Now settled: New district boundaries for Bloomington city council 2023 elections

The new boundaries for the six Bloomington city council districts are now settled for the 2023 city elections.

Map recommended by Bloomington’s redistricting advisory commission: https://districtr.org/plan/139342 Or see this Google interactive map with layers for some communities of interest.

On a 5–4 vote at a special meeting on Thursday, the city council adopted a map that was recommended by a five-member redistricting advisory commission.

The inclusion of two “central” districts, which don’t touch any non-city area, is a feature of the new map that makes it different from the one that was adopted in 2012, which included just one central district.

The map adopted in 2012 has served for the last two city elections, in 2015 and 2019.

The task of drawing new city council districts comes at least every 10 years, in the second year following the decennial census, so that the population of districts can be balanced out.

On the newly adopted map, the prominence of the 3rd Street boundary between Perry Township and Bloomington Township is evident, which is another feature that makes it different from the 2012 map.

The new map falls just one precinct short of dividing the city perfectly along the line between Perry and Bloomington townships.

Along with the two central districts, the map features four districts that touch the periphery of the city, bordering on non-city areas of the county.

Six of the nine Bloomington councilmembers are elected by voters in a geographic subset of the city—that is, a district. The other three councilmembers are elected by all city voters. They’re often called “at-large” members.

Thursday’s 5–4 split decision on the new map came along familiar lines. The majority was made up of Susan Sandberg, Dave Rollo, Ron Smith, Jim Sims and Sue Sgambelluri. The four dissenting votes came from Matt Flaherty, Kate Rosenbarger, Isabel Piedmont-Smith and Steve Volan. Continue reading “Now settled: New district boundaries for Bloomington city council 2023 elections”

Likely no deliberations this week on new map for Bloomington city council districts

Bloomington’s city council almost certainly won’t be deliberating on a potential new district map ordinance at a committee meeting this Wednesday.

The new boundaries that are spelled out in the map ordinance were recommended by the city’s redistricting advisory commission two weeks ago. Consideration of new boundaries for the council’s six districts is required every 10 years in the second year after the decennial census.

But still on the agenda for the council’s 6:30 p.m. Wednesday special meeting  is the first reading of the ordinance that would adopt new boundaries for the council’s districts. The first reading will likely still take place, but nothing else. Continue reading “Likely no deliberations this week on new map for Bloomington city council districts”

Bloomington city council sets schedule to consider new district boundaries, could lead to Sept. 21 vote

The first reading of the ordinance establishing new boundaries for Bloomington’s city council districts will come at a special meeting next week, on Sept. 14.

Discussion at a committee-of-the-whole meeting is set to follow, right after the special meeting.

That sets up a possible vote the following week, on Sept. 21—to adopt or reject the new map that has been recommended by the five-member redistricting advisory commission.

The city council also has a work session set for noon on Friday (Sept. 9) that will include the proposed new council districts.

That anticipated schedule was established by the city council at its Wednesday meeting (Sept. 7).

The schedule came after 40 minutes of debate on Wednesday about the benefits and deficiencies of committee-of-the-whole meetings—which is an issue that has plagued this edition of Bloomington’s city council since its term started on Jan. 1, 2020. Continue reading “Bloomington city council sets schedule to consider new district boundaries, could lead to Sept. 21 vote”

New Bloomington council district lines proposed, advisory commission report set for Sept. 7 adoption

On a 4–0 vote taken on Wednesday night, Bloomington’s redistricting advisory commission settled on new boundary lines for the six city council districts, which will be recommended by the group to the city council.

The commission is set to meet next Wednesday (Sept. 7) to finalize its report on the recommended map.

The city council has until Nov. 1 to either adopt or reject the recommended map. If it’s rejected, the redistricting advisory commission has until Dec. 1 to respond to the council. Under state law, the city council has to adopt a new population-balanced map by the end of the year.

The work for city council redistricting takes place in the second year following the decennial census. The point of redistricting work is to restore population balance to the districts that might have shifted in the last 10 years.

Highlights of the new map include the prominence of 3rd Street as an east-west running boundary that is generally respected by every district—with one exception.

The 3rd Street boundary corresponds to the line between Bloomington Township and Perry Township. Political subdivisions like townships are among the “communities of interest” described in local code, which proposed new districts are supposed to avoid splitting. Continue reading “New Bloomington council district lines proposed, advisory commission report set for Sept. 7 adoption”

Column: Choices about Bloomington’s new common council districts should be a tale of at least two cities

Bloomington’s five-person redistricting commission is scheduled to meet for a fourth time this coming week on Wednesday, Aug. 31 at 7:30 p.m.

At the Aug. 31 meeting, it looks like the commission might be considering just one proposed map of new common council (aka city council) districts. And given the relevant deadlines, it looks like the commission could settle on that map as its recommendation to the city council.

It would be a shame if that’s the only map that the commissioners investigate in any detail, before recommending it.

The point of this column is to provide at least one additional map that commissioners might throw into the mix, before they settle on a recommendation to the city council. Continue reading “Column: Choices about Bloomington’s new common council districts should be a tale of at least two cities”

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?”

Bloomington city council redistricting notebook: What might have been 10 years ago?

Bloomington’s redistricting advisory commission will meet for a second time on Monday (July 25), in the McCloskey Room at city hall, starting at 7:30 p.m.

To preview the commission’s meeting, The B Square took a look back to the council’s work a decade ago, which is the last time the city council districts were redrawn.

The boundaries have to be reconsidered every 10 years in the context of the decennial census. If the census shows that the populations of the districts are out of kilter, the boundaries are supposed to be redrawn to balance things out.

Ten years ago, it was the at-large councilmembers who formed a committee to review potential new maps. That means it was Andy Ruff, Timothy Mayer and Susan Sandberg who confronted the redistricting task.

The map that was adopted in 2012 served to define the council districts for the 2015 and 2019 municipal elections. Whatever map the council adopts this year, sometime before Dec. 31, will serve as the district map for the 2023 elections.

The B Square was able to locate online some records of those meetings.  Those records show that the committee considered several possible maps, other than the one that was eventually adopted by the council that year. Continue reading “Bloomington city council redistricting notebook: What might have been 10 years ago?”

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”

Bloomington’s redistricting commission finally meets for first time

Current city council districts with their associated populations based on the 2020 census. The screen shot comes from the Districtr software tool created by MGGG Lab at Tufts University. The image links to the tool.

On Monday, Bloomington’s five-member redistricting commission met for the first time, about 18 months after it was supposed to be established.

Key takeaways from Monday’s gathering included the setting of the next two meeting dates: July 25 (7:30 p.m.) and Aug. 9 (9:30 a.m.).

Later, a news release issued a call to the public to submit proposals for a new map of the six city council districts.

Resources to aid the public in drawing of maps have been set up on the redistricting commission’s web page.

Under state statute, the new map, which has to be population balanced, based on the 2020 census, needs to be approved by the city council before year’s end. It’s the map that will define the council districts for the 2023 municipal elections.

But under the new local law establishing the redistricting commission, a recommendation to the commission has to be submitted to the city council by Sept. 7. Continue reading “Bloomington’s redistricting commission finally meets for first time”

Bloomington redistricting advisory commission finally appointed, has 12 weeks to complete first task

Nearly 18 months after it was supposed to be seated, a citizens redistricting advisory commission has been appointed by Bloomington’s city council.

99-year-old Liberty silver dollar used for coin flip to determine membership on redistricting advisory commission.

Their task is to recommend to the city council new boundaries for the six city council districts, to even out the population imbalances that might have resulted from the 2020 census.

The five members of the new commission were chosen by the council’s selection committee, which met early Friday morning to determine five two-person candidate pools.

The choice between the two candidates in each pool was made by a coin flip.

Under the ordinance that the city council enacted in late 2020—then amended in early February this year, and again in mid-May—the commission was supposed to be seated by Jan. 1, 2021.

The five-member group has to give the city council a recommendation for a new district map by the first Wednesday in September this year. But there’s nothing in the ordinance that says the recommendation can’t come sooner.

That first deadline is just shy of 12 weeks away. The city council has a regular meeting scheduled for Sept. 7, which is the first Wednesday of the month. That means, at the latest, the city council would have a chance on Sept. 7 to decide the council districts that will be used for the 2023 municipal elections. Continue reading “Bloomington redistricting advisory commission finally appointed, has 12 weeks to complete first task”