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Redistricting commission OKs raise, appoints new leadership

A sign points out a Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission meeting in Midland.
Brett Dahlberg

Michigan’s redistricting commission is once again raising its wages to 35% of the governor’s salary during the time it's redrawing state legislative districts in response to a federal court order.

Constitutionally, the commissioners are supposed to make at least 25% of what the governor makes. That’s what they had been taking home under a dormancy plan for a span where the commission had little to do other than fight lawsuits.

But a federal court decision issued last year requiring the commission to redraw a handful of state House and Senate district maps around Detroit means it’s been more active, hence the push for a higher salary during that period.

The plan passed by a vote of 9-4.

Commissioner Rebecca Szetela was among those who voted against the raise. She said even if the commission is drawing maps again, the amount of work didn’t justify the raise.

“From January 1 to yesterday, so March 20, I calculated that we worked 126.4 hours. That works out to a little more than 11 hours a week, and if you actually figure out the hourly wage for that, it’s about $63 an hour,” Szetela said.

The 35% pay rate would retroactively stretch from January 15 through March 3.

It would kick back in again when the commission starts working on Senate mapping. The dates would be based off a timeline set in a court order.

The decision to adopt the new wage plan comes as the commission received news that it had already spent over 55% of its budget within the first four months of its fiscal year.

Szetela said the commission needs to be more frugal.

“Rather than kind of checking what we’re spending on, we’re proposing raising our costs by raising salaries. That just seems extremely irresponsible from a fiscal perspective,” she said.

At its Thursday meeting, the commission also adopted new leadership.

It chose independent Commissioner Anthony Eid to lead the group, after around half the group declined to accept nominations.

Eid said he didn’t particularly want the position. But he said he’s willing to serve.

“I will do it the best I can. I will just try to keep things orderly and move the work forward. I’ll try to follow Robert’s Rules as best I can and make sure that we speak in one voice,” Eid said, referencing the rules that govern the commission's meeting procedures.

Commissioner Brittni Kellom won her bid to become vice chair.