Snyder Signs Controversial Oakland County Redistricting Bill

County Executive L. Brooks Patterson says Democrats who oppose the new law should 'get over it.'

Gov. Rick Snyder has reportedly signed a controversial bill that could overturn a map drawn by an Oakland County committee charged with redrawing districts after the 2010 Census. 

Quoted in the Detroit Free Press, Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said the governor signed the bill because it "brings greater transparency to the process" by ensuring that only elected officials participate in redrawing boundaries after the dececennial census. 

The new law puts the board of commissioners in charge of drawing new districts in counties with a population more than 1 million and an optional unified form of government with an elected county executive. Wayne County also meets the population threshold, but has a charter form of government, so Oakland is the only county affected by the new law.

With 25 commissioners, Oakland is also the only county affected by a new rule that limits the number of county commissioners to 21 in counties that have more than 50,000 residents. 

State Rep. Vicki Barnett (D-37th District) that she believes HB 5187 likely violated the state constitution, and county Democratic party chair Frank Houston told the Detroit Free Press today that a legal challenge to the new law is "imminent."

Monday, the Royal Oak City Commission  “Letting elected officials choose their voters… that could very well negatively impact Royal Oak and other communities throughout the county," Commissioner Kyle DuBuc said.

Democrats in the Legislature and on the Oakland County board voiced strong objections to the new law, calling it a partisan power grab. Seven of 10 Democratic commissioners walked out of a county board meeting last Thursday, after a resolution opposing the bill failed, The Detroit News reported.

Legal challenge to new map

The redistricting map was drawn by a bipartisan committee that includes county Republican and Democratic party chairs, the county clerk/register of deeds, county prosecutor and county treasurer. 

While the committee has a Democratic majority, the Board of Commissioners has a Republican majority. 

County Commissioner David Potts (R-Birmingham), Troy Mayor Janice Daniels and Southfield resident Mary Kathryn Decuir have filed a lawsuit that claims the map was gerrymandered to give Democrats a partisan advantage. According to The Detroit News, "the petition claims the map creates 'numerous non-compact districts' and 'unnecessarily divides communities of interest in the Pontiac and Southfield areas.'"

Two weeks before state Rep. Bradford Jacobsen (R-Oxford) introduced HB 5187, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the original map. Barnett said Dec. 9 that the timing makes the new law unconstitutional, because the legislature cannot pass a bill that reverses a legal court decision. The new law would require Oakland County to go back and redraw its map with a smaller number of districts, effectively overturning the appeals court ruling, she said. 

Barnett also believes the law qualifies as "local and special" under the state constitution, and such laws require a two-thirds majority vote, as well as an affirmative vote of the citizens in the affected jurisdiction. She said the law qualifies because it only affects Oakland County and will require the county to change its charter to reflect the smaller number of commissioners. 

Republicans apparently plan to continue their fight in court. Potts told Bloomfield Township officials at a recent meeting that his group intends to file an appeal of the map with the Michigan Supreme Court, . 

County Executive L. Brooks Patterson told the Detroit Free Press that he supports the new law, because of the estimated $250,000 in savings and greater efficiency with fewer county commissioners. He also argued that Democrats have made similar political moves at the state level on behalf of the city of Detroit and said Democrats should "get over it." 

Tim Bencsik December 24, 2011 at 12:44 AM
I dont shop at Walmart; please explain what is so bad about it! Not even sure what is so inteligent about non-descript, anonamous, imaginary person reference? It all about buying votes, at the top of Wallstreet, or enableing the welfare society. Free Cheese is Free Cheese! While we are fighting and using us in this game of more Debt and Welfare to get rich. Fawkes is a oxymoron; he hates government by his inuendo of a name he hides behind; but will take the government money from it; AKA Tax Payer Money? I don't see the logic of being right, or even rightous; just self rightous! Our Country has lost it's way; and the Constitution is the PREAMBLE; a few pages that is very clear to understand. aparently you all are much smarter than the founding fathers; too bad you were not there to consult them?
Lianne Mathie December 24, 2011 at 04:46 AM
Guy. Laugh MORE, Live better .Much better, my friend.
Daryl Patrishkoff December 24, 2011 at 12:00 PM
Tim, Guy is a coward, he hides behind a fake name, spews hate, bullies people and thinks he does not have to follow the rules of the Patch. He is not worth the time to respond to, he is on a hidden agenda. It would be nice if he grew up. There are several people just like him acting like fools that think they are clever, but just have nothing to add.
Tim Bencsik December 24, 2011 at 03:35 PM
Thanks; I feel alone out here! You would be supprised; my wife came from another Country; went throught the Detroit pubilc school system, and is working on finishing up her 3rd Masters Dergree; Finance, Accounting, MBA, and multiple languages. Worked for Large CEO's and he views, as well many other ethnic groups are more Conservative and self-reliant that the Americans. Nobody ever said to her, "Come here you poor little disinfranchised minority, you are too stupid, we need to help you." She did everything the right way, and pulled her self up by her own boot straps the hard way, working 3 jobs, 2 jobs since age 17 and helped her family move out of Detroit! I know the people around the world are laughing at us; and can you blame them? We are a joke!!!
DCC December 27, 2011 at 11:00 AM
In this and the new year, people should remember Governor Snyder teamed up with County Exec Brooks Patterson and County Commissioner Dwyer to indicate that it’s okay to circumvent the process by retroactively changing the results of an election. Snyder's veneer of "bipartisanship" has been totally stripped away. Fair-minded people can clearly see these "leaders" as the power hungry "band of brothers" they are, as well as how completely opposed they are to the democratic process. Remember, in each of Michigan’s 83 counties, the County Apportionment Commission - consisting of the county cleark, county treasurer, county prosecutor, and the heads of the county Republican and Democratic parties - draws the county commission districts every 10 years. The GOP seeks to change this in Oakland County ONLY, AFTER the Oakland County Apportionment Commission's map has received approval in court. They hope people were not paying attention, and shamelessly seek to obfuscate the move as a budgetary one. It is wrong, and those who support this power grab should be held accountable and thrown out of office. In the Farmington area, this means Commissioner Dwyer should be retired, again. We need representatives concerned with fairness, the rule of law, and regional progress for the county, not power grabs to ensure their control.


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