Saturday, August 20, 2011

Special strokes for special folks

Redistricting may sound like a dry topic but I assure you it's not. Redistricting is the church key that has pried open San Diego's can of worms and exposed to the light of day clods of hungry and competitive special interests that ordinarily maneuver underground. Redistricting has also unearthed big dollops of intra and inter-community strife, ethnic and racial tensions, and delusions of entitlement. It's a surefire way to get to know your city from a new perspective.

Earlier this summer I explained the process of San Diego redistricting this way: “Our city is currently engaged in REDISTRICTING -- drawing new boundary lines for City Council districts that will more or less equalize the number of San Diegans in each district.  This task is in the hands of a 7-member Redistricting Commission, which also has the added responsibility of carving out a new (9th) Council district” (see July 4,The Size of the Mayor’s Clout).
The target deadline for ratifying a final map is August 25. The job is almost -- but not quite -- finished.  In fact, new turns of events threaten to derail what was expected to be a respectable conclusion to the Commission’s lengthy efforts, and they could result in an expensive and disruptive detour for our city.

One brouhaha involves last-minute resistance by a cluster of Asian-Americans (apparently organized and spearheaded by their Caucasian suburban neighbors) to the formation of an Asian-Pacific Islander "influence" district in the north-central tier of the city, drawn to include Clairemont Mesa, Kearny Mesa, Mira Mesa, and a part of Rancho Penasquitos that includes their neighborhood of Park Village.

The other brouhaha involves the Redistricting Commission's decision to designate the city’s newest Council district as a Latino majority/multi-ethnic “empowerment” area in the part of town just south of I-8, behind and below where you’ll find San Diego State University.
Although it was disquieting to hear the objections of many dissenters not wishing to have their "whiter" suburban-style College-area neighborhoods included in this new District 9, general goodwill and civility on the part of these neighborhoods seem to have won the day.

But no such luck with the community of Kensington, which has been fighting with considerable muscle and political clout to extract and distance itself from the poorer and "browner" new multi-ethnic District 9.
Just last week, Kensington successfully engaged the cooperation of a majority of Redistricting Commissioners, who voted to violate their own oft-stated core principle of preserving communities intact and substituted a new principle called special strokes for special folks.
They redrew the redistricting map and set Kensington free from (undesirable?) neighbors residing in the newly created District 9 and from equally disposable fellow-Kensington residents. 

How? by hacking off the southern part of Kensington where its poorer, browner residents live; by slicing in half the unsuspecting next-door community of Normal Heights; by amputating Kensington’s sister-neighborhood Talmadge (too declasse? sleepy? undistinguished?); and by throwing them all into District 9.  Then by tenderly depositing the northern, affluent, picturesque portion of Kensington into the up-and-coming, politically well-connected Council District 3 lying to the west.  No justification, backup, principles, or standards required.  
Four Redistricting Commissioners gave their OK to this back-alley surgical procedure. Three said NO WAY.
Should there be a revote at the upcoming Redistricting Commission meeting this Monday, 2pm, at City Hall that reverses this unworthy action, some prominent Kensington people are already whispering referendum...lawsuit...

Apparently there are a number of San Diegans who consider coddling a right to which they are exclusively and unmitigatedly entitled.  
to be continued...