Planning staff to unveil 'Plan B' Metro Council redistricting map

Friday, March 25, 2011 at 1:01pm

The Metro Planning Department plans to unveil its “Plan B” Metro Council map Monday morning after the first stab at redistricting earlier this week was met with some criticism.

“Rest assured that we are very aware of the issues [major and minor] that have been raised so far and are working through the weekend on the next plan,” department Executive Director Rick Bernhardt wrote in a letter Friday morning.

The department will post the revamped map Monday on its website. A “Plan C” will follow on Wednesday.

Throughout the expedited redistricting process, Bernhardt has said the council lines would evolve after receiving community feedback. Some citizens and council members have raised issue with the notion the council lines released Wednesday split up some neighborhoods.

A few issues include: The Nations neighborhood in West Nashville is split into different districts. The Vanderbilt/Belmont neighborhood is divided. Inglewood in East Nashville doesn’t have its own district. And, neighbors who live near the 117-acre state fairgrounds — vocal during the ongoing fairgrounds debate — are in a different district than the fairgrounds itself.

A few incumbent council members — including Karen Bennett, Erica Gilmore and Anna Page — would also lose a substantial number of their current constituent base and enter new political terrain with the new lines. But Bernhardt has said his department isn’t taking into consideration the addresses of sitting council members.

Using 2010 U.S. Census Bureau figures released last week, Metro officials are hoping to complete the redistricting process next month. Candidates have until May 19 to qualify for the Aug. 4 election.

The ongoing fast-tracked redistricting of the council’s 35 districts came after attorney George Barrett threatened suit if the city were to not complete the process before the upcoming election. Of the complaints about splitting up neighborhoods, Barrett said people vote, not neighborhoods. 

“A neighborhood doesn’t have a right to vote,” Barrett said. “They aren’t people. People are the ones who vote. That’s what you have to count — not neighborhoods.”

Redistricting workshops are set for Monday, March 28, and Wednesday, March 30. The Metro Planning Commission is likely to vote on the new council lines March 31. If approved, the new map would then head to the council, likely to fast-track the process, for final approval. 

3 Comments on this post:

By: global_citizen on 3/25/11 at 12:19

I don't know what George Barrett's motivation is, but his sophistry about neighborhoods is just plain ridiculous. I live in district 18 and currently the district lines are drawn very cohesively according to the natural boundaries of the Belmont-Hillsboro neighborhood, as it should be. Like minded and similarly situated neighbors ought to be represented by the same council representative.

The first incarnation of redistricting shows Hillsboro Village being divided among three different districts. The district my home would be put into would be dramatically different from the current district 18. It has a small part of the young and progressive Belmont area being shuffled in with a large part of the older, old money, conservative Green Hills/Bowling Ave. area.

I've lived here long enough to tell you that no council representative can give adequate representation to both of those constituencies. And the Belmont area residents would effectively lose representation in Metro Council.

That is not a concern to be flippantly dismissed despite Barrett's simplistic sophistry.

By: govskeptic on 3/25/11 at 12:47

There is truly no rush that this redistricting take place at this time
or even this year. For some reason the Administration and possibly
a few council members along with Mr Barrett and his threatened (but
improbable victory lawsuit) wants to put it in place before this election!
"Haste makes waste" which may very well apply with this project!

By: Shane Smiley on 3/25/11 at 3:01

The City Council is looking to suspend the rules and fast track the process.
Amazing how government has the ability to fast track legislation when it comes down to them having a job.
They are setting a dangerous precedent.
This needs to go through normal channels, just like any other legislation.