Community Outreach


City Council held a public hearing 1/26/22 on Bill No. 220003 which describes the proposed map released by Council President Darrell Clarke. Roughly two dozen people testified, all of whom were critical of the closed, rushed process and/or the proposed map itself.

Many testifiers spoke forcefully about prison gerrymandering, questioning why Council would not address this issue while the Legislative Reapportionment Commission has (at least for individuals in state prisons) already made the data available. Relocating individuals held in city prisons during the 2020 Census would require that Council collaborate with the Kenney administration. (We’ve advised the admin about this matter.)

One PA members offered compelling testimony about the community work they engaged in as part of the Keystone Counts coalition to create the Unity Maps that were submitted to state officials to inform state legislative redistricting. A clear point was made about the stark contrast between this meaningful community engagement in map-making and the process overseen by the Council President.

NEXT STEPS

Public hearing on Feb. 2: Council members voted to recess today’s public hearing and meeting to Wednesday, Feb. 2, at 10 am, meaning there will be another opportunity to testify. That said, amendments to the map are being considered now so if you have specific concerns, those should be shared with Council ASAP (emails attached). Instructions for signing up to testify at bottom.

Prison gerrymandering: Abu Edwards is coordinating a press conference for Friday morning outside the State Road prison facilities to call for Council to end prison gerrymandering. If you’d like to come stand in support, please let us know and we’ll send details.

Organizing-update meeting:
There’s an update meeting this Friday (1/28) at 12 pm. Zoom info is below. If you haven’t already been added to the calendar invite, please let us know.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85902794996
Meeting ID: 859 0279 4996
One tap mobile
+19292056099,,85902794996# US (New York)


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Sign up to Testify on the Proposed Council Map
Wed (2/2) at 10 am



Speakers interested in giving testimony must call 215 821 6625 or send an e-mail to chris.goy@phila.gov by 3 p.m. the day before the hearing (Tue, 2/1) and submit the following information:

Full name (with proper pronunciation)
Callback telephone number where you can be reached to testify on the day of the hearing
Identify the bill number that will be addressed (Bill No. 220003)
Speakers who submitted the above information within the required time frame will be telephoned during the public hearing and invited to the remote hearing by phone.




Patrick Christmas
Policy Director
Committee of Seventy
123 South Broad Street, Suite 1800
Philadelphia, PA 19109
267-940-4503 (o)
919-423-7281 (c)

pchristmas@seventy.org

Both House Bill 38 and House Bill 2207 were on the House calendar for second consideration every session day this week. Thank you to all who called, emailed and wrote letters to the editor to say it is WRONG to amend the PA constitution to put even more power in the hands of our unaccountable General Assembly.

Your efforts, along with the work of many other PA organizations, encouraged some courageous GOP representatives to promise to vote NO and forced legislative leaders to pass over the bills rather than risk a final No vote.

That doesn’t mean those bills are gone. The House recessed today until February 7. They could bring the bills back then or any time in future months.

We know it’s frustrating, confusing and exhausting to have repeated calls to action on the same very bad bills. It’s also frustrating to advocate, for years, for bills with strong public support, and to ask, repeatedly, “what does it take to be heard?” Our bills to create an independent citizens redistricting commission had 110 cosponsors in 2017-2018, but were never given a vote as written. With your help, we’ve invited county and municipal resolutions covering 90% of the PA population asking for an independent citizens’ commission. Polls show more than 7 in 10 PA voters want legislators removed entirely from the redistricting process. Yet our reform bills have been consistently ignored. Now these two toxic bills are being pushed forward, in direct defiance of voters’ wishes.

None of this will change without the tireless attention of informed, engaged voters. Thank you for your part in that. Please don’t lose heart or unsubscribe! We need more, not less, Pennsylvanians ready to take action when asked.

Congressional Map Update:
The General Assembly has passed House Bill 2146, the Congressional map selected and amended by Representative Seth Grove. We’ve asked Governor Wolf to veto it. Both map and process fall far short of his own guidelines and all that PA voters have asked for. Litigation on the Congressional map has already moved to Commonwealth Court, and hearings begin Thursday, Jan. 27, at 10:00 am on maps proposed by parties to the case (closed to the public but live on Youtube here). The court has said it will pick a map on Monday, but the case might also move to the PA Supreme Court sometime early next week. We’ll do our best to keep you informed.

Legislative Maps Update:
The Legislative Reapportionment Commission has scheduled a meeting for Friday, Jan. 28, at 2:00 pm. This will likely provide an introduction to final PA House and Senate maps and a public vote by the five commissioners. Check the commission’s website to get a confirmation of date and time, along with the link to watch live.

ALL PA maps are overdue. The Department of State asked for final maps this past Monday, Jan. 24th. Questions about candidate petition deadlines and primary dates are already in litigation.

The Solution:
Much of this confusion, frustration and delay could have been avoided by legislation providing clear criteria and better guardrails on the process. When legislative leaders complain, it’s important to remind them: they had a chance to require real transparency, to make criteria clear, and to lessen the influence of partisan motives. They failed to do so. LRC Chair Nordenberg has done a heroic job of carrying out a non-partisan process in a deliberately partisan construct. Let’s hope our high courts do the same.

Resources:

  • If you’re new to all this, spend time on our FairDistrictsPA.com website.
  • If you’re confused about redistricting itself, or find discussion of legislative vs Congressional districts a challenge, this page might help.
  • If you’re looking for other ways to take action, check the Take Action section.
  • You can find answers to lots of current questions in our Updates section.

The next few weeks will decide much about PA politics and policy for the next decade, but our work is far from over. We will continue advocating for redistricting reform and educating voters about our tragically dysfunctional legislative process.

Thanks for supporting this work,

Carol Kuniholm
Fair Districts PA Chair

PS: We’ll be having our last Mapping Monday Open House on Monday, January 31, at 7:00 pm. This will likely be an update on all that’s been happening and an initial look at final maps. RSVP here.

The decisions by the federal court panel in the Middle District (Harrisburg) and the United States Supreme Court on the PA Redistricting cases are still pending. If you have not done so already, please sign this petition urging our members of Congress, the PA State Legislators, and Donald Trump to stop the attack on the courts. If you’ve already signed the petition, please send it to a friend or family member who believes in an independent judiciary.

Sign the petition here: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/stop-the-attack-on-the-courts

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