An Open Letter to the Florida Committees on Reapportionment Regarding the Redistricting of Florida’s Congressional District 22, Currently Represented by Congressman Allen West
Regarding the Redistricting of
Florida’s Congressional District 22,
Currently Represented by Congressman West
To the Florida House and Senate Committees on Reapportionment and concerned voters in Florida,
I am writing as a follow up to Broward Republican Party Vice-Chair Colleen Stolberg’s email entitled “Save Allen West,” regarding the redistricting proposals for Congressional District 22. She has created a website called www.saveallenwest.com. A lot of us serve in political and non-political capacities, but my intention here is to express my concern as a citizen and registered voter of Florida that the proposed maps for Congressional District 22 do not meet Florida’s constitutional requirements.
In my opinion, none of the proposed Florida Senate or Florida House maps for Congressional District 22 conform to Florida’s constitutional requirements contained within Amendments 5 and 6 that districts be compact and, where feasible, “utilize existing political and geographical boundaries.” Florida’s redistricting is very important and the maps eventually decided upon will control our districts for the next 10 years.
|Proposed Congressional 22 – Pink Color: FL Senate Version S000C900
Click the link above for a Google map version
The primary problem is that all of the Florida House and Florida Senate proposed maps for Congressional District 22 go through great pains to include western portions of Broward County in the new district while excluding large portions of northern Palm Beach County that would form a natural political and geographical boundary. Congressman West’s district should extend to the Palm Beach county line (a political boundary) or at least the geographical boundary of the Jupiter Inlet, as the existing District 22 almost reaches. It should not include these portions of western Broward County.
The apparent official rationale forexcluding these northern Palm Beach County areas is that a single person sent on behalf of the Palm Beach County Commission stated at the Stuart redistricting hearing that “some of the northern municipalities of Palm Beach County share some similarities with our friends in the ‘Treasure Coast’. … So long as the districts are compact and follow municipal and geographical boundaries then it’s OK if there is certain overlap in these communities of similar interest.” Quite a few others at the same hearing simply expressed concern that the “Treasure Coast,” which they identified as “Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties,” be “kept together.”  Many statements were made by members of the public at the Boca Raton meeting about keeping “coastal communities” together. 
“Communities of interest” is not an official standard for redistricting under Florida law. While it may be considered, it cannot conflict with or take precedence over the requirement that we use existing political and geographical boundaries.
These northern Palm Beach County coastal regions are in the existing Congressional District 22, and no existing or even proposed State House or State Senate seats remove such large portions of northern Palm Beach County and place them within districts to the north. Amendments 5 and 6 impose the same requirements across State Senate and State House districts. The proposed State Senate District 25 (currently represented by Sen. Bogdanoff) map actually extends the northern boundary of the current State Senate district from Juno Beach to the Jupiter Inlet. The Congressional District 22 map does the opposite.
Proposed District 22 (pink in color) zoomed in Northern portion of district, showing how it excludes large portions of northern Palm Beach County to place them in the proposed District 16, currently represented by Congressman Rooney
Proposed District 22 (pink in color) zoomed in Southern portion of district, showing how it extends to western portions of Broward
The residency of an incumbent is not a standard for redistricting under Florida law, and cannotbe used in drawing the new maps. Congressman West has not pushed for the inclusion of these western Broward regions in the new District 22. In responding to questions about living outside of the current District 22, he stated during the 2010 campaign that “The [US] Constitution just says you have to live in the state you’re running in at the time of the election.” 
On December 30, 2011, the Senate Reapportionment Committee releasedrevised maps citing some feedback they had received since the original maps were released on November 28, 2011.
The reasons for changes included substitutions that
- Follow “city boundaries and decreases the numbers of times cities are split by districts,” and
- Follow “geographic boundaries, including bays, rivers, major roadways, and other recognizable physical features…” 
Unfortunately, these revised maps did not revise District 22.
While Florida’s Constitution prohibits the “intent to favor or disfavor a political party or incumbent,” it should be noted that the Democrats are calling Congressman West “a GOP loser in redistricting.”  While Florida’s constitution does not require the rough proportionality of Republicans and Democrats in any district, it should be noted that the proposed maps include more Democratic voters in District 22. 
By removing the western portions of Broward and replacing them with northeastern portions of Palm Beach up to the Jupiter Inlet or Palm Beach county line that are in the existing Congressional District 22, the newly proposed District 22 will conform to Florida’s constitutional requirements.It would then be a compact coastal district that respects political and geographical boundaries.
I will examine each of these points in further detail below.
Please make your voice heard to the Committees on Reapportionment BEFORE their meetings which begin on January 9th.
Tell the Committees that “by removing the western portions of Broward County and replacing them with northeastern portions of Palm Beach County up to the Jupiter Inlet or Palm Beach county line that are in the existing Congressional District 22, the newly proposed District 22 will meet Florida’s constitutional requirements because it would be a compact coastal district that respects political and geographical boundaries.”
Visit: www.saveallenwest.com to sign a petition
Facebook: Florida Senate Reapportionment Committee
Tweet to: @Redistrict2012
Write: Senate Committee on Reapportionment
103 Senate Office Building
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, Fl 32399-1100
|Current District 22
(Click on link above for Google Map of Current District)
I. Facts about the current district.
I am aware that the current district needs to change not only due to population changes but also because of Florida’s Constitutional requirements contained within Amendments 5 and 6.
Looking at the current district, you will notice how it stretches in certain portions from the coastline west into the cities of Davie, Plantation, Coral Springs, Parkland, and some northwest portions of Palm Beach County. All of these western portions have been eliminated in the proposed maps with the exception of western portions of Broward around Plantation. As has been referenced above, existing portions of northern Palm Beach county have been removed along the coast and inland in the proposed maps.
Florida’s 22nd Congressional District is currently is made up of 36.5% Democrats, 36.4% Republicans and 27% Other registration according to the latest statistics from the Broward and Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections websites.  Congressman West was unsuccessful in his bid for District 22 in 2008 (a Democratic year) when he received 45.3% of the vote to Mr. Klein’s 54.7%. Congressman West won the seat in 2010, which was the most Republican year since 1946 , with 54.4% to Mr. Klein’s 45.6% of the vote. At the time of the November 2010 election, the district was made up of 37.4% Republicans, 37.5% Democrats and 25.1% Other registration.  So the district has been losing both registered Republicans and Democrats who are now registering as NPA or other parties.
|FL Senate Proposed Version
II. Facts about the Proposed Maps. The proposed Senate version of the map includes more Democratic voters. The easiest method to arrive at this conclusion is to compare how many votes Governor Scott received in the new district as compared to the old, since Governor Scott was on the ballot statewide. As a comparison, the current District 22 voted 49.1% for Governor Scott. The newly proposed Senate version would have gone only 44.9% for Governor Scott.  Congressman West received 54.4% of the vote in District 22 in 2010. That’s 5.3% better than Governor Scott did in District 22. So adding 5.3 to 44.9 gives us 50.2%. This would establish an estimated narrow victory for Congressman West in the Senate proposed map.
The Florida House’s proposed district, which
looks almost identical to the Senate version, would be more difficult for Congressman West’s prospects, whereupon Governor Scott received only 44.4% of the vote.  Add 5.3% to 44.4% and that equals 49.7%, a narrow loss.
Remember that 2010 was the most Republican year since 1946.
III. What the Democrats are Saying. Notable Democrats such as Steve Shale, the 2008 Director of the Obama/Biden campaign in Florida, have noticed this too. Shale stated the following: “The Allen West seat … switched parties twice in the last decade, first when Ron Klein beat Clay Shaw, then when West beat Klein. From where I sit, it is poised to do it again. First, West already had to gain residents in order to come up to the target population, then right off the bat lost some of his Palm Beach voters to Rooney. This meant he had to gain population from somewhere, and largely that somewhere is Ted Deutch’s highly Democratic and over populated CD 19. If there is a GOP loser in redistricting, it is West.”
|FL House Proposed Version
IV. Amendments 5 and 6: The Legal Requirements for Redistricting. The legislature is not allowed to draw maps with the intent of favoring or disfavoring a political party or incumbent because of the passage of Amendments 5 and 6 in 2010. Thus, the statistics referenced above should not be considered with the intent to draw a new District 22 map favoring or disfavoring a political party or incumbent. Amendments 5 and 6 set new standards for drawing the Legislative and Congressional Districts.
These Amendments create two tiers of standards.  When in conflict, first-tier (1) standards supplant or are superior to second-tier (2) standards.
First-tier standards are the following (emphasis added):
- No district shall be drawn with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent.
- No district shall be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process. (Minority-opportunity districts exist under this language. This, along with the Federal Voting Rights Act, allows what most would consider the “gerrymandering” to create minority-opportunity districts only.)
- No district shall be drawn to diminish the ability of racial or language minorities to elect representatives of their choice. (Minority-opportunity districts exist under this language.)
- Districts shall consist of contiguous territory.
Second-tier standards are the following:
- Be as nearly equal in population as practicable. (This does NOT mandate or address proportionate representation of Republicans and Democrats in a district.)
- Be compact.
- Where feasible, utilize existing political and geographic boundaries (emphasis added).
The intent to favor or disfavor a party or incumbent:
- Only an INTENT to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party is prohibited.
- To prove wrongful intent, one must show that lines were drawn with the predominate purpose of favoring or disfavoring an incumbent or political party. This could be proven through: statements of intent; actions taken, or not taken; statements of others, and action taken consistent with those statements.
“Communities of interest” is not a standard under the new law, though it is not necessarily in conflict with the law. Amendments 5 and 6 require that existing county, city and geographic boundaries take precedence over communities of interest.
V. Problems with the Proposed Congressional District 22 Maps. It is understandable that District 22 hugs the coast because it is bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by the minority-access District 23 and on the south by District 20.
It is odd that all seven redistricting bills submitted by the Florida House have identical maps with reference to the proposed District 22. These maps place the northern boundary at John. D. MacArthur Beach State Park. The single bill proposed by the Florida Senate takes the northern boundary to the Seminole Golf Course. These northern Palm Beach coastal regions are in the existing Congressional District 22, and no existing or even proposed State House or State Senate seats remove such large portions of northern Palm Beach County and place them within districts to the north.
What is interesting is that neither of the bills take the district to the Palm Beach county line, and that both of these bills include non-coastal areas of Broward County on the southern boundary of the proposed district that stretch west to the cities of Plantation and Sunrise. This contrasts with the proposed State Senate Map for Sen. Bogdanoff’s State Senate District 25, which goes to the Jupiter Inlet, a natural geographic boundary. The existing Senate District 25 ended at Juno Beach, and now the proposed district extends to the Inlet.
I understand that the Congressional District 22 must have more voters than a State Senate district, and you can see below that the proposed District 22 goes further west along the coast than the proposed State Senate District 25. What does not make sense is that the 22nd Congressional District includes Plantation and Sunrise but excludes the northern parts of Palm Beach County, which would be a natural political and geographic boundary along the coast for what is mainly a coastal district.
It seems that all the proposed maps for Congressional 22 make strenuous efforts to include the cities of Plantation and Sunrise at the southern end of the district yet exclude coastal areas of northern Palm Beach County, which would constitute a natural political and geographic boundary. Amendments 5 and 6 apply to state level redistricting and Congressional redistricting…so why is there a map for the State Senate that respects Amendments 5 and 6 but not the Congressional 22 map?
Remember that Amendments 5 and 6 require that existing political and geographic boundaries be utilized where feasible.
Even if some effort was made to respect “communities of interest” with the proposed Congressional District 22, it is doubtful that the residents of Plantation and Sunrise have the same interests of those residents along the coast. It is also doubtful that the residents of the northern areas of Palm Beach County, whether Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens or Royal Palm Beach, would have interests vastly different than those residents of the same county to the south of the Seminole Golf Course.
|Congressional 22 Senate Proposal
|State Senate District 25 Proposal
Congressman West’s district should extend to the Palm Beach county line or at least the geographical boundary of the Jupiter Inlet (much like Senator Bogdanoff’s proposed District 25), and should not reach west to portions of the cities of Plantation and Sunrise. Once again, according to Amendments 5 and 6, the new districts are to respect political (such as city and county lines) and geographical boundaries.
While there is no apparent legal rationale or testimony for including the western portions of Broward County in this new district, it appears the official rationale for removing the northern Palm Beach County portions from District 22 is that a single person appeared at the Stuart redistricting meeting in St. Lucie County stating that “some of the northern municipalities of Palm Beach County share some similarities with our friends in the Treasure Coast. … So long as the districts are compact and follow municipal and geographic boundaries it’s OK if there is certain overlap in these communities of similar interest.”
While there may be some similar “communities of interest” here, we must remember that “communities of interest” is not a standard under the new law and the Florida Constitution’s requirement of respecting political and geographical boundaries takes precedent.
While there may be communities of similar interest between the northern municipalities of Palm Beach County and the largely undefined area referred to as the “Treasure Coast,” it is also doubtful that the residents of the northern areas of Palm Beach County – whether Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens or Royal Palm Beach – would have interests vastly different than those residents of the same county to the south of the Seminole Golf Course. It is doubtful that the residents of Plantation and Sunrise have the same interests of those residents along the coast.
The proposed maps are placing the concept of “communities of interest” OVER the requirement of Florida’s Constitution. The maps should be redrawn to remove the western portions of Broward County and replace these portions with the northern portions of Palm Beach County. This would result in a compact coastal district that complies with Florida’s constitution.
VI. The rationale for excluding large northern portions of Palm Beach County seems to be the testimony of a single person at the Stuart hearing. The official District description from the Florida Senate  states that “District 22 consists of the Palm Beach and Broward County coast. On the west, District 22 is adjacent to a minority-opportunity district (District 23). On the east it is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean. Similar coastal interests, as well as Interstate 95 and State Road A1A, tie the communities in District 22. The district is similar to District 22 in SPUBC0154.” (emphasis added)
Interestingly, the district description for the proposed District 16, which is to the north of District 22, contains the following: “At the Stuart hearing, residents of northern Palm Beach County and Martin County testified to their desire to be in the same district due to their common interests along the Treasure Coast.“
Out of all 27 new district descriptions, District 16’s description contains the only reference to statements made at one of the public hearings. It would seem that the maps for Congressional 22 are being drawn to respect the wishes of those residents of northern Palm Beach County that went to and testified at the Stuart hearing.
Out of all the redistricting hearings, the Stuart meeting is the only one for which a transcript is not available online. There is a video, however. Upon viewing the video, I found only one testimony from a resident of Palm Beach County making this request. It was from Todd Bonlarron, the Director of Legislative Affairs for the Palm Beach County Commission, who was speaking on behalf of the Commission. He stated that the Commission desired that “…No less than three Senate districts are created with a majority of their district in Palm Beach County. That is our one ask of the legislature. Real quickly as it relates to our comments regarding Northern Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast. The constitutional amendments that you will be looking at require that districts be compact and follow certain political and geographical boundaries and those must be followed. But within those legal parameters we ask that you as the legislature consider the principle of communities of similar interest in the northern part of Palm Beach County and applying these principles to redistricting. We believe that some of the northern municipalities of Palm Beach County share some similarities with our friends in the Treasure Coast and we’ve enjoyed the representation that we’ve had with some of the shared representation between Martin and Palm Beach County.” 
Notice that Mr. Bonlarron defines the northern municipalities of Palm Beach County as separate from the “Treasure Coast.”
Mr. Bonlarron’s statements contrasted with those specific statements of David Glenner and Denise White, who defined the Treasure Coast as Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties. It also contrasts with the statement of Dr. James Harrel, the husband of Reprsentative Gayle Harrel, who defined the Treasure Coast as “from Vero all the way down to southern Martin County.” Others simply referenced “keeping the Treasure Coast together” and spoke against the splitting of Indiantown. Toby Overdorf asked that cities and rivers be used to separate districts rather than cutting through streets and neighborhoods. Janet Kratzer asked that city, county and geographic boundaries be preserved. In fact, only three people speaking, including Mr. Bonlarron, even identified themselves as from Palm Beach County and no one other than Mr. Bonlarron spoke specifically about including areas in northern Palm Beach County with districts in Martin County.
The “Treasure Coast” is ill-defined. According to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the Census Bureau and other agencies, the Treasure Coast includes two metropolitan statistical areas (MSA): the Port St. Lucie MSA and the Sebastian-Vero Beach MSA. Together these make up Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties. The Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, based in Stuart, does, however, have jurisdiction over the counties of Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin, as well as Palm Beach. 
At the Stuart redistricting hearing, Senator Don Gaetz said that “…we tried to place into the Florida Consitution language that would recognize communities of interest as a legitimate criterion for districting, but the Florida Supreme Court threw that out.” 
There may be debate over whether ending the boundary at the Jupiter Inlet versus the county line, but one of these should be chosen rather than a golf course or park. Even if the park represents the southern boundary of the Town of Juno Beach, including portions of western Broward County and not coastal regions of northern Palm Beach County does not make sense under Florida’s constitutional requirements.
VII. Congressman West is not pushing for the inclusion of his home in Plantation in the new District 22.
Congressman West understands that the U.S. Constitution requires that U.S. House members need only reside in the state they represent. Article I, Section 2: “No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.” In other words: U.S. House members need only live in the state they represent to be eligible for their seat.
Congressman West has made the following statements on this topic in 2008: “The U.S. Constitution says only that a person must live in the state in which he is running for Congress … But I’m not trying to hide where I live. Yes, I live just outside the district. Part of Plantation is in District 22 and the other part in District 20. The dividing line is University Drive and I live about a mile from there.” 
In responding to questions about living outside of the current District 22, Congressman West stated during the 2010 campaign that “The [US] Constitution just says you have to live in the state you’re running in at the time of the election.” 
Please contact those referenced above to ask that the western portions of Broward County be removed from the proposed District 22 maps and that coastal areas of northern Palm Beach County be included. This would make the district compact and respect existing political and geographical boundaries in accordance with Florida’s Constitution.
cc: ALL MEDIA SOURCES
Cites & Research:
 Text of Amendments 5 & 6:
Article III, Section 20 . Standards for Establishing Legislative [Congressional] District Boundaries. In Establishing Legislative [Congressional] District Boundaries:
(a) No apportionment plan or individual district shall be drawn with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent; and districts shall not be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process or to diminish their ability to electrepresentatives of their choice; and districts shall consist of contiguous territory.
(c) The order in which the standards within subsections (a) and (b) of this section are set forth shall not be read to establish any priority of one standard over the other within that subsection.
 Watch the video of the Stuart testimony by clicking HERE. I have prepared a transcript of statements quoted above.
 See Boca Raton meeting transcript provided by the redistricting committee HERE. Some segments:
Mark Allen Siegel: “[Y]ou must keep in mind the…absolute integrity of county and city borders”
Bill Martin: “I think our area has been well-served by having coastal districts that are separate from the inland areas.”
John R. Smith: “Joining both the agricultural communities in the west and the coastal communities in the same district would ultimately disenfranchise both in Tallahassee.”
Robert Ganger, from the Florida Coalition for Preservation: “…consider the coastal communities…as one big district…and keep [them] as close together as you can.”
Iris Scheibl, from Palm Beach Gardens: “…coastal communities have more in common anywhere in the country than they would with the inland communities.”
 Anthony Man, Allen West would live in his congressional district under proposed map, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, November 29, 2011.
 Tia Mitchell, Senate Reapportionment Committee Releases New Maps, Tampa Bay Times, December 30, 2011.
 Steve Shale, Florida Congressional Redistricting, Senate Map, Take 1, and Congressional Districting, Take Two. The Florida House Weighs In, Steve Shale’s blog.
 Anthony Man, Proposed Map Gives Allen West more Dems, Debbie Wasserman Schultz More Republicans, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, November 30, 2011. See also John Kennedy,Redistricting Proposal by Florida’s GOP-run Senate doesn’t look good for U.S. Rep. West, Palm Beach Post, November 30, 2011.
 Congressional District 22 contains the counties of Broward and Palm Beach. Broward, as of the latest “October Active Voters by District/Precinct,” contained 76,192 Democrats, 69,229 Republicans, and 52,341 Others. Palm Beach, as of the latest “12-22-2011 Registration Tally Reported by Districts” contained 98,482 Democrats, 104,950 Republicans, and 76,874 Others. The totals are: 174,674 (36.5%) Democrats, 174,179 (36.4%) Republicans and 129,215 (27.0%) Others. Percentages are rounded.
 Wehner, Peter, The 2010 Midterm Election in Perspective, Commentary Magazine, November 10, 2010.
 Book closing statistics from the November 2010 elections, available on State Supervisor of Elections website, available HERE.
 See Footnote 7.
 Redistricting Florida Website, St. Petersburg Times and the Miami Herald.
 See Footnote 6.
 George Meros, Special Counsel for Reapportionment, Florida House of Representatives,Redistricting: Florida Constitutional Provisions, April 26-29, 2011.
 Proposed Congressional Districts District Descriptions (S000C9002) from the Florida Senate. Note: The descriptions and professional staff comments in this report do not reflect the intent or official position of person submitting plans or the Florida Senate.
 See Footnote 2.