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”

Mapping tools released: Anyone can draw new Bloomington city council districts

Screenshot of the mapping tool created by the MGGG Lab at Tufts University loaded with Bloomington data. The image links to the mapping tool: Pick “Cities” then “Bloomington”

Late last week, the MGGG Lab at Tufts University released a mapping tool that makes it easy for anyone to draw new boundaries for Bloomington’s city council districts.

The release is part of a web-based redistricting resource the lab has developed, called Districtr. The Bloomington module of Districtr was created at The B Square’s request.

The acronym MGGG stands for Metric Geometry and Gerrymandering Group. Continue reading “Mapping tools released: Anyone can draw new Bloomington city council districts”

Bloomington still has no redistricting commission, 15 months after it was supposed to be seated

Bloomington’s city council passed an ordinance in mid-December 2020 to establish a redistricting advisory commission that is supposed to make recommendations on the drawing of new city council districts, based on results of the 2020 census.

map ofBloomington showing the different city council districts in different colors with their respective populations after the 2020 census. The low is 10,783. The high is 15,379.

The nine-member group was supposed to be seated at the start of 2021, which is the year following the decennial census.

Now some 15 months later, no members of the commission have been seated—because there are not enough applicants who meet the eligibility requirements.

Under state law, it is this year—the second year following the decennial census—when the city council districts are supposed to be redrawn. That’s only if their populations have become unbalanced based on the census numbers.

But there’s no question that Bloomington’s current city council districts are unbalanced after the 2022 census count, because they have a 35 percent variance. An acceptable variance is considered 10 percent.

Even though nine months of the year remain, the timeline for the redistricting commission’s work is already getting tight.

And after amending the 2020 ordinance in early February of this year, to reduce the redistricting commission to five members, the planned commission is still short of eligible applicants.

On Thursday at noon, the city council committee that is responsible for selecting the redistricting commission members met in the McCloskey Room at city hall to review how to proceed. Making up the committee, under Bloomington’s new ordinance, are the three at-large members, who are elected by voters citywide: Susan Sandberg, Jim Sims and Matt Flaherty.

Continue reading “Bloomington still has no redistricting commission, 15 months after it was supposed to be seated”

Column: Sandboxing some possible new Bloomington city council districts

Based on the results of the 2020 census, the populations of Bloomington’s six current city council districts are way out of kilter.

There’s no question that some city council district boundary adjustments will need to be made, before the next municipal elections are held in 2023. The changes could be significant.

Legally speaking, resetting the Bloomington city council district boundaries is a task that does not have to be completed until the end of 2022.

But for any potential candidate in the 2023 city council elections, it would be less than ideal if a city council decision on new district boundaries came late in 2022.

Why is it not possible to go ahead and get started? Continue reading “Column: Sandboxing some possible new Bloomington city council districts”

Local committee recommends new, old district boundaries as state balks at a Monroe County precinct change

Two Monroe County council districts will trade a couple of townships. But county commissioner districts will keep the same boundaries.

Those are the unanimous recommendations made on Monday morning by a four-person committee, which was assigned the redistricting task by Monroe County’s board of commissioners.

The commissioners are expected to have the recommended boundaries on their work session agenda for this Wednesday (Nov. 17). A final vote is not expected until the week following Thanksgiving.

The district boundary recommendations won’t be affected by an objection that the state’s election division has made to one of the proposed tweaks to Monroe County’s precinct boundaries. The precinct boundary changes were already approved by county commissioners.

That means the four-person committee has essentially wrapped up its assigned task in its fourth week of work. A meeting set for Thursday this week, as well as Monday next week, will be left on the calendar, in case the need arises to meet again.

Members of the partisan-balanced committee are: two Democrats (Regina Moore and Ed Robertson) and two Republicans (Joyce Poling and Hal Turner).
Continue reading “Local committee recommends new, old district boundaries as state balks at a Monroe County precinct change”

Third option floated for possible redrawing of Monroe County council boundaries

A third possibility for new county council district boundaries is now getting consideration from the four-person committee that has been appointed to make recommendations on new precinct and district boundaries for Monroe County.

It’s simple to describe the third county council district option, which was floated at Monday’s committee meeting: Transfer Clear Creek Township from District 3 to District 1.

That’s the proposal labeled Option C in the graphics accompanying this article.

At its Thursday meeting last week, the committee batted around two other possibilities for balancing out the populations of the four county council districts. The populations are a bit out of kilter after the 2020 census. Continue reading “Third option floated for possible redrawing of Monroe County council boundaries”

Monroe County redistricting committee takes first look at new county council districts, change to Spoonmore’s District 4 seems unlikely

When the Democratic Party’s caucus picks a replacement for the resigning county councilor Eric Spoonmore sometime before year’s end, the relevant council district boundaries will be the same as they are now.

But potential caucus candidates might have some concerns about possible upcoming boundary changes, which could redistrict them out of their caucus-filled seat, preventing a run for election in 2022.

Any worries along those lines can probably be put to rest, based on the initial discussions at Thursday’s meeting of a four-member redistricting advisory committee.

Members of the committee are Regina Moore, Ed Robertson, Joyce Poling, and Hal Turner.

Committee members don’t seem to be looking at Spoonmore’s District 4 as a place where they need to tinker with boundaries in order to balance out the population of the four districts.

But the districts are now out of balance, according to the 2020 census—with a low of 30,333 for District 1 and a high of 37,709 for District 3. Continue reading “Monroe County redistricting committee takes first look at new county council districts, change to Spoonmore’s District 4 seems unlikely”

Precinct boundary recommendations sent to Monroe County commissioners, as committee shifts focus to district lines

Seven revisions to current precinct lines in Monroe County are being recommended by a four-person committee appointed to give advice to county commissioners on precinct and district boundaries.

It was at their Monday meeting, after two weeks of work, when committee members settled on the recommendations, some of which could be considered technical.

The committee’s seven recommendations on precinct boundaries have been added to the regular meeting agenda for the county commissioners on Wednesday (Nov. 3)—just as a discussion item.

The Wednesday work session, when commissioners were originally expected to review the changes, has been cancelled.

That will set up the commissioners to vote on the precinct boundaries at their meeting the following week, on Nov. 10. That means Monroe County should be able to hit the Nov. 12 deadline set by the state elections division for changes to precincts.

The state’s deadline for county council and county commissioner district boundary changes is in about two months, on Dec. 26. Continue reading “Precinct boundary recommendations sent to Monroe County commissioners, as committee shifts focus to district lines”

Monroe County commissioner Githens declares bid for District 62 house seat

Monroe County commissioner Penny Githens has announced a run for the District 62 seat in the Indiana legislature’s house of representatives.

Elections for the 100 state house seats take place in 2022.

The formal announcement came on Sunday afternoon, at a gathering of around 40 people at the Monroe County Democratic Party’s headquarters on Madison Street in downtown Bloomington.

Campaign themes that Githens highlighted on Sunday included the need to increase wages, recruit young people to the teaching profession, provide adequate childcare, and expand treatment for mental health issues and substance use disorders.

Githens told The B Square she will not be resigning from the Monroe County board of commissioners, in order to make the run for the District 62 seat.

Sunday’s announcement by Githens was attended by several former and current elected local officials. Continue reading “Monroe County commissioner Githens declares bid for District 62 house seat”

Precinct boundary recommendations for Monroe County could come Monday

A four-person committee that is supposed to advise the county commissioners on precinct and district boundaries for Monroe County is looking to make its first set of recommendations early next week.

Appointed by the Monroe County board of commissioners in mid-October, the committee hopes to settle on precinct boundary recommendations by the end of its meeting next Monday (Nov. 1). This past Thursday, the committee wrapped up the fourth of its meetings over the last two weeks.

Recommendations on boundaries for the four county council districts and the three county commissioner districts could come sometime in late November.

For Monday, committee members want the county’s GIS and legal staff to prepare an easily reviewable package of precinct boundary changes that are mostly technical in nature. One exception is a precinct on the south edge of Bloomington, which would mean a change of voting location for an area where 100 people live. Continue reading “Precinct boundary recommendations for Monroe County could come Monday”