Democrat Part Operative Dr. Linda Lucas has gained final approval of a set of election maps that violate city requirements on compactness to protect incumbents seeking re-election in 2013. The immediate past State Committee Woman from the Pinellas Democratic Executive Committee offered to the Sun Beam Times that she could see “no conflict of interest” in her serving in this process since it would be “illegal” to have one. The commission had a nearly hour long discussion and created what can only be described as a Gerrymandered map that excludes precinct 140 from District 4, moving it to district 3. There is now district four that will snake around precinct 4 on 16th st. to then include districts north of 140 east to Dr. MLK street (plan 7) . The main reason given: To protect the seat of a term-limited incumbent Leslie Curran and keep district 4 through all of 2013.
What is not stated is that the Democrat Party operative is also indirectly benefitting the 4 democrats on the seat who have a plurality of members on City Council. Kornell, Nurse, Newton and Gerdes will be protected on the council and not subject to replacement with new map districts this year. The Commission is violating the City Charter requirements that districts be compact. There are also non-compact districts for 1, and 5 and 6. Two neighborhoods will be split between two districts: Bahama Shores and Broadwater. The vote was 6-3 for the plan with Sherman-White, Holden and Dickens voting for plan 2.
There will be final public input on February 5 at 5 pm, but in the words of City Attorney Mark Winn, he is not sure why that was even put in as a requirement since the comments don’t really go to the requirements of the ordinance anyway. This is the same attorney who INCORRECTLY advised the entire commission up front that, even though it was not in the ordinance, that the commission MUST keep Council members in their districts.
Citizens should show up to St. Petersburg City hall on February 5 at 5 pm to tell the Commission to start over and ask Linda Lucas to resign given here obvious and unbreakable conflict of interest.