“We Draw The Lines,” the much ballyhooed California Redistricting Commission has been held up as the standard for citizen-led redistricting, because it supposedly places the power of drawing districts in the hands of the voters, rather than partisan legislators. However, before their work had even begun the commission was riddled with talk about double-dealing and management problems. RedState reported back in May about accusations concerning a lack of transparency and closed-door meetings within the committee.
Thanks to the Dhillon Law Group, on behalf of California Globe, that chatter has been confirmed.
A recent California Public Records Act request by Attorneys Harmeet Dhillon, Michael Columbo and Mark Meuser (on behalf of California Globe editor Katy Grimes), produced evidence that members of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC) have been holding secret meetings. The public records request was based on concerns raised in a letter from Charles T. Munger to the California Redistricting Commission dated May 7, 2021, as well as an op-ed authored by two former CRC commissioners, Cynthia Dai and Jodie P. Filkins, dated July 14, 2021.
Attorney Columbo told the Globe the CPRA request yielded significant information not made public by the California Redistricting Commission – pages of handwritten notes and discussions, which were not part of regular, noticed redistricting commission meetings.
The redistricting commission provided the documents to the attorneys starting on October 22 and continuing through November 22, producing numerous pages of hand-written redistricting commissioners’ notes regarding redistricting meetings and communications with outside parties that were held in secret, and not during the noticed public CRC meetings documented on the CRC’s website.
The California Citizens Redistricting Commission held a committee meeting about a year ago, concerning Voting Rights Act (VRA) compliance. Some in the meeting expressed concerns that the committee had too much of a race-based focus in its analyses. Not only that, it was feared that certain members were using this analysis to make decisions on how voting lines would be drawn.
That’s not what the purpose of the VRA is for, but based on the notes and CPRA documents uncovered, it shows a strategy and pattern of hiding this analysis from the public.
The Dhillon Law Firm filed an Emergency Petition with the California Supreme Court Tuesday.
They are petitioning the court to:
Order the commission to stop having non-public meetings, and to disclose all meetings and discussions;
Disclose any and all analyses and information not shared with the public;
and they are asking the court to order the commission hire a new unbiased law firm. The current law firm represents the Legislature, politicians and candidates, but only Democrats.
Some of these shenanigans were no doubt reflected in the first draft of maps released in mid-November. These maps showed districts consisting of minority neighborhoods being hacked apart, and a trend toward breaking up Asian strongholds in the San Gabriel Valley and certain cities in Orange County. With the loss of one congressional district thanks to the California Adios, all eyes are also on the most populous County: Los Angeles. Political Professor and Commission member Sara Sadhwani told the San Francisco Gate that,
“We need to make changes in Los Angeles County, and even though most members believe the basic architecture in LA is looking good, as soon as we make a refinement, it impacts everything,” she said.”If you add one city in, you have to take another out, which has an impact on all of the districts surrounding the one you modified, and also has an impact on the area and entire state. Because we have a lot of refinements to do in LA, it will definitely impact things in San Diego and Orange County as well. We have our work cut out for us.”
No, sh*t, Sherlock. Now that it is obvious that certain members have been making an end-run around the VRA, maybe the commission will now actually come together and do the work that California citizens tasked them to do.