On August 10, Citizens Union was joined by dozens of other good government and community groups in urging the New York City Districting Commission to hold mapping deliberations on the new City Council district plan as part of an open public meeting, and to provide the public with a detailed explanation of how and why the new Council lines are drawn.
To date, all mapping negotiations have taken place in secret and the reasons behind mapmaking decisions have not been revealed. Of particular concern are recent reports about possible backroom deals between appointing authorities, and their influence over mapping decisions.
Although the Commission’s need to work in small subcommittees is understandable, key mapping issues should be brought for a discussion before the Commission as a whole. There is no reason for discussions over the final configuration of the plan to be kept out of the public’s eye.
Open meetings on mapping deliberations are not an uncommon practice for commission-led redistricting processes. In fact, the 2012-2013 NYC Districting Commission held multiple public meetings on maps, including district-by-district presentations on the reasoning behind every proposed line and the public’s concerns about each area. These public meetings offered commissioners a chance to make specific comments on proposed maps, reach a consensus, and vote on recommended changes – all in public.