The decennial task of determining Supervisorial District boundaries concluded at yesterday’s Board meeting. This exercise actually had plenty of drama, but you wouldn’t have known it from the news accounts. Allow me to make a few observations:
1. The final lines were not even approved by the Redistricting Committee. On two separate occasions, they voted down the lines (and their derivations) that my colleagues approved of yesterday. My thanks go to the Committee for their thoroughness and professionalism. They stayed true to the appropriate priorities and the process.
2. The Hispanic representatives, although attending almost every meeting, failed to produce sensible maps until last Friday. When these Hispanic representatives finally clued in to what would work, it was at the eleventh hour and too late.
3. Redistricting can be open to mischief, commonly referred to as gerrymandering. The definition of gerrymandering, according to Wikipedia, “is a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan, incumbent-protected districts” (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering).
Last November, the voters of the state of Florida addressed redistricting and approved constitutional amendments 5 & 6, which encourage compact districts that use city, county and geographical boundaries. I support this approach. Play all you want to with the boundaries of congressional and state senate and assembly districts, but for local government, don’t split cities. The proposal recommended by the Redistricting Committee (Proposal 21) did this in the best fashion possible with only splitting the cities of Anaheim and Irvine. The proposal approved by the Board yesterday (Proposal 21-C) splits Buena Park and Fountain Valley. Consequently, these two cities did not have a chance to debate this proposal during the last six months at the Committee’s public hearings. Residents came to the Board meeting and pleaded their case yesterday, and I agreed that their cities should remain whole.
I don’t buy the argument that a city will receive better representation with two Supervisors. This certainly wasn’t my experience when I shared two cities the last four years. But, the vote is what it is and one has to appreciate the subtleties of this awkward process.
With that said, Buena Park is very special to me, especially the portion I will be gaining in 30 days. My family moved into Buena Park on Washington’s Birthday in 1964. Don’t ask me why I remember the specific date, but it was quite a memorable day for my folks and for myself. In those days, we could ride our bikes through Knott’s Berry Farm. I remember visiting the Alligator Farm. My uncle, Ed DeBoer, ran for city council and I remember walking his campaign materials throughout our housing tract (I’m sure he was instrumental in shaping my public service ambitions some thirty years later). Our family attended the same church as Medal of Honor recipient Walter Ehlers and his family (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_D._Ehlers). My first real job was at MovieWorld Cars of Stars, owned by the Brucker family. Many of my classmates worked for Movieland Wax Museum. I played Little League in Buena Park (congratulations again to Ocean View’s Little League World Series Championship!!!). My wife and I were married in Buena Park 31 years ago, in the church that I grew up in, now known as Christ Community Church. It will be fun to partially represent this wonderful community.
The OC Register covers the topic and has a nice graphic. The Fountain Valley Patch weighs in, as do the Voice of OC and Our Weekly.
District keeps Vietnamese clout
Kimberly Edds Register Writer
A months-long fight to preserve the political influence of Vietnamese Americans in Orange County ended with a victory Tuesday after supervisors finalized a redistricting plan that restores Asian neighborhoods in north Fountain Valley to the 1st District.
Vice Chairman John Moorlach, who represents the 2nd District and had represented all of Fountain Valley, was again the lone dissenter. “This is not right,” said Moorlach, accusing the county of engaging in gerrymandering. “I can’t ethically vote for (it).”
The redistricting process has been a contentious one. The Santa Ana League of United Latin American Citizens accused the county of stacking the process in favor of input from supervisors and their staffs while alienating community groups.
The county’s redistricting committee spent months culling 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 1st District Supervisor Janet Nguyen, which won on a 4-1 vote last month. Supervisors reaffirmed that choice Tuesday, rejecting a plan submitted late Friday by LULAC to add Stanton to the 1st District along with the redistricting committee’s preferred plan and its two alternates.
Nelson, whose office drafted the redistricting committee’s chosen plan, called the approved plan the “best compromise given the circumstances.”
Supervisors will begin representing their new districts in 30 days.
The approved plan closes the gap between Hispanic and Asian voters by nearly 2 percentage points in Nguyen’s 1st District. The shifting of the lines will also likely cement the board’s all-Republican future for the next decade.
Registered Democrats hold a 9.53 percent advantage over registered Republicans in the 1st District, according to county statistics, but Nguyen, who became the county’s first Vietnamese American supervisor in 2007, is a Republican. She was re-elected in 2008 when Republican turnout overshadowed Democratic turnout 22,154 to 18,748, according to the county’s Registrar of Voters.
The approved map also surrenders Brea to the 4th District and the western portion of Buena Park to the largely coastal 2nd District.
Vietnamese American activists had been outspoken in recent weeks advocating that north Fountain Valley be folded into the 1st District, but not a single speaker Tuesday made that request. The board instead heard from a handful of Fountain Valley and Buena Park city officials and residents who urged supervisors to keep their cities intact.
“We the people,” Fountain Valley resident Barbara Montz told supervisors. “It’s not we the Vietnamese Americans. It’s not we the Latino people. It is we the people. I want you to remember that.”
But a majority of the board did not agree with those sentiments.
“Having two supervisors represent your city is not a bad thing, especially when it comes to controversial issues,” reasoned 5th District Supervisor Pat Bates.
ANAHEIM LOSES AUTOMATIC OCTA SEAT
The plan also cost Anaheim its automatic seat on the Orange County Transportation Authority Board of Directors
The 18-member OCTA board controls a $1.1 billion annual budget which funds public transportation systems throughout Orange County. It is made up of all five county supervisors, 10 city council members from Orange County cities – two out of each supervisor’s district – two members of the public and a representative from CALTRANS. The CALTRANS member, who is appointed to the board by the governor, is not a voting member.
Cities in each district vote for their two representatives. One representative is selected on a “one city, one vote” basis. The other city representative is selected based on population, with the city with more than half of the population in any given district granted an automatic seat on the OCTA board, said Steve Greyshock, spokesman for the Association of California Cities – Orange County, which oversees the voting process.
That was the situation with Anaheim, which boasted more than 51 percent of the 4th District’s population. But the approved redistricting plan drops Anaheim’s population down to 47.9 percent – costing it the automatic OCTA seat in the 4th District.
If no city has more than half of the population in a district, the cities’ votes in that district are weighted according to population, Greyshock said.
The proposal leaves Santa Ana, which has more than 52 percent of the population in the 1st District, with the only automatic seat on the OCTA board.
Board of Supervisors Finalizes Redistricting Map That Splits Fountain Valley
The plan will take effect in 30 days, dividing Fountain Valley between Districts 1 and 2.
· By Justin Petruccelli
The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to adopt redistricting plan 21C, which divides Fountain Valley between supervisorial Districts 1 and 2.
The newly approved district lines take effect in 30 days. Until now, Fountain Valley was entirely inside District 2, represented by Supervisor John Moorlach, who voted against the new plan.
"I believe cities are communities of interest, and that’s more important than any other communities of interest," Moorlach said. "When it comes to the local level, we need to be pragmatic with how we operate, and cities need to remain intact. I see what we’re doing with 21C as gerrymandering, and I have really serious problems with that."
Last month, the committee charged with handling the redistricting process had several configurations on the table, two of which divided Fountain Valley in half. The Fountain Valley City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting plan 21, which kept the city entirely within District 2.
Fountain Valley Mayor Pro Tem John Collins spoke to the board Tuesday: "I’m here today to say how disappointed I am in your decision," Collins said. "Your body put together a committee, and that committee had 10 meetings out in the community and examined all the possibilities. Your body ignored the three recommendations and went on to adopt something that was brought up at the last minute. I’ve heard rumors that this was a political design, and that concerns me. Fountain Valley is being separated almost in half for other reasons, when this other committee said, ‘No, keep it whole.’ I’d hope you would consider that and go back to the committee’s recommendations."
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. Nguyen, who will now represent the portion of Fountain Valley north of Warner Avenue, said her office looked into the possibility of taking Fountain Valley as a whole into District 1, and reassured city residents that any of them can contact her office, regardless of where in the city they live.
"I have work to do in the city of Fountain Valley," Nguyen said. "It’s not about the boundaries. I represent Fountain Valley with Supervisor Moorlach, and I’m willing to go to the city of Fountain Valley, so anyone who’s a resident of Fountain Valley should feel free to call my office anytime."
In total, 12 speakers were heard during the public hearing, including several from Buena Park, which will also be divided between two districts, and two representatives of LULAC, which submitted an alternative plan just last week. Known as Plan 25, it would have kept all but three cities in the county intact, with only Anaheim, Irvine and Garden Grove divided.
"Plan 25 looks like a reasonable plan, even though we just received it," Supervisor Bill Campbell said. "I realize that it’s not dramatically different from 21C that we adopted two weeks ago, particularly when it comes to allowing minority groups to have a voice. I commend LULAC for this redraw, and I only wish it had been submitted earlier."
District 5 Supervisor Patricia Bates encouraged those now living in divided cities to see the positives in having their cities represented by two supervisors.
"Having two supervisors is not a bad thing, especially when you get to controversial issues like annexation," Bates said. "I think it clearly shows that this is not a gerrymandered map. I believe that you’re going to have more representation on this board for issues going forward. The overlapping is a good thing, so I will remain with 21C as my vote."
Supervisors Give Final Approval to New Political Boundaries
The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to finalize new district boundaries that protect the two supervisors who will face re-election and will likely keep all five seats Republican.
The 4-to-1 vote came over the objections of Supervisor John Moorlach, the cities of Buena Park and Fountain Valley and the Latino community.
Until the very end, Latinos urged the board to change the proposed boundaries to give them a better chance of winning one of the districts. Latinos constitute about 40 percent of the county’s population.
But since Latinos traditionally support Democratic candidates and all five supervisors are Republican, the pleas fell on deaf ears.
Following the board’s initial vote last month, Republican leader Jon Fleischman, publisher of the conservative political blog FlashReport.org, said he and county GOP Chairman Scott Baugh had urged the supervisors to consider party registration when drawing the lines.
Officially, supervisors are supposed to be nonpartisan. After the August vote, Fleischman said he was "comfortable" that the new lines will keep the five board seats in the hands of the GOP.
Officials from Fountain Valley and Buena Park complained about how the new lines divide their cities.
Despite objections of its City Council, Fountain Valley was divided to add more Vietnamese to Supervisor Janet Nguyen’s 1st District.
The other supervisor eligible to seek re-election, Shawn Nelson, had all of heavily Republican Brea added to his north Orange County district.
About two dozen Buena Park residents and officials turned out to protest dividing their city between Nelson’s 4th District and Moorlach’s 2nd District.
After the board meeting, Buena Park Mayor Fred Smith said "the whole thing that caused all of this was Janet Nguyen." Earlier versions of maps drawn by the supervisors and their aides had kept Buena Park intact.
"We have been split before," Smith said. "It’s too hard." Conflicts can develop among elected officials of those districts, and the city pays the price. Small segments of the city may simply be ignored.
Moorlach, meanwhile, accused his colleagues of gerrymandering. He said Fountain Valley, which is in his district now, shouldn’t be split. Every effort should be made to keep cities intact, he said.
"I believe cities are communities of interest, and that’s the most important community of interest at the local level," said Moorlach. "I see what we’re doing with [the adopted plan] as gerrymandering."
The new district boundaries take effect after 30 days.
— TRACY WOOD
Our Truth, Our Voice
Orange County Supervisors adopt new district map
City News Service
Latino activists may sue in court
SANTA ANA, Calif.—Orange County supervisors today adopted new political district boundaries, but not without some dissension, with Buena Park leaders criticizing the splitting of their city’s representation and Latino activists saying they may challenge the vote in court.
Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, who cast the lone dissenting vote on the five-member board, accused his fellow supervisors of “gerrymandering.”
Moorlach agreed with Buena Park leaders such as Mayor Fred Smith and Councilwoman Elizabeth Swift, who complained that the redistricting plan splits the city between the Fourth District, represented by Supervisor Shawn Nelson, and the Second District, represented by Moorlach.
Under the current map, which will change in 30 days, Nelson represents the whole city.
While cities often get split up in state legislative and federal districts, “When it comes to the local level we need to be pragmatic… Cities should remain intact,” Moorlach said.
Moorlach noted that he grew up in Buena Park, moving there in 1964. He reminisced about riding his bike through Knott’s Berry Farm and getting married in the city.
“If you give me that part of Buena Park I will the best steward of it, but I agree that dividing this city is not the right thing to do,” Moorlach said. “Colleagues, this is not right and I can’t vote for (the new map) because that’s gerrymandering.”
Like Moorlach, Nelson preferred a map recommended by a redistricting committee the supervisors tasked with drawing up new boundaries. But he said it could not draw enough votes for approval.
“If we can’t get the three votes then that can’t be our map,” Nelson said, adding that he supported the boundary lines adopted today because it was the best compromise.
Supervisor Patricia Bates said having two supervisors representing one city can sometimes work to its advantage.
“This is not a gerrymandered map,” Bates said.”The overlapping, I believe is a good thing.”
Zeke Hernandez of the Santa Ana chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens said the national leaders of his organization have authorized him to file a lawsuit over the adopted plan, but no decision has been made.
Hernandez and his organization submitted another compromise map Friday, and while it drew compliments from some board members, it was not voted on.
Hernandez said the supervisors approved a map that makes it safer for First District Supervisor Janet Nguyen to get re-elected next year by adding more Asian and white voters from Fountain Valley and western Garden Grove.
Hernandez said the league’s most recent map would have kept Buena Park in Nelson’s district and Fountain Valley in Moorlach’s district. But Stanton would have been in Nguyen’s district, adding more Latinos, who tend to side with Democrats more often than Republicans.
Swift said she was “disappointed” with the new map.
“I do feel sometimes Buena Park gets picked on a little bit,” Swift said, referring to how the city often ends up with portions of it falling into Los Angeles County for state legislative and federal districts.
“We think of ourselves as Orange County, which we should,” Swift said.
FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS
Five years ago the County was discussing pay raises and retiree medical reform. Christian Berthelsen of the LA Times covered the story in “O.C. Supervisors to Vote on County Raises – Unions being polled on board’s deficit-cutting offer this week. Retirees say their benefits would be back to fund workers’ salary hikes.” These negotiations resulted in reducing the County’s unfunded retiree medical liabilities by $1 billion!
After pulling back the deal they were poised to approve weeks ago, Orange County supervisors are set to vote next week on raises for thousands of county employees — in exchange for concessions from workers and retirees to shore up deficits in the county’s retiree medical care and pension funds.
Officials have been struggling for more than a year to reduce the funds’ $3.7-billion shortfall, which has been attributed to increased medical costs, retirement deals cut over the years and the fact that retirees are living longer.
The proposal would go a long way toward cutting the $1.4-billion deficit in the retiree medical fund. Through a combination of cuts within the fund, the county expects to save $815 million, or more than half the fund’s deficit.
Those who will bear the brunt are retirees, who would face increased costs and reductions in payments they receive for medical coverage.
Retirees, who can no longer be union members, say no one has the right to negotiate away benefits that were part of labor deals when they worked for the county in exchange for raises awarded to current employees.
"It’s a damn major disaster to retirees," said Fred Branca, president of the Retired Employees Assn. of Orange County. "This is disgraceful. It’s a slap in the face. It’s going to adversely impact people financially and medically."
Union leaders support the plan. Two unions representing nearly 14,000 county employees are holding ratification votes throughout this week.
"I hope the employees vote to approve it, because I think it will be extremely beneficial to the long-term financial health of the county," said Bill Campbell, chairman of the Board of Supervisors.
The county offered workers raises of 4.75% in July. The Orange County Employees Assn., the larger union, ratified the offer, but supervisors stalled on final approval.