Redistricting notebook: How do current Bloomington city council districts split up neighborhoods?

A second meeting of Bloomington’s redistricting commission was held last Monday (July 25).

Map of six current Bloomington city council districts overlaid with boundaries of neighborhood associations. The image links to a dynamic map.

The meeting included a look at some maps drawn by the public and one map created by a commissioner.

Deliberations were light on substantive issues, and did not offer much insight into the factors that commissioners will see as most significant, when they recommend a new district map to the city council.

The main takeaway from the July 25 meeting was the scheduling of an additional meeting,  for Aug. 22 at 7:30 p.m. The next meeting had already been scheduled—for Aug. 9 at 9:30 a.m.

Under the new city ordinance, the commission has until Sept. 7 to make its recommendation for six population-balanced city council districts. Redistricting work for the city council has to be done every 10 years, in the second year following the decennial census.

It’s the city council that will make the final decision on the new districts, and the decision has to be made before the end of the year. The timeframe for the work of the redistricting commissioners has been compressed, because they were not seated by the city council until mid-June, almost 18 months after they were supposed to be appointed. Continue reading “Redistricting notebook: How do current Bloomington city council districts split up neighborhoods?”

Column: Independent of politics, drawing new city council districts for Bloomington is not easy as pie

“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

That’s a famous quote from the late Carl Sagan, an astronomer who popularized scientific thought on topics like the place of the human species in the universe.

It is somewhat surprising that of Sagan’s 600 published scientific papers, none include a mention of Bloomington, Indiana, as the exact center of the known universe.

Compensating for Sagan’s error of omission are two key notions from that famous quote—“pie” and “from scratch.” Those two ideas have some current relevance in Bloomington’s civic life.

Both ideas are relevant to the work of the city’s redistricting advisory commission, which met for the first time this past week.

The commission was supposed to be seated 18 months ago, at the start of 2021, but was not appointed until mid-June of this year.
Continue reading “Column: Independent of politics, drawing new city council districts for Bloomington is not easy as pie”

Analysis: Bloomington’s new redistricting advisory commission

Last Wednesday (Dec. 16), at its last regular meeting of the year, Bloomington’s city council approved the creation of a new redistricting commission that will in 2022 be responsible for making recommendations on boundaries for the six city council districts.

The idea of creating such a commission was uncontroversial. It was approved on a unanimous vote by the nine-member city council, which is made up of nine Democrats.

The new citizens advisory redistricting commission will also have nine members, but just three will be Democrats. In addition to the “delegation” of three Democratic Party affiliates, the ordinance also calls for a three-member Republican Party delegation and a three-member delegation of members who aren’t affiliated with either of the two major parties.

Each of the three delegations on the new commission has to include a full-time Indiana University student.

Council president Steve Volan wrote the ordinance. The slogan he gave in support of the basic concept of a redistricting commission was: “We shouldn’t be choosing our voters; they should be choosing their representatives.” Continue reading “Analysis: Bloomington’s new redistricting advisory commission”