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Jerome Lyle Rappaport

Jerome Lyle Rappaport
Founder and Board Member
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Edward Glaeser

Edward Glaeser
Professor of Economics at Harvard University
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Stephen P. Johnson

Stephen P. Johnson
Executive Director of Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation
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Greg Massing

Greg Massing
Executive Director for the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service
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Alasdair Roberts

Alasdair Roberts
Professor of Law and Public Policy at Suffolk University Law School
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Joseph Curtatone

Joseph Curtatone
Mayor, City of Somerville
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Tim H. Davis

Tim H. Davis
Independent Research Consultant
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Scott Harshbarger

Scott Harshbarger
Senior Counsel, Proskauer Rose LLP
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Vivien Li

Vivien Li
Executive Director of The Boston Harbor Association
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Guest contributors

Monika Bandyopadhyay
Suffolk University Law Student

David Barron
Harvard Law School and former Deputy Counsel for the Office of Legal Counsel in the US Department of Justice

Linda Bilmes
Senior lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Assistant Secretary of Commerce during the Clinton Administration.

Brandy H.M. Brooks
Director, Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence, Bruner Foundation

Felicia Cote
Rappaport Fellow, Harvard Law School/Harvard Kennedy School.

Amanda Eden
Suffolk University Law School student

Sara Farnum
Student, Suffolk Univ. Law School

Kristin Faucette
Student at Suffolk University Law School

Benjamin Forman
Research Director, MassINC

Arthur Hardy-Doubleday
JD/MBA student at Suffolk University Law School and the Sawyer School of Business

Theodore Kalivas
Boston Green Blog, Dukakis Center for Urban & Regional Policy

David Linhart
Student, Boston University School of Law

Antoniya Owens
Research Analyst, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Susan Prosnitz
Senior Advisor, TSA, Washington, DC

Ben Thomas
Boston Green Blog, Dukakis Center for Urban & Regional Policy

Matthew Todaro
Student at Boston College Law School

Alexander von Hoffman
Senior Researcher, Joint Center for Housing Studies

Brett Walker
Student, Boston College Law School

Margarita Warren
Student at Suffolk University Law School

Boston City Council Redistricting: No Easy Task!

Monday, September 12th, 2011
By Tim H. Davis

September 7th was the last day to register to vote for Boston’s preliminary City Council elections. While much of the current focus in Massachusetts political circles has been on the redistricting of Massachusetts U.S. Congressional seats, it is also time for redistricting of state legislative and city council districts. The redistricting of Boston’s nine city council districts faces some interesting challenges. Population increases in downtown areas were offset by population declines in other neighborhoods, and given physical geography, the residences of current city councilors, and concerns about fair representation of people of color, the task of redistricting is difficult.
The Context

Every ten years, “redistricting” becomes news, as the results of the decennial U.S. Census counts are released and states begin the task of shifting political district boundaries to account for population changes. For Massachusetts, this is an especially difficult round, as the state loses one of its U.S. Congressional seats (there will be nine, instead of ten). The last time this occurred was after the 1990 Census, but the process was made easier by the retirement Brian Donnelly (D-Dorchester). To date, none of the current Massachusetts Members of U.S. Congress have indicated they would retire.

The Massachusetts Special Joint Committee on Redistricting has a difficult task ahead, as it attempts to redistrict not only U.S. Congressional Districts, but also 40 State Senate Districts and 160 State Representative Districts. The entire process is one big puzzle—shift a boundary at one corner of the state, and it can affect the boundaries across the state. Redistricting is not a technical exercise. Politics and demographics intervene with each new map, making the effort fraught with pitfalls. Indeed, after the 2000 state legislative redistricting process, challenges to the results eventually led to charges of perjury and obstruction of justice against then House Speaker Thomas Finneran. In the end, Finneran resigned from the House, pleaded guilty to the obstruction of justice, and was disbarred from practicing law.

Boston has 13 City Councilors. Since 1983, four have been elected at-large and nine are elected from districts. Given that 2010 U.S. Census data was not available until spring 2011, new boundaries could not be established for the 2011 election. New boundaries will need to be established in time for the 2013 City Council elections. Click below for a link to full article and maps.

For the full text of this article click here.



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