Posts about Kathy Henderson
The DC Council was supposed to codify the new Advisory Neighborhood Commission and Single Member District boundaries right after the first of the year. We are days away from March, and the council has not adopted these changes. Meanwhile, the boundaries continue shifting based on discussions behind closed doors.
In Ward 5, for example, 3 blocks have shifted from one SMD to another, and the only apparent reason is that it keeps a local political family together.
That change tossed one block out of SMDs with its own neighborhood and forced it into an SMD with a separate neighborhood across a major road.
We discussed the redistricting process in Ward 5 at length in a series of posts at the end of 2011.
At the end of a public hearing on November 29, 2011, at the end of that hearing, Councilmember Jack Evans, co-chair of the council's subcommittee on redistricting, stated that he and his co-chairs, Michael Brown and Phil Mendelson, "will now sit down, take stock of where we are, and then move forward in anticipation of finishing this all up in a timely fashion by the end of the year."
Michael Brown added that the record would remain open until December 9, 2011, to allow for further comments from the public. They would mark up a bill (PDF) codifying the boundaries during the week of December 12, take a first vote on December 20, and the second and final vote "sometime in January."
Brown noted that ward boundaries had to be set by the end of the year, but the ANC and SMD boundaries did not have to be finalized until "the first part of the year."
But January has come and gone with no action. Months have passed, and these boundaries continue to change.
Ward 5 boundaries keep shifting
For Ward 5, we proposed a rational map in lieu of the flawed map from the office of former councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. Shortly after the November hearing, our map was, for the most part, adopted.
In early February, the Office of Planning posted updated maps on a Google page which lists version numbers for each posted document. Strangely, instead of listing a new version number for the maps of wards 3, 5, and 6, the page still labels each one v.1, even though the time stamp is February 9 for these 3 wards, and December 16 for the others.
The earlier versions of these maps are no longer available to the public, though a copy of the Ward 5 map from December 16 is still available via this Greater Greater Washington post.
The maps above shows the changes to Ward 5 boundaries in red. 3 blocks in the Carver-Langston and Trinidad neighborhoods, as well as one in Brentwood, have been shifted into different SMDs. One of these shifts appears to have been made to ensure that a local political family remains in one SMD.
Kathy Henderson, currently a candidate for the Ward 5 council seat and a former ANC commissioner, lives on the south side of L Street NE, while her daughter, India Henderson, lives across the street and is the current commissioner. The SMD boundary proposed on December 16 would have put them in separate SMDs, but the line has been shifted one block north to Lang Place NE. This necessitated shifting 2 other nearby blocks to keep the size of any Carver-Langston SMDs from falling below 1900 residents.
What is curious is that India Henderson lists her residence with the Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions at 1807 L Street NE, Kathy Henderson's house, while she is registered to vote at 1812 L Street NE, a house India Henderson herself owns.
Which SMDs the Hendersons are or are not located in is of little concern to me personally, but this move also took a block of Trinidad out of one of the 3 SMDs for the neighborhood. The homes on the east side of the 1200 block of 16th Street NE are now separated from the rest of a compact, cohesive neighborhood, instead to be represented along with a different neighborhood on the other side of a major arterial road, Bladensburg Road.
It would be interesting to hear from the councilmembers on the redistricting subcommittee both why they haven't moved the bill for so long and why they deemed these changes necessary. Is it over something as silly as placating a local politico, or is there a solid, defensible reason for undoing prior work to make logical sense of the boundaries at the neighborhood level? Why has this process festered for so long without reaching its ultimate conclusion, and how much longer will we wait?
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