Local NAACP wants more redistricting hearings

UPDATED, 4:25:

The Philadelphia branch of the NAACP wants to see more than one City Council hearing on redistricting.

In a letter sent to Council President Anna Verna today, Philadelphia NAACP President J. Whyatt Mondesire says that there should be five hearings held in neighborhoods around the city to give residents more access to the process.

"The Philadelphia public, therefore, deserves to be kept fully informed as to what new boundaries are being considered," Mondesire writes. "Furthermore, the public should not have to make a special trip to City Hall to find out what these changes will mean for the neighborhoods where they reside."

This week, Verna announced one public hearing on how to redraw Council's district boundaries. It will be held in Council chambers on Aug. 16.

Under the city charter, 10 councilmanic districts must be redrawn every 10 years. Using census data, Council must make sure that each district has roughly 10 percent of the population - or 152,600 people, according to the latest count.

If Council doesn't complete the task within six months of the data being released, then its members go without pay, which happened in 1991 and 2001. That deadline is Sept. 9.

In an interview, Mondesire said that if Council does not respond favorably to his request for more hearings, the NAACP is prepared to file a lawsuit demanding more access.

Verna's spokesman said she had not reviewed the letter, but that a committee of Council members working on redistricting would consider the issue next week.