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Changing demographics and this year's City Council elections

Mike Freedberg takes a look at five of Boston's nine city-council districts and their incumbents - and then looks ahead to what the 2020 census will mean for future elections in what is now a growing city.



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Upcoming Redistricting might change Bordering Streets of Districts. What changes are needed?

Where online is a better Map more clearly delineating NAMES of Bordering Streets between adjacent neighboring Districts for folks nearby Bordering Streets?… Maps turned up so far aren’t easy to interpret for NAMES of Bordering Streets between adjacent neighboring Districts!

Great analysis would work even better with any and all available Maps linked including a better Map more clearly delineating NAMES of Bordering Streets between adjacent neighboring Districts. Without it how can discussions even be as pertinent when each individual can have a varied different mental city Map?

No current online Map clearly indicates the relevant WebLink for the narrative Documentation used for a Map from Boston Elections Commission, City Council, State Legislature!... without Originating Document an accurate Map can't be confirmed easily.

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The city's changed a lot since 2010. But we're going to have to wait until the 2020 numbers come out to see how the new districts will reflect things such as downtown becoming a residential neighborhood, Hyde Park becoming majority minority, etc. (which Freedberg discusses). Me, I'm hoping Roslindale stops being the place used to correct the numbers in all the other places.

But a bit early to talk about street names, no?

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What Streets are divided between Districts!?...

The difficulties of understanding Redistricting, the difficulties of understanding the Borders of adjacent neighboring Districts are the lack of a better Map online more clearly delineating the NAMES of Bordering Streets of adjacent neighboring Districts for folks nearby Bordering Streets.

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But then again, I actually live in Boston.

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Boston break down of 2000 Census Data. http://www.bostonplans.org/getattachment/b26219b2-3944-4384-a5fc-39b63d3...

39% black and 43% white back then. Massachusetts is just extremely slow to acknowledge population changes in formerly white ethnic enclaves. Hyde Park is probably 20% minority at this point if it was 28% in 2010. Now that’s it’s 80% POC it finally a majority minority neighborhood-craziness.

But I suppose a majority of voters became minority around 2010.

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Is they there are lines like this

we created this District – and District Three – on a racial basis

Who are "we"? Was Freedberg working on these maps in 1983? Even if he's using the royal we, there are a lot of voters in Boston that are under the age of 36 or who did not live in the city 36 years ago, which means that "we" is more like "they."

I'm sorry, but the line stuck in my craw. Otherwise, it's an interesting article. I can't wait for part 2 to come out.

EDIT- I missed the second to last sentence in the article. It looks like Freedberg was one of the original architects of the districts. I will leave this up with my shame.

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God bless you, Mike, but you left out the most-important part: redistricting will require redesigning the wards and precincts (which I think you're aware of but didn't see in your post?).

There is absolutely no way to redo districts without redoing the wards/precincts for precisely the reason he mentions: population shifts (ignoring for this argument that each district will also have to be "fairly" divided by race/ethnicity).

I believe City Councilor Wu is aware of this. Unfortunately, one proposal is to get a waiver from redistricting. Not the waiver as we got in the past that allowed us to skip redoing wards/precincts, but a bigger waiver that would allow us to keep the districts as they are, wards/precincts that were made up .. in the 1950s?

Edit: Ahhh. Clever idea by Mike: add 1,2, or more districts so that there are 11 neighborhood councilors instead of the 9 existing right now.

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The only thing the City has to do is to add some precincts in the waterfront area and perhaps downtown. All that matters is that each district, be there 9, 11, or even 15, have roughly the same number of residents. That has been done with the 1951 precincts (plus the one that somehow no longer has residents) since 1983 with no problems.

Of course, if the number of councilors goes over the number of wards, redrawing the lines would make sense. Of course, they’ll only do that once thezak figures out how to read the current maps.

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have at it! lol. I tried, I tried, I tried, and couldn't make the numbers work in any way for East Boston / Charlestown / Downtown, plus D2 is too big to keep in just one district but then you can't find any precinct in the South End to take away, and then if you look at Roslindale/West Roxbury/JP/Hyde Park, you have to start splitting them up/combining in such a way that residents will flip out that they're not with their "neighbors".

Also, "only move a few precincts .." easier said than done. From Boston.com:

On Wednesday, Jackson and Linehan were animated as they advocated their plans, which only differed by five precincts. Both men spoke on the floor of the council chamber with a rare bluntness about race and electoral politics. At one point, Linehan, who is white, noted that Jackson, who is black, won his district by 90 percent and that “taking on a few white people isn’t going to kill Councilor Jackson.’’


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Councilor Wu is gearing up for her mayoral run.

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Councilor Wu would be a great Mayor! Yet as City Council President didn't open the public funded on site Stenographic Record of Public Meetings of Boston City Council for hard of hearing folks.

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She’s probably be a great mayor in Chicago, where she comes from.

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Hopefully we will get some councilors who aren’t afraid to hold the BRA, or whatever they call themselves, accountable for this transient population that makes up Boston now. They’ve turned our neighborhoods into stopover places for rich kids who have no intention of staying here. The working-class have been driven out and can not afford to come back. These big-box residential structures of one and two bedroom units are not meant for families and really not meant for long term occupation. Those seeking political office need to be willing to turn in their corrupt colleagues who line their pockets with the cash provided by the real estate industry.

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I'm skeptical that the political ferment that has roiled elections for state and federal office since November 2016 will filter down to the municipal level. What's left of local media doesn't pay attention, and voter turnout has been sliding in city elections since 1983, when the districts were created. The population growth since 2010 (64,000) is significant though, it's as if the city added an entire new city council district.

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Computational Approaches for Political Redistricting
Daryl DeFord, Postdoctoral Associate

8 Jan Tue 8-9AM
10 Jan Thu 8-9AM
22 Jan Tue 8-9AM
29 Jan Tue 8-9AM
MIT Building 34-Room 301
Enrollment: Unlimited: Advance sign-up required
Sign-up by 01/05
Attendance: Repeating event, participants welcome at any session
Prereq: Basic Python experience, Linear Algebra

In the last 3 years, computational methods have become increasingly important for analyzing legislative districting plans.

The MIT based MGGG group has developed the first open source software for Markov chain analysis of districting plans ( github.com/mggg/GerryChain ) and is preparing to provide data ( github.com/mggg-states ) and software tools ( github.com/gerrymandr ) to the public in advance of the redistricting based on the upcoming 2020 census.


Attendees will get experience with geospatial software and data as well as cutting-edge methods for computational redistricting.

Each student will select a state to take responsibility for, specifically collecting the relevant data and generating an ensemble of comparison plans.

Students will also have the opportunity to develop their own methods for generating districting plans and engage with related mathematical problems.

Successful approaches will have the opportunity to be integrated with the MGGG codebase.

Sponsors: Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab
Contact: Daryl DeFord, 32-D475A, ddeford at mit.edu

MGGG Metric Geometry and Gerrymandering Group https://mggg.org/

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