Gary council approves redistricting plan 5-3
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent December 18, 2012 11:56PM
Updated: January 22, 2013 6:16AM
GARY — The city’s redistricting map passed the Common Council on Tuesday night with a 5-3 vote and one absention, but not without members trading barbs before it was cast.
Two councilwomen, Vice President Kimberly Robinson, D-5, and Carolyn Rogers, D-4, were concerned that the redistricting, an exercise all municipalities are required to perform every 10 years per the state based on the new census figures, was done more territorially than out of concern for residents. Local redistricting is performed during even years while federal, state and county redistricting was completed last year.
Rogers, for example, now has one precinct in the 1st District, one in the 2nd and three in the 3rd. Her district spans from Clay to Whitcomb streets from east to west, and now has north and south added.
“I just think it’s incongruous and inconvenient to the residents,” Rogers said. “This could’ve been done a lot differently. People didn’t want to give up some districts and be fair, and I think that’s unfortunate.”
Robinson said she felt the effort was done for “more personal interests than for the people,” to which Councilwoman Mary Borwn, D-3, insisted that the map is “fair and equitable.”
“The last time it was done, it was gerrymandered so badly,” Brown said. “We did what we thought was best, and everyone’s not going to be happy.
“People should’ve come to more of the meetings.”
Robinson said she had come to a few and had expressed her concerns.
Councilman Michael Protho, D-2, abstained from the vote.
The council also voted 9-0 to pass the lease-purchase agreement for the Gary Fire and General Services Departments to receive their new equipment and, in a separate vote, to give the Gary EMS Department the $162,244 left in the city’s Welfare Excess Fund, a fund comprised of money given to the city by the state three years ago and allocated for the Police, Fire and EMS departments.
Fire Chief Teresa Everett thanked the council and City Controller Celita Green for working with her and the department to make the lease happen.
In other business, the council voted unanimously to withdraw an ordinance that would fund repairs to the Gary Public Transportation Center as well as a petition for a composting site at 3400 Central Ave.
Brown said the petitioner, Tom Volini of Heartland Recycling, asked to withdraw the petition.
The Gary Finance Committee will conduct its last meeting of the year at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 27.