WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
The City Council’s redistricting panel can start the work of reconfiguring the Council’s 51 districts to reflect the results of last U.S. Census. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his seven appointees to the panel on Thursday. Last month Speaker Christine Quinn and City Council Minority leader James Oddo made their eight picks.
Unlike Albany, where incumbent state legislators are central to re-districting and shape districts to ensure their own re-election, the city’s bipartisan approach does not put the council members in charge of defining their own districts. Dick Daddey ,with the good government group Citizens Union, said the City Council’s approach avoids the potential for a conflict of interest that often plays out on the state and congressional level.
“Here, with no legislator sitting on the independent Commission, they will have greater freedom to draw the lines in a way that better represents the demographics of the city and serves the interest of the voters," Daddey said.
He expects the new City Council district map to reflect the 32 percent jump in the city's Asian population since 2000 providing new opportunities for Asian Americans to get elected. With 51 seats each Council member represents approximately 160,000 people, although they can vary by as much as 10 percent. The panel will also take into account the ebbs and flows in population densities in all five boroughs since the last census in 2000.
The Bloomberg appointees are Madeline Provenzano, Gloria Carvajal Wolfe, Justin Yu, Benito Romano, Frank Padavan, Oscar Odom and Scott Cerullo. Speaker Quinn selected Jamila Ponton Bragg, Linda Lin, John Robert, Roxanne J. Persaud and Robert W. Hart. Council Minority leader James Oddo picked Kamillah M. hanks, Thomas V. Ognibene and Marc Wurzel
The City Districting Commission is required to hold one or more public hearings and has a March 2013 deadline to submit a final map to the City Council. The City Council and the U.S. Department of Justice have to approve the final map.