iPost’s redistricting coverage in The Nation

The fight over Common Council redistricting has been a rollercoaster ride. It may also be a model for activists in other cities.

For the past month, Investigative Post’s Geoff Kelly has been covering the showdown between Buffalo’s Common Council and a coalition of activists and good government organizations over the once-in-a-decade opportunity to redraw the city’s Council districts.

First he set up the conflict, providing background on the gerrymandering of a decade ago, then reporting on the largely opaque process undertaken by the Council this year and the mobilization of those urging the Council to do a better job.

Then he described the extraordinary June 28 public hearing on the Council’s plan, which kept the current gerrymandered districts largely the same. More than 100 people showed up to scold the Council and champion an alternative plan promoted by Our City Action Buffalo.

Last week, he reported on the Council’s efforts to forge ahead despite the opposition, while Our City Action continued to hone their redistricting map and gather support for it. The activists even won over the editorial board of The Buffalo News.

In an essay published today in The Nation, Kelly summed up the last month’s reporting.


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Meanwhile, the story itself keeps moving.

Late Friday afternoon, the Council filed an amended map — not far different from its original — and announced it would meet at 2 p.m. today to adopt it. In response, an attorney with Our City Action sent the Council a letter opining the legislators had erred procedurally: The proposal could not be voted on for at least a week after it was introduced.

So, last night, the Council postponed the vote yet again. Council President Darius  told The Buffalo News the Council instead will be briefed by the city’s attorneys about “whether the body would be able to accept additional maps at this point in the process.”

“ … the councilmen know potential challengers are ready to beat them around the ears with this issue in next year’s election cycle,” Kelly wrote in The Nation.

“Those challengers will have support. The Buffalo News’ editorial board—not usually a friend to progressive activists—lambasted the Council and wholeheartedly endorsed the Our City Action alternative. More than 800 people have signed a petition in favor of it. Block clubs and neighborhood business associations have jumped onboard, too.”