Democrats are intensifying their efforts to gain more seats on the City Council, via redistricting.
As the City Council’s Special Committee on Redistricting began its work this week on “remedy maps” in response to a federal court ruling that still is on appeal, liberals put on a display of bad manners intended to intimidate the council members.
During a period set aside for public comments, they shouted and screamed and used foul language, despite appeals from Council President Terrance Freeman to maintain civility and decorum.
Ben Frazier, who runs a group of liberal agitators on the Northside, continued shouting past his allotted time, diminishing the time available for others to speak.
The committee was considering four possible maps for redistricting, including one put forth by the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
At Freeman’s direction, they narrowed them down to two. The committee seeks to end its work this week and present a plan to the council Friday for a vote to meet a court deadline.
The final product would replace one the council enacted earlier, which a judge said was unsuitable. She said it was faulty because it was based on race.
In typical legal parsing, race cannot be considered, except that it can be if necessary and “narrowly tailored.”
For decades the council has maintained four of the 14 districts as “black access” district. All are designed to ensure people with black skin (PBS) would have representation on the council.
The council members from those districts have been the most vocal in demanding that the percentage of PBS be maintained.
If fact, virtually all of the comments listed in the judge’s ruling that the council based its maps on race were made by council members who are PBS.
As a result of this unofficial policy, PBS are now over-represented on the council.
But Democrats have decided they can use the situation to their advantage. They want “Goldilocks” maps with districts that are neither too black nor too white.
The clear, and stated, intent is to spread Democrats in those districts more thinly through the city in the hope of getting more Democrats elected to the council overall. There are five now, all from districts.
In Redistricting 2.0, council members are avoiding any mention of race. Accompanying the maps under consideration, however, are charts showing a breakdown of PBS and people with white skin and also Democrats and Republicans. Just for information.
The committee rejected outright the plaintiff’s map and Council Member Rory Diamond called it “naked partisanship,” seeking a Democrat takeover of District 12 on the Westside.
He wasn’t kidding. The map draws seven districts with more than 40 percent Democrats in each district – including four where they are a majority — and not a single district in the city where Republicans are in the majority.
Both of the two maps still under consideration are reasonably compact and seek to keep neighborhoods together, an all but impossible task.
The most important priority, common to all the maps, is nearly equal population in each district.
One factor the committee gives high priority to in drawing the maps is the location of the home of the council member representing the district, causing some weird shapes. This makes little sense, especially with term limits. They are only in office eight years and the census is done every 10 years. Anyone written out of his district could be grandfathered in and it would make no difference.
The committee has employed a national expert on redistricting maps to aid its efforts
All the public drama and all the posturing by the liberal media aside, the issue is about electing more Democrats locally at a time when they likely are facing huge rejection by the voters statewide and nationally.