The players are different and even some of the arguments changed, but the result is the same.
Just like the state’s redistricting panel before it, the Honolulu Council Reapportionment Commission on Wednesday said it will count all residents — military families, students and felons — as it redraws political boundaries.
In the end, the unanimous decision was as much about practicality as it was about policy. Commissioner Rey Graulty — the last holdout and a vocal critic of including active duty military with declared permanent homes outside of Hawaii — eventually caved, saying, “We don’t have much choice.”
“The bottom line is we cannot do what we need to do in order to be accurate and fair and equitable” if the commission tried to extract certain population groups, Graulty said.
The limiting factor was that the data provided by the military gives commissioners little or no information on where military members and their families actually live.
In other words, there’s no way to extract servicemen from the census data.
David Rosenbrock, who runs the state’s reapportionment efforts, told the city commissioners that the military has changed its privacy policies since Sept. 11, 2001.
He told the commission that Oahu is home to between 90,000 and 100,000 military members and their families — roughly one-tenth the island’s population.
The argument against counting military focused on whether active duty military members consume city services or pay property taxes when they live on bases on federal land. Proponents of including the military said they add to the community, they pay other types of taxes, and that excluding them would send a bad message.
Legal issues stemming from the definition of “permanent” resident and the applicability of a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling on a Big Island case were also raised. But those questions have been brought up before.
One novel suggestion from Commissioner Rodney Funakoshi — that those bases be excluded and all military members who live outside the walls be included — didn’t go anywhere.
The base Oahu population of 953,207 in the 2010 U.S. Census will need to be divided between nine Honolulu City Council districts.
The commission will meet again on Sept. 7 to talk about the parameters for how it will draw district boundaries. Factors could include ridgelines, highways and keeping communities together. Geographical points at Kaena and Makapuu Lighthouse will likely be the starting and ending points for districts.
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