BY BUDDY NEVINS
The Broward School Board’s only black could be redistricted out of her seat this week, leaving thousands of African Americans without a neighborhood Board member.
Dr. Rosalind Osgood, who was elected just a month ago, is a victim of the Board’s Redistricting Committee.
All four of the committee’s recommended districting maps cut Osgood out of her district and leaves the Board’s only majority black district unrepresented by its own district member until the November 2014 elections.
The proposals place Osgood in a white district already represented by member Katie Leach.
Preferring to talk about the effect of the redistricting on the neighborhood rather then herself, Osgood criticized the committee for separating representation of various schools that were working together on programs to improve performance.
“The committee worked really hard,” Osgood said. “Unfortunately, its focus was on the numbers and not on the kids. They weren’t paying attending to what we are trying to do for the future in the district.”
Touching on politics, she said, “I love the people of District 5 and I’m hoping I won’t have to move to continue representing them…I’ve heard from several constituents that they want me to continue.”
The School Board considers the redistricting committee recommendations this week.
Osgood won her District 5 Central Broward seat by a landslide in November – 69.72 to 30.28 percent for Torey Alston.
So she was not in office to help plan the School Board’s botched redistricting process.
First, Board members in 2011 decided they had too much to do to handle redistricting before the 2012 election.
So instead, they appointed a redistricting committee which didn’t meet until 2012.
Then the committee led by Democratic activist Michael Rajner refused to draw its own district maps. Instead, the group accepted maps from community organizations and others. It forwarded four of the submitted maps to the School Board.
The committee had roughly 19 meetings.
A $200-an-hour special attorney was hired for the group. The School Board’s had its own attorney also attend some meetings.
School staff, school secretaries and school clerks spent time working for the committee.
To waste tens of thousands of dollars and push the School Board’s only black out of her seat?
What a colossal waste of time and money!
Rajner should be ashamed to have brushed aside pleas from members Phil Busey and Mary Fertig to move the district lines a few blocks to include Osgood (Since this was before the election, they also wanted to include Alston, who lived just outside the district, too.).
Rajner said at the time that the committee wasn’t supposed to help an incumbent. He misread the text of the School Board’s guiding redistricting principals (Browardbeat.com’s underlining):
“No apportionment plan or individual district shall be drawn with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent; and districts shall not be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice; and, shall consist of contiguous territory.”
The committee was clearly disfavoring Osgood and the residents of District 5 when it refused to move the district lines. She hadn’t even won the election, yet.
The School Board now needs to correct the committee’s mistake and give Osgood back her district.
This unnecessary problem is just what I would expect from a committee that was absolutely, 100 percent meaningless.
The School Board itself should have accepted new district maps and testimony from the community. The School Board should have done its job. That would have saved thousands frittered away on an unnecessary committee.
Then again, this is the School Board we are talking about. What else would you expect from a Board that cried it was too busy to redistrict before the 2012 election?
Just be thankful that redistricting will be over soon. And the Board will have one less thing to bungle for another 10 years.