Cleveland City Council gets into ward redistricting debate before special meeting

Zack Reed: 'We are going to be Detroit'

CLEVELAND - Redistricting was not on Cleveland City Council's agenda Monday night. But that's not to say the new boundaries needed as council shrinks from 19 to 17 members wasn't on the mind of council members.

"This is like a CIA project, this is top secret," said Councilman Mike Polensek of the process. Polensek said he saw the final boundaries of his new ward for the first time that morning and he wasn't happy.

"The Glenville community has been in two wards forever now will have three wards, which that's not good, "he said. "It cuts the Collinwood community up pretty much and quite frankly it could have all been avoided."

"We all know that two wards had to disappear, that's a given," he said. "You can do it in a way that keeps traditional neighborhoods intact and this doesn't."

A special meeting on Tuesday will address the council ward changes.

"I'm hoping that between now and tomorrow morning that there can be some minor tweaking to these maps," Polensek said.

Council President Martin Sweeney said tweaking is a possibility, but he stands by the process and turned the mirror on the members of council critical of the process.

"I'd like each one of my council members to reflect personally on how many neighborhood meetings each and every one of you had in your wards, Mr. Dykes (the consultant working with council) was available for any one of those.

"And I look out there, and I know many of you chose not to do it and you are stating today that we weren't transparent. It's because the opportunity was there and you chose not to do it," Sweeney said.

The meeting included fireworks in the form of a back and forth between Councilmen Polensek and Eugene Miller whose new wards now overlap.

In response, Councilman Zack Reed reminded his colleagues of the need to come together and that Cleveland is in this situation because its population is shrinking.

"If we don't work with this administration and we don't work together, we are going to be Detroit," Reed said.

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