You may have read that the city’s council districts are being shaken up because of changes in the Census.
The reapportionment committee is holding a series of public meetings starting July 9 to explain the changes and let the people speak. You have to register ahead to get three minutes or you can sign-up at the door and get a minute. Linda Johnson-Wasler, city clerk, will take your reservation at 412-255-2138.
A before-and-after list of the 30 precinct changes is on the city’s web site: click here.
The city explains what happened: “The 2010 Federal Census established the population of the City of Pittsburgh at 305,704--a decrease from 334,563 from the 2000 Census--putting the “ideal” district size at 33,967. Due to the population changes over the last ten years, current districts range in population from 28,695 to 39,259.
“After each decennial census, City Council is required to make changes to council districts to reflect the new population distribution throughout the City. Final recommendations will be sent to City Council, which has the final authority to reapportion council districts.”
The meetings are:
Monday, July 9, 7p: City Council Chambers, 414 Grant Str., 5th floor, Downtown
Tuesday, July 17, 7p: Bistro Soul, 415 East Ohio St., Deutschtown
Wednesday, July 18, 7p, Carnegie Library-Knoxville, 400 Brownsville Road
Tuesday, July 24, 7p, Kingsley Association, 6435 Frankstown Ave., Larimer
Various wards in Oakland, Bloomfield, East Liberty, Friendship, Stanton Heights, the Strip, Highland Park, Mount Washington, Beechview, Squirrel Hill, the Central Northside, Allegheny West, the Perrys North and South and Carrick will play musical chairs and end up represented by different council persons.
Several Precincts in Stanton Heights and two in East Liberty are moving from Patrick Dowd to Ricky Burgess and parts of East Liberty, Bloomfield and Friendship are moving from Bill Peduto to Patrick Dowd. Three precincts in ward 22 on the North Side are parting with Daniel Lavelle to join Darlene Harris’ constituency while parts of Perry South and North are going from Harris to Lavelle.
Currently citiwide neighborhoods have representation from different council members. My neighborhood has always been teamed with the Hill District but under the reapportionment, the lower part would no longer be. I caught up with Barbara Burns, a former council member who is on the reapportionment committee, to find out some finer points. Here’s part of what she told me:
“Darlene lost lots of constituents and needed to gain some while the committee was also concerned about protecting the potential for racial minority representation in Lavelle’s district. It also was trying to keep each district as compact and together as possible.
“Where you see the switch you see Darlene pick up population that she needed, but she picked up predominately white parts of the Northside and the portion she lost was to gain adult minority voting in district 6 [Lavelle’s]. The bottom [Mexican] War Streets and Allegheny West would go to Darlene, and giving Lavelle [precincts] in Perry South [previously Darlene's] raised his numbers.
“Burgess lost a lot of population and needed to gain. Peduto had to lose people. We tried the best we could to unite neighborhoods but there are certain restraints. I thought we did a pretty decent job of meeting the standards of law and a more common sense approach to districts.”
It's kind of weird to contemplate being switched. Even when it seemed at times as if the Hill was more important to our council member than the North Side, the district 6 river dance had become sort of a tradition for the Mexican War Streets/Central Northside.
Now, as proposed, Lavelle keeps Manchester but the rest of the Flats join the whiter constituency of Harris.
In order for the committee to ensure the potential of a minority candidate it has to make sure there aren't too many white people in that mostly-minority district. Protecting that potential is a good thing and yet for me it's a bummer. I like having the option of voting for a black council candidate.