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Posted at 01:59 PM ET, 06/21/2011

D.C. Council passes redistricting plan, uniting Woodley Park

After one final rending of garments, the D.C. Council voted for a second and final time Tuesday to approve a hotly debated ward redistricting plan.

The plan passed with one major change. The Woodley Park neighborhood — previously split down Connecticut Avenue NW, with the east side in Ward 1 and the west side in Ward 3 — will now be entirely in Ward 3. A similar amendment offered at an initial vote this month by Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) failed, but on Tuesday, Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) changed his position in favor of the change, clearing the way for its passage.

But the Woodley Park shift caused great consternation on the part of Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), who was furious that the change would cause Ward 3 to be very near the maximum size allowed by law, while Ward 7 would be very near the minimum.

"That is unheard of,” she said. “We should have done more to make these wards even.” Under city law, ward populations are allowed to deviate plus or minus 5 percent from the citywide average.

Bowser was one of five members who voted against final passage. Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) also voted against the plan, as expected, claiming that its failure to move his ward across the Anacostia River was racially unjust. Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), who is facing unrest from constituents upset about the plan, also voted against it, but not before reminding spectators that her ward “did get some major things” — including the Reservation 13 redevelopment site and a portion of the Pennsylvania Avenue SE business corridor.

Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) and Vincent B. Orange Sr. (D-At Large) also voted against. The final plan keeps the “Hill East” neighborhoods in Ward 6, which has been a flashpoint in earlier redistricting discussions.

Also Tuesday, council members voted unanimously to confirm Kaya Henderson as D.C. public schools chancellor, as expected. The vote capped a relatively staid process to approve Michelle Rhee’s former top deputy as her successor. More to come from The Post’s Bill Turque on that.

The council also voted to approve changes to campaign finance reporting dates for next April’s city primaries. This year, lawmakers moved the traditional September primary several months earlier to comply with a federal law requiring ample time to send general election ballots to overseas voters. But the earlier action did not make a corresponding change to the schedule for reporting campaign contributions and expenditures.

Under the new law, candidates will now report July 31, Oct. 10, Dec. 10, Jan. 31, March 10, and eight days prior to the primary — in this case, March 26.

Only Thomas voted against the provision. He said in an interview after the vote that he was concerned about changing campaign requirements after the election cycle has begun. Thomas added that he thought that the city campaign finance office could have made the change by rulemaking, without council action.

“I don’t think we had all the information,” said Thomas, who is fighting allegations that he took unreported contributions to his former nonprofit.

By  |  01:59 PM ET, 06/21/2011

 
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