At the beginning of today's first public hearing on redistricting, Council President Anna C. Verna said a bill to redraw the city's political map would be introduced on Sept. 8 and passed, "if all goes well," on Sept. 22.
The City Charter says Council must pass redistricting before Sept. 9 or the members don't get paid. But because of the biweekly pay schedule, they wouldn't miss a check if they pass redistricting by Sept. 22.
The question is whether the public will get to see the new map (or proposed maps) before Sept. 8 - or before either of the last two public hearings on Aug. 31 and Sept. 6.
Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez, whose Seventh District corkscrews through Northeast Philadelphia and has become a poster child for gerrymandering, said she is pushing her colleagues to show the public a map before Sept 9. But, Majority Leader Marian B. Tasco said, there was no way to know yet if that will happen.
"I can't tell you that," she said. "I will tell you we're not fighting. We're not yelling at each other."
The last round of redistricting, 10 years ago, sparked some famous battles in Council and was so contentious that the members went weeks without a paycheck.
Public comments today followed several main themes, including "slay the gerrymander," as Nutter Chief of Staff Suzanne Biemiller said. Members of the public asked for more contiguous districts that would preserve neighborhoods, voting blocs and ethnic groups in common districts. Two speakers also asked that their wards -- the 42nd in Northeast Philadelphia and the 8th in Center City -- be contained in one district. The 42nd is divided into three, and the 8th into two.
Census data shows the western half of the city lost population in the past decade, while the eastern half grew. As Verna said, that means "some significant redrawing is inevitable."
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