Part of the Plan

RECEIVED Mon., July 29, 2013

Dear Editor:
    Your recent article about the independent redistricting commission [“City Redistricting Commission Wants Its Own Lawyer,” News, July 26] justly pays tribute to the outstanding contribution that Peck Young has made to Austinites for Geographic Representation and is making to the commission.
    Nevertheless, the Chronicle injected a bit of sarcasm by calling the independent commission process “messy.” I doubt if the author of this statement has either experienced redistricting in a large city as a basis for comparison or attended more than a few of the weekly meetings of the Austin redistricting commission or the prior Applicant Review Panel.
    The focus of your story is on the redistricting commission’s decision to hire its own legal counsel. The story implies that this decision is a result of recent events. It is not. The decision was long planned by the commission as part of its organization. Hiring such counsel is essential to maintaining the commission’s independence from all outside interests and is explicitly required by the city charter.
    The independent commission process has been smooth and successful, from the initial steps by the city auditor, through the selection of the eligible applicants by the ARP, and to the organization and work of the commission itself. The members of the independent redistricting commission are smart, conscientious, and experienced men and women that represent the diversity of Austin. They do not constitute a “novice board.” Again, I ask the Chronicle to embrace a democratic idea that is working.
Steve Bickerstaff
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