In case you missed it, the redistricting fight in Oakland County, now before the Michigan Supreme Court, has become increasingly embarrassing for some of Oakland’s top Republican officials.
At issue is whether Oakland County reconfigured their county commissioner districts to reduce the number of commissioners from 25 to 21, saving $250,000 a year, or whether the entire process was a purely partisan ruse to keep the Board of Commissioners under GOP control.
Emails obtained by the Oakland County Democratic Party under the Freedom of Information Act seem to expose this whole episode as pure, hardball politics.
The emails show that the 11th hour attempt to throw out the 25-district map, approved by a panel with a Democratic majority in the summer of 2011, was in reality not an exercise in fiscal responsibility ($250,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to the entire county budget). That was just a smokescreen.
What’s more, numerous GOP officials, including County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, arranged for the state legislation that made the gerrymandered, 21-district map legitimate.
Republicans involved in this behind-the-scenes drama include Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, Speaker Jase Bolger, Oakland County Republican State Reps. Eileen Kowall and Marty Knollenberg, Oakland County Clerk Bill Bullard and Patterson.
In early December, the House bill quickly made its way through the GOP-controlled Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Snyder on Dec. 19.
The official who comes out looking the worst is Kowall of White Lake, who just filed for re-election two weeks ago. In a Sept. 6, 2011, email she warns that a Democratic majority on the county board would “ruin” Oakland County.
Then Kowall shamelessly wrote this: “I guess it would also help to have a legitimate explanation as to why we waited until now, after redistricting plans have been submitted, to take these bills up. I’m thinking that we claim we were having trouble agreeing on how many seats the BOC (Board of Commissioners) would ultimately have.”
That sounds as bad as how making sausage looks.