Connect with us

Bay Area

Redistricting Monitors Say Their Efforts Helped Protect the Black Vote

The maps of the state’s electoral districts — updated once every decade to reflect the latest (2020) census count of population shifts and other demographic changes — will be used until 2031 to determine political representation in all statewide elections.

Published

on

Members of the California Redistricting Commissioners on Dec. 27, 2021, the day their report was to be turned over to the California Secretary of State’s Office. Photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.
Members of the California Redistricting Commissioners on Dec. 27, 2021, the day their report was to be turned over to the California Secretary of State’s Office. Photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

By Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media

An advocacy group that fights for fair political representation of African Americans in California says it is pleased with the results of the state’s recent redistricting process.

Last year, the California Black Census and Redistricting Hub coalition, a.k.a. the Black Hub, led a grassroots initiative to ensure the state’s electoral map drawing process did not water down the voting power of African Americans across the state.

Last week, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission (CCRC) delivered finalized maps for the state’s U.S. Congress, State Senate, Assembly, and Board of Equalization voting districts to the Secretary of State’s office.

The maps of the state’s electoral districts — updated once every decade to reflect the latest (2020) census count of population shifts and other demographic changes — will be used until 2031 to determine political representation in all statewide elections.

“All things considered, the (CCRC) had an arduous task. We commend their commitment to including Black voices in the redistricting process,” said James Woodson, policy director of the Black Hub.

Woodson said, in the Black Hub’s view, the CCRC did the best job possible within the rules of the “line-drawing process” to not disenfranchise “Black communities of interest.”

“Even in the areas where we didn’t get the perfect outcome, their attempts to consider the feedback of Black residents were fair. We are satisfied with the results,” Woodson continued.

Over the last three months, the CCRC drew four Board of Equalization districts, 52 Congressional districts, 40 Senatorial districts, and 80 Assembly districts.

During the process, the Black Hub coalition submitted draft maps to the commission based on community feedback they collected from hosting 51 listening sessions throughout California. The hub’s renderings, intended to guide the CRC’s decision-making process, reflected ideal boundaries for greater equity in redistricting while simultaneously identifying opportunities to protect and increase Black political representation.

The Black Hub is a coalition of over 30 Black-led and Black-serving grassroots organizations focused on racial justice throughout California. Two years ago, the alliance organized another initiative to maximize the participation of Black Californians in the 2020 Census count.

CRCC Chair Isra Ahmad, who is employed as a senior research evaluation specialist with Santa Clara County’s Division of Equity and Social Justice, said the commission welcomed the feedback of people across the state.

“We drew district maps in an open and transparent manner that did more than merely allow public input — we actively sought and encouraged broad public participation in the process through a massive education and outreach program, afforded to us by the delay in receiving the census data,” she explained.

The CRCC is composed of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four Californians unaffiliated with either political party. They represent a variety of personal and professional backgrounds and come from different parts of the state.

During the map-drawing process, the commission received letters and comments from a wide range of interested citizens, activists and advocacy organizations, all offering suggestions for how the CCRC should set geographic boundaries for districts. Often, those requests offered opposing ideas.

“This was a very complicated process to understand and there were so many people who organized calls, developed social media campaigns and distributed information,” said Kellie Todd Griffin, convening founder of the California Black Women’s Collective, which launched a public awareness campaign to increase Black Californians participation in the CCRC public hearings. “Their actions helped ensure that the voices of our community were heard and valued when understanding our interest and our assets. It’s important that we keep this engagement active and continue to elevate the voice of California’s Black population.”

Last November, the California/Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP informed the CCRC that it was “prepared to take legal action” if draft maps released to the public for comment last fall remained the way they were drafted.

Rick Callender, president of the California-Hawaii NAACP, said those iterations of the Assembly and Senate district maps for Los Angeles County and areas of the East Bay would have diluted Black political power. Los Angeles County and the East Bay are regions in the state where the highest numbers of Black Americans live.

During a news conference held before the commissioners delivered their final report to Secretary of State Shirley Weber’s office, the CCRC said it stood by its work and and took pride in the fact that the maps were drawn by hand.

CCRC Commissioner Trena Turner (Democrat), a pastor and the executive director at Faith in the Valley, a multi-cultural, multi-faith community organizing network in the San Joaquin Central Valley, said the commission read as many public statements and news articles about redistricting as it could.

Turner said specific feedback like that heightened the commission’s awareness.

“What that did, by writing the articles that they did, they served notice. So, we were mindful that we were hearing their voices,” Turner told California Black Media (CBM).

Redistricting Commissioner Derric Taylor (Republican), a Black investigator with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and active volunteer, mentor, coach in the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley areas, told CBM that the only way to address Callendar’s and other interested parties’ concerns was by reading reports by the media.

If the concerns were not voiced in a public meeting, the commission had to adhere to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act.

California’s Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act requires all state boards and commissions to publicly notice their meetings, prepare agendas, and accept public testimony in public unless specifically authorized to meet in closed session.

“The commission is bound by Bagley Keene,” Taylor said, adding that CCRC members could only discuss or address public comments “in a meeting or open forum to adhere to transparency.”

Because the federal government released the U.S. Census data the commission relies on to draw maps late, the CCRC made a request to the California Supreme Court to move their Dec. 15 deadline for final maps back by nearly a month, to Jan. 14, 2022. The state Supreme Court compromised and set the deadline for Dec. 27, 2021.

“I want to thank the Redistricting Commissioners for their hard work under challenging circumstances. We will now send these maps to the Legislature and to all 58 counties for implementation,” Secretary of State Weber responded after her office received the final maps.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Bay Area

Planning Commission to Hold Public Hearing on Oakland A’s Real Estate Project

The Planning Commission will consider whether the Final EIR was completed in compliance with state law, represents the independent analysis of the city, and provides adequate information to decision-makers and the public on the potential adverse environmental effects of the proposed project, as well as ways in which those effects might be mitigated or avoided.

Published

on

By Post Staff

The Oakland Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the Oakland A’s Stadium and Real Estate Development. It will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 19, at 3 p.m., according to a city media release.

“During the hearing, the Planning Commission will consider whether the Final EIR was completed in compliance with state law, represents the independent analysis of the city, and provides adequate information to decision-makers and the public on the potential adverse environmental effects of the proposed project, as well as ways in which those effects might be mitigated or avoided” according to the media release.

The 3,500-page report was released the week before Christmas 2021, leaving little time for community advocates to read and critique the report.

After the commission makes a recommendation, the Oakland City Council will consider certification of the Final EIR, likely in February. A “yes” vote by the council does not mean the project is approved but is a major first step toward approval.

Community advocates are asking the commission to postpone the meeting, so that the community has time to read and analyze the 3,500-page report in time to provide public comment. You can contact the commission at drarmstrong@oaklandca.gov or cpayne@oaklandca.gov.

The following are Planning Commission members:

• Clark Manus, Chair

• Jonathan Fearn, Vice-Chair

• Sahar Shiraz

• Tom Limon

• Vince Sugrue

• Jennifer Renk

• Leopold A Ray-Lynch

To read the Final EIR, go to:  https://bit.ly/32KZ3pT

 

Continue Reading

Bay Area

Port of Oakland Aims to Help Agriculture Producers Export Products More Quickly

“The Port — along with our federal and state partners — is ready to do everything we can to help provide room and relief to help our agricultural customers,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan in a statement. The yard is just one step the Port is taking to help agriculture exporters who have had fewer containers in Oakland with which to export their products.

Published

on

The Port of Oakland and the Oakland skyline in the late 2010s. (Photo courtesy the Port of Oakland/Kelly Patrick Dugan)
The Port of Oakland and the Oakland skyline in the late 2010s. (Photo courtesy the Port of Oakland/Kelly Patrick Dugan)

By Keith Burbank, Bay City News

The flow of agricultural exports may improve at the Port of Oakland after it sets aside quick-access space for containers, assists exporters, and if more cargo carriers restore service to Oakland, port officials said Monday.

Twenty-five acres will be used to operate an off-terminal, paved yard to store containers for rapid pick-up following their removal from chassis.

The yard, which may open in March, will allow trucks to turn around more quickly than is currently possible in the terminal. Agricultural exporters will also get help using the yard from state and federal agencies.

“The Port — along with our federal and state partners — is ready to do everything we can to help provide room and relief to help our agricultural customers,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan in a statement.

The yard is just one step the Port is taking to help agriculture exporters who have had fewer containers in Oakland with which to export their products.

But it’s not entirely clear the yard will make a huge difference unless more ships stop at the Port to pick up the exports.

“We need the shipping companies to immediately restore the export lines from Oakland to Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes said.

Port officials have restored one key route to Tokyo and China. Also, four carriers have recently made Oakland their first stop en route from Asia. But that may not be enough to relieve the shortage of export containers in Oakland.

An import surge in the U.S. has ships waiting to offload cargo in Southern California. When they do, they offload cargo that would typically come to Oakland and then turn around and immediately go back to Asia.

The containers that could be used for exports never make it to Oakland.

Port cargo volume is typically 50% imports and 50% exports so usually enough containers exist at the Port.

Many agricultural exporters and meat producers prefer to ship their products through Oakland because it’s closer than other ports.

The container shortage has been a problem for a year. The problem recently prompted a meeting between farm producers, transportation executives and Port officials and resulted in the steps the Port is now taking.

A solution is important because the state’s agricultural export industry is worth billions of dollars.

Continue Reading

Alton Thomas Stiles

California Adds Twist to New CDC Advice on Quarantines

California’s updated guidance differs from the CDC’s in one important way. The state is recommending that people who quarantine after a positive diagnosis take a follow-up test and get a negative result before ending isolation. The CDC’s guidelines do not include taking another test after quarantining.

Published

on

A masked worker stands behind a sign warning of a quarantine. iStock photo.
A masked worker stands behind a sign warning of a quarantine. iStock photo.

By Aldon Thomas Stiles, California Black Media

The Monday after Christmas, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shortened its COVID-19 quarantine recommendation by half.

That same day, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Twitter that California will follow suit, recommending a five-day isolation period instead of the state’s former guidance of 10 days.

“California will align with the CDC’s updated guidelines for isolation and quarantine time,” Newsom tweeted.

However, California’s updated guidance differs from the CDC’s in one important way. The state is recommending that people who quarantine after a positive diagnosis take a follow-up test and get a negative result before ending isolation.

The CDC’s guidelines do not include taking another test after quarantining.

The CDC said its decision, in part, is based on science that shows people are most infectious during the first five days of catching the virus.

In an interview with NPR, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said another rationale for the new shortened guidance is the concern for keeping industries that are critical to the national economy operating.

Sharing this concern, Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian, along with the company’s medical advisor Dr. Carlos del Rio and Chief Health Officer Dr. Henry Ting, sent a letter to Walensky less than a week before CDC’s updated recommendation, requesting a five-day isolation period for Delta’s fully vaccinated employees.

The letter argued that the previous guidelines were out of date and did not account for vaccinations.

It also argued that the former 10-day isolation period would hurt business because with the spread of the Omicron variant, vaccinated workers who do catch COVID-19 would be out for a longer period of time.

“With the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, the 10-day isolation for those who are fully vaccinated may significantly impact our workforce and operations,” the letter read. “Similar to healthcare, police, fire, and public transportation workforces, the Omicron surge may exacerbate shortages and create significant disruptions.”

In December 2020, the CDC shortened its previous recommendation of a 14-day isolation period to 10 days.

California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.

Continue Reading

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending