After his testimony in front of the Senate panel on redistricting Friday, a lot of Alachua, Pasco, Sarasota and Volusia voters probably wish Clearwater Republican Jack Latvala was their senator, too.
Latvala doesn’t sit on the Senate Reapportionment Committee and instead had to sign up to speak during the panel’s public comment time. During his nine minutes in front of the microphone, the senator from Pinellas County offered a stern rebuke of the map — all while committee chair Bill Galvano stared ahead with his hand over his face.
“The week after next I’ll start my 14th year in the Florida Senate,” he said. “And in that 14 years I’ve never experienced being part of a body that basically admitted that we did something wrong, that admitted that we didn’t follow the constitution and now we’re all paying the price for that and have to be back here.”
Latvala said the map being voted Friday was “history repeating itself.”
Five of the six base maps kept Alachua County whole and the panel picked the one that didn’t, he said.
The panel also picked a map that cut Volusia County right down the middle of Daytona Beach even though the plaintiffs in the redistricting case have been asking for rationale on that decision since day one.
“A lot of the maps didn’t do that, but we picked the one that did,” he said.
Four of the six maps kept Pasco County whole, and one split it two ways, yet the panel approved the one map that split the county among three districts, he said.
And don’t get him started on the Sarasota County split, either, especially after the county was cut up by a congressional district line last month.
“We tried to fix that, this body tried to fix that, we tried to do the right thing,” Latvala said. “But lo and behold, we’ve now come along on Sarasota County and done the same thing to them again.
Latvala also attacked the map for its “miraculous” lack of incumbents running against each other and for how it skirts requirements for compactness.
“Take a look at District 7 on this map and tell me if you don’t think that district would be better represented by Senator Evers because it looks like a hand holding a gun,” Latvala said of the extensive Central Florida district. “I bet you Senator Evers would be very happy to try to represent that district.”
“I haven’t heard an explanation on why we’ve done some of that stuff,” Latvala said.
You know what, Senator Latvala? I haven’t heard an explanation either, but it should make for popcorn viewing if this map makes it back in front of the Florida Supreme Court.