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  Congressional Redistricting Proposal Would Rip Richmond in Half
June 23, 2011

Almost no one appears to realize that the Round One proposal for Congressional redistricting would split Richmond in half between what is now Congressman George Miller’s 7th District and Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s 9th District.

To see the actual maps, go to http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-redistricting-map,0,6145644.htmlstory and type “Richmond, CA” into the box on the website. An interactive map of the proposed districts in the area will appear. You can move around on it and enlarge it by clicking on it. The jagged dividing line roughly parallels and lies to the west of I-80.

If you live on the west side of 39th street, for example, you would be in the 9th District, and Barbara Lee would be your representative. Your neighbor on the other side of the street, however, would be in George Miller’s district. This just makes no sense.

The debate that took place at the Richmond City Council on June 21 resulted in a 5-2 vote to advise the Redistricting Commission that Richmond wants to stay in the 7th Congressional District. For details, see the June 21 Contra Costa Times article below, “Richmond council doesn't want to join Oakland, Berkeley in Lee's district.”

Mayor McLaughlin and Councilmember Beckles abstained. The local debate has at times turned on the political records of Miller and Boxer, particularly their voting records on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

In any event, it just doesn’t make sense to me to split Richmond in half, and it appears to be contrary to Criteria 4 of the Commission’s prioritized criteria found in the California Constitution: “Respect cities, counties, communities of interest and neighborhoods to the extent possible without violating the requirements of the preceding criteria.”

On June 10, 2011, the Redistricting Commission voted 14-0 to approve 1st Draft District Maps. With four 14-0 votes, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission has released its first round of draft maps for Congressional, State Assembly, State Senate and Board of Equalization districts. The Commission is now soliciting public comment on the draft districts. Testimony can be submitted online to votersfirstact@crc.ca.gov, by mail to the Citizens Redistricting Commission, 901 P Street, Suite 154-A, Sacramento, CA 95814 or by FAX at 916-651-5711. The Commission will be holding 11 public input hearings in June on the draft maps. The hearing schedule and the draft maps can be found at the Commission’s website at www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov.

The first Bay Area hearing will be Monday, June 27, 2011: San Francisco, 6:00 to 9:00 PM. -Notice. Some other cities are mobilizing to provide input. For example, American Canyon city officials are preparing to descend on Monday night's California Citizens Redistricting Commission public input hearing in San Francisco armed with talking points and a cadre of citizen backers. The city is providing a 15-seat bus ... See all stories on this topic ».

I hope that concerned Richmond residents will make their opinions known to the Redistricting Commission.

One of the commissioners, Connie Galambos Malloy, an Oakland resident, will be a guest on the Morning Mix show at KPFA this morning at 8:00 AM, co-hosted by Richmond’s Andres Soto. You can listen at 94.1 FM or on the web at http://www.kpfa.org/. You can also call in with questions or comments 510-848-4425.

Richmond council doesn't want to join Oakland, Berkeley in Lee's district

By Hannah Dreier
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 06/22/2011 06:09:48 AM PDT
Updated: 06/22/2011 10:52:20 PM PDT

RICHMOND -- Alarmed at the prospect of being lumped into a congressional district that also includes Oakland and Berkeley, the City Council adopted a resolution Tuesday opposing the proposed change.
The state redistricting commission has come up with a legislative map that shifts Richmond out of the district held by Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, who has represented the city since 1975, into the Oakland-based district of Rep. Barbara Lee.
Five of Richmond's seven council members voted to petition the commission for a return to their Contra Costa County-based district, mostly on the grounds that Oakland would overshadow the city's interests.
"Politically, we know that you respond to the largest constituency that you have," said Councilman Nat Bates, who introduced the resolution.
Miller's chief of staff said Wednesday that while the representative's office is staying out of the process, the city would be best served in its existing district.
"I think it would be better for Richmond to be part of the Contra Costa County congressional district, but it's not up to us," said Chief of Staff Daniel Weiss. " I think people have made the argument that Richmond is potentially at risk of under-competing with other big cities like Oakland and Berkeley."
Both Richmond and Oakland and are trying to attract more commerce to their ports, and the cities are competing for a shot at housing Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory's proposed second campus. .
Council members praised Lee for her outspoken anti-war stance and dedication to the African American community, but said they believed the city would have a better shot a securing grants and other federal help with Miller in their corner.
Councilman Tom Butt said that embracing the proposed redistricting would be akin to a business hiring a firm already representing its direct competitor.
Rep. Lee's office declined to comment on the matter.
Mayor Gayle McLaughlin abstained from the vote. She argued that with its emphasis on smart growth and green industry, Richmond has more in common with Alameda County than suburban Contra Costa.
She asked that the resolution not be recorded as the will of the council as a whole, drawing shouts of, "That's not right," and, "Doesn't look good,-- from audience members, many of whom had spoken in support of the petition.
Council member Jovanka Beckles also abstained, saying she wanted to respect the goal of keeping politics out of the process this time around.
The proposed changes are the work of a newly constituted independent commission, which drew its lines without regard for incumbents' home cities or party affiliation.
Beckles noted that the state had invited residents to participate in the commission through radio ads and other forms of outreach.
Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus has expressed disappointment with the proposed changes, saying they would weaken Richmond's political clout and increase racial homogeneity in both districts, and the Contra Costa Building and Trades Council has filed a letter of opposition citing similar reasons.
The commission will be taking comment throughout the summer and will adopt final maps by Aug. 15. The proposed lines are not expected to change significantly.
Contact Hannah Dreier at 510-262-2787. Follow her at Twitter.com/hannahdreier