When the U.S. Census figures came out it was obvious that it was going to have a substantial impact on Berkeley’s election districts. This is because a vast number of students simply were not counted as they had been 10 years before. During the redistricting process the city clerk and staff did an excellent job keeping us informed of both the process and the various proposals on the city Web site. Because of staff’s excellent use of the internet, it is hard to imagine a more transparent redistricting process.
Here is how it went: the city clerk made available packets of information (both printed and on the internet) and the city staff prepared a sample redistricting plan. The information was made available to anyone who wanted to submit a plan. Four plans were submitted and by early September they and the staff plan were made available on the city’s Web site. As requested by the council, a sixth plan was added by staff. On Sept. 25 and Oct. 2 the City Council held public hearings. According to the city’s Web site, “At the end of the public hearing on Oct. 2, 2001 the City Council may adopt or modify and then adopt any proposal.” (http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/redistricting/07packet/exl_process.htm) This is exactly what they did. According to the record, on Oct. 2, it was “moved, seconded, carried (Shirek/Breland; Noes - Armstrong, Hawley, Olds, Dean) a substitute motion to approve a redistricting plan, Scenario 2, as presented by Blake and O'Malley, with amendments to specific tracts and blocks made by Vice Mayor Shirek and to direct the city clerk to prepare the redistricting ordinance for council adoption at the meeting of Oct. 9, 2001.” The first reading was passed on the 9th, and the second on the 16th. Throughout the process I felt city staff did an excellent job keeping everyone informed. Regardless of what one thinks of the outcome, it was a fair process.
During the week between the first and second vote, a referendum petition by opponents of the redistricting ordinance was pre-approved by the city clerk to challenge the redistricting plan.
People have a right to circulate a referendum and I support that. I was at the Star Market Oct. 21 and asked if I wanted to sign the petition. I asked the gentleman about it and he proceeded to tell me a how the Brown Act was violated and nobody had a chance to see it before it was passed. I got upset with him but realize that he was not well informed and was probably just repeating something he was told. I sent an e-mail around describing the false statements and asking about the petition. I got a reply back from the city attorney that said, “Some of the opponents of the redistricting ordinance have argued that the ordinance which the council adopted was illegal. I do not believe that expressing this opinion in the course of circulating the referendum petition would render the gathering of the signatures illegal.” I agree. It would be a nightmare to make sure that everyone who signed a petition wasn't lied to. Best not to open that can of worms.
Council member Hawley, in her opinion piece to the Nov. 7 Daily Planet tries to paint the approved redistricting plan as a completely new one. Is she implying that the council cannot make any changes to the plans submitted? Clearly they can and clearly she is wrong. Is this just more false information to get signatures? I think so. What should we do when someone tells lies to get signatures? Spread the truth. People might still want to sign the petition, but then it will be for the right reasons-they simply didn’t like the approved redistricting plan.
District 8, Berkeley