Unreasonable Georgetown ANC redistricting plan moves ahead despite compromise proposal
The redistricting plan for Georgetown's ANC 2E, which unfairly and illegally marginalizes students, has moved on to its next phase. Officials should replace this with a compromise plan that I have proposed.
Last month, I wrote in detail about the problems that exist in the plan. Only 1 of the 8 single-member districts comply with size limits in the law, also ignoring the guidance that Councilmember Evans and Councilmember Michael Brown sent to individuals on redistricting task forces.
Despite these problems, the task force handling ANC 2E's redistricting passed the plan on to Tom Birch, the ANC 2E member that Councilmember Jack Evans picked to chair Ward 2's ANC redistricting efforts. Task force co-chair Ron Lewis also dismissed my compromise proposal.
The plan won't move on to Councilmember Evans without Commissioner Birch's consent. I urge Commissioner Birch ask the ANC 2E working group to produce a new plan, which conforms to DC's redistricting code and which better addresses the needs of every resident of ANC 2E.
Since my previous article, ANC 2E held its August 29th meeting. As DC Students Speak and a number of others covered, students came out in large numbers to this meeting to voice their opposition to the current proposal.
After that, Councilmember Phil Mendelson told the Georgetown Current that the current plan is "grossly discriminatory." He said the co-chairs "can't just turn a blind eye to the principle of one man, one vote. If there's a proposal to create single-member districts of vastly different sizes, lumping students into one or two and then having non-students ... in the remaining undersized SMDs, that would be a violation of the law."
Considering these comments and those of students at ANC 2E's public meeting, I made a motion for reconsideration within our working group. All I called for was further dialogue. We had only had two meetings and considered two plans total, far fewer than the 13 plans that ANC 2A, a comparably-sized ANC, considered. The six who had originally voted against the co-chairs' plan, including ANC 2E Commissioner Charlie Eason, supported the motion.
On September 6th, one day before the reconsideration vote was set to end, ANC 2E Chair and redistricting task force co-chair Ron Lewis approached me about what specific elements about the co-chairs' plan I would like to see changed. I responded with the following map, which I believe represents a fair compromise between the co-chairs' plan and the Flanagan plan described in my earlier piece.
Lewis, Altemus, and Rubino plan, adopted by the ANC 2E redistricting task force.
SMDs 02, 06 and 07 remain exactly the same in this plan as they are in the co-chairs' plan. SMD 05's outline remains very similar to its shape in the co-chairs' plan, with several blocks west of Wisconsin added to bring its population from a too-low 1,710 to a more acceptable 2,107. These blocks also fit with the commercial character of SMD 05.
The primary changes from the co-chairs' plan to this plan resolve around how it deals with Georgetown University's campus and the blocks immediately nearby. Instead of the nearly 2,600-person SMD monstrosities found in the co-chairs' plan, this compromise plan instead brings them within code, with total populations of 1,889 and 2,013.
Here are the populations in this plan and the co-chairs' plan:
|District||This plan||Co-chairs' plan|
The recommended SMD size, according to the DC Code, is 1,900 to 2,100.
In the co-chairs' plan, the relative deviance in SMD size is nearly 40%. In the compromise plan I am proposing, it is approximately 24%. I feel as though this is still on the high side, but it is a number I would be far more comfortable with.
I also did not present this compromise plan as a finalized plan. I do not believe it is perfect and am open to making revisions to it. For instance, I think that if the Burlieth residents were amendable to it, moving the block bounded by 34th, 35th, R, and Wisconsin from SMD01 to SMD02 would be sensible, for several reasons.
Unfortunately, discussing such ideas has been impossible. After sending Chairman Lewis my idea of a compromise, I did not hear back about it until September 9th. At this time, Commissioner Lewis sent the working group's finalized recommendations to Commissioner Birch, including this line: "To complete your file, you have previously received a proposal from working-group member John Flanagan, and an email earlier this week contained a proposal from working-group member Jake Sticka. Neither of these proposals has the support of a majority of the working group."
I was particularly disappointed by this line because at this time only Commissioner Lewis had been sent the compromise plan. A working group cannot reject a plan it has never seen.
Regardless, the co-chairs' plan is now in Commissioner Birch's hands. If you have thoughts on ways to improve my compromise plan, please leave a comment here. If you are concerned about the process and the plan that may come out of it, please contact Commissioner Tom Birch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cross-posted at DC Students Speak.
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