Little Rock releases new ward proposal | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Little Rock releases new ward proposal

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2011 at 11:38 AM

NEW BOUNDARIES: Click PDF linked below to enlarge proposal for new wards.
  • NEW BOUNDARIES: Click PDF linked below to enlarge proposal for new wards.

City Manager Bruce Moore called this morning to say he would release the proposed new ward boundary map this morning in response to three days of complaints by me that the city was violating the FOI in withholding the information. He had planned to release it to city directors Friday and then the rest of the world.

Later, an assistant sent the map. You can open this PDF and enlarge the map shown above to get a better idea of precisely where boundary lines fall. The major change is in the west, to shrink Ward 5 (Director Lance Hines) and expand Ward 6 (Director Doris Wright).

Here's a memo from Moore to the Board announcing public meetings in October on the changes. His aim was for each ward to fall within 5 percentage points of a perfectly even division of 27,646. On the jump, you'll find a table showing you populations in 2000 and the proposal based on the 2010 census. Noted: Under the prooposal four of the seven wards will have majority black population, but one only barely, Doris Wright's at 50.9 percent. The city is about 42 percent black. There are currently three black directors on the 10-member board, three of whom (all white) are elected at large. I note that the map takes Ward 1, where population has declined and which is represented by Erma Hendrix, through a swath of Capitol View between the Mills Freeway and Markham Street, a majority white area that's vibrant politically. Striking change in Ward 7 (SWLR and Mablevale) represented by B.J. Wyrick. The ward, 47 percent white in the 2000 census, would be 27 percent white, 59 percent black and 10 percent Latino under the new map. That change in Ward 1 could take the coming research park out of Ken Richardson's ward and into Hendrix's. Depending on where it is to be located. (And you just about have to believe the chamber of commerce, which is running the show, already has the site picked out.)

I'll be back later with more information. Re the city's cooperation: Moore did not answer several questions, including whether the map was released to the city board before my FOI request was fulfilled. I think you can assume from the accompanying memo that it was. He has not addressed my question of why the custodian of the records violated the law by not responding to my FOI request and whether that was done at his direction. He has not fulfilled any of the other portions of my request for information about the process of developing these boundaries — including alternative proposals and communications from staff, elected officials and others about desires on how the lines should be drawn.

This isn't transparency.

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