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Letters to the Editor: Responding to ‘A Soros in sheep’s clothing’

To the Editor:

The Clean Missouri ballot initiative is discussed at length in the Sept. 26 editorial. The key items mentioned are: “eliminate nearly all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly; require that legislative records be open to the public; lower contribution limits for state legislative candidates; require politicians to wait two years before becoming lobbyists; and make sure that our politicians focus on important priorities – not just on what big donors and lobbyists want.” Then, the editorial makes light of the last item, noting that it’s “our favorite.”

The editorial continues “but we also left one out … ensure that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census.” And the editorial reads, “Well, that does not seem to fit in with the other things, now does it?” Wow!

When I first read the editorial, I could tell from the sarcastic remarks that the writer was against the amendment. After rereading the comments, I can only assume the writer thinks we want our legislators to accept lobbyists’ gifts, we want legislative records not open to the public, we think its fine for politicians to quit and immediately become lobbyists, and we want the legislators to focus on what big donors and lobbyists tell them is in their best interests.

Finally, the writer assumes we think it is fine for one party to be given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn. Well, I see nothing radical about this initiative and will be pleased to vote in favor of Amendment 1. 

Carolyn Harris

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To the Editor:

In the Sept. 26 editorial “A Soros in sheep’s clothing,” the editorial writers accomplish a nearly impossible feat. They manage to spend 11 paragraphs discussing redistricting without once using the word “gerrymandering”.

As any civics student knows, the term refers to the practice of drawing district maps [after every census] so that the party in power can remain in power. In Missouri the Republicans do it, and in Illinois the Democrats do it. In both cases, it is wrong, and that is why a bipartisan group is working to get rid of gerrymandering by passing Amendment 1 this November.

The editors say that the proposal is “radically different from the redistricting process in place today.” Also, they ask “who would need such a thing?”

I have an answer to that: I would need such a thing, because I value representative democracy where my vote means something. Gerrymandering draws district boundaries in a convoluted way that groups the minority party into a few districts and arranges the rest so that the majority party has a small but dependable advantage in each one. My state representative district is shaped like a duck. These artificially strangely shaped districts would be eliminated under Amendment 1, which calls for a non-partisan demographer to draw the boundaries without regard to political party.

At the end of the editorial, the argument is made that the readers of West Newsmagazine should vote against this amendment because it has gotten support from billionaire George Soros. They don’t give any specific reason why this is a bad thing, but apparently the name Soros is synonymous with “boogeyman.” They say he has “evil intentions” without hinting at what they are. Well, I looked it up, and the money linked to the Soros organization is less than 10 percent of the total spent in favor of this amendment. The other 90 percent has been given by groups and people like me who want fair and clean politics.

I used the same tactic suggested by the editors and “followed the money” against Amendment 1. Not surprisingly, it includes Missouri First, an organization led by several state representatives from the party currently in power, including the representative of my own duck-shaped district, Dean Plocher. If he ever knocks on my door, I will be sure to ask him how he can be against the best chance we have of enacting ethics reform in Missouri.

John Danforth, one of the most respected and ethical politicians in Missouri is on record supporting Amendment 1. Please join him and many other Republicans and Democrats in voting “yes” on Amendment 1 this Nov. 6.

Al Gerber

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