Editor’s note: Wausau Pilot & Review gladly publishes commentary from readers, residents and candidates for local offices. The views of readers and columnists are independent of this newspaper and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wausau Pilot & Review. To submit, email editor@wausaupilotandreview.com or mail to 500 N. Third St., Suite 208-8, Wausau, Wis. 54403.

Dear editor,

The headline in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 16, 2021, reads,
“Wisconsin Republicans hire redistricting lawyers that could cost $1 million or
more.” The article is written by Patrick Marley.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester and Senate Majority Leader Devin
LeMahieu of Oostburg have “agreed to have the state pay as much as $965,000
for the services of attorney Adam Mortara and Consovoy McCarthy, the boutique
law firm that has represented former President Donald Trump and the Republican
National Committee.”

“Under that arrangement, the state began paying $30,000 a month starting in
January to cover pre-litigation consulting. The monthly fee will jump to $200,000
in July or when a lawsuit is filed, whichever comes first.”

Let’s be very specific about who the “state” actually is—it is we, the taxpayers!

“The contract is capped at $965,000 for work through a trial, provided the trial
last 10 days or fewer.” The contract covers legal fees, but not other expenses.
“Tax payers would have to pay additional sums for any appeals.”

“Under a separate contract, Vos and LeMahieu agreed to pay $375 an hour to
former Attorney General Kevin St. John at the Madison firm Bell and Gitos St.
John.”

“After the 2010 census, Wisconsin Republicans were able to redraw the maps that
benefited them because they controlled all of state government.”

For ten years, we have seen the results of gerrymandered districts which has
resulted in unequal representation and an iron grip on the state Senate and the
Assembly by Republicans due to the “packing and cracking “of voters into
districts.

Using computer modeling and sophisticated data algorithms, Republican
legislators packed as many of the opposing party’s supporters, the Democrats,
into as few districts as possible. With cracking, the remainder of the opposing
party’s supporters, the Democrats, were scattered into districts where they have
no chance of winning.

In reality the maps were drawn in secret in 2011 and with precision in the office
of the private law firm, Michael Best and Friedrich in Madison.

“Governor Tony Evers has not hired any attorneys for the upcoming redistricting,
according to his spokeswoman, Britt Cudaback.”

Governor Evers has set up the People’s Maps Commission which “is a group of
people that will hear directly from folks across our state and draw fair, impartial
maps for the Legislature to take up in 2021. The People’s Maps Commission will
consist of the people of our state—not elected officials, not lobbyists, not political
consultants.”

“The Commission will consist of 9 voting members. They will conduct hearings
across the state of Wisconsin and use the input from the folks who testify at the
hearings to draw and submit maps to vote on in 2021.” Or it might be later
because the census has been delayed.

The members of the Non-Partisan People’s Maps Commission who will draw the
maps on a nonpartisan basis are:

  • Elizabeth Tobias, of Racine, will represent the 1 st Congressional District;
  • Ruben Anthony, Jr., of Middleton, will represent the 2nd CD;
  • Annemarie McClellan, of Menomonie, will represent the 3rd CD;
  • Christopher Ford, of Whitefish Bay, will represent the 4th CD;
  • Benjamin Rangel, of Milwaukee, will represent the 4th CD;
  • Susan Ranft, of Wauwatosa, will represent the 5th CD; Melissa Prentice, of Sheboygan, will represent the 6th CD;
  • Jason Bisonette, of Hayward, will represent the 7th CD;
  • Anthony Phillips, of Appleton, will represent the 8th Congressional District.

I submitted written comments to the hearing for the 7th Congressional District. Many others did, too. Several constituents from the 7th CD spoke at the hearing.

This is an open process giving the constituents a voice in the process. We, the people, are directly affected by gerrymandered districts. Overwhelmingly, Wisconsinites support a fair and independent nonpartisan redistricting process by 72 percent.

By the end of 2020, 54 county boards had passed resolutions urging the state legislature to adopt nonpartisan redistricting. This includes the Marathon County Board. Seventeen had passed countywide referendums—most by more than 72
percent.

This information is from the Fair Elections Project website. See the links below.

The question we must ask ourselves is: Which process to redraw the legislative and congressional district maps after the 2020 is completed and sent to the state of Wisconsin is fair and impartial and will give equal representation to all Wisconsinites? Which process will accurately reflect the voters’ intent in elections as Sachin Chheda, the Fair Election Project director, has said?

The People’s Map Commission? Or the high priced attorneys who will be paid over $1 million by the taxpayers after the process goes through the court systems—either in Wisconsin or at the federal level or both?

Joyce Luedtke, Wausau

Wisconsin Republicans hire redistricting lawyers for $1 million (jsonline.com)

https://govstatus.egov.com/peoplesmaps/about

WISCONSIN FAIR MAPS COALITION (fairmapswi.com)

Gerrymandering 101 – Fair Elections Project