Citizens Redistricting Forum December 4

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Ken Mory

City auditor invites public input for citizens redistricting panel and how best to identify applicant qualifications 

Fred Lewis
Fred Lewis

City Auditor Ken Mory today announced a public forum will be held to encourage participation in the Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission (CIRC) and secure a large and diverse pool of qualified applicants.

Once formed the 14-member CIRC will hire consultants, conduct public hearings, and draw 10 council districts the City Council will have no choice but to accept, subject to federal approval under the Voting Rights Act.

Peck Young is the volunteer political consultant who provided strategy for Austinites for Geographic Representation (AGR), which got Proposition 3 on the ballot through a petition drive and won voter approval.

Young said he was encouraged by the auditor’s quick action to seek public participation.

Peck Young
Peck Young

“My reaction it that’s a very good first step,” Young told The Austin Bulldog. “AGR members will be encouraged to participate. I think that’s an excellent approach on Mory’s part.”

Elections scheduled for November 2014 will be held under the new system with 10 council members elected from geographic districts and only the mayor elected at large.

The forum starts 7pm Tuesday December 4 in One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road, Room 325. (To see a map, click here.)

Overview of the process

Proposition 3 approved by voters November 6 requires the city auditor to establish an Applicant Review Panel of three independent auditors who will screen applications from volunteers who wish to serve on the CIRC.

The auditor’s forum will include breakout sessions “to determine how best to identify applicant qualifications including relevant analytical skills, the ability to be impartial, and an appreciation for the City of Austin’s diverse demographics and geography,” the press release states.

These qualifications are specified in Proposition 3: Ordinance No. 20120802-015 approved by voters. Screening to determine whether applicants meet these requirements will be the responsibility of the Applicant Review Panel.

Applicants must meet numerous other requirements to prevent conflicts of interest. These are listed in Sections 3(D)(1) and 3(I)(3) of the Ordinance.

In addition, Section 3(D)(4) makes any member of the CIRC ineligible to hold elective public office for the City of Austin for 10 years from the date of appointment. Commission members will also be ineligible for three years to hold appointive public office for the city, to serve as paid staff or paid consultant to the city or City Council or any council member, or to receive a non-competitively bid contract from the city.

The Applicant Review Panel is required to produce a pool of 60 qualified people. The mayor and City Council members are entitled to strike one person each from the pool, in writing, without stating a reason.

The city auditor will then conduct a public drawing to pick the first eight people to serve on the CIRC and those eight will pick the remaining six members to balance the commission by race, ethnicity, gender, and geography.

Can’t make the December 4 meeting? Your input may be submitted in writing via e-mail to [email protected]. You can also mail or hand deliver your comments to Office of the City Auditor, 302 W. 2nd St., Suite 2130, Austin TX 78701.

Additional information about the redistricting process can be found on the Office of the City Auditor’s website at http://austintexas.gov/page/10-1-citizens-redistricting-process.

This report was made possible by contributions toThe Austin Bulldog, which operates as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to provide investigative reporting in the public interest. You can help to sustainThe Austin Bulldog’s coverage by making atax-deductible contribution.

Related Bulldog coverage: This is The Austin Bulldog’s 41st article covering issues and activities pertaining to proposed changes to the Austin City Charter.

Prop 3 Proponents to Monitor Implementation: Austinites for Geographic Representation form committee to help guide work on 10-1 system, November 25, 2012

City Hustles to Inititate Prop 3 Tasks: Auditor coordinating with proponents of the 10-1 plan to begin what will be a lengthy transition process, November 15, 2012

10- Plan to Rule Council Elections: Both propositions for geographic representation pass but grassroots group dominates election results, November 7, 2012

Mayor: My Commission Beats Your Commission: Mayor Lee Leffingwell lifts idea for citizens to draw council districts and undercut opposing proposition, November 2, 2012

Prop 3 Fundraising Outpaces Prop 4: Financial support for 10-1 far outstrip dollars donated for 8-2-1 hybrid, September 29, 2012

Proposition 3 Campaign Relies on Grass Roots: Austinites for Geographic Representation going door-to-door, running phone banks, and distributing info at polling places, October 21, 2012

Prop 3 Proponents Question Prop 4 Legality: Civil rights attorney and two minority groups say federal preclearance for 8-2-1 is unlikely, October 21, 2012

Poll Triggers Backlash from 10-1 Proponents: Proposition 3 advocates saying Prop 4 playing dirty with a misleading poll, Prop 4 denies the charge, October 17, 2012

Proposition 4 Campaign Reports Finances: Late report indicates $2685 raised in last three months but fails to provide details about campaign expenses, October 10, 2012

Proposition 3 Campaign Reports Finances: 10-1 campaign proponents raised more than $40,000, Proposition 4’s 8-2-1 advocates’ report not submitted, October 9, 2012

Proposition 3 Rally Draws 150-200 People: Crowd hears fiery speeches by proponents of the 10-1 systemfor electing council members, October 8, 2012

Attorney Bickerstaff Addresses Critics’ Concerns: His September 24 article drew numerous comments about the Proposition 3 Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, October 5, 2012

Feisty Debate Over Electing Council Members: One panelist argues for no change to the at-large system of City Council elections, October 4, 2012

Proposition 3 and 4 Proponents Rev Their Campaigns: Raising money, organizing troops, and pushing plans for geographic representation on Austin City Council, September 28, 2012

Redistricting Need Not Be a Quintessentially Political Process: Independent redistricting commissions for U.S. states and cities, September 24, 2012

Barrientos Lampoons Prop 4 With a Fable: Other proponents of alternative plans for geographic representation push their points, September 14, 2012

Proposition 3 Advocates Falsely Accuse RECA: Group alleges ‘rumor’ of $100,000 pledge by Real Estate Council to defeat Proposition 3, but RECA says not so, September 12, 2012

No-Change Option Surfaces in Ballot Debate: Former Council Member Bob Binder opposes both options on the ballot for geographic representation, September 11, 2012

The Election Wars Have Begun: Interest in how council members elected running high, as face-off debates abound, September 9, 2012

Your Guide to Proposed City Charter Amendments: What’s on the ballot, what it will cost taxpayers, and details provided in the ordinances for each proposition, August 30, 2012

Loud Rally Follows Final Council Vote for 8-2-1: AGR’s Cries Foul Over Work Session Vote for Hybrid; Mayor Leffingwell Said Votes Driven by Ballot Deadline, August 7, 2012

Council Backers of 8-2-1 Plan Accused of Self-Interest: But Facts Don’t Seem to Substantiate Such a Claim, as Related Actions May Bar Most Incumbents From Reelection, August 6, 2012

8-2-1 Near Certain to Go on Ballot: City Council Votes on Second Reading to Put Competition Election Plan on Ballot, July 31, 2012

10-1 Plan Qualifies for November Ballot: Consultant Estimates That 22,435 Signatures Are Valid; Austinites for Geographic Representation Readies for Battle, July 26, 2012

Petition Completed for 10-1 Council Districts: Austinites for Geographic Representation Claims 33,000 Signatures, of Which About 22,800 Are Considered Valid, July 16, 2012

Council Puts 10-1 Election Plan on November Ballot: Votes 5-2 on Three Readings to Adopt Petition Language, Votes 4-2 on First Reading to Also Put 8-2-1 on Ballot, June 29, 2012

Citizens Group to Make Final Petition Push: Austinites for Geographic Representation Claims to Have 17,000 Signatures, and Shoots for 13,000 More, June 4, 2012

City Council Tackles Charter Amendments: Redistricting Expert, Charter Revision Committee Members, and Grass-roots Group Critical of Task Force Plan, April 26, 2012

Council District Backers Want Quick Ballot Decision: Big Press Conference, Big Pressure Promised, to Get Council Decision Before Council Elections, March 8, 2012

Hard Fought, Heartfelt Charter Decision: Charter Revision Committee Votes 8-7 to Back 10-1 Plan for Council Elections, February 3, 2012

New Restrictions Proposed for Lobbyist Fundraising: Lobbyists Can Only Give Candidates $25 But Can Collect Unlimited Contributions For Them, January 22, 2012

Committee Debates How to Elect Council: Charter Revision Committee Divided Over Pure Districts vs. Hybrid System, January 9, 2012

Thirteen Charter Changes and Counting: Charter Revision Committee’s Next Job: Tackle Plan for Geographic Representation, December 14, 2011

Council Confirms November 2012 Election Date for Charter Amendments: Resolution Ensures Citizens Initiative Won’t Force May 2012 Charter Election, November 3, 2011

Coalition Launching Petition Drive to Get on the Ballot for May 2012 Election, October 18, 2011

Broad Community Interest Focusing on How Mayor and Council Members Elected, October 4, 2011

Coalition Nearing Petition Launch for Grass-roots Council District Plan, August 24, 2011

Maps Prove Select Few Govern Austin: Forty Years of Election History Expose Extent of Disparity, August 4, 2011

City Council to Consider Proposal to Create Geographic Representation: Election Dates, Term Lengths, Redistricting and Other Charter Changes in Council Resolution, April 27, 2011

Petition Launch Imminent to Force Election for Geographic Representation in City Elections, March 7, 2011