Council Set to Vote - again - July 3rd
Please let your voice be heard one last time!
June 29th, 2012
Many of you attended or have heard about the outrageous behavior of two Councilmen at the City Council Policy meeting held on June 19th.
What Happened to the Democratic Process?
At this meeting, the Council was set to approve the Recommended Plan Map for the Redistricting Process currently in Phase 4 of 5 total phases. This Recommended Map was the end result of the compilation of several months of discussions amongst the Council members, citizen input from numerous public meetings, and proposed map submissions from both groups as well. Quite literally, hundreds of citizens volunteered their time and talent to participate in this redistricting process.
In spite of this, District 6 Councilman Sal DiCiccio and District 7 Councilman Michael Nowakowski teamed up behind the scenes to create a map of their own which they chose to disclose after the public comments on the Recommended Map had been concluded and the other Councilpersons were ready to have a roll call vote.
Why was it that at this last moment in the process, before the final vote on the publically vetted map was to be taken, that these two Councilmen chose to disclose their own personal map? A map that had all the trappings of an 11th hour backroom deal, and that can only be described as an assault on District 8. Why did they do it? To what end?
June 19th Alternative Map Lacks Transparency and Collegiality
This controversial map, created by Nowakowski and DiCiccio, is now known as the June 19th Alternate Map. It had not been previously disclosed to City Staff or the members of the public, both of whom supported the Recommended Plan in large numbers. It came as a complete surprise to District 8 Councilman Michael Johnson and many of his colleagues on the Council as well.
This disrespectfulness of Nowakowski and DiCiccio’s actions toward their colleague in District 8, as well as to the citizens of Phoenix citywide, are further demonstrated by the facts Councilman Johnson reported in an AZ Republic article on June 24th. He stated that he had participated in several conversations with Councilman Nowakowski prior to the June 19th meeting and that he had willingly conceded a portion of downtown to neighboring District 7 thus giving Nowakowski governance over an area which includes the Arizona State University downtown campus and the Arizona Latino Arts and Culture Center, a resource highly valued by the Latino community.
But Nowakowski and DiCiccio’s June 19th Alternative Map as examined by the City’s consultant, shows District 7 capturing more of downtown and South Phoenix, effectively reducing the amount of minority voters for both of these areas. It also grabs US Airways Center, CityScape and Chase Field from District 8. "I am very disappointed that Mike would team up with Sal like that to do something out of greed," Johnson said. "I am hurt that I would see something like people going behind your back to backstab you." AZ Republic article 6/24/12
As also reported in the AZ Republic article, DiCiccio’s explanation for his participation in the alternative map was to make "minor changes" to clean up the map because the Mountain View police precinct has traditionally been in his district but the proposed map had moved it into District 3. Yet the majority of Mountain View Police Precinct patrol area has always been, and still is, in District 6 and it continues to serve portions of District 4, 5, 7, and 8 as well.
The Nowakowski/DiCiccio Alternate Map also moves map area 604 per the Recommended Plan from District 3 to District 6. Inexplicably, it splits map areas 801 and 802 that are in District 6 per the Recommended Plan between District 6 and District 8. This kind of split of a map grid area has never been done before.
End Run around the Process and the People
Most regrettably of all, the introduction of the Nowakowski/DiCiccio Alternate Map attempted to override the will of the people. At the June 19th meeting, an overwhelming majority of speakers and comment cards representing districts across the city were IN FAVOR of the Recommended Map. This testimony was given BEFORE the motion on the Alternate Map was entered by DiCiccio and seconded by Nowakowski.
This means they had plenty of time to listen to the will of the people and rethink their introduction of their Alternate Map. They chose not do so. The Council rejected their Alternate Map by a 5 to 4 vote in favor of the Recommended Plan. But Nowakowski didn’t stop there.
He went so far as to request a reconsideration of the Council vote taken only moments earlier and as a result, the redistricting process will now be continued as an agenda item during the next formal City Council meeting at 1pm on July 3rd. Thus, both the Recommended Plan and the July 19th Alternate Map are still in play in spite of the fact that the process had concluded and the city is on a sensitive timeline with the Department of Justice to finalize the map. This appears to be of little concern to Councilmen Nowakowski and DiCiccio.
Let’s Not Reward Bad Behavior
Does it really matter which district you find yourself living in after the dust has settled? It shouldn’t. However, to have elected officials who embrace transparency rather than the type of behind-the-scenes actions that led to the introduction of the June 19th Alternate Map is vital. This lack of transparency, ignoring the basic and fair rules of a public process and citizen value, and gratuitous meddling should not be rewarded.
Citizens for Phoenix strongly recommends that on 7/3/12 the City Council reject the June 19th Alternate Map and re-approve the Recommended Plan as voted on 6/19/12 for transmittal to the Department of Justice.