Update Saturday at 5:39 p.m.: A new public hearing site has been added in the First Congressional District:
Halifax Community College, Taylor Complex Room 108, Weldon (near Roanoke Rapids).
Here’s the good news: Public hearings about the new Congressional district maps — specifically District 1 and District 12, although others will be affected — will be held Monday at 10 a.m.
District 1 includes almost everyone who lives inside the Durham City Limits (except for Precinct 4 in Watts-Hillandale and the suburban precincts; we’ll get to that in a moment).
Here’s the bad news: None of the satellite locations to watch the hearings are in District 1. Yes, the legislators will hold the hearings in Raleigh, which makes it relatively easy for Durhamites to get there. But for constituents out east — no viewing for you!
If you can’t make the hearing in Raleigh, you can listen online because it will be held in Room 643, and that has an audio feed. And you can comment online at www.ncleg.net/redistricting
These details came over the Facebook transom from Democratic State Senator Mike Woodard, who represents District 22 in parts of Durham (mostly outside of the city limits), Caswell and Person counties.
“Late Friday afternoon, the President Pro Tempore and the Speaker informed legislators about their plans for preparing new Congressional district maps. Here's what I know now:
Public hearings will be held Monday at 10 a.m.. Legislators will be in Raleigh. There will be satellite locations to watch the proceedings. Public comments not to exceed five minutes will be taken at all locations.
The redistricting committee will meet Tuesday to discuss the public feedback and consider next steps.
If the Supreme Court does not grant the defendants' stay, we will meet on Friday to vote on the new maps. It's not clear what impact this will have on the March 15 primary.
The following locations will host public hearings Monday at 10 a.m.:
Raleigh: General Assembly, Legislative Office Building, Room 643
Jamestown/Greensboro: Guilford Technical Community College, Jamestown Campus, Medlin Campus Center, Room 360
Charlotte: Central Piedmont Community College, Hall Building, Room 310
Fayetteville: Fayetteville Technical Community College, Health-Tech Ed Building, Room 142
Wilmington: Cape Fear Community College, McKeithan Center, Room 338
Asheville: UNCA, Robinson Hall, 129 Steelcase Teleconference Center
All interested members of the public will have an opportunity to speak for five minutes. Written comments will also be accepted by email and on the General Assembly website, which will be available soon at: www.ncleg.net/redistricting
Now, before the recent and unconstitutional gerrymandering, most of Durham City was in District 4, represented by Democrat David Price. Now many of those constituents in the central city are in District 1, represented by Democrat G.K. Butterfield, who has the unfortunate task of now representing some or all of 24 counties from here to Elizabeth City.
To further illustrate the absurdity of the gerrymandering, here is a precinct map of Durham. Zoom in and pay attention to Precinct 4, which includes a core part of the Watts-Hillandale/Old West Durham neighborhoods.
(If you prefer a pdf, download this: Download Precincts_and_Districts_ma )
Precinct 4 is bordered roughly by Buchanan Boulevard/Guess Road to the east, Club Boulevard and West Pettigrew Street to the south, I-85 to the North and N.C. 751 to the west. It is in David Price’s Congressional District 4.
On the left side of this page is a map of the congressional districts in Durham County. Note that Precinct 4, in blue, abruptly juts into the rest of the city precincts represented by District 1.
Why Precinct 4 was not included in District 1 is a question that can be answered by the great minds who drew the map. It is a predominantly white district, so perhaps including this area in District 1 would have foiled the packing of the African-American vote.
I asked Michael Perry, director of the Durham Board of Elections, and local BOE members how much it would cost the county if the legislature is forced to immediately erase this bad Etch-a-Sketch drawing and start over. It would require printing new ballots, a second election, voter education mailings. It’s all well worth the price of democracy but put the financial onus on the counties is unfair.
Based on figures from the 2015, it cost about $233,000 to run the municipal primary. Some of those are fixed costs; some are more fluid (length of ballot equals higher printing costs). But it's a good starting figure when you include new ballots, advertising, rent for the polling places, pay for the election workers, etc.
Speaking of the price of democracy, the Institute for Southern Studies posted required reading about the big money behind the redistricting. It includes eight North Carolina companies including, you guessed it, Duke Energy and Variety Wholesalers — the company owned by Art Pope.