To end rifts over redistricting, let a computer revise legislative maps

This system would be as fair as a coin toss. Only those looking for an unfair advantage would oppose it.

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Illinois State Rep. Tim Butler

Illinois State Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, questions Andrew Ellison about his proposed maps during a House Redistricting Committee hearing at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield on Oct. 20.

Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP

The current chatter about redistricting and gerrymandering reminds me of how I have wanted, for decades, to create legislative maps:

Let a computer do it.

There would be only two criteria: Districts within a state would be as close as possible to equal in population and the borders of those districts would be as short as possible. The reason for the first is obvious. The reason for the second is that it would create compact districts without weird shapes.

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Who is in the districts would not be a consideration. It won’t matter if they are Democrats, Republican, Black, white, atheists or Evangelicals. It won’t matter who is mixed with who, what group is the majority in a district or what boundaries the districts disregard. They are voters. That is the only thing that matters, so forget about who is in the districts and focus on them being fair.

This system would be as fair as a coin toss. Only those looking for an unfair advantage would oppose it.

Curt Fredrikson, Mokena

Children bravely take the shot, but not the FOP

What a contrast in last Thursday’s Sun-Times. On one page, a big photo of a 6- or 7-year-old bravely baring his arm to get a vaccination. Two pages later, big burly Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara whining about his members being obligated to get the shot like every other responsible adult.

Andy Thayer, Uptown

Animal health is key to a sustainable planet

With record heat waves, tragic flooding and wildfires in the news, it’s hard not to have climate change top of the mind. Understanding the role that agriculture — specifically livestock — plays in climate change is paramount, and finding solutions to minimize environmental impact is a priority.

As a veterinarian, I have seen the benefits of focusing first on improving animal welfare. When animals are healthy, the food supply is safer, resources are used more efficiently and growers maximize output. Still, globally, one in five food-production animals is lost to preventable disease. This isn’t just bad for the animals. When animals are healthy, emissions are lower and farmers can operate more sustainably.

Innovative supplements and vaccines can cut emissions by targeting methane within the digestion process. In fact, emerging therapies can lower methane in dairy cows by 30%.

Improving animal welfare through new medicines is the key that unlocks efficient livestock production, more sustainable farming practices and reduced emissions from animals. We need a regulatory framework for new animal drugs that rewards science-based innovation to enhance animal health, which in turn boosts the health of our planet.

Will McCauley, DVM, Animal Health Institute

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