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Summary of today's hearing on City Council redistricting

Committee on Redistricting on September 29, 2022

The City Council's redistricting committee held a public hearing today that went for three hours. You can watch the whole thing above. The tl;dr version below:

Acting Committee Chairwoman Liz Breadon (Allston/Brighton) promised to create new equitable and fair maps for the city's nine council districts, based on 2020 census data, districts that comply with the Voting Rights Act. Also, there's no map now. Today is just to talk about how to develop the map. Again, there is no map.

Chinese residents from the South End: Don't split the South End from Chinatown. The South End has a lot of Chinese-American residents - many forced out of Chinatown by gentrification - who have close ties to Chinatown.

Lydia Lowe of Chinese Progressive Political Action: God love the way people in South Boston turn out to vote, and God love Ed Flynn, who has done a lot of good work with the Chinese-American community, but don't further dilute Chinatown's vote in a district that has been represented by an Irish-American man since the start of district seats in 1983.

Black residents from Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan: Talk about transparency all you want, the way Ed Flynn arbitrarily yanked Ricardo Arroyo from chairing the redistricting effort sucks and we don't trust you anymore, so you've got your work cut out for you, especially after that infamous Aug. 31 council meeting where Black and Brown councilors spoke about the council being polarized and "racialized" and not a single White councilor rose to support them. Respect the Voting Rights Act, stop splitting up predominantly Black neighborhoods such as Mattapan and Uphams Corner and prove to us there's no White cabal holding closed-door meetings in City Hall to keep certain people in power.

Former State Sen. Dianne Wilkerson: We'll be watching you.

Ed Flynn: Breadon and committee Vice Chair Brian Worrell are doing a great job.

Lisette Le, executive director of VietAID in Fields Corner: Stop splitting up Fields Corner.

Steve Fox, head of the group that reps all the neighborhood groups in the South End: Stop dividing the South End among three council districts (Ed. note: Somebody from Roslindale needs to have a talk with him).

Neighborhoods: 
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Comments

If I got fired from a job (like chairing a committee) and turned in work after being fired (like a redistricting map), why would the employer be under any obligation to accept the work?

Lydia Lowe also said that the Arroyo map would further dilute the Chinese vote

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Voting closed 19

He’s a City Councilor. Any one of them can propose a map. No map is official until it’s voted on by seven of them. Regardless of who proposes it. Anyone’s map, with seven votes, becomes the official map.

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Former State Sen. Dianne Wilkerson: We'll be watching you.

Absolutely hilarious. Only in Boston, only in Boston.

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Voting closed 42

I didn't know YouTube was now offering Exconivsion.

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Voting closed 12

Wilkerson was quoting the Police.

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Voting closed 6

One thing about Diane Wilkerson; She has major cojones.

That being said I still wouldn't vote for her again. She lost my trust when she stuffed that bribe in her bra. I do not care that she served her time. A city councilor shouldn't accept bribes.

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Voting closed 5

Everyone who identifies as a progressive is so infatuated with race.

Reading this, I can only vote for someone who looks like me if I expect to be represented.

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But it would involve explaining the Voting Rights Act and centuries of discrimination against Black people, and I suspect you're way too busy for any of that.

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Voting closed 18

To be fair the Voting Rights Act is a conglomeration of both good and horrible rules. The ones related to redistricting are the most horrible ones. Instead of reducing gerrymandering by forcing redistricting to create compact districts following nonpartisan fixed boundaries (like municipal borders), the VRA introduced this gerrymander-boosting standard about not dividing 'communities' which enables all sorts of mischief.

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Voting closed 18

Not gonna watch 3 hours, but I appreciate the summary. Thank you.

Also, even assuming 100% good intentions by all parties, the array of comments shows this must be a hard task. Especially when it comes to splitting neighborhoods and/or demographic groups.

Ps. It also seems that demographic groups or voting blocks can be a bit of a conundrum. Include a concentrated voting block in a single district and they get a rep that looks like them. But maybe only one. But split up that voting block and a few districts have better chances to have representation. I’ve heard both arguments and maybe it depends on the specific area. Just another twist.

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Voting closed 13

Leafy Roslindale, the so-called “garden suburb” of Boston, has some 3.686 square miles of geography bordering Jamaica Plain, Hyde Park, Mattapan, and West Roxbury. The South End, bordering South Boston, Roxbury, and Back Bay (and currently a tiny piece of Dorchester due to the last redistricting) has just barely over 1000 acres.

If someone suggested essentially bifurcating Roslindale, the way some are suggesting the South End should be redistricted, I assume folks in Rozzie would not be especially supportive. It's one thing to play with border-line precincts and the need to balance multiple demographics, it's entirely another to suggest that a huge part of the South End --from Newmarket to Huntington Avenue in the Back Bay--be carved out and suddenly made part of Dorchester District 3. This would make the right side of the "informal" (and gerrymandered) proposal part of District 7 and the other side part of District 2. The South End would continue to be 3 city council districts, but far more divided (and diluted) even more dramatically than we saw from lines drawn 10 years ago. We asked back then that the SE--a relatively small geography--be kept intact.

What the South End has been asking is hardly new, but proposals floating about at the moment to make our neighborhood just a a "bank" for other districts is not something South Enders support.

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Voting closed 7

why doesn’t each neighborhood have a district councilor? The city website lists 25 neighborhoods, so why do we only have 9 district councilors?

I recognize it would cost more than 500k per councilor (100k councilor salary, 300k for staff salaries, various benefits), so at least $8 million with current comp.

I’m not saying it’s necessarily worth the expense. But I am curious how we got to where we are today.

If I read the city charter page correctly, it looks like we increased the size of the council in the 80s, so I assume it could happen again

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Voting closed 5