Lost in all the budget business as well as many other pressing city matters, is the very way we elect our city legislative body, who has to be redistricted, just like every other legislative body, every 10 years.
I’ve written pretty extensively on this issue, and even spoken to the City Council, though video of that exchange is now unavailable (for reasons I’m not that sure of). What I do know is that the matter was deferred until June 7th, next Tuesday, which is also the scheduled time to complete budget talks, which indicates to me that the issue will likely fall to the way side once again, making it that much more difficult for voters to identify their candidates and visa-versa.
While certainly, the issues surrounding the huge budget shortfall are many, and addressing these budgetary concerns are one of the primary duties of the City Council, it is also incumbent on the Council to, every 10 years, like clockwork, rework the lines of the 7 single member and 2 multi-member districts to conform to the population changes reflected in the decennial Census conducted by the US Census Dept. It’s not as if they didn’t know this was coming, and its troubling that, now three months after the data was made available, the process is just now underway.
It was, in fact, technical difficulties in matching up census tracts and precincts that led to the May 17th deferral, something that should have been addressed back in April.
If populations haven’t even been matched with precincts, then the very foundation of the data that must be analyzed to help determine the districts is in question, casting a shadow on the process being resolved on Tuesday, which would further delaying something that is critical to ensuring voters have time to make an informed decision at the ballot box.
What’s going to happen? No one knows but the City Council and Alan Wade, but between now and then people should use the opportunity to address their concerns about the budget proposals before the council as a platform to also raise this issue. While the direct impact of any redistricting scenario may have a more diffuse impact on the city than the budget itself, the issue of representation is one that will be felt for years to come, long after this years budget problems have been resolved.