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Reapportionment: A look at each trial

Friday, October 14, 2011 | 7:30 p.m. CDT; updated 8:55 p.m. CDT, Sunday, October 16, 2011

COLUMBIA — For six months, Columbia has been trying to decide how to best redraw its ward boundaries. Here's a summary of previous reporting, meeting minutes and public hearings.

What is reapportionment?

The process began in May when Mayor Bob McDavid asked City Council members to appoint representatives to a Ward Reapportionment Committee. The wards are being redrawn on the basis of 2010 census numbers. The target population for each ward is about 18,063. The First Ward now has the smallest population, while the Second Ward has the largest.

The council on Monday night is scheduled to vote on five different proposals, four of which emerged from the Ward Reapportionment Committee.

TRIAL A

Proposed by: City staff

How the committee voted: 2-6 unfavorable.

What it would do: This trial would expand the First Ward east to include the Benton-Stephens neighborhood, which is now in the Third Ward. It would expand the First Ward west beyond Stadium Boulevard.

Arguments:

  • Members of the Benton-Stephens Neighborhood Association showed up to the first public hearing to speak out against the trial. Association President Kip Kendrick argued there is no reason to alter the Third Ward because it is close to the target population.

TRIAL B

Proposed by: City staff

How the committee voted: 2-6 unfavorable.

What it would do: This trial would expand the First Ward north of Interstate 70 along Range Line Street to Blue Ridge Road. It would move the Northland-Parker, Haden Park, Oakland Manor and Tanglewood neighborhoods out of the Second Ward and into the First.

Arguments:

  • Before Trial E was introduced, Trial B was the most popular at public hearings. In a July editorial to the Missourian, former Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala said Trial B was the best option because it would allow for future expansion of the First Ward and would balance the wards' populations simply. That was before Trial E became an option. Reapportionment committee member Wiley Miller also supported Trial B because it balanced the population and was less disruptive than the other maps. He did not believe having the First Ward cross over I-70 was a problem.

TRIAL D AND TRIAL D AMENDED

Proposed by: The original Trial D was proposed by Rob Monsees, Fourth Ward Representative on the committee. Fourth Ward Councilman Daryl Dudley introduced the amended version at the Oct. 3 City Council meeting.

How the committee voted: 4-4, this was the only split vote. The amended version was not a part of the committee’s work and also has not been the subject of a public hearing.

Problems with the original Trial D: This trial was found to violate the city charter’s contiguity criteria for ward boundaries. The trial would move the Thornbrook subdivision from the Fifth Ward to the Fourth. That, however, would isolate Thornbrook from the rest of the Fourth Ward. Contiguity means boundaries must touch. An upcoming annexation may solve this problem, but it will not be annexed in time for Monday's scheduled vote.

The amended version of this trial leaves Thornbrook in the Fifth Ward.

What it would do: Trial D would do the following:

Expand the part of the First Ward that is south of Broadway southwest into the Fourth, making West and Stadium boulevards the boundaries. North of Broadway, it would extend the First Ward west to Fairview Road as far north as Worley street and to Stadium Boulevard as far north as I-70. This would move the Activity and Recreation Center from the Second Ward into the First.

These trials also would extend the First Ward west to Old 63, taking in the Benton-Stephens neighborhood. It would extend the Fifth Ward east to Green Meadows Road, taking part of the Sixth Ward. The Sixth Ward would expand northwest to Hitt Street and Hospital Drive.

Trial D-Amended leaves more of the eastern Fourth Ward intact. This version would only expand the First Ward southwest as far as West Boulevard.

Arguments:

  • Supporters say Trial D would create a strong central city ward. Monsees told the committee in its final meeting that moving the Old Southwest into the First Ward would bring a different dynamic to the the ward. He argued that the map would create an active, engaged and diverse central ward.
  • At the committee’s final meeting, at-large member Wiley Miller said he had not met with a single minority resident who favors D.
  • Residents of the neighborhood associations that will be moved by Trial D have come to public meetings to voice their concerns. Some have said the trial is gerrymandering and would lump the city's most liberal voting districts into a single ward. Both versions of Trial D would move into the First Ward the precincts in which Dudley and Third Ward Councilman Gary Kespohl performed poorly in the April 2010 election.

TRIAL E

Proposed by: Colleen Coble, First Ward representative on the committee

How the committee voted: 5-3 in favor. This was the only favorable vote for a trial.

What it would do: Trial E would expand the First Ward west to Silvey Street. It would move Columbia Mall into the First Ward and split part of the Park DeVille neighborhood.

Arguments: Many groups support Trial E.

  • A group organizing a petition to recall Dudley has used “E is for everyone” as part of its motto.
  • It has been called the simplest and most logical plan because it moves the boundaries the least.
  • At the final public hearing held by the reapportionment committee, there was only one critic of Trial E. Park de Ville resident Mary Ratliff said she didn't want her neighborhood split up.

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