Single-Member District Drama
SMDs to die tomorrow?
By Wells Dunbar,
4:12PM, Wed. Feb. 27, 2008
This dispatch from the ACLU's Debbie Russell, on an item before City Council tomorrrow:
CALL TO ACTION – VOTE NO on ITEM 60 RESOLUTION – LET AUSTIN DEBATE Single Member Districts!
At the town hall meeting on single member districts (SMDs) last night – attendees were overwhelming in favor of creating single member districts, and feared that a last-minute resolution added to tomorrow's agenda on discussion of the item will prevent the issue from moving forward. The language of this resolution, it was noted, is extremely biased against SMDs – built on presumptions that have not yet been proven or disproven in the debate locally. Actually, some have already been disproven...
Tomorrow at council, at 2pm, (Item #81) the City's hired expert consultant from Washington D.C., Gerald Herbert, will give a presentation as to a proposed map and to the benefits of SMDs and the crafters of the resolution don't seem to be taking into account his prior testimony at Charter Revision Committee meetings. Following his presentation, the item to move this from the May to November ballot as per a recent surprise State mandate (a questionable one at that) will be called (Item 60 – the Mayor will move it to after the presentation) and at that point, interested parties can testify as to this resolution.
Later, at 6pm, there will also be a public hearing (#115) where we discuss the the issue at large. If you want to testify--show up before the items are called (2pm/6pm) to sign up.
BUT MOST IMPORTANT...so we can actually HAVE the debate and start to discuss district options is this resolution * must not pass. While it has some merits--running things through the African American Resource Advisory Commission (who at their last meeting indicated support for moving forward), other pieces are clearly unfounded and cannot logistically even be met (hence its obvious intent to kill the item altogether). The Charter Revision Committee, for instance, has already expired on this item and was not charged with deciding on a map to recommend. That is/was beyond their scope as per council resolution passed last spring creating it.
Please contact THE MAYOR especially (he's leaning towards supporting this but his appointee to the CRC recommended SMDs!) and THE MAYOR PRO-TEM and Councilmembers COLE and MCCRACKEN and urge them NOT TO PASS THIS ITEM!
BEST TO CALL--ASAP--leave a msg. if after hours:
Mayor Wynn: 974-2250
Mayor Pro Tem Dunkerley: 974-2258
Cmbr. McCracken: 974-2256
Cmbr. Cole: 974-2266
Email them all at once: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/council/groupemail.htm