Key Point: "Senate President Mike Haridopolos should toss him off. But neither he nor the redistricting committee chairman, Don Gaetz, seem bothered by fellow Republican Hays' remarks. Haridopolos said, 'I think [Hays] regrets what he might have said.' That's about as pathetic as what Hays did say. Gaetz, who'll succeed Haridopolos as Senate president, declined comment last week. That's leadership?"
Orlando Sentinel: Remove Sen. Alan Hays from redistricting panel
And these should disqualify Sen. Alan Hays from sitting on a panel charged with drawing congressional and legislative districts: "We all know there are many Hispanic-speaking people in Florida that are not legal," Hays said at an Oct. 18 meeting of the Senate redistricting panel, "and I just don't think that it's right that we try to draw a district that encompasses people that really have no business voting anyhow."
One needn't be a grammarian to draw districts. So we'll excuse Hays' embarrassing "Hispanic-speaking" gaffe.
But we can't excuse Hays for his daft and ultimately demeaning suggestion that legislators summarily rule out drawing a Hispanic-majority district because some of the district's residents might be illegal immigrants. And it's unacceptable that he disparaged Hispanics as a group by saying "we all know" many of them are illegal.
Because Hays has refused to explain himself or offer an apology, we can only assume that he stands by what he said. And conclude that he's unfit to serve on the committee.
Senate President Mike Haridopolos should toss him off. But neither he nor the redistricting committee chairman, Don Gaetz, seem bothered by fellow Republican Hays' remarks. Haridopolos said, "I think [Hays] regrets what he might have said." That's about as pathetic as what Hays did say. Gaetz, who'll succeed Haridopolos as Senate president, declined comment last week. That's leadership?
Hispanics make up the state's fastest growing minority. Hays know it. Haridopolos knows it. Gaetz knows it. More than 700,000 are concentrated in Central Florida, possibly compelling Gaetz's committee to draw a Hispanic-majority congressional district.
We'll see. But however many illegal immigrants live in the area shouldn't affect how legislators draw districts. Districts are supposed to be drawn based on U.S. Census head counts, and the Census includes most everyone; not just retired dentists like Hays, but children and even illegal immigrants.
Hays' fear that illegal immigrants in a largely Hispanic district also would vote isn't supported. Election supervisors say illegal immigrants' voting isn't a problem.
Gaetz's committee has said it will protect minority representation. But Hays' presence on the panel mocks that mission.
Several Republican officials, including GOP chairmen from Orange and Osceola counties, have demanded that Haridopolos remove Hays from the committee. Absent an apology from him, they say Hays is unfit to play a role in redistricting.
They're right. Haridopolos should cut him loose.