NewsPub Notes

Republican Legislators Play Games With Athens Voters

Editor’s note: This is satire.

Flagpole: It has recently come to light that you are an expert Sudoku player. What attracts you to Sudoku?

State Sen. Bill Cowsert (R–Walton, Oconee, Clarke): I don’t know. I guess I just like fitting stuff between the lines, but I get a lot of help from my team: Sen. Frank Ginn (R–Jackson, Madison, Clarke) and Representatives Marcus Wiedower (R–Oconee, Clarke) and Houston Gaines (R–Barrow, Jackson, Oconee, Clarke).

FP: In case some readers don’t know, Sudoku (weekly in Flagpole) is a “logic-based, combinatorial number-placement puzzle” (Wikipedia)—not to be confused with Sodoku, a form of rat-bite fever. But why doesn’t your team include the one legislator who represents only Clarke County, Spencer Frye?

BC: Oh, he’s a Democrat. See, Sudoku is all about including what you want and excluding what you don’t. Democrats just want to include everybody.

FP: But how did it come about that you and your team were asked to apply your Sudoku skills to reapportioning Athens-Clarke County?

BC: Funny you should ask that. What was supposed to be a routine reapportionment by the ACC commission staff turned out to be maybe the best test yet to our Sudoku smarts. See, your commissioner Mike Hamby thinks some of his colleagues are too “progressive,” which as you know is a code word for “liberal,” which everybody knows means “socialist.” So I told Mike, “You know, if y’all can’t get it done, the legislature will have to do it.” So he got a couple of commissioners to go along with him to block it locally, and it fell right into our laps. Mike wanted to get on our Sudoku team so he could be sure to knock out those commissioners he doesn’t like, but we just told him to leave it to us experts.

FP: Was it difficult to apply Sudoku to an actual real-life situation like redistricting a whole city-county?

BC: You might say it was our greatest challenge. I mean, we’ve been in tournaments against other experts and done all right, but the hard part about this one was how to fill most of the squares but leave others blank. That just doesn’t come up in your usual Sudoku.

FP: How did that work?

BC: Well, see, Hamby told us to aim at Districts 3, 5 and 7—to just cut them out from under the commissioners those citizens had elected. You can look at the map and see how hard that was. We had to take those 10 districts, each one with a commissioner, and end up with 10 districts, but with three of them not having a commissioner. We really had to juggle and cut some fine lines. Tough.

FP: But Sudoku only has nine squares.

BC: Yeah. We just pretty much left Mike’s district out of it—you know, professional courtesy.

FP: But since this is a real-life situation, aren’t you afraid of backlash from all these voters you just stripped of their elected commissioners?

BC: You just got to remember where we’re coming from. This game didn’t start yesterday. It may look like we represent Athens, but in every one of our districts we’ve got a majority out there in Walton and Jackson and Madison and Oconee. Athens can’t touch me, and it can’t touch Ginn or Wiedower or Gaines. We’re golden, thanks to all those good folks outside Athens.

FP: Well, it’s just amazing how you have turned your hobby into a political instrument, but y’all don’t have any problem with removing duly elected officials from office?

BC: How do you know they were duly elected?

FP: What do you mean?

BC: Voter fraud, man. We saw in the last election how that works in Georgia. These people are Democrats. They were elected by absentee ballots. Put into drop boxes. At night. We’re just stopping the steal.

FP: Whoa! Well, at least you couldn’t fit Mayor Girtz into your Sudoku game, since he’s elected countywide.

BC: Oh, we have other games.

FP: What do you mean?

BC: Well, there’s annexation. Since we Republicans can do anything we want over there in Atlanta, your Mr. Kelly Girtz may just find out that his house down there on Pulaski Street has suddenly become part of Walton County.