature overnight, but it will make sure the voting districts are fair.

Don't be fooled by the posturing of our elected officials telling you your electronically collected signature won't count. Electronic signatures are commonly accepted for virtually every transaction nationwide. This will end up in court and the will of the people will prevail.

The deadline is approaching soon, so please sign the initiative.

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