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Senate mea culpa means zip without Fair Districts

Senate admission don't mean a thing without that Fair Districts swing

Don't look now, but swine are airborne, the damned are doing figure 8s in a certain suddenly arctic Southern clime, and the calendar reads the Twelfth of Never.

That's because Floridians Tuesday witnessed the improbable. The state Senate 'fessed up, admitting it violated the state constitution three years ago with new election maps it drafted for itself.

Tell us something we didn't know. Now, to rectify matters, lawmakers will again try redrawing Senate boundaries in a special session this fall.

An apology it wasn't. Surely, the Senate would've cribbed from comedienne April Winchell — "I can wholeheartedly apologize for not being at all sorry. And it really is the least I can do." — had it feigned regret.

After all, from the beginning, Florida's pols stood in brazen opposition of the proposed constitutional amendment to recast how Florida drew its voting districts. (Remember then-Senate president-designate Mike Haridopolos imperiously ordering Fair Districts activist Ellen Freidin to "look at me" during a 2010 hearing?).

"Who's against fair districts? Nobody is," quoth the Haridopolos.

Except state lawmakers. They connived whatever they could to drive a stake through the two citizen initiatives, bundled as Fair Districts, meant to uncork democracy by forcing lawmakers to junk drawing often-serpentine districts preferential to pols or parties, while creating contiguous and compact districts.

There was Amendment 7, meant to "clarify" the Fair Districts amendments. Yet, a judge didn't swallow lawmakers' cynical poison pill, discarding it. Then came lawsuits by U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown and Mario Diaz-Balart, first to ban Fair Districts from the ballot, and later, after nearly 63 percent of voters embraced the amendments, to invalidate Amendment 6 because of a faux threat to minority districts.

And who can forget Gov. Rick Scott, who tried to quash the will of voters by stalling federal approval on implementation?

Yet, this month, Florida's Supreme Court stepped in. Republican operatives and consultants conspired to taint the state's redistricting process in 2012, the court concluded. Eight of the state's 27 districts advantaged Republicans or incumbents, violating the constitution.

The court — for the second time — ordered lawmakers to generate a map of congressional districts that honors Fair Districts. They have 100 days.

Sadly, the senatorial concession wasn't an act of conscience, but the reality of being caught with its mitts in the cookie jar.

So, thanks for the confession. And thanks for wasting years and millions of tax dollars subverting the will of the people. And thanks for sticking taxpayers with yet another bill — the fall skull session likely will exceed the $156,411 that special sessions have averaged since 2000.

Maybe, this once, before a blue moon, lawmakers can sublimate the craven self-interest that too long has controlled the process — and finally bring voters closer to the fair elections they've pined for.

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