MOORLACH UPDATE — Gerrymandering — August 24, 2011

Redistricting was a six-month process that was very public and transparent.  To infer that it was not, as one reporter did below, is not correct.

My priorities for redistricting were very simple:  respect the process and keep cities intact.  For me, it was about good local government.  You can chop up the state Assembly and Senate Districts anyway you want as state activities are more distant.  But having cities within supervisorial boundaries provides constituents with more effective local representation.

Keeping Anaheim or Irvine intact was too challenging to accomplish successfully.  The map that the Redistricting Committee proposed map had these two cities split.

From the get-go, I stated that west Garden Grove, a portion of the city that I represent in the Second District, should be moved to the First District.  This would make Garden Grove whole and keep it in one district.  To offset that move, Newport Coast should be moved out of the Fifth District and into the Second District.  That would make the city of Newport Beach whole and keep it in one district.  Anything else would be gerrymandering.

However, yesterday the process was disrespected and two more cities were split.  Consequently, I voted against the last-minute proposal.

Fountain Valley had time to deliberate and protest, and its City Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing the recommendation by the First District and subsequently, the Chairman, to split Fountain Valley among two districts.  The other, Buena Park, was blind-sided by this last minute proposal.  My goal after receiving this last minute proposal was to ensure that we attempted to keep as many cities whole as possible.  When I proposed moving Laguna Beach into the Second District in order to equalize the population numbers, I was told that it would be unfair to do so without giving this city any notice.  Go figure.

The good news?  The home that my folks purchased in February 1964, and in which they still reside, will now be in my district.  Up until now, you could only see the Second District from my old bedroom window.

The OC Register, the Voice of OC, and the Fountain Valley Patch cover the story below.

The San Francisco Chronicle has a posting below that shows what redistricting can do when the moving of boundaries are moved and two electeds are suddenly in the same new district.

The LOOK BACK is a reminder that in the political arena, what looks like something that is destined for bad results can actually be beneficial in the end.  Onward and forward.

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Nguyen wins Vietnamese voters in redistricting

by Kimberly Edds, Staff Writer

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Vietnamese American activists declared victory in their efforts to preserve their political influence in Orange County Tuesday after supervisors approved a last-minute redistricting plan that restores Asian neighborhoods in north Fountain Valley to the First District.

The county’s redistricting committee spent months combing through dozens of proposed maps submitted by the public, community advocates and four of the five supervisors. But it was Chairman Bill Campbell’s last minute plan, based on a proposal by First District Supervisor Janet Nguyen, which won on a 4-1 vote Tuesday. The new districts, which must pass a final vote Sept. 6, will be in play for the 2012 elections.

Vice Chairman John Moorlach, who represents the Second District and had represented all of Fountain Valley, was the lone dissenter.

“It’s gerrymandering,” Moorlach said. “It’s a political game and someone had the necessary votes.”

The plan, which moved heavily-Vietnamese-American north Fountain Valley into the First District and Brea into the Fourth District, closes the gap between Hispanic and Asian voters by nearly two percent in Nguyen’s First District. The plan may also help Republicans maintain its death grip on the Board of Supervisors for the next decade. All five current supervisors are Republicans.

Campbell’s plan cedes Brea to the Fourth District and the western portion of Buena Park to the largely coastal Second District to help even out the population between supervisors.

Folding Fountain Valley north of Warner into the First District results in a district with a population 56.1 percent Hispanic and 24.7 percent Asian – although the district’s percentage of eligible voters would be 34.3 percent Hispanic and 29 percent Asian.

Hispanic advocates are accusing county supervisors of engaging in gerrymandering, and are considering a lawsuit.

“It’s a clear gerrrymandering of the numbers to protect incumbents,” said Art Montez, spokesman for the Santa Ana League of United Latin American Citizens. “Supervisor Nguyen has continually shown that she doesn’t want the burden of representing the Latino community.”

“They clearly marked the deck before the process and they have no problem doing it,” Montez said.

The county’s redistricting process has been a contentious one. LULAC accused the county of stacking the process in favor of input from supervisors and their staffs while alienating community interest groups.

The redistricting committee was ordered back to the drawing board by the Board of Supervisors in July after Vietnamese Americans waged an aggressive campaign of their own, showing up at the redistricting committee and Board of Supervisors meetings by the dozens to urge supervisors to help them keep Little Saigon whole.

Nguyen sent a memo to her board colleagues last week asking that they tweak the redistricting committee’s recommended plan to add the portion of Fountain Valley north of Warner – which is heavily populated by Vietnamese-Americans – to the First District. That request, Nguyen wrote, was based on what she was hearing from the community.

Nguyen’s proposal, which gave Asian voters a slightly bigger piece of the voting pie than the committee’s recommendation, had already been rejected by the redistricting committee.

Hispanics make up more than twice the Asian population in the county’s First District, and Hispanic advocates accused Nguyen of ignoring their concerns while concentrating on Asian voters during the county’s redistricting process to preserve her political future.

Nguyen became the county’s first Vietnamese-American supervisor when she was elected in a 2007 special election by just three votes over opponent Trung Nguyen.

The election was a controversial one, splintering the Vietnamese community between two Vietnamese candidates and leaving Hispanic voters in the district largely apathetic. Trung Nguyen came out on top by seven votes, but Janet Nguyen demanded a recount and was ultimately declared the victor by a Superior Court judge by three votes.

Nguyen fired back that it was LULAC, not her office, who canceled a scheduled meeting to discuss those concerns and ignored other offers.

Nguyen and Fourth District Supervisor Shawn Nelson are the only sitting supervisors eligible to run for re-election.

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Supervisors Approve GOP-Friendly Political Boundaries

The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to redraw their district boundaries in a way that a local Republican Party leader said guarantees GOP victories in all five seats.

"I feel comfortable that, with those lines, the Board of Supervisors will continue to have all Republican members," said Jon Fleischman, publisher of the conservative political blog FlashReport.org.

Although members of the Board of Supervisors are officially non-partisan, Fleischman and county GOP Chairman Scott Baugh visited the offices of the five supervisors about a month ago, Fleischman said, "on behalf of the Orange County Republican Party."

Most of the attention during the months-long redistricting process has focused on the battle between the Latino and Vietnamese communities over representation in the newly drawn districts.

The system the board used to draw its lines pitted Latinos, who tend to vote for Democrats, against Vietnamese, who traditionally support Republicans. The two groups are concentrated in adjoining areas near Santa Ana, Westminster and Garden Grove.

Fleischman said he and Baugh wanted to make sure that the supervisors weren’t forgetting what traditionally is the most important factor for politicians in the redistricting process. In short, they should be "considering political party registration. We didn’t want that to be lost in the process," Fleischman said.

Republicans hold a registration edge in the county over Democrats, although the gap is narrowing and voters with no party affiliation are the fastest growing group.

In the end, the supervisors sided with the Vietnamese, who tend to vote Republican, and created all districts that are likely to be won by the GOP. Latinos had hoped for a district centered in Santa Ana and downtown Anaheim that might elect a Latino supervisor.

But the board opted four-to-one for a plan drafted by the staff of Chairman Bill Campbell that aids Supervisor Janet Nguyen by adding Vietnamese concentrations from part of Fountain Valley to her First Supervisorial District.

The final lines are crucial for Nguyen because she and Supervisor Shawn Nelson are the only supervisors eligible to seek re-election in the coming years. The other three will be termed out between now and 2014.

The lone vote against the plan was cast by Supervisor John Moorlach, whose Second Supervisorial District would lose part of Fountain Valley in order to add more Vietnamese to Nguyen’s district. The Fountain Valley city council also opposed splitting the city between two supervisorial districts.

Moorlach declined to discuss Nguyen, but said his colleagues "were having a great time chopping up" his district. "You gotta love politics."

He said he voted against the plan because "I just wanted to stay with my principles. I’m opposed to gerrymandering."

The redistricting process takes place every 10 years following the national Census.

At the state level, voters took redistricting power away from members of the Legislature and House of Representatives in 2010. Instead, a Citizens Redistricting Commission was created to draw new boundaries for the state Assembly, Senate, Board of Equalization and House of Representatives.

The commission specifically was prohibited from considering party registration or how their new lines would affect incumbents and all discussions on boundaries, down to the smallest change on a single street, were required to be done in public.

The result was a sometimes messy process, but one that was also more transparent. The new statewide lines were officially presented to the Secretary of State last week although the Republican Party and Latino groups said they were considering legal challenges to some of the decisions.

The Board of Supervisors, however, stuck with the traditional system, of having their aides draw boundaries in private and then simply presenting the finished products from each district office for board members to approve in public.

The new lines, which will received (sic) a second hearing Sept. 6, create a district for Nguyen whose voting age population is 29 percent Asian, 34.3 percent Latino and 33 percent non-Latino white. Because Orange County Vietnamese tend to vote Republican, Fleischman considers it safe for the GOP.

Latinos, who make up about 40 percent of the county’s overall population, are generally concentrated in Santa Ana, downtown Anaheim and part of Garden Grove.

Passions grew so intense during Tuesday’s hearing that at one point, Denis Fitzgerald, spokesman for Anaheim Home Owners Maintaining our Environment (HOME), a volunteer watchdog organization, wound up in a shouting match with Nguyen.

Fitzgerald called the Supervisors to task for not having a Latino on the board or in any top administrative position, and then accused the Vietnamese who fled to the U.S. after the fall of South Vietnam of being "cowards" for not fighting the North.

Nguyen angrily interrupted, saying Fitzgerald’s comments were inappropriate and continued to berate him after he stalked out of the meeting.

Please contact Tracy Wood directly at twood@voiceofoc.org and follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/tracyVOC. And add your voice with a letter to the editor.

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Orange County Supervisors Vote to Split Fountain Valley into 2 Districts

The move went against the recommendation of the redistricting committee as well as the preference of the Fountain Valley City Council.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a redistricting plan Tuesday that went against a proposal by a redistricting committee.

Among the ways the plan proposed put forward by Board Chairman Bill Campbell and passed by a 4-1 vote differs from the committee’s plan is that it moves a portion of Fountain Valley north of Warner Avenue from the Second District to the First District.

That move is seen as a benefit for First District Supervisor Janet Nguyen because the area of Fountain Valley going to her district is heavily Vietnamese. Nguyen—who helped create the successful plan that dictates next year’s voting districts—will face re-election in 2012.

Second District Supervisor John Moorlach was the only board member to vote against the plan. Other aspects of the approved plan that runs counter to the committee’s recommendations are moving Brea to the Fourth District from the Third District and moving a part of Buena Park’s west side to the Second District from the Fourth District.

The move that promises to draw the most criticism is the one giving Nguyen’s district part of Fountain Valley. That proposal has been a subject of debate for Latino political advocates who say their numbers have grown faster than any ethnicity and they deserve a district where a Latino has the best chance to win. Making the First District more Asian works against that goal. However, it is a boon to activists of Asian descent, who have held concerns about a district that would make it difficult for an Asian, such as Nguyen, to win.

Art Montez and Zeke Hernandez of the Santa Ana chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens pushed for a map that put more of Stanton into the First District and were against putting Fountain Valley there because they believe it "waters down” Latino representation in the district.

After hearing from many Asian and Latino leaders, the board directed the redistricting committee to reconvene, but ended up not following its recommended borders.

In redistricting, county officials must consider a number of factors, including federal laws regarding voting rights. When drawing a district for a minority group, officials must make sure the population is big enough, that the minority district is politically similar and that ethnic majority in the district votes as a bloc to defeat minority candidates. It is difficult to draw up maps in Orange County favoring Asian candidates, because voters of Vietnamese descent are not necessarily politically aligned with those of Cambodian descent.

Voters of Asian descent also are not as concentrated as Latinos in terms of population. Local activists in the League of United Latin American Citizens unsuccessfully proposed districts with Latino populations of more than 60 percent.

— City News Service

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Press Releases

Ed Royce for Congress Reports Endorsements from Top Los Angeles County Leaders

In a major development in the opening days of the campaign for Congress in the new 39th district, U.S. Representative Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) today announced endorsements from an impressive list of elected officials and community leaders in Los Angeles County. Royce will be squaring off against Congressman Gary Miller of Diamond Bar next June.

Los Angeles County endorsers for Ed Royce released today include Sheriff Lee Baca, Supervisor Don Knabe, Supervisor Mike Antonovich, La Habra Heights Council members Stan Carroll, Roy Francis, Howard Vipperman and Carl Westerhoff; Walnut Mayor Pro Tem Mary Su and Councilman Joaquin Lim; and Diamond Bar’s former Mayor, Wen Chang. The Lincoln Clubs of Los Angeles County also endorsed Royce.

Supervisor Don Knabe, whose district covers the Los Angeles communities in the 39th district, praised Royce’s commitment to growing the local economy and creating jobs.

"Representative Ed Royce is a strong proponent for policies that will bring economic growth and jobs to Los Angeles County," said Knabe. "He knows our area well and understands the challenges we face. His common sense brand of fiscal conservatism is what our local communities need in Congress."

"I have been overwhelmed by the positive response I have received in Los Angeles County since my announcement last week," said Royce. "I look forward to representing the citizens of all three counties in the new 39th district."

The new 39th district includes the Los Angeles County communities of Diamond Bar, Hacienda Heights, La Habra Heights, Rowland Heights and Walnut, as well as all or part of Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Fullerton, La Habra, Placentia and Yorba Linda in Orange County. The San Bernardino community of Chino Hills is also in the new district. Royce has represented the 39th in the past, when about a third of the district was in Los Angeles County and has represented well over half of the district’s voters.

"While some pundits see this race in purely geographical terms, these major Los Angeles County endorsements prove that Ed Royce’s reputation for hard work and principled, effective representation knows no boundaries," said Royce’s campaign consultant, Dave Gilliard.

Royce has also received endorsements from Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, as well as all five Orange County Supervisors: Shawn Nelson, Pat Bates, Bill Campbell, Janet Nguyen and John Moorlach. More endorsements will be released in the coming days.

Representative Ed Royce has been repeatedly honored for his work by the National Taxpayers Union, Citizens Against Government Waste, National Federation of Independent Business, Watchdogs of the Treasury, Americans for Tax Reform, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, United Seniors Association, 60 Plus, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the Small Business Survival Committee. A Southern California native, Ed and his wife Marie are longtime residents of Fullerton.

FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS

August 24

1991

In 1984, my wife and I purchased a larger home and moved into Costa Mesa with our growing family, our two infant children.  I had been working in the city for six years and a couple of my firm’s clients stated that it would be nice to have their accountant in Mesa Verde.

Two of our neighbors across the street were officers of the Costa Mesa Republican Assembly (CMRA).  Consequently, our first neighborhood social was a CMRA Christmas event at Jim and Doris Emerson’s home.  Jim Emerson was the President of the unit and seven years later I would serve in that role.

Some things happen to you in life that causes you to rethink where you are headed.  One speaker that I heard in the late 1970s called it “death to a vision.”  Let me give you a personal example.  For whatever reason, in early 1994 I had it in my head that I would be the next Treasurer of Orange County.  With all of the news reports of how Citron was running the portfolio, I was sure that the voters would understand that it was time for him to go and for me to be the new Treasurer.  I lost the election.  Death to a vision.  I spent months scratching my head as to why everyone had missed the severity of the situation and what would happen if my worst fears actually transpired.  That summer interest rates went up dramatically.  The Federal Reserve Board was raising the overnight rate with every meeting.  By its November meeting, the Federal Reserve Board increased interest rates by 75 basis points.  The rest is history and I became the next Treasurer for Orange County.  Sometimes the course of your journey may not go as you had planned it.  Sometimes you have to realize that you can’t do it on your own.  And sometimes you have to let go and let God.  Then watch out, as He will amaze you with the results.

Peter Buffa, a recent colleague on the Orange County Transportation Board and a friend, played a role in a “death to a vision” event in my life twenty years ago.  Peter was the Republican Party’s Golden Boy.  He was feted everywhere by Orange County Republican Party Chairman Tom Fuentes (whom we should keep in our prayers—see recent Frank Mickadeit columns).  As a city councilman for Costa Mesa, Peter was voting contrary to the wishes of the CMRA.  Several members wanted him removed as a director of the unit.  I told them that the membership should follow the by-laws for removing a director and the matter was scheduled for the next upcoming meeting.  Peter wrote me a letter that said something like, “you can’t fire me, I quit.”  He also spilled it out into the media (I was not used to dealing with reporters at that time).  I felt awful and concluded that being involved in the community in a political fashion was probably not for me and that if I had any desires to serve the public in an elected capacity, I could just as well scrap them now.  Death to a vision.

I was within days of throwing in the towel when I received a call from Bill Lobdell, editor of the Daily Pilot.  To make a long story a little shorter, he thought the Buffa episode was hilarious and appreciated my responding correspondence to Peter.  He invited me to appear on his cable show, “The Lobdell Group.”  He usually had Hugh Hewitt and Jo Ellen Allen on the conservative side and occasionally needed a substitute to debate Mark Petraca and Will Swaim on the liberal side.  He also asked if I would like to write conservative editorials for the Pilot.  My answer was an emphatic “Yes!”  I would soon be doing my own cable program, “The Conservative Report.”  In a miraculous way, what I thought was over was resurrected in an even more spectacular way.

The following spring, Peter would challenge Dana Rohrabacher, a sitting Republican incumbent just redistricted into Costa Mesa, for Congress.  I would be the Precinct Captain for Costa Mesa and CMRA covered every precinct in the city, some 80 in total.  Election night found that Peter could not even carry his home city of Costa Mesa.  It found me getting elected to the Republican Central Committee, coming in sixth place.  Five of the six incumbents were re-elected, with the sixth incumbent placing behind me.

Sometimes things that are meant for bad actually do work out for good.  With twenty years of history behind me, I would tell you that Peter Buffa played one of the major roles in my political career and I’m grateful (as odd as that may sound) to him for it.  Here’s how Jeff Miller of the OC Register recorded the event in “Costa Mesa official resigns from Republican Assembly.”

                Costa Mesa City Councilman Peter Buffa is a registered Republican and a regular at GOP functions.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the right kind of Republican for the Costa Mesa Republican Assembly.

                Buffa announce his resignation from the conservative organization Wednesday after some members launched an effort to remove him from the group’s board of directors.  Why?  Because some members think he’s a political moderate.

                Buffa is former mayor and a one-time congressional candidate.  His transgression was voting to allocate $175,000 for grants to local arts groups.  The Republican Assembly opposes public support of the arts as a misuse of taxpayers’ dollars.

                “Peter’s a great guy, but he’s got his own agenda,” said the group’s president, John Moorlach.  A recent issue of the group’s newsletter warned members:  “If we identify you as not being conservative by your deeds or actions, we may confront you about it.”

                Upon being so confronted, Buffa reacted with righteous indignation.

                “This issue is political correctness,” he wrote in his resignation letter to Moorlach.  “Simply put, the idea is that it’s ‘politically correct’ to (speak) or think in a certain way, but not in others.  I believe that the CMRA has contracted a serious case of PCV – Political Correctness Virus.”

               

                Moorlach said some members believe Buffa has abandoned some of his conservative views to further his political ambitions.  “He’s more interested in running for Congress,” he said.

                Buffa, who still considers himself a true conservative, countered that Moorlach’s group had abdicated its role as the voice of the right in Costa Mesa.  “I think they’ve kind of gone around the bend,” he said.

               

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