'Chronicle' Should Take City Redistricting More Seriously

RECEIVED Mon., Dec. 10, 2012

Dear Editor,
    Please get serious. Despite having preached for decades about the importance of citizen involvement in government, the need for single-member districts in Austin, and the benefits of redistricting by an independent commission instead of elected officials, the Chronicle surprised many of its readers by coming out against the city charter amendment (Proposition 3) that embodied all of these worthwhile objectives [“Nov. 6 Elections: The 'Chronicle' Endorsements,” News, Oct. 19].
    The election is over. The voters of Austin overwhelmingly approved Proposition 3. It is now the law. Rather than being disgruntled about the election outcome, the Chronicle's editors should work for a smooth transition from Austin's current at-large election system to the 10-1 system.
    The transition has started well. The city auditor has accepted his responsibilities seriously under Proposition 3. As Ms. Pagano's recent story in the Chronicle [“A 10-1 Sense of Humor? You'll Need It.,” News, Dec. 7] indicated, there is an excitement among Austinites about the change in the election system and citizen involvement that led to "a standing-room-only public meeting … to brainstorm how to attract [redistricting] commission applicants." Nevertheless, there may be many bumps in the road between now and the election of 10 council members from single-member districts in November, 2014.
    The Chronicle is important to Austin – so is the change to single-member districts. The Austin Chronicle's editors should play an important and positive role in this critical transition process.
Steve Bickerstaff
   [News Editor Michael King responds: The only person apparently "disgruntled" about the 10-1 situation is professor Bickerstaff – among the unelected authors of the "independent commission" process – who can't take “Yes” for an answer. Now that the Rube Goldberg process has begun, he wants us not only to approve the unfolding parade, but to stand at sober attention ("please get serious"), while ignoring the fact that other local jurisdictions have regularly drawn perfectly adequate district maps without recourse to such a complicated, expensive, and heavily lawyered process. Sorry, but with the parade and its designers already displaying pretension and pomposity, the prescribed remedy for those conditions is laughter.]
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