Latest RI political redistricting maps stir new controversies – The Providence Journal


The panel overseeing Rhode Island’s once-a-decade redistricting on Wednesday endorsed new political boundaries for the state’s legislative and congressional districts.
The Redistricting Committee vote sends the new maps to the General Assembly for approval despite objections from Republican members to a series of district changes unveiled just as the meeting began.
“The changes came in at 530 [p.m.] and the meeting started at 5:35,” Sen. Gordon Rogers said. “We basically took an oath to be transparent and open and have a fair process and I would hate to see it tainted.” 
See the House map here
See the Senate map here
The vote to approve the state House and Senate maps was 13-4, with Rogers and Sen. Jessica de la Cruz joining Reps. Brian Newberry and David Place voting no. (The congressional map was approved 15-2, with Newberry and Place the no votes.)
Two late changes drew immediate attention Wednesday night, one involving the hotly debated House districts in East Greenwich and another the Senate district on the Smithfield/Lincoln border.
East Greenwich residents and officials were shocked by the last draft House map, which split the “Hill” neighborhood and the “Harbor” neighborhood into separate districts, joining the Harbor up with the Potowomut section of Warwick.
Saying they heard the complaints, mapmakers reunited the harbor with the bulk of the town in House District 30. But in doing so they carved a section of town southwest of First Avenue to give to District 24.
Hill and Harbor neighborhoods:East Greenwich residents ‘gutted’ by new General Assembly map
“We can’t keep East Greenwich whole as a single district. We have to take some territory out of it.” state redistricting consultant Kimball Brace said, explaining that population changes in other parts of the state had caused “ripple effects” on East Greenwich. 
“Seriously?” tweeted State Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Cienki, a former East Greenwich Town Council president, not impressed with the new map.
While the issues in East Greenwich had been debated for weeks, the change to Senate district boundaries in Smithfield and Lincoln came suddenly.
They carve out a small bubble of Lincoln and put it into Smithfield’s Senate District 22. The current district boundary and the previous draft map had tracked the town line.
Senate District 22 is represented by Democratic Sen. Stephen Archambault, a co-chair of the redistricting committee. Senate District 17 where the sliver of Lincoln was drawn from, is represented by Sen. Thomas Paolino, a Lincoln Republican.
“Why are we suddenly taking a piece of Lincoln and adding it to Senate 22 in Smithfield? What is the reason for that?” Newberry asked. “It looks very weird and I hope the Senate takes a look at this for a whole variety of reasons.”
Brace: “As I recall there was some discussion that we had dealing with some components of the neighborhood along that border there and people expressed an interest in being in 22.”
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Following the commission’s vote last week to try to combat “prison gerrymandering,” the map endorsed Wednesday counts more than 1,000 inmates at the Adult Correctional Institutions at their former addresses instead of as residents of the prison complex in Cranston.
New prison redistricting plan:Cranston loses, Providence gains
The maps now move to the General Assembly, where they may be tweaked again before final approval, expected sometime next month.
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