Houston Council Expansion & Re-districting

Though Houston’s population hasn’t grown to the requisite 2.1mm to trigger council expansion, city hall is pushing ahead to create 2 new district seats.

Council currently has 14 members, 9 single district members and 5 at-large or citywide members. The expansion will take the roster to 11 single district seats. There is no change in the at-large number.

Houston has an extreme ‘strong mayor’ form of government with the mayor setting the agenda for council consideration (and generally for rubber stamping). Any eight members can initiate Council action but this has been a rare occurrence.

With two more members the possibility of independent council action becomes even less useful as a check against the strong executive.

Expansion is variously estimated to cost upwards of 2mm dollars at a time we face a current shortfall of about 50mm and an expected shortfall of over 100mm next fiscal year.

As for the re-districting, there is no plan to sever Kingwood from Clear Lake. This is Bob Lanier’s legacy gerrymander that blows away any concept of compact, contiguous districts. That’s replaced by an odd construct of ‘communities of interest’, aka two widely separated areas connected by a water filled ditch.

Kingwood residents are urged to attend Monday, March 7, 6:30pm at Woodridge Baptist, 5707 Kingwood Dr.

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Posted on March 5, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. KW redistricting session was poorly attended and unfortunately not very informative. City hall tacitly admits that these sessions (10 in all will be held) are primarily to satisfy DoJ and other legal requirements. No potential maps are displayed; attendees are free to make suggestions or even draw their own plans. Without major resources it is difficult to see a citizen delve into data to the level of census tracts and blocks that would be needed to satisfy the ‘legal’ parameters of an ‘acceptable’ district landscape. KW will retain the CL connection and will maintain its generally ineffective position at council.

    Officially produced plans will be presented at 3 hearings end April at city hall. Until then feel free to take sharpie to paper and doodle your own fantasy city council boundaries.

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