City Councilors Divided on Proposed Redistricting Map
Some argued that the current proposal disregards neighborhood integrity.
At their regular weekly meeting Wednesday afternoon, Boston City Council presented its first version of a proposed new map indicating redrawn electoral lines, but some councilors worried that the map divided neighborhoods.
"I cannot support this map the way it's currently designed," Councilor Matt O'Malley (D6) said, citing concerns that Mission Hill would be split in two and a West Roxbury precinct wouldn't be with the rest of the neighborhood. "You will have a school that is two different city council districts," he said, echoing the concerns of Councilor At-Large John R. Connolly.
"The effort 10 years ago to reunite West Roxbury will be undone," Connolly said. It's more important that the neighborhoods stay together than that the districts or wards stay together, he said, adding that he intends to address this problem in a public hearing on the matter Friday.
Councilors Tito Jackson (D7) and Michael Ross (D8) also spoke of concerns about splitting up neighborhoods, in particular West Roxbury and Mission Hill. "The people of Mission Hill are beside themselves. They see their neighborhood being split. That is something they cannot accept, and that's something I cannot accept," Ross said.
He and O'Malley presented an alternate map, which Jackson called "more in line with my constituents."
The redistricting process needs to be undertaken every 10 years as the population of the city shifts. The map currently proposed was drawn after a series of six neighborhood meetings seeking community input.
"This map is the redistricting of Boston that meets all the requirements," Councilor Bill Linehan (D2), who is heading the effort, told the full council, while also acknowledging that "this clearly is not a plan that everybody would be pleased with at first take. It's impossible for that to happen."
But, Linehan said, the proposal keeps all the current councilors in their districts and allows the council "to present a plan with a map and for the process to continue and in a public forum."
Still, Jackson noted, it's a process that shouldn't be rushed. "This is something that's going to affect our city for the next 10 years, so I think we need to take our time."
A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for Friday at 1:15 p.m. in the Iannella Chambers at City Hall. A 10-day period for public comment will follow the hearing.
In other business:
- The council voted unanimously to authorize a 100 percent rebate on 2011 property taxes for members of the National Guard when they are on active duty, and therefore away from their regular jobs. "It's an important vote on honoring and respecting our veterans," said sponsor Robert Consalvo.
- The council unanimously voted to send a resolution to MassPort in support of "responsible contracting at Logan International Airport" in response to information that some employees, including security officers, do not make a liveable wage.
- The council recognized those who served in World War II on the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.