Chamber, Rm 317 City Hall, to give final consideration to a proposed amendment
to the Minneapolis City Charter amending Chapter 1 relating to City and Ward
Boundaries and Chapter 16 relating to Parks and Parkways, regarding the
responsibility for the redistricting process.
Here is a link to the changes being proposed:
As a former Redistricting Commissioner in the last decennial redistricting, I
am very much in favor of this change. The intent IMHO is to depoliticize the
redistricting process and to make a determined effort to seek greater diversity
in the dialogues that will give birth to the eventual product.
I made a point of testifying at the Charter Commission’s last meeting in order
to add my support to this effort. My major points were that this revision would
give the Charter Commissioners more direct responsibility for evaluating and
enacting the document – no simple task; would give entrée to qualified resident
voters emblematic of our many diverse communities without the arcane language
that can be a stumbling block in the rather brief life of this process; and
would sharply discourage the partisan factionalism that was so toxic and
eventually litigious ten years ago.
One must take the long view here. The 2010 Census will confirm what our eyes
tell us: some parts of the city have grown much larger and other parts have
experienced regrettable deterioration. We now have a minority majority in the
38,000-odd student population of our K-12 public schools and it stands to
reason that twenty years hence these young souls will take on serious
responsibilities in the governance of our civic life. I don’t have good
statistics for the charter schools, but my inference is likely sound that there
will be overall quite a shift in the demographic characteristics of our
I agree with former Redistricting Commissioner Lyall Schwartzkopf, himself a
two-time veteran of the City’s redistricting process, a former Minneapolis City
Clerk, and a current member of the Charter Commission, that the inclusion of a
nine-member group advisory to the Charter Commission to be appointed by the
Charter Commission itself will give potential rise to new and diverse faces at
this pivotal time in the City’s growth without the discordant and
counter-productive influence of what amounts to the “established order”.
The Charter Commissioners themselves are appointed by and in effect given
oversight by the Chief Judge of Hennepin County, to whose supervisory attention
any inadequacies in process can be referred should the Commission fail of
success in their time-limited obligations.
It is also the case that the Charter Commissioners, the City Attorney’s office,
The City Clerk’s office, and the members of the City Council have borne in mind
the best practices suggestions that came from the League of Women Voters and
Common Cause. Here too the bumpy road we all traveled in 2002 has not been
forgotten. There are some practical and perhaps legal criteria that have
necessarily been in play in the evolution of this final draft but I think it
fair to say that the responsible public bodies have made a sincere effort to
find comity in these arrangements.
This is a major revision of the City’s Charter and can only be achieved by
being agreed to by the City’s electorate in this fall’s election cycle. We’ve
had a mixed bag in the last two election cycles in this regard. Ranked Choice
Voting sailed through in one instance but the proposed centralizing of certain
municipal governance functions went nowhere in the next round of
decision-making by the electorate.
I don’t hold a meaningful opinion about changes in the composition and duties
of the School Board, the Park Board, or the Board of Estimate and Taxation.
Those are important bodies, but apart from some “musical chairs” in the
redistricting authority provisions related to the Park Board, these are at best
tangential to the primary concerns of whatever redistricting authority, namely
the required decennial adjustment to the City’s ward boundaries.
One last point: I don’t think it advisable to have Charter Commissioners with
two hats – one hat as voting members of the Charter Commission itself and the
other hat as possible sitting members of the 9-member advisory group. Provided
that there are firm understandings that proposed redistricting plans must issue
from the Charter Commission itself when the time comes for public hearings, I
suggest that the willingness of representatives of diverse ethnic communities
to step forward as potential members of the 9-member advisory group would be
deemed more credible and more likely if in effect there were a level playing
field within that 9-member body.
Works for me!