Redistricting Referendum Lawsuit Dismissed

Friday, December 9th, 2011

The county commission district lawsuit was dismissed today. Here is the Redistricting Case Opinion. It the decision is not reversed, the redrawn districts will stand for next year’s elections in the two Eugene districts.

Poll: Eugene Voters Oppose Lane Redistricting Plan

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

New numbers just posted are a mixed bag for proponents and opponents of the Lane County redistricting plan. Eugene voters oppose it 38 to 13 with 49 percent undecided.

There are two sides to this:
1. The 3-1 opposition is a bad thing for the plan. It’s safe to say the plan’s advocates have been creamed in the PR war.
2. The 50 percent who have no opinion means this is far from a life-or-death issue in Eugene politics. There clearly is no mass opposition, yet. If a judge does decide to allow signature gathering, the lack of an interested electorate will make it much more difficult for the opponents to gather signatures, let alone on the abbreviated referendum time line.

The poll’s interviews were conducted Monday and Tuesday nights of this week.

Lane County Commissioner redistricting by Pat Farr

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Lane County Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve Scenario 8, Ordinance No. 9-11, redistricting the five Commissioner Districts.  Follow this link to see the ordinance and the maps of the new districts.

http://www.lanecounty.org/Departments/BCC/Documents/OrdinanceNo9-11_2011-10-14.pdf

Note that the new alignment balances urban/rural and Eugene/Springfield districts well, but removes a block of City Council Ward 6 voters from the North Eugene district, placing them in West Lane.

Keeping Bethel Together by Pat Farr

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

The residents of Bethel turned out in force to remind the County Commissioners that they stand united in keeping their district whole.  The Commissioners eliminated any consideration of splitting Bethel by forwarding three scenarios for the redistricting that will take place in November that include a united Bethel.

The Register Guard missed the main point of the testimony.  It was reported that “gerrymandering” was the focus of the testimony.  I sat in the room through the entire testimony period and beyond, and repeatedly a strong message was to keep Bethel whole.  That wasn’t reported in the paper.

Thanks to Paul Jorgensen, Mark Peeters and many, many others for providing written or oral testimony.

Even Mayor Kitty Piercy repeated words printed in a Forum Lane report from yesterday.

Redistricting that makes smaller adjustments around the edges of the metro area instead of wholesale shifts would better serve both the voting public, the mix of demographics in county commission districts and ultimately would bring about the best decision making that takes into account the needs and wants of the broad range of Lane County residents.

Check out the three redistricting scenarios that will move forward to a First Reading next week:

http://www.lanecounty.org/Departments/CAO/Pages/Redistricting.aspx

County Redistricting: Keep Bethel Together by Pat Farr

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Any Lane County redistricting proposal that splits Bethel in two or kicks Bethel out of a metropolitan County Commissioner representation district should be rejected by the Board of County Commissioners.

County Commissioners are considering seven posted proposals offered to them by a redistricting committee for redrawing the lines inside of which voters elect their county commission representative.  The lines should be drawn to place voters in districts that have their views and interests most closely represented by a Commissioner who can serve them well.  This means the Commissioner should have an understanding of the needs of the people who live in their particular area.

The lines currently come close to matching urban and rural commissioners with their constituency.  The Commission is responsible to ensure that all districts are close to even in population, and the existing districts are within 1% of the center point of dead even.

To view the seven posted proposals, which include current boundaries, go to:

http://www.lanecounty.org/Departments/CAO/Documents/Redistricting%202011/Scenario%20Maps%201-7.pdf

Bethel , in Northwest Eugene is mainly inside the city limits of Eugene, entirely served by the Bethel School District and contains within its bounds Eugene City Council Ward 6 in its entirety.  Bethel is currently almost completely inside the North Eugene County Commission district boundary.

Bethel citizens have felt separated from the City in that they historically have received fewer city services than other parts of Eugene.  This historic trend has been reversed in recent years and Bethel is beginning to achieve parity with the rest of the city.  Parks have been added, a fire station has been built, a library branch is in place.  The Bethel School District in recent years has added two grade schools, two middle schools and a high school.

Any redistricting that isolates Ward 6 residents from the other seven wards of the city serves no positive purpose and further isolates the needs of the Bethel community.

Redistricting that pushes seven or more Bethel schools outside of the metro commission districts and into a rural-oriented district would also further isolate the community.  In recent years the Bethel School District has added five schools (Meadowview and Prairie Mountain each are both a k-5 grade school and a grade 6-8 middle school; Kalapuya High School is an alternative school supplementing Willamette High).

Through the years I have often had to remind people that the city of Eugene has five traditional public high schools in its limits, not the four that are frequently spoken about. 

While Bethel has its own identity it needs to be a part of the city in all ways.

Removing their urban representation on the Lane County Commission would further isolate the area and further disenfranchise the people who live there.  Placing Bethel voters in a district that includes Florence, Blachly, Chesire, Walton and Mapleton instead of the adjacent and more similar Eugene metropolitan district would be a serious blow to their sense of representation on the board.

The people of Bethel are better served by a county commissioner who has greater ties to the metropolitan area than to the rural west county district. 

Placing the newer residential developments that are inside the city limits in a district with distinctly rural constituents would bring about a very starkly contrasted county commissioner district

Bethel has provided three of the last five county commissioners elected from the North Eugene County Commission district.

A scenario that results in a large voting segment in Eugene being placed in what is now a rural district could easily have the result of three county commissioners being from inside the city of Eugene as early as 2004, thereby placing four of five county commissioners inside the Eugene/Springfield metro area.

Redistricting that makes smaller adjustments around the edges of the metro area instead of wholesale shifts would better serve both the voting public, the mix of demographics in county commission districts and ultimately would bring about the best decision making that takes into account the needs and wants of the broad range of Lane County residents.

Eugene Council Ward Redistricting by Pat Farr

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

The Eugene City Council is in the process of reshaping the Council Wards, an event that happens every ten years after the US Census is completed and numbers are published.  Ward populations determined by the 2010 US Census will be used.  The Federal population figures differ markedly in some areas, particularly in Alan Zelenka’s Ward 3, from the earlier projections published by Portland State University.

 The Council will try to achieve balance in the numbers of people represented by each City Councilor within a range designed to project future Ward growth or shrink.  That range should be plus or minus 5% of the target population for each Ward, which is 1/8 of the total city population (around 19,500 per Ward).

A number of factors will be looked at when boundaries are considered, among them:

        Geographic features (such as rivers)

        Ideological of phlosophical differences of the residents (as made evident by voting patterns)

        Residence of current councilors (in 2001 Bonnie Bettman and Gary Rayor were redistricted into the same Council Ward)

Of these three considerations, geography and ideology make absolute sense.  Where current Councilors live should be of zero consideration.

In looking at the population map and considering voting patterns, two things become evident. 

    1.  Ward 6, my district, needs to shrink geographically to approach the target population, and

    2.  Ward 7, Andrea Ortiz’ district, is both geographically and ideologically a mess.

Ward redistricting should place a priority on addressing these two issues. 

I’ll write about that in a subsequent posting.

Eugene’s Gonna Change–Ward Redistricting by Pat Farr

Monday, April 4th, 2011

 

Every ten years after the US census data has been compiled the Eugene City Council is tasked with redrawing the eight Council Ward boundaries—redistricting.  This ensures that roughly equal numbers of people live in each of the wards.  As the city grows in population the Wards grow at uneven rates, necessitating the redistricting.

The work of the Council will be to try to provide equal representation on the City Council by the elected policy-making officials. 

Today, because of imbalanced population growth, according to preliminary estimates, the Wards are out of balance.  The four South and Central Eugene Wards posess more Council voting leverage than the four North and West Eugene Wards.

Redistricting can be very contentious and even very political.  I was serving on the Council ten years ago the last time redistricting happened.  The process took a long time, but eventually a compromise was reached.  Councilor Gary Rayor turned out to be the hero of the day.  He and Bonny Bettman were redistricted into the same ward by necessity of population shift, leaving Ward 4 without a Councilor. 

Either Bettman or Rayor would have to finish their term as Councilor in a Ward where they didn’t live, making them ineligible for reelection.  Rayor sacrificed his potential second term by volunteering to serve out his first and only term as an absentee Councilor.  What would likely have been a significant battle was averted.

Between now and the end of this year the Council will be responsible for redistricting what is currently a decidedly unbalanced city.

Each Ward should have about 12-1/2% of the city’s population.  For example, by Portland State University’s Population Research Center current estimate, Ward 6 (my Ward) has about 16.92% over that amount while Ward 3, Alan Zelenka’s Ward has about 20.64% below the prescribed even split.  That’s a difference of about one third of a Ward.  A pretty significant difference, which allows Ward 3 voters to, in effect, be significantly numerically more strongly represented in Council voting than Ward 6 voters.

It becomes even more imbalanced, if the estimates are accurate, when considering the balance all eight Wards, which show the four Wards represented by Councilors Zelenka, Ortiz, Brown and Taylor each to have below the 12-1/2% median while the other four, represented by Councilors Farr, Pryor, Poling and Clark are each above the median. 

Which points out that the four under populated Wards will have to expand in some way into the four over populated ones.  And thus are drawn the lines of discussion regarding the fate of the four South or Central Eugene under populated Wards and the four Wards in North and West Eugene.

To see the graph of early estimated Ward representation differential and analysis go to http://lindholmcompanyblog.com/?p=5497

Let the fun begin.  Watch closely.