REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK: Redistricting gets underway with legislative commission

Several Boston Democrats were named this week to the special commission tasked with redrawing the state’s district lines for Congress and the local House and Senate districts.

State Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, a Dorchester Democrat, and Rep. Byron Rushing, a Roxbury Democrat are among the commission members who will be taking the dicey job of taking new U.S. Census numbers and using them to adjust the Bay State’s political lines.

Forry, who also co-chairs the Legislature’s Community Development and Small Business Committee, is married to Reporter managing editor Bill Forry.

State Rep. Michael Moran, a Brighton Democrat who has been meeting with the state’s Congressional delegation, is leading the House side of the committee. His co-chair is Cheryl Coakley-Rivera, a Springfield Democrat.

In late February, Moran told the Massachusetts Black Empowerment Coalition for Redistricting that he is “particularly focused” on maintaining minority-majority power in the Eighth Congressional district, represented by U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Somerville).

Massachusetts is slated to lose one of its ten Congressional seats due to population growth that did not keep up with other parts of the country. DeLeo has pledged “unprecedented transparency” in the process, and Moran has said this month will bring the start of public hearings, with twelve in all. There will also be a website, he told the coalition.

Lawmakers say they are mindful of the fallout from the state’s last redistricting effort a decade ago, when then-House Speaker Thomas Finneran, a Mattapan Democrat, was accused of attempting to dilute minority voting power. He angrily denied the charges, but later pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice charges in a lawsuit brought by local community activists.

His successor in the 12th Suffolk House District was Forry, who won a special election in spring 2005. The district includes parts of Milton, Dorchester and Mattapan. “I like my district the way it is,” Dorcena-Forry said this week, when asked about the district. “I’m hoping not much will change.”

On the Senate side of the redistricting commission, state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst) is the chair, with state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, a Democrat who represents Jamaica Plain, Roxbury and Dorchester, as vice chair.

Other state representatives on the commission, who were appointed by House Speaker Robert DeLeo, included Sean Garballey (D-Arlington), Demetrius Atsalis (D-Barnstable), Joseph Wagner (D-Chicopee), Garrett Bradley (D-Hingham), Marcos Devers (D-Lawrence), Antonio Cabral (D-New Bedford), Christopher Speranzo (D-Pittsfield), John Keenan (D-Salem), Patricia Haddad (D-Somerset), Ann Gobi (D-Spencer), Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley), Vincent Pedone (D-Worcester), and Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington).

House Republicans on the commission include Minority Leader Bradley Jones of North Reading, Paul Frost of Auburn, Bradford Hill of Ipswich and Elizabeth Poirier of North Attleborough.

“This Committee will actively encourage participation in the redistricting process by federal, state, and municipal officials, public interest groups, and any concerned citizens,” Moran said in a statement. “The drawing of new district boundaries will not begin until we hear from all those who want to contribute to the process and we learn from their opinions.”

House Democrats overwhelmingly voted earlier this month to reject setting up an independent redistricting commission separate from the Legislature.

Monahan leaves Dem party post for health and human services secretariat

Stacey Monahan, a Dorchester resident, is stepping down from her post as executive director of the Massachusetts Democratic Party and taking a new job as chief of staff to Health and Human Services Secretary JudyAnn Bigby. Clare Kelly, who worked on Gov. Deval Patrick's re-election efforts in the field, will take over the Democratic Party job.

The personnel move was first reported by State House News Service.

Monahan is a former aide to U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch and she founded the Ashmont-Adams Civic Association in 1999. A former candidate for state representative, she is on the list of folks who have held the ceremonial post of Mayor of Dorchester.

RFK grandson to give March 19 speech at St. Patrick’s Day brunch in Dot

The grandson of Robert F. Kennedy is slated to speak at Dorchester's fifth annual St. Patrick's Day brunch.

Joseph P. Kennedy III is an assistant district attorney on Cape Cod whose speech on the Massachusetts State House floor a week after the shootings in Arizona and 50 years after his great-uncle John F. Kennedy gave the "City on a Hill" speech raised eyebrows.

He was profiled in February by the Boston Sunday Globe, which noted, "The Kennedy era in politics may be over. But as long as there are tall, well-spoken young Kennedys in Massachusetts, they will be seen as likely candidates."

The brunch is scheduled for Saturday, March 19 at 10 a.m. in Blessed Mother Teresa Parish Hall in Dorchester.

The brunch is co-chaired by former state Rep. Jim Brett, who is the president of the New England Council, and Larry Ronan, a Savin Hill doctor.

Proceeds go to Mary Ann Brett Food Pantry and Blessed Mother Teresa Parish.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out updates to Boston’s political scene at The Lit Drop, located at Material from State House News Service was used in this report.