Roy Barnes knows “petty politics” when he sees it

Former Governor Roy Barnes is an expert on redistricting, having unveiled an unprecedently partisan redistricting plan more than ten years ago which divided Georgia voters, diluted their votes through the use of multi-member districts for the State House, paired GOP incumbents simply because he could, and ultimately was held unconstitutional as violating the one person, one vote principle .

In addition to these travesties, Barnes’s Senate map created a district 51 that looped across North Georgia with a thin land bridge connecting two very different populations, and which took a newspaper reporter eight hours to travel.

Why bother revisiting this history, since the GOP took over the state legislature and passed the first redistricting maps to gain Justice Department preclearance during my 20-year+ career in politics? Because the same Roy Barnes is now complaining that politics has divided his hometown of Mableton as the Cobb County delegation redistricts county commissions seats.

At issue is the Mableton area in south Cobb that would be split into two commission districts under a proposed map drawn by Reps. Rich Golick and Ed Setzler. All of Mableton is currently in the southwest district represented by Commissioner Woody Thompson. The proposed map carves the Mable House complex, including the Mable House Barnes Amphitheatre, out of Thompson’s district and places it in that of southeast Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott.

The lawmakers said they had to even out the size of the four districts after west Cobb commission districts grew faster than the east ones, and they argue that it gives Mableton more representation.

…Barnes, a Mableton native, who called the decision to divide Mableton “petty politics.”

“I think it’s a shame and disgrace that Mableton, which is the only community other than Smyrna, which has pulled itself up by its own bootstraps and is trying to redevelop and has aggressive plans to do so, now is being slapped in the face by the legislative delegation and by the commission in failing to keep Mableton together in one district,” he said.

Roy Barnes knows about petty politics and slapping voters in the face, so it must be true, right? Or perhaps its just proof that Barnes has no shame and that there is no limit to his hypocrisy.

29 comments

  1. Dave Bearse says:

    The 2002 redistricting was deplorable, and Barnes paid a price for it.

    It remains to be seen if any price will be paid for such things as redistrciting Doraville into pieces yet placing a non-existent City of Brookhaven in a single district that conveniently eliminated those within the district that would be most adversely impacted by incorporation.

    • Oh yes, the old “multi-member” districts trick. Roy and Murphy made one last ditch effort to hold on to power a few more years. That effort put Gerrymadering on a whole new level.

  2. David1502 says:

    The area of “Mableton” which Barnes and Thompson are concened with is Vinings Estates (which is in the City of Smyrna) and the other more expensively priced neighborhoods along Cooper Lake Road as well as the somewhat older, (yet attracive) neighborhoods along Nickajack Road. These neighborhooods lean Republican, and have more in common in political philosophy and lifestyle with the communities to their east in Smyrna than the more working class neighborhoods of Mableton and Southwestern Cobb. Since the county commission districts are required to be roughly equal in population, where does Woody Thompson suggest that District 2 gets its additional population and where else he is willing to give up population from his district so each district can reach equivalency? It seems logical to put the residents in East Mableton in a district which they will have more in common with rather than being forced to be in a district which they will be the few Republicans in a sea of liberal Democrats.

    • Mick says:

      I distinctly remember Barnes making the case, when he split up towns with multiple Representatives and Senators, that it was an advantage for those communities, since they would have more representation in Atlanta. Mableton will have two members on the County Commission, but now he seems to believe having multiple representatives from the same town is a bad thing – I’m so confused.

  3. zedsmith says:

    A story about gerrymandering isn’t a story— lets make it about the hypocrisy of a former elected official; Now that’s news you can use!

    • Funny thing is Woody used to be a Republican who used to be a Democrat who is now a Democrat. Confused? Me too, but that’s a true story. I guess it’s a woman’s and Woody’s perogative to change his mind. He could always swicth again.

      • Mick says:

        If this had been an attempt to save a Democrat, there would be silence from Barnes. If Thompson doesn’t like it, he can always switch parties again.

    • David1502 says:

      You have hit the nail on the head about what the motivation is for both Woody Thompson and Roy Barnes – they are trying to save a seat for a white Democrat, an endangered species. If you look at Southwest Cobb, the area is fast becoming heavily majority black, however, the Cooper Lake Rd. corridor area is pretty stable and is not expereincing the “white flight”” which other areas have experienced. Thompson fears that he will face a black opponent in the Democratic primary and not have a chance to stay in office. However, his effort may be futile as I doubt that many of the white (most likely Republican) voters in Mableton whom he is trying to keep in his District (District 4) are going to vote in a Democratic Primary, anyway.

  4. Mick says:

    This post demonstrates how important blogging has become. Before the days of the internet, the AJC had a virtual monopoly on all information about our politicians. The AJC has never loved a Governor more than Roy Barnes in the last 50 years.

    How much do you want to bet, if Sonny Perdue came out and demanded more ethics regulations, that the AJC article would contain a reference to Oaky Woods. Yet, the architect of the most egregious political districts since the county unit system, can come out and whine about some run-of-the-mill gerrymandering, and the AJC protects him with silence. The man disenfranchised millions of Georgia voters until the Federal courts took over and drew new districts.

    Fortunately, there are other sources of information now.

  5. SallyForth says:

    Okay, brainiacs – have any of you considered the fact that Mableton is Roy’s hometown and that of his family for generations, and the simple fact that he doesn’t want to see it split in half? ‘Didn’t think so.

    Also, about the big obfuscation surrounding the 2002 redistricting: the maps drawn by the Dem Legislature and signed by Gov. Barnes are NOT what we Georgians ended up with. The Bush administration’s DOJ had more balz than the current one, and the Repubs in DC forced the lines to be redrawn as they instructed, would not approve for the 2002 elections until so done. This is what created the media circus surrounding that decennial redistricting, over which Barnes and the Dems actually had no control. After the Repubs took control of the Legislature during the oughts, they redrew various district lines around the state at their whim and got automatic approvals from the Repub DOJ. Doncha think it’s about time to stop blaming Barnes for what our fine-feathered Republicans did?

          • SallyForth says:

            Not if it’s what actually happened. No, they didn’t say “Thou shalt have multi-member districts.” They just required packing of districts and boundary lines that resulted in that.

            • Harry says:

              That’s interesting, because I must’ve slept through the episode in which a Bush DOJ mandate resulted in Barnes needing to form packed, multi-member districts to provide Democratic majorities therein, and drew GOP districts which managed to contain up to 10% more population than adjacent Democratic districts.

              • SallyForth says:

                Yep, you must’ve been sleeping through all those months of sending documents and maps to DC, getting them sent back with orders to change, resubmitting, etc.

                Like the old saying about the proof being in the pudding, the 2002 and 2004 elections produced fewer Dems at the Statehouse, more Repubs….. using those districts, the Repubs took the State Senate in 2002 and the House in 2004 elections. The Bush administration’s DOJ did a really sweet job for the Republican Party in GA – all the while selling the cockamamie story that Barnes and the Democrats actually wanted those districts!!

            • Calypso says:

              Well, Todd, if you had gone online and spent $499 for the Ph.D. program Charlie did, you wouldn’t have to ask such a question. 🙂

  6. Craig Kootsillas says:

    Barnes also pushed through BIG changes in the South Cobb Development Authority last year.

    http://cobbhomeowner.org/warehouse/SCDA/scdaLegislation.pdf

    It used to be kind of an oddball development authority… three elected by biz owners in footprint, three elected by homeowners in the footprint, one appointed by BOC. Now they’re all appointed by some weird formula.

    And with all the noise about the rail out of Cumberland, no one noticed “Premium rail” that now is attracting funding running through Mableton along US 78/278.

    This started out as a highlighted line on a 1998 study that was revised in 2010 – but absolutely no words or figures refer to US 78 / 278 in the study.

    There exists no record of any deliberations about this transit line.

    It’s absolutely amazing what Barnes has been able to accomplish through CDOT.

  7. Craig Kootsillas says:

    shoot… i forgot…

    In the legislative changes for the South Cobb Development Authority, the footprint was changed.

    It was changed to fit Barnes’ Mableton – and to include the footprint of the ongoing (about to be finalized) Six Flags LCI study.

    This has been confirmed by two at the highest level of Cobb gov’t.

  8. Craig Kootsillas says:

    I guess you really can’t call what Barnes did “petty politics”. I think he’s just carping because he has to put two on his payroll.

  9. SallyForth says:

    Republicans have had control of Georgia for the last decade, yet some folks still keep carping about Governor Barnes (who has not been in office since 2002) and overlooking all the cruddy things done by Governor Perdue and that bastion of goodness, Speaker Richardson. Funny how bias works…..

    • Charlie says:

      Funny Sally, I’ve written three columns this week. One took the Republican SOS to task for claiming celebrity status as to why his hunting trip shouldn’t have appeared on a lobbyist disclosure. One outlined the problems with the Senate Republican Rules Committee Chair and his apparent abuse of his position, campaign accounts, and per diem reimbursements. One called out the 2010 Republican legislature for extending a hotel motel tax, and the current legislature (plus the “non-partisan” mayor) for giving a well connected billionaire a half billion tax dollars instead of investing in infrastructure.

      Your comments here are generally railing against Newt Gingrich and licking Roy Barnes’ boots.

      I won’t even begin to decribe how badly delusional you have to be to somehow think that the Barnes’ maps from 2002 were the work of the Bush administration. But as you sit here, answering yourself when no one is posting, I think it’s quite clear where the bias is.

      • SallyForth says:

        Aw, Charlie, I don’t like the taste of shoe polish, and I also get all cranked up about that whole “Let’s take over women’s uteruses!” thing too. 🙂 Plus lots of other interesting things that get my attention here on P/P when I cruise by. And yes, I notice that you personally seem to be pretty even-handed about calling out bad behavior on all sides.

        But I must not be sitting here answering myself “when no one is posting” – you are obviously here, guy. But my eyes are slamming shut, so goodnight.

  10. Bridget says:

    So…anyone else see TSPLOST politics rearing it’s ugly head?

    What shall Governor Deal do? My bet is side with Former Governor Barnes in this case.

    Governor Deal wants TSPLOST to pass. Depending on how Cobb Commissioners vote, Cobb County could sue about TIA being unconstitutional. Don’t get me wrong – I think we’ll sue regardless because Tim Lee will be replaced, but helping Woody keep this seat would ensure TIA support.

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