Eye On Illinois: Remap debate was destined for courtroom resolution

This is always where it was headed.

When Gov. JB Pritzker signed off on new legislative maps on June 4, page designers dusted off the “Illinois Republicans sue over Democrat-drawn districts” headlines from 2011. Sure enough, five days later, Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie and House Minority Leader Jim Durbin followed in the decade-old footsteps of Christine Radogno and Tom Cross, filing a lawsuit alleging the Democrats’ maps are unfairly discriminatory.

The specifics of each lawsuit are different, most notably in that the 2021 version targets Democrats’ use of American Community Survey data rather than official 2020 census data, although the ACS is a function of the U.S. Census Bureau. But given the track record in Illinois, some sort of lawsuit was inevitable after the Democrats drew the maps, so the status quo is anything but surprising.

In their July 14 motion to dismiss, Democrats said the GOP challenges – consolidated with a lawsuit from the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund – are speculative until the full census data arrives on Aug. 16. They also say the request for federal judges to intervene by forcing the creation of a redistricting commission or directly appointing someone to redraw maps would be an improper intervention into a state matter.

An Aug. 24 status hearing might be instructive, but it seems more likely the real resolution won’t come until a trial set to begin in late September. In the meantime, candidates are making decisions as if the maps are settled.

May as well brace now for the rerun in 2031.

This day in history: On July 22, 1993, a Mississippi River levee ruptured outside Kaskaskia in downstate Randolph County, flooding the entire town and forcing its three dozen residents to evacuate on barges. It was one of more than 1,000 levee failures up and down the Mississippi and Missouri rivers that month, part of flooding that killed 52 people and resulted in $18 billion in damages, which is about $33.8 billion in 2021 dollars. Now, 28 years later, 21.4% of the state is between abnormally dry and extreme drought, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System.

Culinary Checklist: I’ve invited readers to share favorite menu items from Illinois restaurants to create a collaborative “must-eat” list for summer road trips. Today’s comes from a high school friend who dotted the map by suggesting biscuits and gravy from Merry Ann’s Diner in Urbana and the ribeye steak sandwich with onion rings at Ulrich’s Rebellion Room in Peoria. He also commends the work of our mutual friend Zak Dolezal, the culinary mastermind behind Duke’s Alehouse and Kitchen in Crystal Lake, specifically, the inferno fries and hot chicken sandwich. Share your favorites via email or social media.

• Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on Twitter @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.