OLYMPIA — The Washington State Redistricting Commission is meeting Thursday morning to discuss how to best resolve an impasse between the Republican and Democratic commissioners working to define legislative districts in Eastern Washington. The announcement that a significant roadblock

After each of the commission’s four partisan appointees released their proposals in September, House Democratic appointee Dean Foster and House Republican appointee Tom Huff received the assignment to produce final proposals for Southwest and Eastern Washington.

With the tickertape still sailing Wednesday morning after the day’s main event – the presentation by Senate Senate Republican appointee Slade Gorton and Senate Democratic appointee Tim Ceis of a new congressional map and the reveal of where the state’s new 10th congressional district would be situated – Foster announced that talks on Eastern Washington’s legislative redistricting had stalled.

The inability to come to an agreement on Eastern Washington’s districts has the potential to erase the work done by the commission over the course of a year and at the cost to taxpayers of roughly $1 million. Should the commission fail to vote approval of a package containing a congressional and a legislative map, the job of creating final maps will fall to the State Supreme Court.

The cause of the breakdown, according to Foster, was a key difference in how the districts of Yakima in Central Washington would be constructed to create at least one district that would contain a majority Hispanic population.

Republican sources, however, paint a very different picture, telling NW Daily Marker that the Democratic team has pushed forward several demographic requirements for Hispanic representation, presenting a moving target that Republicans chased until, reportedly, the Democratic team made a last minute adjustment to the desired demographic target that exceeded all previous numbers put forward by Foster’s team.

In Huff’s comments during Thursday’s open meeting, he described in documented detail the timeline of negotiations with Foster, a history that appears to show bad faith on the part of Democrats in reaching agreement on Yakima’s 14th and 15th legislative districts. The straw that broke the Republican’s resolve to compromise was the dramatic shift in Foster’s proposal between December 21st and Wednesday morning, according to Huff who states Foster began with a proposal for a 50.49% Hispanic 15th district only to drop his proposal containing a 61.46% Hispanic 15th district proposal on the table in the eleventh hour of talks. Huff’s proposal of December 23rd was for a 50.61% Hispanic 15th district.

Huff also indicated that he would be willing to revisit the 29th legislative district in Western Washington, a district would have been a majority-minority district based on Huff’s initial proposal.

Cherry Cayabyab speaking for United for Fair Representation, expressed appreciation to Huff for proposing to reopen talks on the 29th district.


[photo credit: CrazySphinx]