Monday, April 2, 2001- 8:15 a.m. County-City Building
Conference Room 113
COUNCIL MEMBERS IN ATTENDANCE: Jon Camp, Common Chair; Jeff Fortenberry, Cindy Johnson, Coleen Seng;
COUNTY BOARD MEMBERS IN ATTENDANCE: Linda Steinman, Common Vice-Chair; Kathy Campbell, Bernie Heier, Larry Hudkins;
OTHERS IN ATTENDANCE: Kathy Cook, Dr. Ed Schneider and Dr. Jim Ganser, Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department; Ms. Kathleen Sellman, Director, Kent Morgan, Mike DeKalb, Planning Department; Gwen Thorpe, County Clerk; David Johnson, County Attorney's Office; Dana Roper, City Attorney; Ann Harell, Jennifer Brinkman, Mayor's Office; David Shively, Election Cmmissioner; Allan Abbott, Director, Roger Figard, City Engineer, Public Works Department; Darrell Podany, Aide to Council Members Johnson and Camp; Joan Ray, Council Secretary; Chris Hain, Media Representative
Mr. Jon Camp, Common Chair, requested a motion to approve the minutes of the January, 2001 Common Meeting. Mr. Larry Hudkins moved approval of those minutes as presented. Ms. Kathy Campbell seconded the motion which was approved by the following vote: AYES: Jon Camp, Chair; Kathy Campbell, Jeff Fortenberry, Larry Hudkins, Cindy Johnson, Coleen Seng, Linda Steinman, Vice-Chair; ABSTAIN: Bernie Heier; NAYS: None.
Mr. Camp thanked the Members of the Common on behalf of Ms. Steinman and himself for the overwhelming election victories to their seats as Vice-Chair and Chair, respectively, to serve on this 2001 Common Board. He noted that Ms. Steinman had said that she would defer on a presentation of the State of The City-County Commons, so, with that, we'll proceed.
Quarterly Update from the Board of Health (Drs. Ed Schneider and Jim Ganser)
Comprehensive Plan Amendment Process (Kent Morgan/County Attorney).
Redistricting Discussion - Statutory Over-view of Redistricting Process (Kent Morgan/County Attorney/City Attorney/David Shively, Election Commissioner)
Quarterly Update from the Board of Health (Drs. Ed Schneider and Jim Ganser)
Dr. Jim Ganser gave a brief presentation on the issues addressed by the Board of Health during the last quarter.
Dr. Ganser, past president of the Board of Health, stated that one of the reasons they had come to the meeting today was to make the last of the quarterly reports that he would be presenting and to introduce to the Common, Dr. Schneider, who is taking over for Dr. Ganser as the new president of the Board of Health. Dr. Ganser stated that he has enjoyed the quarterly report presentations and thought that it was a great way for the Board of Health and the Health Department to communicate to elected officials what is going on and how the Health dollars are being spent.
That had been the purpose of the quarterly reports under Dr. Ganser's efforts. He stated that if there is anything the Common members wanted that they weren't getting from these reports, please just make the Board aware of it. He stated that the goal for both Dr. Schneider and for him is to help keep the Common Members informed about what's going on, what we see happening, and hopefully, to make it a little easier to understand what the Health Department is doing when Budget time comes around.
He began his report with some of the things that are currently going on. He noted that today is the first day of Public Health Week. He explained that the Mobile Health Unit in the Parking Lot south of the building would be doing cholesterol screens, and everything else. He encouraged everyone to take advantage of it. If there are questions you might have, there are people at the displays (which will be set up in the lobby area of the County-City Building) who are more than willing to help you understand what's being done. He stated that Leon [Vince] would be doing a presentation at a pre-council meeting later today on this subject, but the main focus of the week will be childrens' health. He explained that Ms. Cook had some hand-out materials for the Common Members on this subject.
Dr. Ganser stated that what the Board of Health has decided is that the "Healthy People 2010" program will be the starting point of the Board for all planning and policy decisions they will make. The program is what we're going to use as our first step of the priorities for the Health Department over the course of the next decade.
The "Healthy Kids 2010" began in January to focus on the needs of children. He stated, though he was digressing just a little, that the speaker that had been brought in for that January meeting was a Dr. Jackson from the Center for Disease Control. There were a couple of things that he talked about that Dr. Ganser felt the Common Members should be aware of when they think of childrens' health. Dr. Jackson pointed out that children in our society breathe four times the air on a per-capita basis; they drink three times the water; they eat three times the food; their skin is twice as absorbent. So, when you talk about environmental considerations, with children, that's the reason there is a so much greater concern than there is with adults. Everything that children input into their bodies has a dramatically increased effect on a proportional basis. Dr. Ganser stated that that fact by itself is enough to make persons aware of the focus of the Health Department regarding childrens' health issues.
The thing that Dr. Ganser thought was interesting from the standpoint of the Health Department, was that after the presentation, when he had a chance to visit with Dr. Jackson, Dr. Jackson told him that Lincoln may have the perfect Health Department. Dr. Ganser asked him why he would say that. Dr. Jackson stated that it is the first one he'd ever encountered that is big enough to have all of the areas and small enough that every single person he spoke with knew exactly who to contact to find out what was going on. Dr. Jackson said that he was terribly impressed with the knowledge of everyone he talked to and he noted that he had never been in a place where the level of communication and cooperation was as good as it is here. Dr. Ganser felt that was a high compliment for the Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department which the Common Members should hear about.
The strategic planning of the Board of Health is an ongoing process. Dr. Ganser reported that they're meeting with Department managers and the Health Director in May. One of the things that was passed at the last meeting, which the Common Members will be seeing, is the breast feeding [inaudible] policy to encourage it in all forms for employees of City government and private industries. The Health implications of that practice, based on some of the data received from the Center for Disease Control, is every bit as great [to the good] as the effects of smoking is [to the bad] in terms of health.
Household hazardous waste collection is going to begin Saturday, April 21st at the parking lot south of the Health Department. Dr. Ganser didn't know if enough credit is given to corporate sponsors who participate in these programs. Pfiser, for example, has hosted this for the third year in a row. They plan it as an annual event. Their contribution in terms of labor and funds has been between $15-20,000 per year for this hazardous waste funding in terms of disposal and personnel and everything else. Goodyear is going to host their first one this year and are donating $5,000 for collection costs and disposal. He felt these efforts from the community should be recognized. That's a fairly great commitment to the health of the community that some of these companies give - and they don't get the kind of credit we'd like to see.
One of the handouts Council received is the "Healthy Kids" web-page. Dr. Ganser stated that it is honestly something that they did to try to give access to the people of the community, particularly the schools, to show some of the things that are available through the Health Department - showing some of the focuses that we have. He felt they had done a beautiful job creating something that is appealing. If you want to see what is going on with any of the items shown, please feel free to visit the web-sites and take a look. Some of us are of an age group that isn't used to this as a way of getting information, but there is a whole group out there whose focus for gathering information is the web-site.
Dr. Ganser noted that there were a couple of things that have occurred since the last report was given which are nice programs that may help us down the road. He noted that the last report covered the problem with public health nursing and trying to attract people to it. The nursing department has set up an on-the-job training program with the nursing students to give everyone of them, through the Health Department, the opportunity to get an idea of what goes on with Public Health Nursing. It's been a nice help to us, but it will also help us down the road when some of these people graduate and we want them to think about Public Health as part of their job selections options.
He reported that one thing that Kathy Cook is excited about is the new computer system that's going in at the Health Department. He explained that this will be something that will be taking place over the course of the next several years. He noted that dollars had been taken out of the budget for the last couple of years for this and it will be funded in an on-going basis with some of that funding. But, it will dramatically change the way we're able to serve clients. Right now it's a paper system and their communication is by walking down the hallway and gathering the data from somebody else. Particularly because so many of these people over-lap in services, everybody will have access to what's going on, where the clients are in the system. The hardware was in last week, but it will be a 12-18 month process. He noted that Ed and Kathy would keep the Council informed. These are the kinds of things that are going to allow us to get the data to tell whether we're doing our job, in order to better communicate with you where the needs are in the community; and how we can, hopefully, take care of some of those needs. He continued, noting that the system would also give them the opportunity to assess the expenditures versus the solutions obtained...which will add to cost efficient and effective service.
Dr. Schneider stated that he would just like to tell the Common Members that he looked forward to doing the same thing that Jim has...coming in and visiting with them on a quarterly basis, if they wish. He indicated that there will be some new challenges coming up since we're losing some of our members. We're losing Cindy [Johnson] and, from what he has known, she has been very helpful. Just recently she has brought up the abstinence issue, which is a program that we've just started working with. He continued, noting that they would be losing Ann Seacrest, who has been instrumental in the breast feeding initiative. And, of course, we're losing Jim and his leadership role. So, overcoming those losses is going to be somewhat of a challenge.
On the other hand, we're going to try something new with some type of a new member orientation for the folks coming in and all of the Common members will be invited to come to that. He felt sure that sometimes the Common members really understand exactly what is happening over there and he would try to arrange it so that the division chiefs can explain to the new members what each division does and then try to get them to sign up for field trips. You will be invited to attend these site visits. For example, when he came aboard, he related that he had gone on Mobile Health, Animal Control, Day-Care, Restaurants, Septic System Inspections, Home Nursing, Pre-Natal, Epidemiology, Dental Clinic, Toxic Waste Collection - all of those things. He informed the Common Members that we're going to invite you to do that too. So, if Common Members hear from him about that, he would appreciate their involvement, since that is the way to really learn about the issues...by getting right down into the trenches.
Dr. Schneider thanked Jim for the excellent job that he has done. As he mentioned, if the Common Members ever have any concerns, the Board would like to hear about them.
Dr. Ganser added one last thing regarding the Mobile Clinic. He stated that they had begun to send it out to some of the elderly facilities in the community of Lincoln. At three of them that they had visited they found out that there were people in those facilities who had not had dental care for over 10 years....that's three separate facilities where that was the standard of care. So, that's part of the way your dollars are being spent. He felt that, once again, the Health Department is looking out for populations that aren't able to look out for themselves. He felt the Common should be commended for giving them the tools with which to do that.
Mr. Fortenberry thanked the gentlemen for their presentation and commended them for the breast-feeding initiative. He stated that he had spent a number of days in the hospital over the last few years where he read the posters on the wall which inform the public that if a woman lactates over six years, the chance of breast cancer is zero. He felt this was a fascinating statistic. He felt it was a great health and children's health issue.
The other item Mr. Fortenberry wanted to address, as they had mentioned, was Cindy Johnson's advice and leadership in the area of abstinence education. He felt the abstinence issue was a real concern in the community, as well as nationally, noting that the State Health and Human Services Department has a national speaker coming in to give a presentation on that topic. He asked if Lincoln/Lancaster County was co-ordinating anything with that?
Dr. Ganser stated that they were aware of that and were making as many people as possible aware of that upcoming presentation. He stated that it sounded like it would be a nice conference. He continued, stating that part of the job of the Board of Health is to give as many different tools as we possibly can to accomplish a common goal. When looking at Health, one of the things they see is that children who are breast-fed seem to be between two to four times less likely to be asthmatic. They have a much better immune system. There are a lot of those kinds of things that people are not aware of. He felt it was the same thing with the abstinence issue. He thought that it is the job of the Health Department to figure out how to reach the maximum number of people with the dollars that we have. That's what we're attempting to do.
Mr. Hudkins commented that, on behalf of Ms. Johnson and himself, he would like to express their appreciation to Dr. Ganser for the leadership that he has provided. Mr. Hudkins noted that Dr. Ganser came in at a pivotal time and pulled the Board together. He added that Dr. Ganser has just done an excellent job and "we're really going to miss you, Jim".
Mr. Camp commented that those words could be on behalf of everyone. He added that we appreciate what you're doing with the Children's Health Week. He stated that he was sure the Board had a lot of information going out to the Public Media regarding the event. Lastly, he noted that he was glad to hear about the computerization going on at the Health Department. Unfortunately, the Health Department has always been struggling with limited budgets; perhaps this will help in the long term. We do appreciate what you're doing. Mr. Camp added a "welcome aboard" to Dr. Schneider.
Comprehensive Plan Amendment Process (Kent Morgan/County Attorney)
Ms. Sellman reported that this will probably not be a 30 minute presentation. The information that we'll be providing today will not require you to make any decision at this time. This is just a kind of a "heads up" to you about an issue that is very important, but not one that we have to grapple with often.
The issue is the process for amending the Comprehensive Plan. Right now we're in the middle of a huge process to develop a new Comprehensive Plan, which, of course, will require adoption by both the City and the County. And that is a very straight forward requirement.
Back in 1961, it was determined that it would be valuable for the City and the County to do a coordinated planning process. To that end, a Planning Commission was established that would serve both bodies, and numerous agreements have followed - outlining exactly how the City and County will plan together. Things went along really well from that time and at a point not too far in the past, a question was asked about the amendment process.
The City and the County have one plan, but when an amendment comes up that effects only one of those jurisdictions, then who is responsible for adopting that amendment? The opinion that was given at that time, by both the City and the County attorneys was that, in fact, there is not one plan. There were two plans - a City Plan and a County Plan.
So, we have attempted to muddle through since then, trying to figure out when what amendment comes to what body, what does that body then do with it and do we have one plan or two plans. The goal, of course, is to have a co-ordinated planning effort which would seem to lean us in the direction of One Plan.
Therefore, at this time, we're proposing that as amendments come to you under the precedent that has come forward, that we determine who is the body with jurisdiction; and that body will take official action on the amendment. The body without jurisdiction, if there is one, will be briefed on the item prior to any action by the body that will adopt it. If they have comments, then those will be incorporated into the information that goes forward to be considered by the jurisdiction that will be adopting the amendment.
An example of this is the Highway 2 and 84th Street Comprehensive Plan Amendment which falls into the City's 3-mile area of jurisdiction, but also includes transportation elements which are in the Long-Range Transportation Plan, which is adopted by both the City and the County. The strictly "Land Use" elements of this amendment require action by the City only. So, what will happen is: The City has taken action on the whole amendment, including the transportation items; and since the City Council and County Board determined that they did not want to meet together on this, then as a separate action, the County Board will take action on those transportation related issues that amend the Long-Range Transportation Plan.
That's what we'll be doing with specific amendments that come forward. Ms. Sellman stated that she thought the point of this whole information piece today is to let you know that meeting the legal requirements is probably the easy part. The complicated part is determining what our true goal is with regard to a coordinated planning effort for Lancaster County and the City of Lincoln. This will become even more complicated as we're now bumping up against some of the smaller jurisdictions. We'll need to figure out how we want to deal with that.
So, as of this time, we have an interlocal agreement that defines for us what the legal requirements are. Over the next few months, so that this doesn't happen at the same time that we're finishing up our new Plan, we'll be coming forward after working with the City Attorney and the County Attorney, with some ideas on how it is that we will be dealing with these Plan issues. That's essentially the information that we have for you at this time.
Ms. Sellman stated that she had thought about making a packet for distribution for everyone. She noted she a "a ton" of legal information with pieces of codes, agreements, opinions....and if you would like to receive those, she would be happy to get copies to everyone. She asked who would like to receive copies. Mr. Camp stated that, for the record, it would be a good plan to get a copy of the material to the Council Office so we could have it on file with the Common materials.
Ms. Kathy Campbell commented that part of the concern that brought this issue forward was the issue of whether we needed to vote on Highway 2 Sub-area Plan. One thing to be considered is that we don't want to get ourselves in a situation where the body that does not have jurisdiction, however having to vote, could trump the one that does. She stated that she continued to hold a concern about that, because you don't want people to get to the point where there is "end-arounding" with members from the non-voting body lobbying and trying to convince the members on the voting body to vote one way or another. Then, the old issue, a jump ball...where does this go? She stated that they had come really close to that a couple of times when both bodies were voting routinely on the others' issues. On some cases, we wondered why we were voting on an issue, realizing that this was the other's jurisdiction.
She noted that once the legal departments sat down and started really getting into this, there were a lot more issues there than what had appeared on the surface - thornier issues that could really cause us problems unless we could talk it through and know exactly how we're going to handle things.
Ms. Steinman asked about the shared jurisdiction and a project that might occur in the 3-mile zoning jurisdiction of the City, but might require County roads, as many projects do. So, that's an expenditure of County concern....is there a provision for a shared jurisdiction in this voting process?
Ms. Sellman stated that she did not think there was anything that specifically addressed that. What she noted that was lacking is a problem resolution process. More and more we're probably going to be coming up against those types of things. In the past, perhaps not so much; but now, she felt it was inevitable since Lincoln is growing quickly. She noted that there were still many County responsibilities for roads and the transportation system. We'll need to figure out exactly what our priorities are there and how we need to deal with that.
Ms. Seng stated that this brought us to the East Beltway. This would lie within the 3-mile limit area. Who will have jurisdiction over that? Ms. Sellman answered that it is a Long-Range Transportation Planning item, so she thought it would be under both jurisdictions. Both bodies would be voting on it. In terms of a Plan Amendment, it would appear to be both jurisdictions.
Mr. Camp stated that there appeared to be some uncertainty about it and wondered if the Legal Departments had given Ms. Sellman any thoughts in that regard. Or, does the Common need to give some direction for definition. Ms. Sellman stated that the Planning Department is working with the legal departments now to do exactly that.
She noted that the agreements, again, make it clear that there are specific areas of jurisdiction for either the City or the County. What we don't have is a way to deal with those times when the situation is not covered by an agreement. Mr. Camp suggested that perhaps a matrix could be drawn up of the joint City, County and Both designations to make those areas clearer for everyone. Ms. Sellman noted that there had been talk of the concept of a five-mile corridor in which there would be a little more than simply the City's three-mile land use power...that there would be some way of dealing with the complexities of a target that is constantly moving, because as the City annexes, that area of influence moves fluidly outward. We haven't specifically talked about that and how we want to address it.
Mr. Fortenberry noted we had discussed this at length several years ago and he felt Senator Schimek's ideas regarding the changes to the current legislation might make it easier to consolidate. He didn't know if Lincoln/Lancaster might want to look at that again in the future and make Kathleen's job a little easier. He asked Ms. Sellman if she was going to have all of this done by May, because he had to leave. [Laughter]. Ms. Sellman noted that if that is his deadline, then, of course, they would meet it.
It was agreed that consolidation would be something that could be further discussed. Ms. Campbell noted that LB142 has a number of issues sent by the County Board for Senator Schimek's consideration. It is important how we treat the smaller communities, because there are twelve incorporated communities in Lancaster County, in addition to Lincoln. So, it's how you deal with those communities and the Municipal County - it becomes much more difficult.
Mr. Fortenberry asked if the core issue wasn't, then, two separate votes - majority in each. Are we getting away from that? Ms. Steinman stated they haven't established how you get out of the situation...just how you get in. If they want to disassociate themselves, the smaller communities, from the whole, there is no way that this [inaudible].
Ms. Campbell stated that she felt it was a taxation issue. To expect someone who lives in Firth or just outside of it (that's a 26 mile haul for the Sheriff on a Code Three...at best) to pay the same taxes as somebody at 27th and Sheridan would pay, that is the problem. She didn't think it was the representation and/or the people on the Commission or any of all those other problems, but it will always come down to money. Bond issues, taxation...how do you deal with that?
She also thought that the other issue in all of this will be how do you deal with the school districts. Because you have a policy right now on the State Books that brings the Lincoln Public Schools automatically with annexation. On a Municipal County, how do you deal with the other three school districts that are outside of Lincoln, in the County. Those issues may be thornier, really, than others.
Mr. Bernie Heier asked then, how do you vote on the Beltway? Do you vote as one single body combined or two separate bodies? It was noted that the vote would be by the two separate bodies. If you have a split between the two bodies, what happens? Mr. Heier didn't want to wait another six years to find out the answer. Mr. Camp noted that if there is a split, we let Omaha build it. [Laughter].
Ms. Campbell commented that, in essence, we probably do have some kind of a conference committee with the Officials Committee (two County Commissioners, the Mayor, and a City Council person, and a State person who can vote) under the Master Planning Document. It is their responsibility to come up with one document for Lincoln and Lancaster County. So, there is some sense of conferencing. You do have to have one transportation plan. That is why the County Board will vote on the Transportation portion of Highway 2. That's the area where both bodies have a vote. Very strong and clear jurisdictions. So, the Beltway comes under both jurisdictions. We can't get away from that.
Another point Ms. Campbell wanted to make was that where we both have a vote, then we need to have one Public Hearing, because you do not want all of the Staff and all of the Citizens to come on a Monday, then come on a Tuesday. Both bodies would not be hearing the same presentation with the same inflections and the same "whatever". So, when both bodies do have to vote, it is incumbent upon us to try to work out a single public hearing.
Mr. Camp thanked Ms. Sellman for the presentation. Ms. Sellman stated that they would continue to work with the legal staff on both the City and County side and, of course, incorporating the powers of the FTO in this whole thing in regards to transportation. We'll be coming forward with a recommendation. She felt sure that the Common Members would hear a lot more about this before that recommendation comes before them. It will be her goal to have that recommendation to the Common by late Summer or early Fall so that the adoption process can be settled before the new Plan comes forward.
Redistricting Discussion - Statutory Over-view of Redistricting Process (Kent Morgan/County Attorney/David Shively, Election Commissioner/City Attorney/City Attorney)
Mr. Morgan and Mr. Shively began the presentation. Mr. Morgan explained that there were a couple of preparatory comments, stating that this is an effort between Planning, City Law, County Law and the Election Commission. He stated, too, that he was not an attorney, so any legal questions will have to be directed to the legal staff.
The hand-out material states that the State Legislation requires that in any jurisdiction that has a body that is elected by district, the voter allocation must be based on the Federal Census. That process should be undertaken within five to six months of the completion of the Census. The completion of the Census has yet to be defined and the legal terms ...have been referred to the attorneys.
On the bottom of the first page in the hand-out materials, there is a duplex of events that Mr. Morgan briefly reviewed. [See attachment]. The process is on schedule. The target date of the Unicameral is June of 2001, though they are not required to complete their work before one year prior to the next state election...so they actually have until November 5th to complete their work. That would put us under stress to complete our portion within the time limits. The State did indicate that they would try to get it done by the June date, as they did in 1990.
With some luck, that information will be done by June; after that, the Election Commissioners take that data and see how it might effect the precincts. The Unicameral is asked to try to respect the local district boundaries as the Election Commission supplies that information to them, basically using the precincts as building blocks [inaudible] created. That doesn't always happen. Sometimes they use school districts.
That information goes back to the Election Commission. They revise the precincts; then these things undergo revision which become the building blocks upon which the City Council and the County Commissioners districts are created. Assuming the six month period is in place, you're looking at a time sometime in September or October for approval through the process.
Mr. Camp stated that he had a question regarding the wording which indicated that the Election Commissioner "revamps" the election precincts, and asked Dave Shively to address that. Mr. Shively stated that if the legislature should decide to cut through one of the precinct lines, to draw out a legislative district, or State Board of Education District, or Regent's District, then we would need to revamp our precincts, because we don't want to have our poll workers have to have split precincts, which they do in some of our rural areas. We try to eliminate that as much as possible. We do that more with school districts and we don't want to do that through City Council Districts or County Commissioner Districts or State Legislature Districts. We are not allowed by law to do that on legislative districts, so we try to eliminate that. Hopefully, they'll stay with our precinct lines...which would make things a lot easier for everybody.
Mr. Camp asked if that is what the past record reveals? Mr. Morgan noted that on the back page of the hand-out material were the Requirements for District Delineation. He stated that this information is basically from the City Ordinance, which comes from basic State Legislation, the gist being that the districts be "compact and contiguous" and that they be divided as nearly as practical into equal populations. He noted that in 1990, the goal was about 1% variance between the districts population, though it turned out to be closer to 2% between some of the various districts. He stated that he will leave that to others to say whether or not there is a specific standard, though he did not believe there is one.
He continued, covering the material in the colored sheets of the outline, stating that that information covered the process as it was worked out in 1991. He stated that they had tried to work out some standards, but he couldn't find any original standards, and they had worked with the different agencies to come up with different concepts.
He noted that there had been a Unicameral sub-committee that was set up to work at that level with the Unicameral Staff. The last page of the hand-out materials were just a sample of the kind of guidelines used in case we would want to utilize such a process.
This time, through GIS, there was a provision for two work stations being set up for members of the Unicameral to access and create possible districting concepts that they favor. We are working through the legislative sub-committee. We funnel through them and eventually that will get to the Unicameral for a vote. This technique applied to the [inaudible] University Districts and the House of Representatives and Senate Districts, State Supreme Court and several different State agencies...so they have a lot more to consider than just the local concerns.
There are some things we can do to get ourselves organized, but probably not a lot we can do until the Unicameral has taken action. It will probably be June or July before we actively pursue a course of action.
Mr. Hudkins expressed a concern that the City and County are required by law to complete their redistricting process before the State is required to have their work completed. He felt we should be getting started on the basics while waiting for the State to complete their work, noting that if they get bogged down, we would have to, at some point, make a decision to at least do some preliminary work. He thought we should get started.
Mr. Morgan stated that we're getting software available and getting s system set up. Mr. Hudkins asked if they would know the numbers that each Member needs in his/her district. Mr. Morgan stated that they did have the data. Mr. Hudkins asked if Mr. Morgan knew for sure if the Legislature was setting up a June target date for their work on this. Mr. Shively noted that the Legislature would have to go into special session if they did not, so he felt they would be done by the end of the session.
Mr. Hudkins pointed out that the Legislature has until November 5th to complete their redistricting work, while the City and County have to have their work completed by mid to late September. Mr. Shively noted, again, that the legislature would want to complete their work by the end of the legislative session.
Ms. Campbell asked why Mr. Hudkins stated "mid-September" as the County completion date. She noted that they would have to be done by the filing date in 2002. Mr. Hudkins stated that according to the Re-Districting hand-out material, it would be mid-September. Mr. Morgan noted that the six-month time schedule outlined would depend on what date "the completion of the census" is defined to mean. Mr. Hudkins noted that April 1st is being talked about as the dated completion of the census because it was a year after they initiated it.
The statutory dates for completion were discussed. Ms. Seng asked when the Common Members would be given the chance for input as to what they might think would be appropriate in the redistricting process. She noted that she understands that none of them are very impartial regarding that issue, and Mr. Shively would be the only one who could do this impartially. But, when will the Members be asked for their input? Mr. Shively noted that that was a good question and answered that it is up to the individual Members. He stated that if the Council and Commissioners looked at the State to see how they're handling such input, they're giving each Senator an opportunity to submit their data toward the redistricting. He stated that he could look at setting up work-stations to make that possible for the Common Members. He noted they would have to get the software in place.
Ms. Seng noted that Mr. Shively had helped them work through this process the last time. The one comment that she always remembered was made by Gates Minnick who said he'd just like straight lines. Mr. Shively noted that maintaining the neighborhood integrity in setting up the districts was always a major consideration. Mr. Camp asked if Mr. Morgan could prepare overlays that would show what the neighborhoods, and some of the several districts involved. He also asked when they would have population figures for the present City Districts and County Commissioner Districts. Mr. Morgan stated that the statistics are out, but they're having difficulty with the block adjustments to the precinct boundaries - if we use those as building blocks. He was referring to actual City blocks in this issue. The Unicameral will do a lot of that.
Mr. Camp asked if there was a target date for completion. Mr. Morgan stated that he did not have one, but assumed it would be within a month or so.
Mr. Fortenberry asked about the percentage shifts of population which will probably tend to the southeast corner of the City, wondering if that is going to be pretty much substantiated by the census statistics? Mr. Morgan stated that they hadn't taken a look at the figures yet, but he assumed that it would be very similar.
Mr. Hudkins noted that legislative research does have the data down by the blocks and that information is available right now, so you could get that information from them. They're looking at possibly creating a whole new legislative district within the City of Lincoln. So, they've got it down to blocks...so that information is available. Mr. Hudkins wondered if it's all on software, if there weren't some way to just transfer it here. He noted that he also liked the Unicameral's method of bringing each senator in and asking them what they want and getting their ideas before they prepare a map. He thought that if a Common Member had natural boundaries out there that they want to preserve as much as possible and point out the areas where it would be easiest to adjust...that would save the Election Office a lot of time and work. He stated he'd like to see those interviews go forward...as soon as the City Council elections are over.
Mr. Morgan stated that they'd be happy to do whatever the Members are interested in doing. Mr. Camp asked, regarding the precinct lay-out, if there were certain arterials that are always, or generally, followed? How will we do those precincts as the City grows...will you break them off at the major arterials such as 84th or 70th.
Mr. Shively stated that we try to keep our precincts within about 800 (600-900) voters per precinct. He noted that one of the problems they had last time on the legislative boundaries is that they go to the City Limits. (That is how it was worded in the statute). This boundary, of course, changes throughout the year as new areas are annexed. He noted that most of the precincts within the core of the City will probably remain the same. It's when we get out to the newer areas where we've already split precincts and we would continually do that to try to keep the numbers [of voters per precinct] low. He noted that they try to follow streets as much as possible.
Mr. Shively stated that arterials do not always constitute a boundary, noting that sometimes they are crossed. He stated that they try to keep them if they can, but noted that in some precincts, an arterial might run right through the middle.
Mr. Camp asked how the information should be coordinated to make it expedient and efficient here. He asked if Mr. Morgan and Mr. Shively would want to come before the Commons or just address the information to the Chairs of each of the bodies (City & County). Ms. Campbell commented that she thought when the Planning Department is ready, the City could just have a Pre-Council, because the County never met on the districts. She stated that she just put this on the agenda because she thought all of the Common Members should get the same orientation. Now, we'll have to split up and do our thing as separate governmental bodies. There was general agreement with this.
There was continued discussion on such points as the Dead Man's Run district, the imperfect science of laying out political districts, the following of precinct lines for the State Board of Education districts, the Legislative lines, (smaller areas which may tend to be geographic designations - which tend to separate municipal structures, again...an imperfect science).
It was asked if, in the future of annexation, the City should be working in co-operation with the Election Office on redistricting issues. Mr. Shively felt nothing his office could say would stop the City from annexing. He noted that the precincts are just continued to the City limits, and that more problems are run into with the legislative districts than with City/County districts. The line goes out there and once you've expanded the City limits, that is added to the data base.
Mr. Camp asked if the Election Commission would be putting in work stations on their website for County and City Elected Officials to work from on this issue. Mr. Morgan noted that it wouldn't be the same software the state is using. It could be set up on the Intranet.
Mr. Hudkins thought one of the things that should be agreed upon as a Common is the percentage of deviation. Will it be a half percent, 1- 2%? That is one of the first things to be done - to establish a base rule. He felt they needed some recommendations to help in decisions as they look at the whole numbers. The percentage will make a difference in being able to allow the following of streets if the agreed upon deviation percentage is larger.
Mr. Morgan made comments that were inaudible. Mr. Camp noted that Mr. Hudkins comments were valid ones and suggested that, perhaps at the next Common meeting, Mr. Dana Roper have some information on what the legalities and statutes allow. Mr. Roper stated that there is nothing that they've found, as the City plunges into this, that says you have to be within any certain percentage of deviation. He noted that there are some cases nationally that say 10%, which, it looks at a State level, would be acceptable. Of course, the Unicameral said 2%. The last time Lincoln did this it was a ½ % on either side of the whole. Mr. Roper stated that the two State Supreme Court cases on this say that the government entity has to make a `good faith effort' to make them equal.
Mr. Roper noted that they would look at what steps were taken to determine that it is a good faith effort to make them equal; and, he noted, they don't really say if you're not within 2 or 3% - they haven't given that kind of a guideline. But, with what he thought they were mapping, they can come up with four very equal districts within the City.
Mr. Fortenberry asked if that was equal by just population? Mr. Roper affirmed that...they don't talk about square miles; though we may want to look at that also, because it seemed to him that that is a factor. Mr. Fortenberry thought that would track.
Mr. Roper stated that cases say you represent the district that you're elected from. So, if you get placed in a new district, you don't represent that new district until you get elected from the new district...you'd represent your old district.
Mr. Hudkins noted that the County Commissioner Districts, as they were laid out last time, had one district under by 12.2 % and one was over by 7.9%....as the starting point. Those figures were honed down to within 2%. This is something on which we just don't make a snap of the moment decision.
Mr. Camp asked if there is, for expediency, something that we can focus on now to make a decision? Ms. Campbell felt they all needed to see more data. She felt both bodies needed to think more about it and study the figures. She didn't think it had to be decided today.
This issue will be placed on the June Common Agenda.
OLD BUSINESS - Mr. Camp had one question. He noted that the City Council is starting to consider the Animal Control Ordinance. He stated that he had, personally, received a lot of correspondence from people in the County who live within the 3-mile area, who are upset. He asked for any input from the Commissioners on this issue. Ms. Campbell noted that the County contracts with the Humane Society for their Animal Control services. Any call usually goes to the Sheriff's Office first.
Mr. Camp said that he had heard concerns that, if the City makes their regulations more strict, there would be an increase of animal dumping on surrounding farms and County areas. Ms. Steinman noted that people do it anyway, so the tighter restrictions wouldn't make a difference. Ms. Campbell noted that when the restrictions are tightened at the landfill is when the problems really increased. [Laughter]. She noted, seriously, that they did have more trouble with garbage dumping concerns. She stated that the Commissioners' Office could, however, certainly check with the Sheriff's Office on Mr. Camp's inquiry.
NEW BUSINESS - None
Mr. Camp called for a motion to adjourn. Adjournment was moved and seconded by several Common Members. The meeting was adjourned by unanimous consensus at approximately 9:20 a.m.