Of the several topics touched upon at last night's two hour long Common Council meeting, the one that Register-Star reporter John Mason chose to write about is the dilemma over ward boundaries: "City pushes county to realign voting districts."
As loyal Gossips readers know, in the course of the past year, it has been discovered that two ward boundaries--one between the Fourth and Fifth wards and the other between the Third and Fifth wards--are in practice different from the ward boundary descriptions that appear in the city charter, Chapter 1-4. The solution being pursued by the Common Council is to move the boundaries back to where the charter says they should be, even though one of those boundaries bisects the Firemen's Home, and reassign a bunch of people who have been believed all along that they were in the Fourth Ward or the Third Ward to the already oversized Fifth Ward. The one person who seems not to be going along with this plan is Republican Commissioner of Elections Jason Nastke.
The city charter was adopted in 1921, and the ward descriptions in that document very likely predate it by nearly forty years. The description of the border between the Fourth and Fifth wards is particularly arcane--"thence northerly along the center line of Fifth Street and a projection of said center line of Fifth Street to the northerly bounds of the City"--suggesting that it was written before Harry Howard Avenue existed.
It's hard to imagine that the boundaries the Board of Elections has been using, apparently for decades, just drifted into existence. It's more reasonable to think that there was a deliberate process--one that unfortunately was never memorialized by an amendment to the city charter. Still, short of doing the research required to discover when, how, and why the current boundaries came about, wouldn't it be simpler to deal with the current dilemma by simply amending the charter to make the descriptions in that document match the boundaries that have been observed in practice for at least two generations?
COPYRIGHT 2015 CAROLE OSTERINK