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Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Reform is for Dummies

The overwhelming theme of for the first part of the year was the new transparency and openness of the reformed redistricting process, the key role of commissioners, and divorcing the line drawing from the self-interest of incumbent politicians.

Well, that part is now over.

As counties and cities wrap up their processes, good-government is being thrown overboard and elected officials, like Supervisor Don Knabe in LA and Councilman Steve Cohn in Sacramento are taking the helm.  In Sacramento the issue is who will represent the railyards, a plot for future development that has no people.  In LA it is the dicer issue of creating a new Latino seat.  Steven Ochoa says the Supes must, and Knabe is saying Kno, Kno, Kno!! 

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, searching for the right catchy quote called it “a worst case scenario,” “disappointing and sad” and a “Schenirer Shenanigan.”  The one thing he forgot to call it was a new populist piece of his next Strong Mayor ballot initiative.

In state news, Bacteria Bear, the statue that greets visitors to the Governor’s office, tweeted last night “Someone told me this redistricting was going to take care of gun toting Asm. Donnelly... What happened? Guy scares the bear crap outta me!”  At least one of California’s great bear-loving monuments was listening.  Mt Whitney, clearly shaken by this redistricting, has snuck away in the dead of night and moved north by at least 125 miles – as far away from Donnelly as possible, as reported by the Sacramento Bee.  This move can be seen on the Around The Capitol redistricting site where the highest peak in the Continental US has left Lone Pine and moved north of Bishop.

Now, that’s some sad and disappointing shenanigans. 


Orthodox leaders appear to sway redistricting panel
On July 12, a group of Orthodox leaders traveled to Sacramento, hoping to make their case directly to the commission. They didn’t get the chance, but they met with Paul Mitchell, whose consulting firm, Redistricting Partners, has been following the commission’s work closely. After the meeting with Mitchell, Lebovics and the others submitted a 19-page letter to the commission on July 19, complete with full-color maps that included the locations of synagogues, Jewish organizations and Jewish day schools.

Redistricting proposal shakes things up in 28th
Hollister Free Lance
The new maps, showing new boundaries for the state's assembly and senate districts, as well as the U.S. House of Representatives, could be finalized by Monday - 18 days after the Citizens Redistricting Commission unveiled final drafts for public scrutiny. The changes could usher in major shifting, including changing the state's 28th district - which includes Gilroy - to a new moniker: No. 30. Gilroy Mayor Al Pinheiro said he'd be happy with the maps as long as they kept the Garlic Capital in the same electoral regions as Morgan Hill and other similar communities.

Cardoza doesn't deny reports he may retire
The Modesto Bee
Dennis Cardoza, who has represented the Northern San Joaquin Valley in Congress for more than eight years, is not denying reports he may retire rather than seek re-election next year. His 18th Congressional District is expected to splinter Monday when redistricting commissioners take a final vote on political boundaries redrawn after the 2010 census. Staying in politics could pit Cardoza, D-Merced, against longtime friend and Democratic ally Jim Costa in a district a heartbeat removed from Cardoza's base in Stanislaus and Merced counties.

Turlock council frowns at Senate district
The Modesto Bee
Nothing against the foothills, but the city doesn't want to be lumped in with those communities. City Council members Tuesday night unanimously voted to oppose boundaries set by the California Commission on Redistricting. Although city leaders were happy with Turlock's congressional and Assembly districts, a state Senate district that stretches from Rancho Cordova to Death Valley did not appeal to them.

Our View: Can we keep Mike Thompson?
The Daily Triplicate
Still, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission hasn’t exactly done Del Norte County any favors. If its proposed new maps stand, a Republican-leaning county will find itself in Democratic-leaning legislative districts. We’ll lose GOP state Sen. Doug LaMalfa, a frequent visitor to the North Coast who has made a real effort to understand our issues. But the Democrats who have represented us recently are also in touch with Del Norte, especially seven-term Congressman Mike Thompson. A moderate “Blue Dog” Democrat, Thompson has done well by the North Coast, and he’s no stranger to Crescent City.

Our legislative districts just too big
Ventura County Star
As unwelcome as that idea may seem, the conclusion is inescapable to anyone who listened to the pleas of Californians who testified this summer before the Citizens Redistricting Commission. Without fail, they said they did not want to be put in a district with other people with whom they had nothing in common and they wanted one of their own to represent them. Under the system we've got, that isn't possible. The size of the Legislature — 80 Assembly members, 40 senators — was established in 1879. At the time, there were fewer than 1 million people living here. Today, there are 37.3 million. That means that an Assembly district must contain about 465,000 people and each Senate district about 931,000.

California’s Great Black Migration Still the Elephant in the Room
Electronic Urban Report
Many thought that maps drawn by the state’s first-ever redistricting commission would save traditionally held Black seats in the Legislature and Congress-and maybe in the sort term it actually did.  The thinking-as it has been for years is that Black voters mean Black people in office.  But that ain’t necessarily so-especially when said Black voters are saying to hell with California and being replaced by Latinos who may or may not even vote and when they do might not feel the same level of commitment to Black elected officials that their Black counterparts did.

New district maps misplace Mount Whitney by 125 miles
The Sacramento Bee
The online political maps devised by the Citizens Redistricting Commission place Mt. Whitney right in the middle of Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park, about 125 miles northwest of its true location. The commission relied on a commonly used mapping service provided by Google to supply background information such as roads and cities, and the mistake is in Google's data.

Redistricting: County should copy state
Sign On San Diego
This commission has faced sharp criticism from Republican leaders, who say it has been hijacked by Democratic partisans. After reviewing the final maps recently approved by the panel, we think this critique is unfair. Legitimate concerns have been raised about unusual maneuvering involving state Senate districts in the Ventura-Santa Barbara area. And we lament the fact that all of the Assembly seats drawn for San Diego County give one party or the other a decisive advantage. But overall, the commission seems to have followed the law and the new districts seem likely to result in more competitive races statewide. We’ll probably see more free-for-alls and fewer cakewalks, which could result in a more moderate and cooperative set of lawmakers.

Council responds to proposed lines, mixed reactions
Martinez News-Gazette
As for the proposed new federal congressional districts for California, which see half of Martinez being shifted north into Mark Thompson’s district, Menesini said the change offers “some exciting prospects.” “I think it is extraordinarily interesting that we are now in the same senatorial districts as the Valley of the Moon,” he said. “We’ll see how it happens. It is certainly somewhat startling, I don’t think any of us expected it, but I don’t think it’s the end of the world for Martinez either.

Controversial Bridge Source of Redistricting Change?
MenloPark Patch
The California Citizens Redistricting Committee has unfurled the latest draft of political boundary maps, which, despite City Council members’ pleas, continue to divide Menlo Park into two congressional districts.  But the boundaries have shifted slightly. The new line of division mostly runs along the edge of highway 101, except where it swerves around a bicycle/pedestrian bridge that has been the source of debate for almost four years.

Redistricting Map Complete, Shifts Assembly & Congress Seats
Tribune Weekly Chronicle
Imperial County will remain part of Riverside at the State Assembly and will now be the 56 District. Manuel Perez will remain as the Assembly member for this district and for the Imperial Valley. The original proposal was to align Imperial Valley to El Cajon in the Assembly and the State Senate. County Board Chairman Jack Terrazas went and spoke before the commission and asked them to keep Imperial since they have many issues in common such as agriculture, water, and the Salton Sea.

From the Twitterverse

@Erickbyar- If you really want to know how the final draft of the CA redistricting is like, i highly recomend you check www.redistrictingpartners.com.

@HeadingtonCabal- Sacramento Bee on the #California Republican Party & the CA #Redistricting Commission- http://www.headingtoncabal.com/2011/08/crp-and-crc.html

@BrookeErdmann- RT @CommonCauseCA Redistricting UPDATE: Congressional seat looks like @BradSherman v @RepHowardBerman. @BradSherman endorsed by is.gd/VL6BzQ

@APACSD- Come to "Penultimate Redistricting Commission Hearing" Thursday, August 18 from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. "A dream you... http://fb.me/181WyjfKe

@cosmog- Mayor KJ "extremely disappointed and sad" on redistricting. Calls 6-3 vote to take Sac High out of Schenirer's district a "shenanigan."

@SacraMINNICK- Aahhh, the redistricting shenanigans continue tonite with grandstanding, gerrymandering, and the love of the bully pulpit. Good times.


Preliminary New San Diego Council Districts Set To Move Forward
San Diego 6 The CW
A preliminary map for new San Diego City Council districts is "legally defensible," a deputy city attorney said Tuesday. At a meeting of the city's Redistricting Commission, Sharon Spivak said the tentative plan met constitutional requirements and demands of the City Charter and Voting Rights Act.

Supes approve plan 3-2
Santa Maria Times
Guadalupe Mayor Lupe Alvarez thought about offering an olive branch to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, but since olives don’t grow in his small vegetable farming community he brought broccoli instead. Brandishing a stalk to illustrate his town’s unique characteristics, Alvarez, along with two Guadalupe City Council members and a former council member, appealed to the board to keep the small North County town in the 4th or 5th District as it redrew its district boundaries for the coming decade.

Sacramento County supervisors far from consensus on remap
The Sacramento Bee
Sacramento County supervisors started a discussion about redistricting Tuesday with four plans and a consensus that one of them was the best. They ended the day with eight maps and little agreement about which one would work. What happened? Supervisors added seven of their own maps, and eliminated three others, while trying to address the goals of redistricting.

Fresno Co. supervisors clash over new districts
The Fresno Bee
Tuesday's sticking point was the small community of Malaga. Both Supervisors Henry Perea and Judy Case wanted it included in their newly redrawn districts. But neither could muster the four-fifths support required to move ahead with a final redistricting plan. Case, whose District 4 includes the southern and western portions of the county, currently represents Malaga, while Perea's District 3 consists largely of central Fresno.

Solano County's district map is now official
The Reporter
New supervisorial district boundaries are officially and finally set for Solano County. In a final action Tuesday, the Solano County Board of Supervisors voted 3 to 2 in favor of tossing out the old maps and using a newly redrawn district map approved last month. Supervisors Barbara Kondylis and Linda Seifert dissented. Tuesday's public hearing marked the ninth such meeting since the redistricting process started in the spring to accommodate an increase in population as a result of the 2010 census. Addition-ally, there were four community meetings. The new map takes effect 30 days from Tuesday.

County favors lines that separate Barstow's communities
Desert Dispatch
The county voted Tuesday to focus on a redistricting plan that separates Barstow from its neighboring communities. The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to move forward with the one plan that moves Barstow to the 3rd District and keeps Yermo, Fort Irwin, Hinkley and Newberry Springs in the 1st. The action did not finalized a plan but selected one draft as a preferred plan that could still be amended before a final vote.

Supervisors settle on new political boundaries
Kern County supervisors, unphased by requests from the public to delay a decision, took a final vote Tuesday to adopt the county-prepared Option 7 plan to redraw their political boundaries. Supervisors said they had had enough public meetings, took enough public input and reviewed enough options to give the community a fair voice. Kern County Administrative Officer John Nilon said the county has taken tons of public input on the redistricting process and that, just because some members of the public wanted something other than what was approved, doesn't mean the input was discarded.

City Council tosses advisory panel redistricting maps, favors one of its own
The Sacramento Bee
After weeks of maneuvering, the City Council threw its support Tuesday night behind a map drawn by one of its own. That plan – put together in private by Councilman Steve Cohn and filed with city staffers just hours before Tuesday's council meeting – will likely be adopted by the month's end. In moving forward with the plan on a 6-3 vote, the council set aside four maps submitted by the redistricting advisory committee charged with guiding council members through the once-a-decade process of drawing new district boundaries.

Democrats suggest redistricting changes
Contra Costa Times
An alternate redistricting map for a large portion of western San Bernardino County, proposed by the local Democratic Central Committee, envisions lines that supporters say would help maintain minority voter clout and retain significant influence on federal funds for the area. The regional redistricting map, proposed by the San Bernardino County Democratic Central Committee, suggests changes to the final map proposal put forward by the Citizens Redistricting Commission last month. Changes could still take place before a final decision Monday by the commission.

Ethnic coalition backs Knabe in face of redistricting plan
Los Angeles Times
A move to give Latinos a better chance of winning a second seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors took a turn Tuesday when an ethnically diverse group packed a meeting room to defend Don Knabe, the longtime official whose predominantly white district could be split under a proposed redistricting plan. Latino activists are threatening to sue the county if new lines are not drawn to shift the voting majority to Latinos.

How would you redraw LA County district lines?
Southern California Public Radio
Five people serve on the board. Only one is Latino. Federal law requires redistricting every 10 years to reflect population changes. And with Latinos oh so close to reaching 50 percent of LA County’s population, Supervisor Gloria Molina and Latino activists say it’s time for a district besides hers to also have a majority of Latinos. Loyola Law Professor Justin Levitt presented their side early in the hearing.

Proposed Latino Majority District Could Shake Up County Leadership
The five-member board has until Oct. 31 to approve a redistricting plan. If the plan does not receive the four votes required for approval, the issue would go before the county's three elected officials -- Sheriff Lee Baca, Assessor John R. Noguez and District Attorney Steve Cooley. To reach that four-vote requirement, supervisors have some work to do, and it started Tuesday with an initial public hearing to discuss proposed boundary changes that would redraw districts. No vote was scheduled for Tuesday.

Sonoma County redistricting focuses on northeast Santa Rosa
Sonoma County’s political boundaries will shift slightly this year under a plan approved by the Board of Supervisors that alters supervisorial district lines. Under the redistricting proposal accepted on Tuesday, the key changes will be to Santa Rosa’s Fountaingrove area and the 1st, 3rd and 5th districts.

Supervisorial maps bring mixed responses
The Tulare County Board of Supervisors wants to be on the right lines before redrawing Tulare County’s supervisorial district boundaries. That is why on Tuesday, after a brief public hearing and in a 4-1 vote, supervisors decided to have a workshop before conducting a final public hearing on the three proposed redistricting maps crafted by an 11-member Redistricting Advisory Committee.

Visalia, Dinuba conflict over proposed district maps
Visalia Times-Delta
The process of deciding how Tulare County's five voting districts will be divided over the next decade got tense Tuesday as officials from the cities of Visalia and Dinuba expressed opposing views on their preferred boundaries. On Tuesday, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors held the first of two scheduled public hearings during their weekly meeting to hear comments on three proposed maps developed by the 2011 Advisory Committee on Redistricting, a group appointed by the board.

Mapping Power in Los Angeles County
According to the 2010 Census, there are about 9.8 million of us living in Los Angeles County. About 1.1 million live in the unincorporated parts of the county. For them, the Board of Supervisors is "city government." The board oversees all of the public services, from police to trash collection, in unincorporated county territory. About 1.8 million residents live in one of 40 "contract cities" in Los Angeles County. In these cities, the elected city council hires county agencies and departments to provide municipal services. The decisions of the board impact "contract cities" almost as much as they do in unincorporated areas.

Racial Tensions Revealed at County Redistricting Hearing
Chatsworth Patch
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors' public hearing on proposed redistricting featured politicians and activists who want a second Los Angeles County political district with a Latino majority, some of whom warned of lawsuits if it is not created. The hearing centered on a proposal brought forth by the county's Boundary Review Committee that was tasked in November 2010 with drawing new lines to reflect population changes found in the 2010 Census.

Politics as usual during San Bernardino County redistricting process
The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors held its fourth redistricting workshop this afternoon in San Bernardino.  San Bernardino County is the largest county in the contiguous United States, and at over 20,000 square miles, is larger than any of the nine smallest states singularly and the four smallest states combined. Despite the difficultly for residents to travel great distances to attend these meetings, the board has so far not made any effort to reach out to the residents in the outlying areas.

First hearing on supervisorial redistricting turns divisive
In its first meeting on a contentious redistricting process, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday heard subtle threats of legal action if boundaries are not altered to accommodate a growing Latino voter population. The four-hour hearing pitted two factions against each other: those who support a redistricting plan that would favor powerful incumbents versus those who want a radical new map that could bring a second Latino supervisor to office.

City Council chooses surprise new redistricting map
Sacramento Press
In a 6-3 vote, the City Council passed a motion Tuesday to use a new map submitted by Councilman Steve Cohn as the ‘base map’ for new district boundaries – much to the surprise of advisory committee members, meeting attendees and Mayor Kevin Johnson. “I am extremely disappointed and sad,” Johnson said. “This is the worst-case scenario. It’s the council putting self-interest above all else, and that is disappointing.”

Two L.A. County supervisors sharply criticize status quo map
Contra Costa Times
Supervisor Gloria Molina argued the redistricting proposal endorsed by the board's Boundary Review Committee would violate the Voting Rights Act by packing the largest concentration of Latinos into a single district and then dividing the rest of them among the other four districts. She said Latinos should be the majority in two out of the five districts, since they represent 48 percent of the county's population. "In L.A. County, unfortunately, we have racially polarized voting," Molina said. "This board has an opportunity to do right by 48 percent of the population of Los Angeles County. It has that obligation and that responsibility."