ROUGHLY A WEEK before the deadline to redraw City Council's district boundaries, some Council members say that they will be ready. But behind the scenes, negotiations are far from over.

Members have not nearly come to blows, as in previous redistricting debates, but personalities and politics - as well as a major population shift from west to east - make it a tough fix.

No maps have been released, although there is a working draft that members are debating behind closed doors.

"There continues to be discussions . . . trying to get to a consensus on a draft bill," said Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez. "We are not as close as I would have liked."

Council is required to redraw its 10 districts after the census every 10 years to make sure that their populations are roughly equal. If members cannot agree to a new map by Sept. 9, they lose their pay until they're done. That happened during the past two redistricting efforts.

The latest working draft, sources said, attempts to fix two districts considered among the nation's most gerrymandered. The 5th, represented by Councilman Darrell Clarke, meanders over North Philadelphia, Center City, Fishtown, Olney and the Northeast. The 7th, represented by Quinones-Sanchez, covers a large chunk of North Philadelphia, corkscrews around Temple University, through parts of Kensington and on into Northeast Philly.

The effort is snagged by a fight over a piece of property in the Northeast that nobody seems to want: the 56th Ward, represented by powerful Democratic ward leader John Sabatina Sr.

Sabatina's ward is now divided among three Council districts, including the 7th. In the preliminary map, the 7th would omit the 56th Ward, leaving it divided by the other two districts that have a share: Councilman Brian O'Neill's 10th and Councilwoman Joan Krajewski's 6th.

The problem is that neither O'Neill nor Krajewski wants it.

Republican O'Neill, who faces Democrat Bill Rubin in November, wants to maintain a majority Republican district and has no interest in adding voters from the Democratic 56th Ward.

Krajewski, who's retiring, and her likely successor Bobby Henon, don't want to see the district changed much.

And, sources say, virtually no one relishes dealing with the mercurial Sabatina, who is known for exacting a high price for his support.

"It's like working with Julius Caesar. He has a giant ego," said former Councilman Rick Mariano, who represented the 7th District and was party to its gerrymandering, when members went five months without pay. Mariano, hurting for cash during the gridlock, allowed a local business to pay his credit-card bills and wound up serving four years in prison.

"John can be a stubborn guy, but he controls that ward and it's a big ward," Mariano added.

Krajewski did not return several requests for comment. O'Neill declined to comment. Sabatina did not return a reporter's calls. Henon declined to comment.

Members are also disgruntled with the proposals on how to deal with a substantial shift in the city's population from west to east.

"People aren't satisfied," said Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, who does not want to give up a couple of divisions. "I'm not going for that!"

Council must use census data to draw districts that each hold about 10 percent of the city's population. That amounts to about 152,600 people. Council's preliminary map has a deviation of roughly 9 percent, meaning there is a 9 percent difference between the smallest and largest districts.

Some say that the members drafting the plan - Council President Anna Verna, Councilwoman Marian Tasco, Clarke, O'Neill and Quinones-Sanchez - are drawing a map that is favorable to their needs.

The candidates who will fill Council's vacant seats "are the hardest hit," said at-large Councilman Jim Kenney, who has not seen the map. "It's not right to incoming people."

But Quinones-Sanchez said that she's trying to repair damage that has been done.

"I'm trying to fix what people have broken for over 40 years," said Quinones-Sanchez.

Today there will be a redistricting hearing at 5 p.m. at Esperanza Academy Charter High School, 301 W. Hunting Park Ave., and another is set for Sept. 6, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., at Albert Einstein Medical Center's Gouley Auditorium.