Cleveland Redistricting -- Report from Public Meeting March 4th 2009

Submitted by briancummins on Wed, 03/11/2009 - 23:41.

This email originates from Bette Meyer, who facilitated last week's forum on Cleveland City Council's political redistricting.

Also, see this link for attachments that represent the handouts for the meeting:
http://realneo.us/content/3-4-09-council-redistricting-meeting-handouts-...
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To residents of Cleveland interested in Council re-districting:

Below is the compilation of the discussion group report-outs from the Community Meeting held March 4, at Applewood Center. Among the 200 persons present, there was strong consensus on the five major themes:

  • EACH NEIGHBORHOOD AND/or CDC MUST BE WHOLLY WITHIN ONE WARD:
  • RESIDENTS WANT OPEN COMMUNICATION AND TRANSPARENCY ON THIS ISSUE:
  • KEEP RE-DISTRICTING APOLITICAL and LEARN FROM PAST MISTAKES
  • BASE NUMBER & LOCATION OF WARDS ON ACCURATE POPULATION NUMBERS
  • ASSURE COMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL VOTING RIGHTS ACT

Since that meeting, some Councilpersons have been shown tentative maps of their proposed new ward. Councilman Cummins was not shown a map, but given a verbal description of the lines which are being proposed, dividing the current Ward 15 into sections to be given to four different Wards.

Based on the sketchy pieces that are being parceled out, it appears that the new ward boundaries may violate all of the principles listed above. Several neighborhoods are divided; there is still no public communication of the proposal nor opportunity for input; and the proposal appears to protect certain Councilpersons rather than attending to the concerns of the neighborhoods. In addition, although there has been no public release of the numbers on which the plan is based – there is at least a question as to whether the Federal “one person; one vote” provision will be met, in that the areas of the City which experienced significant population loss are not the same ones which are being divided or combined with other wards.

We have met with the Plain Dealer, and expect that they will put more of this on the public record. Councilman Cummins has made a “public records request” to secure the population data on which the proposal is based. It is not yet known when Council will receive the full proposal – but perhaps later this week. Council vote on this could be anytime between now and April 1. Councilman Kelley told the March 4 meeting that there would be a Council Committee scheduled to review the plan; but that date has not been set. We will notify you when we know anything further.

Please, NOW – send your questions/concerns to both the Clerk of Council and to the media, asking them to make the plan public and allow opportunity for public comment and input. Let Council know we are watching.

Thanks for all your efforts on behalf of our community,

Bette S. Meyer
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FINDINGS:

Near West Side City Council Wards Community Meeting: Redistricting 3.04.09

Public Input and Overall Findings

(200+ attendees; 8 break-out groups yielded these consensus issues)

EACH NEIGHBORHOOD AND/or CDC MUST BE WHOLLY WITHIN ONE WARD:

  • Don’t divide the neighborhoods but use history and topography as guides for redrawing the wards
  • Preserve the neighborhoods; keep the neighborhoods intact;
  • The vibrancy of neighborhoods must be reflected in the new plan
  • Keep CDC service areas within one ward (can’t be effective if broken up)
  • Ensure there isn’t a disruption of support for neighborhood organizations
  • One SPA=One Ward (use neighborhoods as criteria for ward boundaries)
  • Use natural boundaries to determine the wards
  • When two or more neighborhoods are contained within one Ward, strategically combine neighborhoods with similar needs and characteristics
  • Ensure a realistic redrawing of wards by using identifying features that define sections of the city, and by evenly distributed population counts
  • Use natural features and infrastructure as boundaries while avoiding obvious political gerrymandering (curly-cue tails

RESIDENTS WANT OPEN COMMUNICATION AND TRANSPARENCY ON THIS ISSUE:

  • Transparency is needed throughout this process
  • There needs to be a public opportunity to review the plan before it is enacted
  • Keep public informed of the process and make as ‘open’ as possible
  • Residents are concerned Council won’t have input from the public and CDCs
  • Residents are concerned they are not getting all of the information they need
  • Residents want the media to jump in, ask hard questions and focus attention on this issue
  • Produce communication pieces in foreign languages
  • Residents want a public disclosure of population numbers, plan, and community wishes
  • Improve communication about this process to the public through the media and other technology
  • Why aren’t other parts of the city having an opportunity to speak as this group did?


KEEP RE-DISTRICTING APOLITICAL and LEARN FROM PAST MISTAKES:

  • Put community interests over political interests
  • Don’t use ward boundaries to settle political scores (reward or punish)
  • Emphasize practicality over politics- what works for citizens, rather than what works for politicians
  • Repeating dysfunctional political traditions impairs and demeans the process
  • Residents are concerned that those who made mistakes in the past are still in power and will continue to make mistakes now and in the future
  • This is an opportunity to correct mistakes from the past


BASE NUMBER & LOCATION OF WARDS ON ACCURATE POPULATION NUMBERS:

  • Ensure the plan accurately reflects population losses and where they occurred
  • Make sure decisions (# of Wards) are not based on “east and west” thinking
  • Use real population figures, not estimates
  • Seek to put the entire process on hold until the census is complete
  • Feel the timeframe is too short, especially when this process will be redone in a few years

ASSURE COMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL VOTING RIGHTS ACT:

  • Relative to provision for minority group representation (e.g. Hispanic, Asian)
  • Relative to equality in ward population numbers
     

RELATED ISSUES:

  • Resident’s are worried their voices will be diluted with fewer Wards
  • Ward representatives must act as champions and advocates for their ward
  • History and historic preservation must remain, even if councilperson changes
  • Improve the quality of the members of the council
  • Will the allocation formula for CDBG funding change?
  • How will this affect voting precincts?

 

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