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The Long and Winding Road to 10-1

The steps to a December adoption of a district plan

By Mike Kanin and Elizabeth Pagano, Fri., Feb. 1, 2013

The Long and Winding Road to 10-1

Plan A: The Applicant Review Panel and the Independent Commission

Part A: Recruiting a Panel and Appointing a Commission

Gather a pool. (In progress; deadline: March 14)

Based on the redistricting charter amendment, City Auditor's Office drafts guidelines for selection of would-be commissioners.

Realize amendment severely limits potential pool; entertain calls from charter authors to expand commission eligibility.

Auditor drafts eight-page application, including two-page glossary that defines basic terms for would-be commissioners.

Receive grudging approval of Austinites for Geographic Representation for draft application.

Meanwhile ...

Part B: Selecting the Review Panel

The Long and Winding Road to 10-1

Create a pool of qualified applicants for the Applicant Review Panel – only Certified Public Accountants need apply – to find three randomly selected auditors. Note shortage of CPAs in year's first quarter: tax time! (Deadline: Feb. 25)

Auditor conducts random drawing to select three panelists from applicant pool of CPAs. (Congrats! You now have an applicant review panel.) Exhale. (Deadline: Feb. 27)

Applicant review panelists select 60 "most qualified" commission applicants who have no "conflicts of interest" (see Charter: Ignorance is bliss). (Deadline: May 16)

Council members may each strike one commissioner for any reason, slightly shrinking pool. (Deadline: May 22)

City Auditor randomly selects eight commissioners from remaining pool. (Deadline: May 22)

The chosen eight commissioners select an additional six commissioners from the larger pool, reflecting racial, ethnic, gender, and geographic diversity, and including at least one college student. (Deadline: TBD)

Part C: Adopting a District Plan

Not so fast!

No communication with City Council members or their staff

Commission selects chair and vice chair.

The Long and Winding Road to 10-1

Hire legal counsel, consultants, and technical assistance, as necessary.

Hold at least eight public hearings, with two in each of the four Travis County precincts.

Present preliminary plan, followed by four more hearings, one in each of four county precincts.

Vote on final plan, followed by two more public hearings – one north of Lady Bird Lake, one south of the lake.

Allow at least five days of written public comments.

Final plan adopted. (Deadline: TBD.)

Or ... Plan B: Alternative Redistricting Plan (Too Short and Simple to Ever Be Adopted)

City Council appoints citizen committee (e.g., along lines of Charter Revision Committee, which initially recommended the 10-1 plan).

CRC or similar committee appoints three to five independent commissioners, selected for their experience and good judgment.

Commissioners hire such legal counsel and redistricting expertise as necessary.

Commission draws preliminary districting plan.

Commission receives public comment on preliminary plan.

Commission adopts final districting plan.

Note: Redistricting plan must be geographically compact and contiguous, and respect neighborhoods, communities of interest, election precincts, and identifiable geographical boundaries.

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