Saturday, June 04, 2011

Redistricting Madness

Is the new non-partisan, non-denominational "citizens" redistricting process in California, where 14 ordinary folks decide where you vote, who you vote for, who your new fellow voters are, any better than the old "gerrymandering" process of days now gone by?

So far, the maps don't show the benefit. Admittedly it's a tough process, absorbing all the information, from census data, to Federal law, such as the Voting Rights Act, to deciding what constitutes a "Community of interest." Is the fact that the Napa Valley grape growers want to have more influence in congress a good reason to carve out a district for them?

And does that then push the dominoes in a direction that squeezes other districts like icing in a tube, so that the 6th district now snakes along the Coast all the way to the Oregon border? Well, yes, say the maps.

Are the interests of Northern prison town Crescent City the same as those of Bay Area coastal Stinson Beach? And what of the Assembly, the State Senate? Will Marin, with coastal and rural and suburban communities be lumped with the more central and sprawling Solano County to the east?

Does this make it fairer, allowing more diversity perhaps, more chance for others to take a crack at the legislative prizes? Who knows? The Shadow? I don't know, can't say, the new maps are "visualizations" only, a dreamscape of possibilities, suggested by whoever shows up and expresses an opinion, within the legal parameters.

I don't envy the commissioners. I don't envy the public of which I am one. We strive to understand. We hope for the best. More to come.

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