Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Advocate: Unanswered Questions on county's bungled redistricting effort

Source: ScGov.net

To the Sarasota County Commission:
Below is information copied from the Redistricting page on scgov.net. It includes an official acknowledgment of the public participation in the selection of an Alternative District map, and the timeline to complete your redistricting project.  
Since the first public Open House on 9/18, additional disturbing information has been disclosed which warrants shutting down this early redistricting exercise. Yet your timeline suggests that flawed population methodology and appearances of compromise will not halt your quest to dictate the future of county voters.
Please respond to the following requests:
·      The County acknowledges the contributions of 2000 residents in the input survey, but at your meeting on October 7th, you essentially dismissed the map preference selected by 90% of the respondents. Please account for this inconsistency.  
“…From Sept. 17 to Oct. 1, Sarasota County Government held five redistricting open houses as well as circulated an online public input survey. We appreciate your feedback — more than 2,000 public input forms were submitted. Read all the input submitted below….”
·      What is the agenda for your “special meeting” on October 30, 2019?  There are no details in the list of Next Steps at the end of this message, although other dates in the redistricting timeline specifically indicate an action or purpose.  On October 30th:
o   Which maps will you consider---those “citizen” maps enhanced by Kurt Spitzer which show two Commissioners living in the same District—noted by red dots (See link and attachment: Waechter/alias Smith, former Commissioner Mason, Miller and Thomas)? Or will you display even more map options similarly unviewable on screen at a public meeting? 
Please be specific, since there’s an impression that the Smith map (aka Bob Waechtermay  serve as the template for the final District map. 
o   Has Mr. Waechter ever participated in configuring District maps for the County Commission in the past, e.g., post-2010 Census?  
o   How will the public be involved in your process---as spectators or active, meaningful participants? You touted this process as interactive and fair.  When will that happen?
o   By October 30th, will you have shared your District boundary preferences privately with the consultant for a second time? If so, will you divulge what you shared since you also promised to be transparent 
o   Will you accept additional map boundary ideas from political operatives identified by name or alias?  If so, please expound.
o   Will you go on record and dismiss the flaws discovered and confirmed by subcontractor Richard Doty, a recognized population expert at BEBR, the organization which provided the methodology for your contractor’s population study?  
o   Will you explain how it’s acceptable to demean justifiably concerned citizens by referring to them as “white noise”, when they include the Herald Tribune, Venice Gondolier Sun, SRQ Daily, the League of Women Voters and various City Commissions in Sarasota County?  

Since the “special” meeting on 10/30 is still two weeks in the making, I look forward to receiving your responses in a timely manner. 
Or, better yet---Finally do what’s best for your constituents and tell everyone that you’re waiting until after the 2020 Census to draw new District boundaries.  Displaying this questionable endeavor in plain sight does not make it right, and does not serve the public interest. 
Pat Rounds, 
District 1

Next Steps
  • Oct. 30  - BCC Special Meeting on Redistricting
o   Time: 1:30 p.m.
o   Location: Commission Chambers, 1st floor in Administration Building, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota
  • Oct. 26 - Advertise Nov. 5, 2019, Notice of Public Hearing to adopt map.
  • Nov. 5 - Board action to adopt district boundaries and associated map.
  • Nov. 10 and 17 - Advertise district boundary map adopted on Nov. 5, 2019.
  • Nov. 19 - Board action to approve minutes from Nov. 5, 2019, including adopted map and acknowledge proof of publication for inclusion in the Nov. 19, 2019, minutes.
  • Dec. 10 - Board approval of minutes from Nov. 19, 2019, acknowledging proof of publication of adopted map.

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