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Eye On Boise

Sun., Sept. 4, 2011, 7:07 p.m.

Redistricting talks end for night in bitter partisan breakdown, no deal

After a day of promising negotiations, work toward developing new legislative and congressional district lines has broken down badly this evening, with Republican and Democratic redistricting commissioners bitterly blaming each other. In Ada County, "We've put all of their incumbents in safe districts and that's not good enough," declared GOP Commissioner Lou Esposito. "And quite honestly I'm really fed up with where we're at at this point. If this is the style of negotiating, where we're given a map, and then we end up going back and forth and then we get the original map thrown in our face ... we're not gonna get there." He particularly objected to Democrats sticking with a district that paired downtown Boise with Eagle. "It's all about incumbent protection," he said.

Esposito said Democrats made a deal to vote on a congressional district map earlier but reneged; Democratic Commissioner Allen Andersen strongly disagreed. "There was never an agreement to vote on a congressional district, and I resent the fact that you keep saying that there was," he told Esposito. Democratic Commissioner Goerge Moses said there was a two-sided agreement: "We with some reluctance would agree that we would find our way to support a line that we didn't especially care for, it appeared to us to be an incumbent protection line, but we would vote for it, in return the vote for that would be delayed until we had a map of both the congressional and the legislative sides to vote on. It was a very clear understanding."

Said Moses, "We presented map after map. ... We presented five maps, we asked our colleagues to pick one, any one, either move it or tell us what was wrong with it. We got a number of suggestions for improvement, none of which involved Ada County. We were led to believe that there wasn't a problem with Ada County. ... What I'm seeing today are maps that go back to the original Republican proposal to take northeast parts of Ada County and ship it off to  Boise County, and to take southeast parts of Ada County and ship 'em off to Canyon County. ... Suddenly today we're back at the start."

The commissioners have adjourned until tomorrow morning at 10. "Unfortunately it has broken down tonight," said GOP Co-Chairman Evan Frasure. "I don't see much hope in reviving it this evening. ... If this is the art of compromise, we're not there."

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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