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|Gallot flexes his muscles|
State Rep. Rick Gallot of Grambling reminded us recently that his voice will be heard in the upcoming brouhaha over reapportionment.
As chairman of the House and Governmental Affairs Committee, Gallot will ride herd over any legislation that's introduced in the state House of Representatives to deal with reapportionment and redistricting when lawmakers convene a special legislative session beginning in March. Let us recall that reapportionment concerns redrawing the state's congressional districts in the wake of the 2010 Census. Redistricting represents redrawing state legislative districts and other districts – Public Service Commission, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, etc... – that are represented by individuals who are elected by the people.
Remember, Louisiana has been represented by seven members in the U.S. House of Representatives since reapportionment following the 1990 Census. We are losing one of the congressional districts this year because states like California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas experienced significant population growth over the past decade. Since congressional districts across the country must be reapportioned every 10 years to reflect population trends among the 435 House districts, states that show little growth or lose population over a decade are forced to give up representation to accommodate states that are on the move, or growing.
Gallot flexed his muscles, so to speak, in response to a news item peddled late last week by Congressman Rodney Alexander's office. According to Alexander and Co., the state's congressional delegation was in agreement on a reapportionment plan that would ensure northern Louisiana would maintain two seats in the U.S. House in light of the state's abysmal population growth over the past 10 years. The Alexander plan (let's call it that for the time being) would do what we've anticipated for some time now. That being it would basically leave in tact Alexander's 5th District based in Monroe and Congressman John Fleming's 4th District based out of Shreveport. The other four congressional districts would divvy up roughly two-thirds of the state's population, which resides south of Interstate 10. The lone majority minority district (Congressman Cedric Richmond's) would continue to be based out of New Orleans, while the congressman who would see his district disappear is Jeff Landry in the 3rd District.
To paraphrase, Gallot said thank you but no thank you to the congressional delegation's offering. He was polite about it, but he made his point. Very clearly.
Landry has since expressed his displeasure with the Alexander plan. He apparently was in agreement with it when it was hashed out at a Chinese restaurant in Washington, but he changed his mind. That should not be surprising to anyone who has followed reapportionment in the past. No member of the House willingly goes along with efforts to force that member into the unemployment arena.
It's anyone's guess why Gallot seized the opportunity to exert his authority over reapportionment when he commented to the media about the congressional delegation's own reapportionment plan. It could be that Gallot would like to see a second majority minority congressional district drawn in northern Louisiana since one-third of the state's population is comprised of minorities. After all, Louisiana now has six congressional districts, and it is certainly reasonable to argue that one-third of them should be represented by minorities.
Gallot also could be jockeying for a majority minority state Senate district to be drawn to his liking since he's term-limited and cannot seek re-election to his state House seat. Or Gallot simply is working to keep in his name in the public's eye, knowing that any feathers he ruffles over reapportionment in the white community most likely will yield dividends for him among his core base of support in the black community.
Take your pick in deciding what Gallot is up to.
It would be unfair, though, to accuse Gallot of simply playing politics with reapportionment and/or redistricting. Remember, he is chairman of the House committee that has jurisdiction over those issues. If he didn't exert his influence, he would be guilty of abdicating his responsibilities.
Besides, this is the United States of America, and every legal citizen of it has the right to question their government and the men and women who run it. Regardless of who is offended by it.