3.9 min readBy Published On: October 23rd, 2022Categories: News0 Comments

This past Wednesday evening, over 100 residents gathered at the Condon School to discuss the process of redrawing council district lines. South Boston elected officials are less than pleased with one redistricting map in particular. City Councilor Ed Flynn send out a press release announcing the emergency meeting earlier in the week.

The Boston branch of theNAACP, Urban League, Victoria Williams, the Ward 12 Democratic Committee Co-Chair, MassVOTE, Chinese Progressive Association, Chinese Progressive Political Action have come up with their version of what city’s political boundaries should look like.

The map was filed by Councillors Liz Breadon of Allston-Brighton and Ricardo Arroyo of Hyde Park.

This map – in addition to at least one other map – will divide the neighborhood of South Boston into two districts.  Currently, City Council President Ed Flynn represents the bulk of the neighborhood  (District 2) and Councilor Frank Baker represents one all-Southie precinct along with his majority Dorchester district (District 3).

Under the new NAACP map – which some are referring to as the “unity” map, Baker’s district would gain at least four more South Boston precincts. According to the Boston Globe, residents are concerned that under that plan Southie’s most vulnerable voices would be silenced.  Two public housing developments (Anne Lynch Homes at Old Colony and West Broadway Development) would be divvied up between the two council districts District 2 and 3.

South Boston neighborhood associations leaders were allowed to speak to express the concerns which included removing the most diverse section of South Boston from the district.

“Public housing is the most diverse section of the South Boston neighborhood. What they plan on doing is separating the minority community from the rest of South Boston. And they call this progress?” said Kevin Lally from the Gate of Heaven Neighborhood Association. 

Luanne O’Connor from the City Point Neighborhood Association stated the map was created to segregate South Boston and weaken the neighborhood’s vote.  O’Connor also reference South Boston during 1970’s busing – the court-ordered desegregation of the city’s schools – and the neighborhood’s reputation for being racist. “I believe certain members of the City Council are racist,” added O’Connor.

Flynn interjected and stated that no one on the council is racist.

The Globe also reported about a very heated exchange between City Councilor-at-Large Julia Mejia and a resident attending the meeting while Mejia was addressing the crowd in Spanish and the man yelled, “Get on with it!”

From the Globe:

“When Mejia told the crowd that was “English is my second language, OK,” the heckler retorted: “No, not OK. Get on with it.” Yelling between Flynn and the heckler ensued. (The heckler later apologized to Mejia after the meeting.)”

Mejia posted the exchange on social media. 

The “unity” map is  just one of many maps that have been filed with the City of Boston over the last week or so.  The deadline is quickly approaching for a final map to be approved by Mayor Michelle Wu and become law by November 7th – a year before the 2023 municipal elections.  It is expected that the city council will vote take place this coming week.  You can see the other proposed maps here. 

So what exactly is redistricting?

Redistricting is in the process of drawing lines of districts from which our district councilors are elected in the City of Boston. The nine districts in the City are redrawn every ten years according to the latest census data. The goals of redistricting are to ensure that all nine of our districts reflect population changes and racial diversity. 

So how does it all work?

Using Census data, the Committee on Redistricting will review council districts. Districts are reviewed using precincts as the smallest unit. The committee will look at different criteria to ensure maps are fair including:

  • Equal population
  • Compact districts
  • Contiguous boundaries
  • Preservation of neighborhoods and communities

Some more background info:

The Redistricting Committee does not have the authority to assign precincts in order to achieve racial balancing. Their authority is only to create a balance between total district numbers and create minority opportunity districts. That is gerrymandering: making assignments to achieve a political goal. It is against the law.

City Councilor Liz Breadon is the chair of the redistricting committee and has the job of coming up with a compromise map.

There are three redistricting working sessions taking place this week. You can see the schedule here. 

Is South Boston the only neighborhood upset about the “unity” map.  It appears parts of Dorchester has some issues with it too.  And one Charlestown resident has come up with his own map for the city council to consider called the “Moe Map.” 

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