Menino vetoes City Council redistricting plan
Mayor Thomas M. Menino vetoed a controversial proposal for City Council redistricting, sending the plan back to the redistricting committee after 16 months of negotiations.
Opponents of the plan, which passed 7-6 two weeks ago, criticized the redrawn map because, they said, it diluted the political influence of the city’s people of color.
In a letter sent Thursday to the City Council, Menino said he agreed with that assessment.
“My central objection is my concern that the plan concentrates our many citizens of color into too few districts, and in doing so may limit their equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice,” Menino wrote.
A coalition of groups representing Boston’s minority populations had previously threatened to sue the city if the redistricting proposal was approved.
In his letter, Menino cited District 4, which includes parts of Dorchester and Mattapan, as a prime example of the proposed redistricting plan’s shortcomings. Under the new plan, that district would have been composed of 95 percent people of color.
“In a city where diversity is found broadly, I ask that you endeavor to avoid over-concentration of minority voters,” Menino said.
Councilor Bill Linehan, chairman of the Redistricting Committee, said Thursday afternoon that he was disappointed to learn of Menino’s disapproval. The plan was not perfect, he argued, but was a healthy balance between multiple concerns about the city’s current district map.
“It’s unfortunate that we spent 16 months working on this, and the way this has been set up, a sleight of pen from the mayor sends us back to square one,” Linehan said.
District 4, he said, has always been a swath of the city that is composed mostly of people of color. Adjacent neighborhoods are also majority-minority, he said, which would make it almost impossible to change the district’s demographics without completely overhauling the current map.
“There’s very little wiggle room if you’re trying to move the population without throwing the whole thing up in the air and starting from scratch,” Linehan said.Martine Powers can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @martinepowers.
On the beat
Columnist Adrian Walker says UMass Dartmouth is shaken after revelations that one of the Marathon bomb suspects was a student there. Read more