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As the clock ticks on the Redistricting Commission’s late-summer deadline to draw new boundaries for San Diego’s City Council districts, commissioners are no closer to acquiring the online software or consultant they’ll need to move forward with that task.
On Wednesday, the San Diego Data Processing Corp., the city-created IT services agency that commissioners had hoped to sign a contract with for that work, told the commission its staff couldn’t handle all the work required.
The announcement threw a wrench in the commission’s plans to get started on the highly technical task of using public input and Census data to determine what San Diego’s district boundaries will look like, and it’s caused considerable confusion among commissioners about what to do next.
Two weeks ago, commissioners rejected all four bids from private consultants who had responded to a call for proposals for the work worth up to $90,000. On April 21, Ani Mdivani-Morrow, the commissioner in charge of the search, said none of the proposals would have included important online software that would let members of the public submit their own maps for consideration, one of the commission’s requirements.
The commission chose to instead pursue a contract with the Data Processing Corp. But Mdivani-Morrow’s reason for dismissing the bids was called into question after we reported that at least one of the proposals had included the online software.
Councilwoman Lorie Zapf also publicly questioned whether the Data Processing Corp. could be impartial in drawing electoral boundaries for City Council members. If the city moves forward with plans to put its IT services out for competitive bidding, the council will ultimately decide which company gets to provide those services for the city.
At Thursday’s commission meeting, Mdivani-Morrow revised her claim about the private bids, saying only two of them hadn’t met all the commission’s requirements. But she said commissioners had found all four “unsatisfactory,” and that they had dismissed them for that reason. She didn’t offer details on why commissioners were not satisfied with the proposals.
Commissioners had originally planned to decide whether to pen an agreement with the Data Processing Corp. for technical services Thursday. But after the agency announced it would no longer perform that service, commissioners scrambled to figure out how they could at least get the online software so members of the public could start submitting their own maps, even if the commission didn’t yet have a consultant to make sense of them and use them to draw formal maps for commissioners to consider.
The commission voted 6-1 to dissolve the three-member subcommittee that had been in charge of the consultant search and replace its members with three other commissioners to discuss options and issue yet another request for proposals from consultants.
Theresa Quiroz, who was on the original search committee, said she was disturbed by the Data Processing Corp’s decision not to work with the commission. That decision would cost taxpayers more money, she said.
“We are supposed to use city services and now we’re not able to use city services per the charter because of the actions that have been taken,” she said.
And she told commissioners the clock was ticking on the commission’s timeline to complete its work. Commissioners can’t move forward on drawing the district boundaries before the public has submitted proposals.
“We need to get this software up and running and we need to get it done yesterday,” she said.