It's been a month since City Council broke for its summer recess, and it still hasn't scheduled public meetings to get input on how it should redraw Council district boundaries.
Tony Radwanski, spokesman for Council President Anna Verna, said a Council working group already is meeting on redistricting.
But Zack Stalberg, president of the watchdog group Committee of Seventy, said public engagement should start as soon as possible to be meaningful.
"I think Council is definitely behind the curve on this at least when it comes to involving the public," Stalberg said. "The real need is to get public involvement on the front end."
A five-member committee - Anna Verna, Darrell Clarke, Marian Tasco, Brian O'Neill and Maria Quinones-Sanchez - is leading the daunting redistricting process. Given the population shifts over the past decade, a major redrawing of the 10 councilmanic districts is needed.
Under the city charter, Council must make sure that each district has roughly 10 percent of the population - or 152,600 people, according to the latest count. And it must complete this task within six months of the release of census data - making Sept. 9 the deadline. They're due back from vacation Sept. 8. If they miss the deadline, then Council members go without pay, which happened in 1991 and 2001.
The task isn't pretty. According to data provided to Council, most of the city's growth has been in the east, with three districts seeing huge population gains.
But there were substantial population losses in the four districts in West and northwest Philadelphia. Given the city limits, those districts will likely have to expand east, which will put pressure on the two districts in the middle, which are considered badly gerrymandered.
Council members reportedly have mixed feelings on having public outreach now, or waiting until they have a tentative plan. Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell favors waiting.
"I'm not for having a hearing before we know what we're doing because then we upset the public," Blackwell said. "You shouldn't think out loud to the public. You could get people angry. Until you have a guaranteed plan, you should talk out your thoughts."
Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald said Mayor Nutter supports a public-engagement process sooner rather than later.
"It is our belief that conducting public input through a series of meetings, civic engagement, is the appropriate way [to handle redistricting]," McDonald said.