GRANOLAPARK: Shapeshifting


Dear Readers,

Snipper got the clock.

The Takoma Park City Council handed the clock to him a week after Councilmember Reuben Snipper stepped down. The council passed a resolution May 29 recognizing his service. This includes the clock, the traditional parting gift for departing councilmembers. The clock is a two-edged symbol. Officially, it represents the time spent serving in office — but it might also represent the spare time a departing councilmember now has restored to his or her life.

Snipper was the mayor pro tem, the councilmember who runs the meetings when the mayor can’t attend. So Mayor Bruce Williams appointed Terry Seamens as the new mayor pro tem.

Shapes of things to come

The city ward boundaries are about to change. The city is required to redistrict to make sure the wards are roughly equal in population according to the latest census numbers.

A city task force has been looking at this. They presented a couple of proposals at the May 29 meeting. The council wasn’t overly thrilled, throwing the task force members into defense. The council complained that some boundaries would be down the middle of streets — meaning residents on opposite sides would be in different wards. They were hoping that the new boundaries would not split neighborhoods.

Task force members said they tried to keep down-the-middle-of-the-street boundaries to a minimum, but boundaries had to go somewhere. They were a bit peevish about the criteria they had to follow — upon which they dumped fault whenever a councilmember criticized their results.

The criteria were: “Wards shall be as nearly equal in population as is possible in order to ensure the principle of one-person, one-vote. Wards are geographically contiguous and compact in form. Ward boundaries recognize natural boundaries to the extent practical. And no ward is gerrymandered to ensure the election or defeat of any incumbent or potential candidate.”


Option A keeps Ward 3’s awkward “hour-glass” shape. That shape has created a “upper-ward/lower-ward” dynamic which emerged in the last election as an issue. Some constituents in the larger “lower” south portion are resentful that their elected representatives have all been from the smaller upper-ward. Councilmember Terry Seamens would no longer reside in his ward 4, which would have a “Y” shape.”

Option B turns Ward 3 and 4 into tidier shapes, but Ward 2 ends up in the shape of a propeller, or perhaps a running duck. Option B would put Ward 3 representative Kay Daniels-Cohen in Ward 2.

You can see the options on a city map — go to Councilmember Seth Grimes’ blog and look for the link in the fifth paragraph.

The task force’s report, also a PDF, is in the meeting agenda at this link.

Featured photo: Reuben Snipper by Julie Wiatt.

About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

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