Council passes redistricting plan

After weeks of debate, City Council today gave final passage to a redistricting plan that will clean up some of the current gerrymandering problems with the city's 10 Councilmanic distircts, although the population difference between districts will be very high.

The map passed 15-2, with Councilmen Brian O'Neill and Jack Kelly voting against. If the mayor signs off on the map, Council can get paid by tomorrow, Council President Anna Verna said. Under city law, Council would have gone without pay, if they didn't pass a map today.

Council plans to approve a map developed by Councilmen Frank DiCicco and Jim Kenney over a map created by a working group of Council members. The key difference between the maps is how they divvy up the 56th ward in Northeast Philadephia, which became the battleground of the talks.

In the DiCicco-Kenney map, the 56th  ward will go to Republican 10th District Councilman Brian O'Neill. Currently the ward is split three ways and O'Neilll, who didn't want to pick up more Democratic votes, had been fighting the move. But efforts to help - in particular by Council members Darrell Clarke and Marian Tasco, who are seeking to become Council president -- failed.

O'Neill today was philosophical about the changes.

"It's my last choice, but you move on," O'Neill said. "It's about politics, it's about Council president, it's about who controls what in the Northeast."

The map expected to pass today has a 9.75 population difference between the largest and smallest districts, more than double the current population deviation between districts.