Friday, May 27, 2011

Redistricting Commission Still Relies On Special Interests Input

By Steven Tavares
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In the not so distant past, California judges, then legislators crafted peculiarly drawn districts maps up and down the state. Some took circuitous routes around areas containing minority groups with the potential to swing control of entire districts to other party. Gerrymandering became the norm rather than the exception. Under the spirit of the state's long history of governance by referendum, voters took control of the process of dividing the state.

Fourteen commissioners are just weeks from releasing the first proposed detailed map of the Citizens' Redistricting Commission, but the group may be in a no-win situation unable to make everyone happy.

In a Utopian world, the presence of the committee is meant to signify a transfer to redistricting power from Sacramento to the people, that is, if you believe the real power actually lies within the arena of ubiquitous special interests. Nearly 90 speakers were scheduled May 21 to lobby the redistricting committee at a hearing in Oakland. While some spoke on behalf of themselves and a few local elected leaders, in an example the law turning the redistricting process on its head, asked for consolidating bisected districts, the vast majority represented unions, a slew of minority groups and business interests looking to cajole the committee in a forming districts line advantageous to their own interests

When Bay Area residents from the spoke through their allotted two minutes, many urged the commission to separate more upscale areas in Eastern Alameda County and Contra Costa County from inland cities in the East Bay. San Leandro, for one, took a beating within the first 60 minutes of the hour afternoon hearing with numerous speakers referencing the Oakland suburb as having few economic and social similarities with cities to the east, such as Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore. A businessman from Dublin argued the prevalence of farming in some parts of the Tri-Valley bear little resemblance to places like San Leandro. If there was a subtext to the argument from the mostly white speakers, it was made clear by a older woman from Orinda who characterized living in Berkeley and Oakland as "a different kind of living."

The job of clarifying California's oddly drawn districts is certainly a specific and complex endeavor, but many of the commissioners who reside in Southern California were sometimes baffled by speakers who plowed through specific regional names. When a speaker urging the city to keep districts whole within areas of Downtown San Francisco referenced the "Tenderloin" and "SoMa," Commissioner Jodie Filkins Webber of Riverside asked, "What's a Tenderloin? Did you make up the name?" Others appeared confused by seemingly overlapping regional names such as the Diablo Valley, Lamorinda and the Tri-Valley. Ten of the 14 commissioners reside outside of the Bay Area.

Some speakers though have a legitimate concern in cleaning up the crazy-quit nature of the current district lines. Carole Groom, the president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors says her region with a population of nearly a million deserves a state senator from within its borders. "We would like to have a senator who resides in San Mateo County, not San Francisco County, not Santa Clara County," said Groom. Numerous speakers pointed to the existence of three district congressional districts centered in Walnut Creek. Bifurcating the burgeoning cities political power among three representatives is a huge problem, said a speaker from the city while noting, "The political climate in far different in Diablo Valley than the rest of the district that reaching inland.

The political hue of the East Bay is invariably the bluest of blue, but not in the far-flung valley cities brimming with higher property and sales tax, in addition, to a smattering of vocal conservative groups like the Tea Party, which has continue to grow in Contra Costa County. In some ways, the will of the voters in this decidedly Democratic state may put some of its political power up for grabs in regions abutting the East Bay. Already, candidates for Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi's 18th assembly district are awaiting the commission's findings with some predicating their candidacies on whether portions of the valley, including a larger chunk of the Tri-Valley is incorporated. Such a scenario would somewhat dampen the prospects of a more progressive candidate winning Hayashi's termed-out seat.

All the bickering and maneuvering by special interests group though has its limitations. According to the Voting Rights Act, all districts must be equal within a certain range. Critics hope the difference calculates at less than five percent. Within the sheer numbers, minority groups must also be somewhat proportional adding an increased level of complexity. When the U.S. Census revealed an unprecedented exodus of African-Americans from districts including and surrounding Oakland, it raises questions as to where an equal number of the minority will be added. In addition, the entire Bay Area is being shockingly outpaced by other regions of the state in population. Overall, the state average an increase of 10 percent in population, while the Bay Area struggled in some places to reach half that number.

A preliminary study late last year by the Rose Institute at Claremont College predicted the growth of conservative-leaning Central Valley would begin to encroach on the East Bay, thereby, lightening its liberal power base by several shades of blue. The dilemma for the commission, according the report might also render efforts to simplify the district maps by eliminating split counties and cities. One approach could force parts of Rep. Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco district jumping across the bay, the reports says.


Brentwood, Concord, Antioch and other low-cost suburbs have absorbed the black-flight out of the East Bay. I wonder if those blacks are pro-police and less entitlement focused than the ones in the East Bay?

You can't blame the Tri-Valley for wanting to politically disassociate itself from San Leandro - all the cities in the Tri-Valley seem to be doing well with low crime and great schools; San Leandro is the exact opposite. And for some reason, most of us in San Leandro seem to like it that way.

Furthermore, about half of San Leandro's residents are communist and/or homosexual, including those in the media.

I support above comment as I am both gay and a communist. san leandro is a welcome home for me.


It is completely unsurprising that organizations which represent particular community interests would wish to have input on these decisions. Many of these organizations have developed legitimate expertise in areas of electoral policies such as redistricting.

The voters' intent in creating this Commission is still well defended by its process, as everyone must appear in a public forum to make their case. In the past, lobbyists worked out of public view to influence the politicians who drew the lines, politicians who had their own electoral interests in these decisions as well.

It is rather fantastical to believe that 90 individual citizens disconnected with any organized group will arrive at these hearings with input which magically avoids being partisan. Steven reports individual citizens making demands at this hearing which are partisan. It's time for us to let go of the bipartisan unicorn and accept that people have competing interests. What a reasonable political discourse requires is a respect for factual information and a clear understanding of which interest group each person represents.

It is clearly understood who is being represented when SEIU or the Chamber of Commerce makes a presentation to the Commission. The danger rests with organizations who hide their membership, contributor base and mission. For example:

"Earlier this week, the Citizens Redistricting Commission held a hearing in Oakland for organized groups to submit their maps for consideration. One of the last groups to present was the California Institute on Jobs, Economy and Education. Commissioners were rightfully curious who that really meant. They repeatedly asked for more information about the organization, who were their members and what was their policy interest was in redistricting. The presenters did everything they could to skirt, dodge and avoid answering the questions.

...The gentleman who began the group's presentation was Thomas Hiltacht. Hiltacht is a well-known Republican attorney. He's worked for everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger to the nefarious initiative to divide the state's electoral college votes by Congressional District.

The man who drew the lines was Matt Rexroad. Rexroad admitted he is a County Supervisor in Yolo County. He left out the fact he is also a highly-partisan Republican political consultant who frequently posts on redistricting for the FlashReport describing lines that may advantage or disadvantage his party. Guess which ones made it into the Institute's plan?

The good news is that Commissioners quickly realized their plan was a hot mess. The Senate plan includes a district that runs from El Dorado to Tulare. That's more than 250 miles and a 4 and a half hour drive. The Assembly plan splits 85 cities. That's about 30 more than the Legislature did 10 years ago. The Congressional plan drops African-Americans from three districts to one in Los Angeles County. That understandably irritated the African-American Commissioner from Los Angeles.

...the Commission is scheduled to hear more group presentations. (A scheduled) group to present is Citizens for California Reform. Another independent organization that just wants fair redistricting right? Wrong. Citizens for California Reform is a front group for Gabriella Holt, failed Republican candidate for Assembly District 54 in 2008 and the main force behind the 2010 failed effort to use a part-time Legislature initiative to threaten Democrats into giving into Republican budget demands..."


So bascially what you have here is the Democrats complaining that there aren't the same concentration of welfare nuts in one area, some are wising up and moving away. The fools who elect Corbett, Stark, Klehs et al can no longer be lumped together and will have to have their votes diluted by those smart enough to understand basic arithmetic.

Interestly, for decades Pete Stark's district had the Tri-Valley; Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin but the welfare lovers in San Leandro, Alameda, Hayward outvoted the Tri-Valley. Now the tables are finally turning.


Manuel, you captured the subtext of this meeting dead on when you say, "Now the tables are finally turning." This is exactly what people in the valley believe and they want it to happen now with this redistricting.

There were no speakers from this area, but maybe over a dozen from the Tri-Valley. They smell blood right now.

Ray J is proud that under current conditions, tax-taking pimps from the SEIU and Democrat party can corruptly operate out in the open with impunity; therefore anyone who's not a big D needs to declare their party affiliation. Sorry, not everyone in the Central Valley is a homosexual and communist like they are in the East Bay!

Quite a few turns of the table remaining, apparently.

General Election Results, November 2010

Democratic- "Pete" Stark
118,278 votes 72.0%

Republican- Forest Baker
45,545 votes 27.7%

Stark has gained over 70% of the vote in seven straight general elections.

Very worthwhile reading at the link below. The guidelines the Commission operates under supports the appearance of representatives of labor, minority and business groups at these hearings. Again, the point is that compliance with these guidelines is now taking place out in the open, and individual members of the public now have more direct access to the process:

"The Commission is prohibited under Section 2 (of the Voting Rights Act) from enacting plans tat discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in a protected language minority group. The Commission seeks to comply with Section 2 by preventing minority vote dilution, which can arise in a number of ways, including the fragmentation of minority group po;pulations between districts ("cracking"), and the overoncentration of minority group populations into a suboptimal number of districts ("packing")...

"The California Constitution requires the Commission to respect the geographic integrity os any city, county, city and county, local neighborhood, or local community of interest to the extent possible...(using) any relevant social and economic data (to) support the preservation of a particular community of interest."

More good reading at the link-



Why does "Ray J" continue to pop under the name of a black singer??? Might as well use Ray Charles, at least he had talent.

becareful before you bash seiu. I am a member and with that being said I hate them but understand their importance in the work place. The majority of unskilled laborer non union jobs that have comparable wages to their union counter parts only have the unions to thank for without them their employer wouldn't pay them as much out fear of unionization.

This country was built on the backs of unions. Don't be foolish enough to forget it.

You mean that many industries had they back broken by unions; auto, and steel.

We all have Hispanic illegals to thank for driving down working class wages; the SEIU is primarily for driving them back up - but only for illegal immigrants and those naturalized citizens who vote Democrat.

Auto industry felt they could make even more millions of dollars if they ditched their properly paid u.s union workers for Chinese and mexican workers for half the price. Greed from major corporations broke the backs of the united states. if the working class have no work because it's been shipped over sees then the working class can't be consumers AND then the greedy corporations go broke because they took away the livelihood of their consumer.

Unions built this country. Greed has torn it apart. Not a conspiracy theory or anything, just read a fucking news paper

The working class need to adapt to a new economy and buy American since they are so pro-union and pro worker. Its a global economy, cheaper usually wins in manufacturing, people will pay less, not more. Look at Wal Mart, where the working class shops, supporting all the jobs in China while they get their bargains because they have no jobs or work flipping burgers. Jeez people are stupid.

All these countries that produce things "cheaper" than us are just behind economically speaking. It's a matter of time before they stand up to their governments and wealthy and form their own unions. Everything balances out.....eventually

Yep and the manufacturing will move on to the next cheaper place. Its a cycle in our gloabal economy.

You're all idiots. The UAW broke the American Auto Industry. The "Jobs Bank" was what killed them. Pull your head out of your @$$es.

Oh, stop just blaming the UAW for heaven sakes...Poor products, crappy quality, unbending union rules,costly benefits and poor management are what combined in one giant stupid and killed the auto industry in the USA.

The auto industry is not dead. The companies and their suppliers still provide many, many jobs to Americans, and the firms who we lent money to and whose stock we took are successfully returning on our investment.

Of course, if Republicans had been in control of Congress and the Presidency in 2009, the American auto industry would be truly dead, we would have a much higher unemployment rate, and businesses would have fewer people to purchase their services because of the hundreds of thousands of additional people who would be out of work and the millions of Americans who would have had their unemployment insurance taken from them.

"John Evans" you're a fool. Without the bailouts the same thing would have happened; bankruptcy and reorganization. I'm sure you would prefer that Boeing be near bankruptcy rather than profitable as that jackass Pete Stark would prefer. You have absolutely no clue how a business operates.

I run a profitable homosexual brothel. I think I know a thing or 2 about making a dollar.


Yes, Anonymous, if there had been an even deeper depression in earlier 2009, created entirely by low-tax, low-regulation Bush-era policies, there would have been no end of eager investors wanting to restart the auto companies. Maybe it would have been the bond traders, financial institutions and banks who fucked up the economy in the first place and were made "responsible for their actions" by keeping their jobs and getting even richer.

Businesses want big government- they just want government to work entirely for them and take from you, Anonymous. They've been successful in getting our State and Federal government to increase your relative tax burden while doing away with theirs. Why do you hate yourself?

Nice to see that you're defending Boeing, a corporation which has built its power through huge government contracts and using a public infrastructure built entirely with our tax money. Boeing now pays NO Federal taxes due to massive tax breaks, at the same time that they ship some jobs overseas and try to reduce the compensation for many others.

Who's the fool?

The man who only settles for the pleasure of one penis is the true fool.


Nice use of the "F" word "John Evans". Seems someone touched a raw nerve. bahhahahahahahahahahaha

Really "John Evans"? Boeing has increased the common people's tax burden??? It wasn't Boeing that was for increasing the sales tax in San Leandro, it was the auto dealers on Marina Blvd. It wasn't Boeing who was for increasing the Utility Users Tax Increase it was businesses like Betts Springs who coincidentally was some of the businesses who were getting a rebate from the City of San Leandro, but when that was stopped they pulled up and ran out of town. It wasn't Boeing that was allowing it's offices to be used as a boiler room phone bank so taxes could be raised, that was the law firm that the City hired as it's City Attorney. Hmmm, seems you're the fool not someone else.


Also you might want to think about calling me some time. It's rude to take someone out to dinner, lick it and split it and then never even make one phone call. It's been over a month mr. John Evans! What's your excuse this time..,,


OK, that last one's not the Manuel I know. The previous post, definitely...let's see if he'll respond this time.

Manuel, Boeing has done many times what you accuse Betts Springs of doing many, at much, much greater cost to jobs and tax revenues in the United States.

Isn't the decision made by the San Leandro car dealerships and other businesses an example of capitalism at work? You said it yourself: "...the dealerships looked at how many people who live in San Leandro they sold cars to and figured that (Measure Z) probably wouldn't affect the sales of cars."

For $100 in purchases at the car dealerships, or for that matter any other purchases in San Leandro, we pay 25 cents more than someone making that same purchase elsewhere in Alameda County. We actually save one thin quarter for that purchase than someone spending that amount in Union City. For $10, we pay two and a half PENNIES more than elsewhere in the County.

A person would be extremely misinformed and foolish to drive outside of the city to avoid our sales tax if the San Leandro business is close to their home and is providing the service they want. It would cost much more in gas to drive to South Oakland, North Hayward or Castro Valley than would be gained in sales tax savings.

I believe it is extremely unlikely that our sales tax will negatively impact businesses here. The best way to get people to avoid doing business in San Leandro (or staying in the City) is to hyperventilate in Letters To The Editor and other venues about how high the sales tax is. This would be particularly unfortunate, taking away needed money for our businesses and the important revenues Measure Z provides to fund our police, fire, 911, library, street and park maintenance, and youth and senior programs.

Well Proud, if someone lives and registers their vehicle in San Leandro they will pay the 10% tax even if they drive to San Mateo to buy it. The only difference is that the dealer in San Mateo won't be double dipping; making a profit on the sale of the car and the sales tax. Big difference. And no, it's not "capitalistm" it's called "cronyism" or "statism". Betts Springs was fine if others paid the tax and they got the kick back. If fact Mike Betts, Steve Betts or whatever the hell his name is, was a HUGE supporter of increased taxes in San Leandro, as long as his got his kick back.


proud is a communist liberal tree hugging poop stabber

Manuel, it's capitalism and democracy together. The 0.25% increase in the sales tax does not change consumer demand. The citizens on San Leandro voted for the tax by more then 2-to-1, so that we could avoid a massive loss of City services.

You appear to hate democracy. You are on the losing side of almost all votes in this region, so I suppose that's understandable. Flawed, but understandable.

I'd claim "cronyism" or "statism" is a much better description of what Boeing, Wal-Mart, GE, Bank of America and other megacorporations have accomplished in recent decades, taking billions of dollars from us and salting it away. Yet you root them on.

Why? I truly don't understand.

Proud is just showing off to the readers. Behind closed doors he's very a gentle lover and really knows how to make a wam buttonhole wet.

Manuel <3 xoxo

Let's see Proud, GE gave a huge amount of money to Barack Obama in '08. Warren Buffett is a big supporter of the Estate Tax because his insurance companies sell policies to small business owners in order for the families to keep their businesses when the owner dies. So I wouldn't exactly say those boys were "capitalists" more like statist and crony's. Buffett doesn't want competition with his businesses so of course he wants a high tax and regulatory system in place to keep more efficient businesses out of his domain. No wonder the guy is so against the GOP.

And exactly where are these businesses "salting it away" Portagee and Guinea style in coffee cans back behind the kitchen????


Oh and let's wait a year and see if the increase in the sales tax changed consumer demand before you make any assumptions. I'm going to be that when the year to year numbers come in from April to July there will be a decrease in revenue. If Jerry Brown can't keep that temporary 1% on the sales tax passed July 1 then the rate in San Leandro will drop to 9% and maybe, if it stays at 9% until April 2012 there may be increase to City coffers. But, I'm guessing many more people are using Amazon and other internet stores to avoid the sales tax altogether.


"Barack Obama reaped millions in donations from prominent hedge fund managers in 2008....But the 2010 election cycle shows a massive swing to the right for the hedge fund crew.

The WSJ reports there has been a clear,

[S]hift in political allegiance within the world of hedge funds... Managers and employees of hedge funds directed a majority of their contributions to the GOP in the 2009-2010 election season, a pattern not seen since 1996, when the industry was much smaller."


"Corporate profits grew 36.8 percent in 2010, the biggest gain since 1950, according to Friday's latest report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. No sign could be more clear that U.S. companies see the so-called Great Recession in the rearview mirror."

Even if the 1% increase in sales tax for the State budget were to drop on July 1st, it's not very relevant. San Leandro's sales tax would still have it so that purchases at City businesses had an 0.25% greater sales tax than most of Alameds County, and 0.25% less than purchases in Union City.

1% is very relevant for those who pay it.


1% on a $30,000 car is $300. Big difference for those who pay it.


It's not relevant in competitive terms because the 1% tax would go down equally throughout the County and state, so it wouldn't affect San Leandro comparatively.

If we don't extend current revenues and have to cut our State budget $23 billion (about 20%) in one year, it's likely that the public school year will be reduced by a few weeks, community college fees could go up over $60 a unit, police, fire, road repair and other safety programs, libraries, parks, health care, nutrition programs for children, and other important services would be slashed or closed. I'd prefer continuing these taxes to keep bare-bones services; I believe the maintained services will save more money than these current taxes cost.

For example, the child who recieves WIC services is much more likely to avoid diabetes, malnutrition and other ilnesses, and is likely to do better in school. That saves all of us money in the long term, and it's the right thing to do.

Oh yeah John, you're entire scenario above is just one big whining session. None of which will happen. I'm sure as hell not going to think that a paltry full percentage point drop in the sales tax is going to send some food stamped urchin into the maelstrom of diabetes, malnutrition and sickness. You're an idiot for even posting such mindless dribble. But then you're not very adept at free market economies, all you advocate is welfare as a solution to everything.

The roads have been falling apart despite the higher taxes you moron. Where is all that money going?? Into lavish pay and benefits for state workers. "John Evans" you really are an illogical buffoon. Not one sentence in the above made sense nor has any firm basis in reality.

The top 400 Americans have more wealth then the bottom 155,000,000. This is what is destroying America.

No that's called capitalism moron. lazy fucks sucking up welfare and staying on unemployment for almost 2 years is what's keeping the Ecomy down. DId not cause it to be shitty but is keeping it down

Manuel you are an idiot. Most of the working poor have full time jobs, sometimes two. What they need is a Living Wage, so they can buy the goods and services produced, so they can contribute to a sustainable City. We never had so many at the top making so much money, unless you go back to the Robber Baron days. Go back to school and take a economic course before you give a worthless opinion.

Yes, between 2006 and 2010 we had a 4% increase in the number of shiftless, lazy people. There has been a 1% decrease in lazy people in the last year.

Listen to how stupid that sounds!

The unemployment rate is high because consumer demand is insufficient to create more jobs, and other jobs are being shipped overseas every day due to rotten trade policies our politicians have approved with the promise they would bring back good-paying work. Many people are applying for the few open jobs.

Don't get taken by the megarich. They want to use your anger at the deterioration of our Nation to fool you. You and I didn't create this; the wealthy plutocrats and the politicians they buy are the problem.

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