Thursday, June 05, 2003

Mayor poses election change
Who actually opposes changing how city council is elected? I don't think the Republican's are to keen on it, with Monzel's apathetic statement:
"It wasn't tainted by the politics of City Hall. Coming from the inside, I don't know if it will have legs," Monzel said. "But we'll see."
Uber-conservative Tom Brinkman is for a change, along with Charterite John Schlagetter. If elements of all three parties favor change, then is the only conflict when to change and what the structure of the revised council would resemble.

Of the three plans out there I like Democrat Donald Driehaus's plan of 7 district seats and 3 at large. Brinkman wants 15 seats, which seems far to many, and Schlagetter stated he likes the idea of proportional representation, which has the taint rewarding the little guy a bit to much. The basic fight will be on where you draw the districts. If the recent episode in Texas is any example, that process could get very ugly. Race will of course be the pink elephant in room for that process. This idea was one of the original boycott demands, and from the boycotters perspective they idea was to get more blacks on council, or at least gerrymander the districts to guarantee a minimum number would make it on council, almost a back door quota.

Luken is wise to get out front of this issue with the proposal to hold public hearings on the issue. The problem with all of the plans so far is that they lack details. Luken's process has the potential of giving the public a chance to learn about the plans, voice opinions on them, and attract support for what hopefully will end up being a broadly supported Charter Amendment. I hope the process to form districts has a mostly objective criteria as its basis, otherwise the process will become a pissing mach for power among power hungry interest groups. Your Price Hill groups, Hyde Park cartel, and boycotters all will scream about this or that, leaving little room for compromise. If those groups have the courage to be objective this might work, but that is a pipe dream. The worry that will be more cause for concern is long term: neighborhood competition for funding. Council members will be expected to bring home the bacon for their constituents. At-large council members can only provide minor balance to what will surely be a rancorous battle with the Downtown councilman and the Price Hill Councilman and the Avondale Councilman all battling for dollars. No Whammies, Big Money….Stop!!!

Other Coverage: Post, ONN, Canton Repository, WCPO, WKRC, and City Beat

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