Bad governance, poor politics

Buffalo's Common Council, never an all-star outfit to begin with, has botched the redrawing of district boundaries

This week, Jim Heaney recaps Investigative Post’s coverage of the Common Council’s fumbling of its redistricting process and gives a shout-out to a half-dozen stories that have caught his eye. You can get Heaney’s insights in your inbox every Sunday morning by subscribing to WeeklyPost.


Jimmy Griffin used to call city lawmakers the “Comical Council.” If only the current incarnation was the least bit funny.

Geoff Kelly has been following the process of redistricting the Council’s nine districts, as required every decade based on new Census numbers. He first reported on the Council’s proposed district lines, gerrymandered to protect incumbents, then on the public backlash against it. Grassroots activists unveiled a plan of their own last week, which struck me and a lot of other people as a smart, fair alternative.

The Common Council isn’t having any of it.

On Friday it submitted a revised plan and map that appears to give the middle finger to the activists. Russell Weaver, the urban geographer and data whiz who did much of the legwork on the grassroots plan, analyzed the Council’s plan in a string of Tweets that is well worth reading. He concluded by saying: “The [Common Council’s] amended redistricting plan is even worse than its original proposal – even after all the backlash against that initial plan. If you’re a City resident, you should probably be angry.”

The Council’s shenanigans strike me as not only poor governance, but bad politics. All nine members are up for re-election next year and the way they’re handling redistricting encourages challengers to step forward.

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Elsewhere …

Ken Kruly offers a number of astute observations in his latest edition of Politics and Other Stuff.

Yet another thing City Hall can’t get right: Pools will be closed this summer due to a failure to recruit life guards.

Toronto as a “smart city”. Well, it sounded like a good idea.

Newspapers are dying off left and right, as Margaret Sullivan reports.

It turns out natural gas includes all sorts of nasty stuff.

Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber are two of the greatest songwriters in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. So why did Elvis dump them? A delightful read from Variety.