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.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Candidate Training for the Marin Women's PAC

On May 7th, my partner in all things campaign, Lise Stampfli, and I were part of a presentation for the new Marin Women's Political Action Committee. This group was formed to take the place of the National Women's Political Caucus, Marin Chapter, which had been threatening for months, to throw us out because we refused to tow the line over their complete prohibition on the endorsement or recommendation or even rating, of male candidates.

Our policy in Marin had been from time immemorial, at least as far back as anyone could remember, which means the 70's as that is when the group started, we had been "recommending" men in those races with no viable woman running. Viable means mostly pro-choice and with a grasp of the issues, and willing to help other women who came along afterward with their campaigns.

We thought this was a perfectly logical position, as half the population is male, and we need that half to work with us to get important legislation passed. The goal of NWPC is 50/50 by 2020, which means what it sounds like - by the year 2020, we will have an equal number of women in elected office as we do men.

Our goals are the same, we too want 50/50 by 2020. We too want to see more women in office, and are dedicated to helping them get elected. But we recognize we need the pro-choice men, and so when no viable woman is running, we feel free to :recommend" a pro-choice man.

The new leadership of NWPC took offense, serious offense and with their threats came our resolve to become independent and thrive.

And so we have. Dues do not have to be split with National and we are free to make our own policy and keep all the proceeds from our programs to fund our candidates. One of our main programs is the training of candidates. We usually do this twice a year, once in the months before filing opens and once in the fall, after filing has closed.

This was the before training. Now it is on You Tube and here for all to see. Hope you like it and learn something.