After last week's County Redistricting Committee meeting was adjourned, Supervisor Dan Hamburg ambled in to privately discuss the Committee’s work with a few of the people in the room. Hamburg had not attended any previous meetings and, therefore, was unaware of the Committee’s rationales concerning various options under consideration.) During the meeting (when Hamburg was absent) Fifth District “conservatives” — Yorkville rancher Larry Mailliard, Boonville cattle rancher Peter Bradford and Farm Bureau stalwart Janet Pauli —told the Committee that they didn’t like the idea of the Village of Mendocino being the dominant voting bloc in the Fifth District because it meant that oceanview bubble bath people were over-represented while traditional agriculture wasn’t represented at all. Real ag in Mendocino County, of course, consists mostly of 14 percent grape juice and 38 percent THC weed, with the grape juice people joining Mendocino Village's tourism forces to form a seemingly insurmountable voting bloc. The theatrical Lee Edmundson, the Mendocino man who puts the Coast in Coastlib, was also at the redistricting meeting. He informed the Committee that Mendocino was the “capitol of the Fifth District” and should not be floated a few miles north for union with Fort Bragg, a move that would concentrate Mendolib in one voting district.
The input from Mailliard, Bradford and Edmundson was the first mention of political considerations that the Committee has heard in more than two months of deliberations. One of the options under consideration would move Mendocino into the Fourth District (with Fort Bragg) which, according to its proponents makes some sense because Fort Bragg is no longer the fishing/logging/mill town that it was 20 years ago when the current district boundaries were established. Tourist-dependent Mendocino now has more in common with tourist-dependent Fort Bragg than it did twenty years ago. But moving Mendocino’s purple pwogs out of the Fifth District and into the now purplish 4th would require that comparable numbers be roped into the Fifth from other districts to restore the required population balance, a difficult process given that the Fifth District is already under the minimum population within its existing boundaries. (We assume a radical population undercount in the Fifth. We know that large numbers of legal Mexican immigrants went uncounted and, for instance, our address, home to three full-time citizens, was left out of the half-arsed Census process altogether.)
However, none of these considerations kept Hamburg from rushing out to the “liberal” listserves with this message: “As of today, the redistricting committee is considering two active alternatives, with presentation to the Board of Supervisors scheduled for July 26. One of those proposals removes Mendocino from the 5th. This proposal (Option E2) is not acceptable to me. It will dilute the progressive vote on the Mendocino coast (and thus in the county) without creating ‘communities of interest’ as required by law. Please attend the last meeting on July 20, 3pm, at 501 Low Gap in Ukiah, or write to the Redistricting Committee (c/o CEO; 501 Low Gap; Ukiah, CA 95482). — Hamburg continued: "What Messrs. Bradford and Mailliard want is a different supervisor. Perhaps they should move into a different district instead of attacking the mixed character of the 5th. Both the 1st and the 3rd are strong agricultural districts with Carre Brown, longtime exec. director of the Farm Bureau representing the 1st and cattle rancher John Pinches representing the 3rd. And don't forget that timber and ag have their own ‘special seats’ on the county Planning Commission. I hardly think that ag is underrepresented on the Board of Supervisors and the Commission.”
Hamburg is certainly welcome to his opinion about how the districts are laid out. And he’ll get his chance to weigh in when the Committee makes its recommendations to the Supervisors in a couple of weeks. But why would he rush to the shut-ins of the listserves to denounce only one of the options when 1. He hasn’t heard the Committee’s reasons for considering them, and 2. the Committee hasn’t decided what they’re going to recommend to the Board? Further, whether the Fifth District is “progressive” or not should have nothing to do with the redistricting process. Nor are “communties of interest” (whatever that may mean) a legal requirement — only population balance is required. Everything is else optional. Hamburg is wayyyyyyy outta line in attempting to make the redistricting process a political one. Would Hamburg mind if, say, Supervisor Carre Brown tried to insure that her district remained relatively “conservative”? The fact is lots of people — from various political perspectives — don’t like FruFruTown deciding who gets to be Fifth District Supervisor, and by "communities of interest" Hamburg obviously means the people who voted for him, and only those people.