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Monday, August 15, 2011 - 12:27pm

Public Redistricting Meeting Held Tuesday

A once-a-decade redistricting session got underway Monday at the state Capitol to re-draw legislative maps. Lawmakers will hold the first public meeting on proposed maps Tuesday. But watchdog groups are already concerned that the public is being shut out of the process.

At the public meeting, state residents can comment on draft legislative district maps.

William Perry is with the watchdog group Common Cause Georgia.

He says an afternoon meeting may not be convenient for working voters. And he says it doesn't encourage public involvement.

“Unfortunately they don’t give citizens a lot of advanced notice on those," he said. "So it’s incumbent on the citizens to engage in the process and watchdog it and make sure that they know when things are happening if they want to weigh in on what their district looks like.”

Legislative leaders say day meetings are convenient for them. They also point to 12 evening meetings held this spring for public comment.

House redistricting committee chair Roger Lane says the watchdog groups are politicizing the process.

“I think if they really wanted evening meetings, they could have come to us and said, ‘Why don’t you have some evening meetings?’ last week," he said. "We’ve been here all of this time. Just ask us – we probably would have tried to schedule something. But they didn’t. They’re just playing politics, in my opinion."

Common Cause is part of a coalition of groups watching the redistricting process.

It’s holding its own meetings on the maps. But the groups will have to work quickly. Lawmakers aim to wrap up redistricting by Labor Day.

Tuesday's public meeting on redistricting will be held at 2 p.m. at the Coverdell Legislative Office Building in downtown Atlanta across from the state Capitol.

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