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Are city ward lines sacred?

Published: Fri, April 6, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Skolnick (Contact)

On the side

A star is born?: “Game Change,” the HBO movie about Sarah Palin during the failed 2008 Republican presidential campaign, uses real footage in addition to actors. Among the footage is a pan shot of the Ohio delegation at that year’s Republican National Convention. And who is very easy to spot in the delegation? Mahoning County Republican Party Chairman Mark Munroe.

“I am now a movie star,” he joked.

A fan?: The president may be a fan of local author Sam Moffie. Blogger News Network — http://www.bloggernews.net/127940 — had a picture of President Barack Obama holding Moffie’s latest book, “To Kill the Duke.”

Moffie said the picture could have been altered, but it’s possible it’s legitimate. No word from the White House on what Obama is reading. Moffie’s book has been optioned by a producer and could become a movie. The fiction story is about Joseph Stalin having an elite Russian spy team attempt to assassinate John Wayne.

Some R&R: I’m on vacation so there won’t be a column next Friday.

The Youngstown charter-review committee will recommend language change to the charter requiring redistricting the seven wards after each federal census to make population in each more equitable.

The proposal would simply change the word “may” with “must” or “shall” in the charter section on redistricting.

That section currently reads: “Following each federal census, council may redistrict the city so as to maintain a reasonable equality of population among the seven wards.”

It seems simple and logical.

After all, the charter states: “All wards shall be composed of contiguous and compact territory, as nearly equal in population as possible and bounded by natural boundaries or street lines.”

One word

But the proposed change of one word is expected to meet with resistance from some city council members who don’t want to change the current boundary lines.

Those lines haven’t been touched in 30 years even though the city’s population dropped 42 percent from 115,427 in 1980 to 66,982 in 2010.

Why does opposition by some city council members matter? Because council must approve all of the committee’s proposals before they can be placed in front of voters in November.

There are some interesting dynamics at work.

First, the seven council members and council President Jamael Tito Brown appointed one person each to the 11-member committee with Mayor Charles Sammarone appointing the three others.

Second, council members during the past 30 years should have redistricted without needing a charter amendment.

Third, if redistricting does make it to the ballot and is approved by voters, it wouldn’t go into effect until 2021, a year after the 2020 census. Unless term limits are removed, the current council members won’t be serving then.

If the redistricting amendment gets on the ballot and is approved, keep an eye on the Neighborhood Leadership Council, a group of block-watch leaders. They may put pressure on city council to redistrict next year.

An independent organization would likely do the redistricting.

A redistricting plan would give each ward about the same number of residents. Currently, the range is 7,227 in the 6th Ward to 12,130 in the 4th Ward.

Some council members in the least-populated wards want to keep the lines. Those in the more-populated wards are happy with their area, but are mixed on redistricting.

Councilman Mike Ray, D-4th, with the most-populated ward, said redistricting “is a matter of fairness. It should be equitable.”

Councilman John R. Swierz, D-7th, with the second most-populated ward, said he understands the disparity, but each ward has about the same number of streets and that should be taken into consideration.

The committee is also looking at eliminating council president and having one of the seven council positions be at-large and run citywide. That at-large position would be council president with full voting rights, unlike the current president.

Aware of the hesitation by some council members to redistricting, the charter-review committee is planning a big public meeting next month asking people to vote on the importance of proposed charter amendments.

If redistricting receives a public mandate, would council members be brazen enough to keep it off the ballot?


1NoBS(2692 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

As long as they don't do away with one or more of the wards completely, why would the city council people care about redistricting? They'd still have their council positions and the perks that go with them.

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2peggygurney(408 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Not only does redistricting need to be done ASAP (not 2021), but one or more wards needs to be eliminated. With the current population, we do not need 7 wards.

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3Anonymouse(36 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Are city ward lines sacred?

No, but our council people are lazy and greedy.

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4Yo_Charter_Review(6 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

The question of ward redistricting is a simple one. Currently, we are in violation of not only federal law but common sense. People in certain wards count more than people in other wards! Look at the chart below, which reflects our current situation.
Current Representation per Ward
Ward 1 = 9,123
Ward 2 = 8,374
Ward 3 = 8,764
Ward 4 = 12,130
Ward 5 = 10,054
Ward 6 = 7,227
Ward 7 = 11,304
This reflects data from the 2012 census, where it was revealed that Youngstown's population is now 66,982.
To equitably represent those 66,982 residents among seven wards, each ward would need to contain about 9,570 people, not the varying numbers above. If we redistricted into five wards, each ward would contain 13,397 people.
Equitable Representation per Ward
66,982 / 7 wards = 9,570 residents per ward.
66,982 / 5 wards = 13,397 residents per ward.
For comparison, Youngstown had 170,002 residents at the 1930 census. Divided between seven wards, that was 24,286 residents per ward.
Representation per Ward in 1930
170,002 / 7 wards = 24,286 residents per ward.
Why was our city council so tough in 1930 that they could handle 24,286 residents per ward? What has happened that nowadays our council is arguing that they can't handle shifting to 13,397 among five wards or even just 9,570 residents among seven wards?
Answer: our council is too comfortable and are not working hard enough to represent the residents of Youngstown properly.
Redistrict into five wards. That's 13,397 residents per ward, almost half of what council represented per ward in 1930. It's the least council can do toward equitably representing their citizens and running an efficient government.
Any argument against redistricting comes from GREED and SLOTH.
REDISTRICT the city of Youngstown into FIVE WARDS with 13,397 residents EACH.

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5PhilKidd(189 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

I'm still at a loss as to why some members of City Council (incorrectly) think that redistricting has something to do with issues or geography. It is purely a matter of population (equal representation). This is a fact. It's not a debatable. Each ward should have aprox 9,500. They do not. Not even close. It's time to redistrict. If not, you're going to be facing an embarrassing lawsuit in which the courts will tell you the same.

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6One_Who_Stayed(240 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

"Councilman John R. Swierz, D-7th, with the second most-populated ward, said he understands the disparity, but each ward has about the same number of streets and that should be taken into consideration."

I love that! Why don't we base it on the number of cars in the garages? Or the number of Cats people own.

How did this idiot ever wind up leading anything?
Put quite simply - our City Council is a greedy, self-serving, self-centered bunch that not only needs to be reorganized, but replaced with people who will work to better the lives of the citizens of this city - not just themselves.

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7Yo_Charter_Review(6 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Like businessmen are more trustworthy than politicians. Right.

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