The Editor's Back Fence

Students Present Re-Districting Proposal Despite Mayoral Harassment

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday July 20, 2011 - 02:02:00 PM

A not-so-nice moment about 20 minutes into last night's Berkeley City Council meeting, which I watched online, came when a serious and charming group of young people attempted to present a council redistricting formula which they'd created in less than a week during the council's pre-meeting public comment time, which is limited to 5 speakers on a subject not on the council agenda. 

For reasons not easy to understand, Mayor Tom Bates thought that they were commenting on another proposal, an agenda item from Councilmember Gordon Wozniak, extending the deadline for submitting redistricting proposals in order to give U.C. students now on vacation a chance to submit their proposals, which might or might not result in a bid for a student super-majority district. 

Bates gave a credible imitation of the old guys who yell "Get off my lawn, you damn kids", who can be seen in many irreverent YouTube videos. The young people retired in good grace, and made their comments during the Wozniak item instead,even though most of them don't even go to UC and were not promoting a student district per se. 

If you want to know what they actually proposed, Frances Dinkelspiel Robert Mills at has a good account.  

Wozniak's item, which in its original form would have delayed redistricting until after the next council race, was modified by the council in their final vote so that redistricting can proceed faster in the fall, while still giving a bit more drafting time to U.C. students if they want it.