Estimate: 8 months to set up map board
10-district plan on the November ballot. It modeled the commission on a California panel that in 2011 drew that state’s legislative and congressional seats.
Mory said his office is working on an “elaborate advertising campaign,” which will cost $77,000 and include bus and radio ads, to recruit residents and auditors to apply.
Mory estimated it will take eight months, from late January to late August, to set up the mapdrawing commission, and another eight months for the group to draw districts. Campaigns for the November 2014 council election could then begin in May 2014. Mory said he will seek public input along the way, starting with a public forum held Tuesday night.
Steve Bickerstaff, a redistricting attorney working with Austinites for Geographic Representation, said he’d like to see the timeline Mory suggested shortened by a few months. The city must send the commission’s final map to the U.S. Justice Department for approval, as required by the Voting Rights Act, and should leave more time for that, he said.
The Justice Department must ensure that the council districts won’t harm the voting strength of minorities. The city’s integrity officer, John Steiner, said city attorneys don’t expect the Justice Department to object to the 10-district plan.
But that step might not be necessary. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule by June on the constitutionality of the provision of the Voting Right Act that requires some state and local governments, many in the South, to get federal approval before making changes to election laws or voting rules.
Applicants to the map-drawing commission must be registered To see more information about serving on a 14-member commission that will draw City Council districts, visit: www. austintexas.gov/10one. Criteria for serving on the commission include that an applicant:
Must be a registered Austin voter for at least the past five years.
Must have voted in at least three of the past five city general elections.
Can’t have been appointed to, been elected to, or been a candidate for city or state office for the past five years.
Can’t have been a registered state or local lobbyist for the past five years.
Can’t have been a paid city employee or a person who has had a contract with the city of Austin for the past three years. Austin voters for the past five years, have voted in at least three of the past five city general elections and have no paid ties to city politics. That means applications from lobbyists, city employees and political consultants will be tossed out.
Mory and his staff will screen applicants for those basic criteria, then the three-person auditor panel will cut the list to 60 by considering other criteria, such as “relevant analytical skills” and “ability to be impartial.”
Political consultant Mark Littlefield has estimated that the voting requirements alone will disqualify all but 28,000 of 461,000 registered voters from serving.
Because the governing change resulted from a petition effort, the City Council must carry it out as written. That could lead to some hiccups. For example, one question raised during Tuesday’s discussion was whether the 25,000 residents who live in newly annexed areas, and previously couldn’t vote in Austin elections, could apply to serve on the commission. City staffers said probably not. tatives and the lab that makes the glasses, Bishop has secured an exam and glasses for all three Season for Caring recipients.
Bishop said she had always read Season for Caring stories and always noticed that dental help gets donated. This time they were asking for eye care, something she knew she could do. “It’s an eye exam, it’s not brain surgery. It’s someone in my town that we can help,” Bishop said.
To find out more about Patrick Wilson or to donate gift cards, hotel or restaurant meals, contact Hospice Austin, 342-4726, www.hospiceaustin.org.