21 January 2011

Reworking the Circuits
Could I do it better?

Yesterday, I showed the current court circuits and the proposed circuits. Both seemed flawed, but it didn't seem fair to critique if I couldn't offer my own solution so I sat down to see if I could work up something better. This is what I came up with (click on pic to get larger version):
I followed the rules I set out yesterday. No less than three polities per circuit. No more than 5 polities per circuit. If one polity surrounds another they only count as one polity.

Additionally, I tried to make sure each county seat in each circuit connected via the best possible road. Sometimes this was done serially. In other instances it was done radially with each seat being connected inward toward a point. Of course, it was impossible to do this perfectly, but I think I've done it better than either the current situation or the new plan discussed yesterday.

By changing the circuits so that they are small enough to be manageable, I ended up with 26 circuits. This is 5 less than currently extant and 7 more than the proposed plan.

I also fixed two problems with both the current circuit layout and the proposed one. The circuit in which Roanoke/Salem is in is no longer artificially small. There is no reason for Roanoke county and the polities surrounded by it can't be in a circuit with 4 other counties. I also made the entire Greater Richmond Area into a circuit. By doing this 3 polities which are naturally tied into each other are put together. It also allows more common sense groupings of the counties around them.

If the point is to make the best circuits possible, I think this is better than the plan which is being presented to the General Assembly.


Anonymous said...

Interesting. I have to say I agree about the greater Richmond circuit. I don't see why the James River should be treated like the Great Wall of China. I also think you did a good job with Southside.

A couple of criticisms:

(1) Unlike the SWVA circuits, your proposed 17th and 22nd circuits pay no mind to the Blue Ridge -- but that range is far more like the Great Wall than any river (assuming bridges). I'll bet you'd have some protest over this map from folks facing the haul from Charlottesville to Monterey, or from Stanardsville to Woodstock.

(2) Your proposed 7th circuit hardly escapes the earlier criticism about packing too much into one circuit: both Eastern Shore counties, plus Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Portsmouth? Seem like by far the biggest agglomeration on this map.

Anonymous said...

I should have added: your proposed 7th circuit in fact fails to meet the "no-more-than-5-polities" rule: Accomack, Northampton, VB, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Chesapeake = 6 (including 4 of the 7 cities of HR).

Ken Lammers said...

Good catch on the 17th and 22d. The 17th should probably be Highland, Augusta, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Page. The 22d should be Madison, Greene, Albemarle, and Nelson.

As for the proposed 7th, the Eastern Shore creates all sorts of difficulties. I either break the rules by making it a 2 county circuit or I glom it onto the one it connects to via the road. Personally, if it didn't violate the rules I laid out, I'd prefer making the Eastern Shore into its own circuit. I imagine that, even if it is attached to the southern circuit it will remain its own sub-circuit because it is isolated physically and culturally from the cities to the south. I can't see peeling off Portsmouth or Chesapeake from the 7th into the 6th. Everything from Chesapeake east is too intertwined and the primary road systems make it a poor choice to link them to the western circuit. I tried to adhere to the rules I set out to the best of my abilities, but this circuit may not allow it.

Anonymous said...

The Rappahannock Regional Jail, located in Stafford County, would have the jurisdictions that feed it split amoungst 3 districts: 25th (Stafford), 23rd (Spotsy & Fburg), and 19th (King George). The regional drug court and other common programs are equally shared amoung these jurisdictions also. Since these jurisdictions are "naturally tied into each other" I would group these four along with Caroline into one district.

Ken Lammers said...

Sorry, but commonalities such as regional jails and drug programs have to ignored if you are going to change the circuits. If they are not, nothing can be changed. Every county/city is tied into programs in its current jurisdiction. In fact, the worst problem that a circuit change would likely cause would be the collateral expenses as programs are shifted to accommodate the change. Not that the regional jail would have to change. I'm sure there are plenty of regional jails which deal with more than one circuit. I've even seen probation regions which are split across circuit lines. However, you are correct that courtcentric things, such as drug court, would have to change with the new circuits.

To be honest about it, any circuit change is going to hurt. I'm just trying to come up with a change that would provide the maximum long-term benefit along with the pain.

Anonymous said...

(I was the first Anonymous)

What's needed is a fast, reliable ferry across the Bay between Northampton Co. and Kilmarnock.

Clearly not the most cost-effective circuit adjustment, but I'd argue it would be the most aesthetically pleasing.