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New maps generate more political competition

The first draft of maps from the California Citizens Redistricting Commission more than doubles the number of competitive congressional and legislative seats, according to a Public Policy Institute of California analysis posted a few minutes ago.

The Assembly would gain seven competitive seats for a total of 16; the Senate would see a gain of six seats, for a total of nine; while the House of Representatives would gain five seats for a total of nine.

The PPIC defines “competitive” as any seat in which the gap between the Democratic and Republican voter registration is five percentage points for the Republicans and 10 points for Democrats. (The imbalance reflects the fact that Democratic votes have historically crossed party lines more often than Republican voters, according to the analysis.)

Keep in mind, however, that the redistricting commission used no political data when it drew its lines. Proponents of

The debate over which party benefits from redistricting will undoubtedly unwind for months, particularly as California heads into the 2012 election where the first fullscale implemention of the new top-two primary election coincides with the new district boundaries.

But the PPIC predicts no measurable gains by either political party in terms of balance of power.  Some analysts have said the GOP could lose four to eight seats in Congress, while the Democrats might gain enough numbers to overcome the two-thirds vote threshold for new taxes.

Posted on Monday, June 13th, 2011
Under: redistricting | No Comments »

Lynn Woolsey is NOT happy with redistricting map

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, is the first Bay Area House member to come out swinging against the first-draft maps released today by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.

Woolsey’s 6th Congressional District – which now starts with Marin County and runs up to the Sonoma-Mendocino county line – instead would run all the way up the coast to the Oregon border.

“In manufacturing a new coastal district under this draft map, the Redistricting Commission has dismissed its mandate and violated its own guidelines,” Woolsey said in a statement issued this afternoon. “The whole point is to keep communities of interest together. According to the Commission itself, districts are supposed to ‘be drawn to encourage geographical compactness such that nearby areas of population are not bypassed for more distant populations.’

“What could be more distant than the expanse from the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border? It’s a 375-mile trip. You could barely make the drive in a single day,” she said.

She may or may not be concerned for her own career security: Woolsey, 73, has indicated she might not seek another term in 2012. Among Democrats who might vie to replace her if she bows out are Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; state Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa; Marin County Supervisor Susan Adams of San Rafael; and progressive activist Normon Solomon of Inverness.

Of those four, only Evans’ home would fall outside the newly drawn district according to this draft – not that living within the district is a constitutional requirement.

Read the rest of Woolsey’s statement verbatim, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, June 10th, 2011
Under: Lynn Woolsey, redistricting, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

State redistricting comes to Oakland

Don’t miss your chance to tell the new independent members of the California Citizens Redistricting Task Force how you want to redraw congressional and legislative lines.

As part of the commission’s statewide tour, it will make a stop in Oakland on Saturday.

Here are the details as provided by the commission:

California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission Calls On The Public To Submit Testimony For The First Draft of District Maps

Public Hearing To Be Held in Oakland May 21st

Public Can Submit Testimony Online, By Fax, Mail Or At A Public Hearing

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is calling for the public to submit their testimony on the drawing of district boundaries no later than May 23rd in order to be considered by the Commission for the first draft of district maps. The Commission was created by California voters to draw state Congressional, Assembly, State Senate and Board of Equalization Districts. The public can submit their testimony online, by fax, mail or at a public hearing.

The Commission will be holding a public input hearing in Oakland, Saturday, May 21, 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., Oakland City Council Chamber, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

The public is encouraged to present testimony about the community they live in, describing the kind of people who live there, important issues, community centers and community history. Speaking up about their community is critical to ensuring district lines are drawn to keep their community whole and grouped with nearby communities with similar interests. The Commission would also like to know about communitieswhich do not share common interests which could be placed in another district.

The maximum time for each speaker is 2 minutes. Speakers should provide copies for the 14 members of the Commission of documents they are submitting as testimony. Speaker numbers may be obtained one hour prior to the posted time of the hearing. The posted meeting time may not extend more than 2 hours beyond the original closing, subject to venue limitations and speaker demand. No speaker numbers will be given out after the end of the posted meeting time. Due to high speaker demand, it is possible that not all people who have been given numbers will have the opportunity to speak.

Along with census data, publicly submitted comments will be used to assist the Commission when it begins drawing district boundaries.

The Commission encourages the public to submit written testimony bye-mail at, fax at 916-322-0904 or by mail to the Citizens Redistricting Commission, 1130 K Street, Suite 101, Sacramento, CA 95814. Once the testimony is received it is posted online, given to each of the Commissioners and catalogued by area by the Commission’s line drawers.

Please visit the Commission’s website at for complete information on the hearings and to access a guide to help you prepare your testimony.

Posted on Tuesday, May 17th, 2011
Under: redistricting | No Comments »

CoCo redistricting workshops set

Contra Costa has launched a series of workshops where residents may view and voice their preferences, or submit their own, among a set of proposed new map boundaries for the county’s five supervisoral districts.

The county also has an online mapping site — — where residents may draw and submit their own maps.

Following the decennial census, elected boards must redraw their political districts in order to attain equal populations and comply with the constitutional mandate of “one person, one vote.”

Residents will view four map concepts prepared by county staff along with maps submitted by the Contra Costa Times’ editorial writer Dan Borenstein and the Contra Costa Citizens Redistricting Task Force, a volunteer organization started by the Contra Costa Republican Party.

The board of supervisors will vote on the final map in late summer.

The meetings will be held from from 7-8:30 p.m. (except for one workshop, as noted) on the following days and locations:

Today (May 16) — 2-3:30 p.m., Walnut Creek, City of Walnut Creek, Gymnasium Classroom, 2055 Tice Valley Blvd.

Today (May 16) — Walnut Creek, Library, Oak View Room, 1644 N. Broadway

Tuesday (May 17) — Pleasant Hill, City of Pleasant Hill Community Room, 100 Gregory Lane.

Wednesday (May 18) — Martinez, McBrien Administration Building, Room 101, 651 Pine St.

Thursday (May 19)  — Concord, City of Concord Council Chambers, 1950 Parkside Drive.

Thursday  (May 19) — Bay Point, Ambrose Recreational Center, 3105 Willow Pass Road.

May 23  — Antioch, Community Center Hall C, 4703 Lone Tree Way

May 24 — Clayton, Endeavor Hall, 6008 Center St.

May 24 — San Pablo, San Pablo City Hall, Maple Hall, 1381 San Pablo Ave., Building No. 4

May 25 — Oakley, City of Oakley council chambers, 3231 Main St.

May 25 — Brentwood, Brentwood Senior Center, 193 Griffith Lane

May 26 — Alamo, Alamo Women’s Club, 1401 Danville Blvd.

May 26 — Pinole, City Hall, Alex Clark Room, First Floor, 880 Tennent Ave.

Posted on Monday, May 16th, 2011
Under: redistricting | 4 Comments »

CC: Political mapping webinar set for Monday

A decade ago, political junkies needed pricey mapping software to draw their own political district boundary proposals. Today, anyone with halfway decent computer can draw maps from home.

Contra Costa County will host a DistrictBuilder webinar Monday, an informative online presentation about how to use web-based software that permits residents to draw their own county supervisorial maps.

Following the decennial census, public agencies governed by members elected from districts must redraw their political boundaries in order to comply with the constitutional “one person, one vote” mandate.

Voters statewide turned the job of drawing congressional and legislative lines over to an independent redistircting commission but boards of supervisors still draw their own.

Contra Costa’s five elected supervisors will select a final district boundary map later this summer but residents are invited to submit their own maps online for consideration.

The free DistrictBuilder webinar will be held live on Monday from 12:30-2 p.m. and the session will be recorded and posted, viewable at any time after the event.

Participants will learn about redistricting rules, how to set up an account, create and edit maps, and share and export the plans. The webinar is free but you must sign up at

For additional information, visist the county’s redistricting web site at

Posted on Friday, May 6th, 2011
Under: redistricting | 1 Comment »

CoCo unveils redistricting map drafts

Contra Costa will officially fire the starting gun in the supervisorial redistricting debate on Tuesday, but I wrangled some advance copies of the four concept maps the Board of Supervisors will use to launch the discussion.

Check them out below.

Concept 1 is the closest to the existing supervisor boundaries, while Concept 4 offers the biggest change with the transformation of District 3 into an entirely East Contra Costa district.

Sometime Thursday, the county will post the full set of concept maps with more details at

Concept 1

Concept 1

Concept 2

Concept 2

Concept 3

Concept 3

Concept 4

Concept 4

Posted on Wednesday, April 27th, 2011
Under: redistricting | 8 Comments »

Bay Area redistricting hearing set for May 21

Bay Area residents and organizations with something to say about the shape of California’s political districts may speak at a local hearing on May 21 in Oakland.

The Citizens Redistricting Commission will take public input from 2-5 p.m. at Oakland City Council Chambers, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland.

It’s part of a statewide series of redistricting hearings prior to the scheduled June 1 release of the commission’s draft maps. Residents may attend any or all the meetings, of course, but it’s nice to find one a little closer to home.  Click here to access the full schedule.

Voters created the independent, 14-member Citizens Redistricting Commission and charged with the decennial drawing of California’s congressional, legislative and Board of Equalization districts. By statute, it must adopt final maps by Aug. 15.

Posted on Thursday, April 21st, 2011
Under: redistricting | 4 Comments »

Oakland firm wins redistricting contract

An Oakland firm co-owned by UC Berkeley Statewide Database Center director Karin Mac Donald was chosen to redraw California’s political districts under the direction of the new, voter-created independent redistricting commission.

The 14-member panel unanimously awarded Q2 Data and Research the $510,000 contract but not before engaging in pointed partisan discourse about the other bidder and Mac Donald’s ties to UC Berkeley professor Bruce Cain, a Democrat who drew lines for his party in the 1980s.

Read full story here.

Posted on Saturday, March 19th, 2011
Under: redistricting | 4 Comments »

Munger gives to GOP, firefighters give to Dems

Charles Munger Jr., the Palo Alto physicist who has been the single largest bankroller of California’s redistricting reform, gave $12,000 last Monday to the San Mateo County Republican Party.

Munger, the son of billionaire Warren Buffett’s investment partner, was the largest financial backer ($1.367 million) for 2008’s Proposition 11, which created the Citizens Redistricting Commission to take state legislative reapportionment out of the Legislature’s hands, and the proponent and bankroller ($12,157,442,83) for 2010’s Proposition 20, which widened the commission’s purview to include congressional districts.

Munger’s party affiliation has never been a secret, but some of his redistricting-reform allies bristled at the idea that his motivation for pursuing the issue was partisan.

In other political money news, the CDF Firefighters Small Contributor PAC – representing the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s firefighters – gave $100,000 to the Democratic State Central Committee of California last Tuesday. And the California Professional Firefighters PAC gave $52,005.31 to the committee last week. Why the big money? Is it the increased attention to first-responders’ salaries? Or the growing debate over whether or not there’s an urgent need to reform public employee pensions?

Other big spenders from last week:

The California Independent Petroleum Association put $49,500 into its own PAC last Thursday.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America’s independent expenditure committee gave $35,000 to the Democratic State Central Committee of California last Tuesday.

The California Credit Union League PAC gave $32,500 to the California Republican Party last Wednesday.

The Coalition for Reliable & Affordable Electricity – a committee of “concerned taxpayers, homeowners” and PG&E – put $25,450.13 last Tuesday into the committee that supported last June’s Proposition 16, the PG&E-conceived effort which would’ve required a two-thirds vote of the local electorate before a public agency could enter the retail power business. The measure failed, with only 47.2 of voters supporting it, but apparently there are still bills to be paid.

The California Association of Realtors’ California Real Estate Political Action Committee (CREPAC) gave $25,000 last Tuesday to the California Republican Party.

Posted on Monday, March 7th, 2011
Under: campaign finance, Democratic Party, redistricting, Republican Party | No Comments »

DOJ ‘pre-clears’ Prop. 20 House redistricting

Those behind Proposition 20, last November’s successful ballot measure to extend the Citizens Redistricting Commission’s power to include redrawing California’s Congressional districts, said today that the new law has passed an important hurdle.

The measure has received pre-clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice, meaning the new law now can be fully implemented. Section 5 of the U.S. Voting Rights Act requires that changes in election law affecting polling places, voting systems, redistricting and other issues in certain jurisdictions be “pre-cleared” by the Justice Department to ensure they don’t infringe upon the any citizen’s voting rights.

“Preclearance has confirmed what we have known all along: that Proposition 20 protects the rights of California voters,” Charles Munger Jr., Proposition 20’s proponent and main funder (as in, almost $12.2 million of the $13.8 million behind it), said in a news release.

California Common Cause Executive Director Kathay Feng said that as the law is put into practice, “all California voters will finally have a real voice in who represents them in their districts.”

The measure’s supporters insisted letting the Legislature draw Congressional lines led to a bipartisan gerrymander that made the state’s seats safe for incumbents and reduced the possibility of competition, making House members less responsive to their constituents.

Posted on Tuesday, February 8th, 2011
Under: ballot measures, redistricting | No Comments »