In response to an extensive report filed last night by Jim Davis regarding the first congressional redistricting plan, the director of the Legislative Services Agency, Glen Dickinson, defended the plan to the press today. In an email that was obtained by TheIowaRepublican.com today, Dickenson expressly advocated the legality of the plan, which is currently under consideration by the Iowa General Assembly.
In doing so, Dickenson may have violated Chapter 2A.1(4) of the Iowa Code which explicitly prohibits the “director and all other employees of the legislative services agency” from being “identified as advocates or opponents of issues subject to legislative debate except as otherwise provided by law or by the legislative council.”
Because there does not appear to be any law that authorizes the director to single out public comments made by private citizens, like Davis, and advocate for or against such comments while the congressional redistricting plans are under consideration by the Iowa legislature, Dickenson may have violated state law.
As a result, Dickenson may have just proven the very point the Davis report was attempting to prove – the Legislative Services Agency may be becoming an unaccountable independent agency that is skirting the rule of law in Iowa.
Below is Dickinson’s email.
From: “Dickinson, Glen [LEGIS]” <Glen.Dickinson@legis.state.ia.us>
Date: April 7, 2011
Subject: LSA Response to Mr. Davis Redistricting Report
Recipients of the Congressional Redistricting Report by Mr. Jim Davis,
The press has asked the LSA to comment on the a personal report delivered to the Speaker of the House, the Office of the Governor, the President of the Senate, the Legislative Services Agency, and the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission on April 6, 2011, by Mr. James D. Davis of Bettendorf, Iowa. The report is entitled “Congressional Redistricting in Iowa, Comments in Opposition to the First Redistricting Plan of 2011.” I wanted to share with you our response to questions from the press.
The report is critical of the Legislative Services Agency (LSA), and its predecessor agency, the Legislative Service Bureau, alleging that the LSA, in submitting plans in the present and last three redistricting cycles, failed to apply the congressional redistricting standards as adopted by Iowa’s elected officials. The report singles out the convenience standard under Iowa Code §42.4 as the standard that the LSA has failed most often to apply, interpret, and analyze. The report concludes that the Iowa legislature should instruct the LSA on the proper meaning of the convenience standard but the report itself does not propose a meaning for the convenience standard.
Regarding the first 2011 redistricting plan submitted to the Iowa General Assembly on March 31, 2011, Mr. Davis’s report states on page 10 that “the LSA selected only two standards to establish congressional districts, including population equality and respect for political subdivisions“ and that “[the] LSA made no mention of other legally mandated standards, such as contiguousness, convenience, and compactness.” The LSA respectfully disagrees with this statement in Mr. Davis’s report.
The first sentence of the LSA’s memorandum, entitled “First Redistricting Plan,” as submitted to the Iowa General Assembly on March 31, 2011, states as follows:
“Pursuant to Chapter 42 of the 2011 Code of Iowa, the Legislative Services Agency delivers to the Iowa General Assembly identical bills embodying a plan of legislative and Congressional districting prepared in accordance with the U.S. Constitution, the Iowa Constitution, and Iowa Code section 42.4.” [emphasis added]
The LSA memorandum on pages 2 and 3 describes the statutory standards of population equality, respect for political subdivision boundaries (the Iowa Constitution defines this as county boundaries for congressional districting), convenient contiguous territory, and compactness.
The LSA memorandum on page 4, referring to both Congressional and legislative districts, states as follows:
“Plan selection was based solely upon population, the numbers of counties and cities kept whole for legislative districts, the presence of conveniently contiguous territory within each district, and the compactness of each district.”
The LSA in all respects applied all constitutional and statutory standards in preparing the first congressional redistricting plan.
Note: Mr. Davis’s report alleges that the LSA misapplied the perimeter compactness standard as a standard for convenient contiguous territory. The LSA, as required by statute, applied the perimeter compactness standard only as a compactness standard.
Director, Legislative Services Agency
Des Moines, IA 50319
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