Thursday, June 16, 2005

Are you Imagining London yet?

Warning: This post concerns subject matter that is only of local interest — and "interest" may be too strong a word at that.

From the London Free Press:

[Monday] night, without debate, a slim majority of council voted 10-8 not to abolish board of control, cut the number of councillors or change the seven-ward system.

[… Councillor Fred] Tranquilli and others pushing for change are now regrouping to plan their next move.

An appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board is one option.

That's because council decided not to act on a 1,000-signature petition calling for a new 14-ward system and elimination of board of control.

"(Council) demonstrated very clearly they have no regard for the petition process" and they don't care what the public thinks, said Sam Trosow, spokesperson for Imagine London, the group that submitted the petition.
Hmmm… appealing to an unelected board whose purpose is to resolve land disputes under contradictory legislations open to a variety of interpretations seems like a good method for promoting democracy and council accountability! All for the sake of 1,000 signatures in a city of over 300,000 people, although if you removed the signatures of Urban League followers and academics plumping for research grants into what the heck the public thinks anyway, and the faint numbers in the petition might just pass right out on the street, never to get up again. But actually, 1,000 people is a pretty good turnout for London — although not nearly so great as, say, the number of smokers, but that never stopped council from banning smoking in private places — so there might still be hope for these people. Apathy or antipathy has never before stopped council from doing things.

Imagine London proposes a redistricting of wards according to some vague collective notion of "community interests," apparently using socio-economic indicators and inevitably applying conglomerations of census tracts as the political boundaries they were never meant to be used as. I don't really feel too strongly one way or the other about reducing or redistributing council seats if there's no prospects of any of them actually being unemployed, but I am skeptical about these boundaries people are petitioning for that have not even yet been defined. Introducing arbitrariness or social sciencey-ism into this political process could invite a potential for gerrymandering and/or ghettoization. But what do I know? For alternative views on Imagine London and the restructuring of city council, check out Jim Sweeney here, here and here.