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Monday, October 3, 2011


The Airing of Grievances

Friday’s redistricting conference held at UC Berkeley was like Festivus for Redistricting nerds.  Commissioners attended, along with the commission staff and UC Berkeley’s Karin MacDonald.  Matt Rexroad, Common Cause’s Kathy Feng, Paul Mitchell, Justin Levitt and others were on the panels.  In the audience you saw the Rose Institute’s Douglas Johnson, the Anti-Alphabet Group’s David Salaverry, the Chamber’s Deborah Howard (who attended more hearings than most of the commissioners), along with a few quiet legislative staffers in the back that, truth be told, were running circles around many of the professionals and the commission the whole time.  The instant tweet entering the room noted that “If a plane hits the Bancroft Hotel all remaining redistricting work will be done by Tony Quinn” who was in Louisiana but sent his regards by way of a new lawsuit against the congressional lines.

The media coverage over the weekend was mostly about the author of Props 11 and 20, Charlie Munger Jr, who said he felt like a proud father watching over what he created.  His tribute to his own work was so sincere that those of us on the stage could see the hint of tears welling in his eyes.  (Of course, that could have been Rexroad chopping onions under the table.) 

The Airing of Grievances began with Feng revealing a big motivator for her from the 2001 redistricting when a then-legislator told her “Don’t put any more F-ing Asians in my district!”  The crowd was a bit stunned by that statement until folks figured out exactly which former legislator that was…  

While Feng got the crowd riled, it was Matt Rexroad’s list of grievances that got them booing and hissing as he dug into commissioners, staff, and the process.  Better than 2001?  Well, Yes.  But according to Rexroad that was “the lowest standard in history.”

Under the Feats of Strength category, Rexroad boasted that the MPImaps and Redistricting Partners websites –privately and “mostly” for free - were able to push out more maps and provide better, faster and more usable information than the commission itself.  This hasn’t been made public before, but maps on the Redistricting Partners website were downloaded nearly 250,000 times with the largest user the US House of Representatives where 72% of the visits were from repeat users and the average visit lasted nearly six minutes.  That’s your federal government at work folks!  I guess it’s better than having them spend all their time on Twittter.

The Academic discussion was left to the end of the program so those who would get cross-eyed looking at compactness scores could quietly duck out.  The high point for a few in the room was research showing that the biggest winner in Congressional Redistricting was… drum roll… Jerry McNerney.  Once on the chopping block and topping the national lists of “Likely Losers” in redistricting, he actually finds himself in a safer Democratic seat.  The biggest loser?  David Dreier, someone who had early in the process thought he was sittin’ pretty.

The transcript/recording/video of the whole event will be online after two weeks – just long enough for Berkeley staff to pick through and cut out any annoying comments by Salaverry, Johnson or any other Republican.  I’d guess that they would cut out Rexroad too… but that booing was just so affirming they will likely have to keep him in.


GOP lawsuit challenges California congressional redistricting
Southern California Public Radio
A former U.S. representative from California’s Central Valley is leading a Republican legal challenge to newly redrawn congressional districts. This is the third challenge to the voter-approved citizens redistricting map. Former GOP Congressman George Radanovich and four others filed the lawsuit with the state Supreme Court. The suit alleges that the Citizens Redistricting Commission violated the Voting Rights Act by intentionally diluting African-American votes in three Los Angeles County districts to protect incumbents.

Lawsuit Filed to Challenge New California Map
Roll Call
Former Rep. George Radanovich (R) and four other individuals filed a lawsuit with the California Supreme Court on Thursday challenging the new Congressional district lines adopted by the state’s independent redistricting commission. The suit focuses on three districts in the Los Angeles area, the redrawn 37th, 43rd and 44th districts. The 69-page complaint identifies those areas as in violation of the Voting Rights Act, and says those three along with the Long Beach-based 47th district are in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

State redistricting brings Dems near ‘super majority’
Escondido Democratic Club
The work of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission has brought the Democratic Party “incredibly close” to super majorities in both the State Assembly and Senate, the chair of the San Diego County Party told Escondido Democrats at their meeting October 1. County Party Chair Jess Durfee said Democrats are within one or two seats of having the two-thirds majority in the State legislature and could pick up two, three or even four seats in the U.S. Congress.

Experts appraise redraw effort
The Press-Enterprise
California’s first-ever independent redrawing of legislative and congressional lines was a vast improvement over the politician-crafted maps of a decade ago, but the process also was far from perfect, experts said Friday at a conference assessing the nationally watched effort. The voter-approved Citizens Redistricting Commission adopted new congressional, Assembly, Senate and Board of Equalization maps in August after months of public hearings around the state. The plans created several new seats in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.


Redistricting from a Different Angle
The outcome -- despite six hours of public comment at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday (09/27) -- was never in doubt. Competing maps for divvying up the county into five supervisorial districts to create another Latino seat left either Supervisor Knabe or Supervisor Yaroslavsky out in the cold. The only map that avoided either of those outcomes was Knabe's "status quo" proposal. After some minor fiddling, that was the map that four of the five board members supported. Supervisor Molina cast the dissenting vote. Despite the supervisors' fiddling, their new map won't lead to a new district that would likely elect a Latino supervisor.

L.A. County Board of Supervisors Approves the CAUSE Supported A3 Redistricting Plan
On Tuesday, September 27th, after hearing hours of testimony from hundreds of speakers, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved Supervisor Don Knabe’s A3 redistricting plan, which closely maintains the current districts.  Of those in attendance, forty representatives from over fourteen API community organizations came to the hearing to support the A3 plan.  CAUSE Board Chair Charlie Woo states, “we are very pleased to see APIs actively participating in this important redistricting process and we are glad that our voice was heard.” The Board of Supervisors approved the A3 map with a 4-1 vote.  In order, for a redistricting plan to be approved, four Supervisors have to agree on the plan.

API Groups Endorse L.A. County Redistricting Plan
Rafu Shimpo
A coalition of Asian Pacific Islander community organizations in Los Angeles County is supporting a redistricting plan that it says will keep API communities together and give them a stronger political voice. At a press conference outside the Board of Supervisors Auditorium on Wednesday, Mariko Kahn, president of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON), spoke on behalf of over 40 organizations that have been addressing the needs of APIs in the county for the past 35 years, including health care, mental health, social service, legal and advocacy agencies.

Board of Supervisors Approves Redistricting
Imperial Beach Patch
New districting in San Diego will take effect with the 2012 county Board of Supervisors elections. An ordinance to redistrict the county was approved at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. The change came about as a response to the public. Many districts will remain the same, but a few have changed, including La Jolla and 4S Ranch.

UC Berkeley students seek their own council district in Berkeley
A group of UC Berkeley students, backed by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, submitted a proposal Friday to redraw City Council districts to create a student majority area. Skinner and at least one other Berkeley city councilman say students are 25 percent of the city's population, have unique issues regarding public safety and transportation and deserve their own representative on the council. "We recognize student issues are community issues," said Joey Freeman, external affairs vice president for the Associated Students of the University of California. "A student district would foster a better relationship between the school and the city."

Contra Costa County wants more clout on BART board
Contra Costa County deserves more clout on the BART board, say two local officials who are angling to get the county a bigger share of the pie during the decennial redrawing of the transit agency's elected boundaries. Just two of the nine elected BART representatives -- who oversee everything from setting fares to adopting police policies -- are from Contra Costa, even though it is the second largest of the three counties in the transit district. 

New harbor district commissioners to be appointed; county redistricting's effect on district unclear
The new Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District commissioners do not need to participate in November's election because their seats are uncontested, but where their division boundaries will fall in January remains to be seen. Humboldt County Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich said the district is expected to ask the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to appoint the commissioners to the three seats before December.

Knabe Redistricting Plan Accepted, Lawsuits Probable, Secret Plan in Play –Updated
Witness LA
An 11th hour deal was struck in the LA County redistricting battle on Tuesday afternoon after a brief closed door session. When the Supes emerged from behind the closed doors, they voted and, all at once, the deed was done. The winning plan that finally got the necessary four votes after weeks of stalemate was A 3, the redistricting scheme proposed by Supervisor Don Knabe—which leaves most of the supervisory districts largely unchanged. The decision came after an earlier vote of 2 to 3 for the plan, which meant that no plan could be chosen—in that, for redistricting, four votes are required.


No Silver Bullets
As reported in the Rohnert Park Patch, Congress member Mike Thompson recently stopped at Sally Tomatoes in Sonoma Mountain Village for a visit with some residents and people employed in Rohnert Park.  Although he was the California State Senator for Rohnert Park during most of the 1990’s, our portion of Sonoma County has been represented in Congress by Lynn Woolsey since the “Year of the Women” election in 1992. Congress member Woolsey’s retirement and decennial redistricting have likely returned a familiar face with many years of legislative experience, including service on the House Ways & Means and House Intelligence Committees, to our community.

City Real Estate Director Announces Assembly Run
Los Angeles Wave
Los Angeles' director of real estate, Reginald Jones-Sawyer, Thursday announced his candidacy for the state Assembly in a newly created South Los Angeles district. The 59th Assembly District approved by the Citizens Redistricting Commission straddles the Harbor (110) Freeway from its intersection with the Santa Monica (10) Freeway south to Manchester Avenue north of Watts.

Newly redrawn coastal districts add new wrinkle to 2012 primaries
The Argonaut
In 2012, some incumbents will find themselves termed out at the state level and seeking new offices or retiring. Other candidates will find themselves pitted against incumbents who in some cases may have similar political, economic and social views. Marc Saltzberg, a Venice resident who has been involved for a number of years in state and regional Democratic politics, sees redistricting as another factor that candidates will have to consider in 2012.

Claremont switching to L.A. County Supervisor Molina's district
Contra Costa Times
Goodbye, Michael Antonovich. Hello, Gloria Molina. The city will change from Republican Antonovich's 5th District in Los Angeles County to Democrat Molina's 1st District after slight changes in district boundaries approved at last week's Board of Supervisors meeting. The decision to move Claremont was the result of Antonovich's current district having too many people and Molina's district having too few, according to Antonovich's and Molina's spokespeople. There will be some changes for Claremont because of the switch, officials said.