Deadline a month away, Council gets more maps

Gintautas Dumcius, News Editor
Oct. 3, 2012

Over the last 16 months, the City Council and redistricting activists have pumped out enough maps to fill a small atlas. This week, they added a few more to the mix.

The new maps – one submitted by City Councillors Rob Consalvo and Frank Baker and another from City Councillor Charles Yancey – will become the latest proposals to be considered by the council’s redistricting committee, which is staring at a November deadline.

Editor's Note: We've added PDF attachments showing the maps discussed here at the end of the article.

The committee, headed by District 2 Councillor Bill Linehan, is charged with redrawing the boundaries of the nine council districts, a requirement every ten years in order to account for US Census population shifts across the city.

But the council has already struck out twice, with Mayor Thomas Menino having vetoed two maps sent to his desk recently on close 7-6 votes. The mayor cited as a problem the high concentration of people of color, known as “packing,” in Yancey’s District 4.

City Council President Stephen Murphy said he hopes one of the new maps will go a “long way” toward addressing the District 4 issue. The goal is a map that is “legally bullet-proof” and one that “overwhelmingly” passes the council, he said Tuesday.

Easier said than done, particularly with a coalition of voting rights groups threatening to sue the city if they dislike the final map. They’ve proposed their own maps, one of which splits Dorchester in half, and another that “eviscerates” Roslindale, according to District 5’s Consalvo. Both are efforts to “unpack” District 4, further diversify neighboring districts, and increase the chances of additional persons of color getting elected to the council.

In their new map, Baker, who represents District 3, and Consalvo, move the boundaries of District 3, which needs to pick up residents, to the north as it gathers Precincts 7, 8, 9, and 10 of Ward 7, an area that includes the Polish Triangle and Carson Beach, now represented by Linehan.

District 3 would also pick up Ward 13, Precinct 5, which is currently in District 7, represented by Tito Jackson.

The Consalvo-Baker map would also hand over four Dorchester precincts to Yancey’s District 4, including Ward 15, Precinct 8, Ward 16, Precinct 1, and Ward 17’s Precincts 12 and 14 in Lower Mills. In addition, District 4 would also take precincts from the southeastern part of District 7: Ward 8, Precinct 5 and Ward 13’s Precincts 2 and 4. A District 5 precinct would be placed into District 4 as well: Ward 18, Precinct 7, while District 5 would assume more of Mattapan: Ward 18’s Precincts 1, 2, and 4.

Yancey, who has repeatedly and angrily demanded that a map unite Mattapan in one district, keeps to that in his latest map, which has District 4 snaking into the middle of Dorchester. He would pick up Ward 16’s Precincts 5, 7, 8, and 9, while Baker would get the Polish Triangle and Carson Beach. Yancey would also take parts of Mattapan away from Consalvo, and push District 5 up through territory currently in Districts 6 and 7, including Roxbury. And District 2 would stretch across the city, from Pleasure Bay to the Brookline border.

The release of the latest maps came nearly a week after councillors met with representatives from the coalition of civic groups in a public hearing at City Hall. They were joined by Bill Sinnott, the city’s corporation counsel, and Steven Perlmutter, a voting rights attorney who is advising the mayor. (The council’s attempt to bring on its own independent attorney appears to have fizzled.)

Councillors appeared frustrated as they pressed Perlmutter on percentages of people of color that would be palatable to Menino, and Perlmutter responded with largely legal-speak and directed councillors to Menino’s veto messages.

Asked what would happen if the council did not adopt a redistricting plan, Perlmutter said someone could bring a lawsuit to force the council to do so or a federal judge could step in and draw a map. “You lose total control if you let things go that far,” he said.

Yancey, who has pushed for the creation of five districts of color along with the unification of Mattapan, has clashed with the activists and sought to tie their efforts to Suzanne Lee, who nearly beat Linehan in the 2011 City Council election. But one of the activists, Sean Daughtry, noted that Yancey’s previous map created only 3 districts of color, based on voting age population numbers. Yancey disagreed.

The sometimes-tense meeting offered all to air their points, as councillors grasp their way towards a deadline-induced solution. Perlmutter recommended against waiting until the last minute to pass a map that must be in place by Nov. 5 to allow for potential candidates to move into a new district. He said a map should be passed in the next few weeks.

“Do not wait for Nov. 5 is my advice,” he added.

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yanceymap1002.pdf2.54 MB
Two Coaliton Maps.pdf476.61 KB
bakerconsalvo1002.pdf2.53 MB