Menino weighs Council's redistricting proposal, notes District 4 'packing'

A controversial measure redrawing the boundaries of City Council districts is hitting Mayor Thomas Menino’s desk after the council voted 7 to 6 on Wednesday in favor of the map. Menino said he has not yet had a chance to review the proposal, but he voiced concerns over the make-up of District 4, which includes Dorchester and Mattapan.

The district boundaries must be redrawn after the release of U.S. Census figures and will be in place for the next ten years.

A coalition of civic and community groups, including NAACP-Boston and MassVOTE, says it plans to file a lawsuit over the map if it is signed into law. “We are concerned that the map passed by the council today will unlawfully pack minority residents into district four, thus limiting their voting strength in the surrounding districts,” Rahsaan Hall, deputy director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, said in a joint press release put out by the coalition, which urged Menino to veto the map.

“I want to take a look...and make sure all of the neighborhoods of Boston have equal representation,” Menino told the Reporter after an event at Clarence “Jeep” Jones Park in Roxbury. “That’s what I’ll be looking for.”

Pressed on whether there could be any deal breakers for him in the proposal, Menino said, “It’s a City Council action and I have to look at the City Council action that’s presented to me. I mean, there’s a district that Charles Yancey represents, 98 percent persons of color. That’s a little cracking and packing, I would think.”

Menino was referring to District 4, which Yancey has represented since 1983. The district has a high concentration of people of color, which coalition activists put at 95 percent.

District 2 Councillor Bill Linehan, who chairs the committee tasked with redistricting, said in a speech to colleagues that his proposal does not pack or crack any districts.

The mayor has 15 days to review the map and decide whether to sign it or veto the measure.