Many problems with approved district lines

Robert Cabrera
Friday November 16, 2001


Mim Hawley’s letter describing the gerrymandered redistricting effort are truly disturbing, but there are other aspects that should be addressed as well. 

For starters, the document is not very clear; the new districts are not described by actual geographic boundaries - instead they are defined via a list of meaningless voting block numbers. This is a deceitful and undemocratic act meant to confuse rather than to enlighten. 

One of these blocks includes the area in which the US Census missed over 4,400 students. Thus the redistricting plan increases the population of District 8 from 12,800 to 17,000. I would call this stealth gerrymandering of the basest sort. 

The Council majority which passed this redistricting plan, claims that this proposal is about balance because now District 8 is 50 percent students - up from 39 percent. If the council majority is genuinely interested in balance, perhaps boundaries should be redrawn to reflect an equal representation of students in each of the eight districts. 

The redistricting is not about balance but pure political power as was revealed at a recent council meeting where Linda Maio admitted that all of this was only about saving Councilmember Worthington’s seat. 

The truth is that in one stroke the Council Majority sought to disenfranchise students by making it more difficult for them to run a student challenger in the undisputed student district (Mr. Worthington’s), and to undermine Polly Armstrong’s district by disenfranchising voters in District 8 where now their votes count for two-thirds of a vote. 

As Mim Hawley mentioned, there is currently a grass roots effort underway to collect signatures to rescind this deceitful and politically motivated action. 

In the end it will be the democratic process - not the political machine - which will have the last word. 

Robert Cabrera 


Berkeley Property Owners Association president 


editor’s note: the petition effort has ended and appears success