I don’t know what was finally decided.   Jana and I showed up to the Board of Supervisors meeting today so that I could speak to the redistricting proposals.  We had two very hungry (and bored) kids with us, so we had to leave early.  But it looked like of the three proposals the Committee put up, the Board was leaning towards 2a with some direction to “try” to find a way to let Sohum keep Weott.  If you live in Weott and you do not want to be moved into the First District, now is the time to speak up.

I attended in order to advocate for 3a or some version close to it.  It would remove Cutten from the First District and extend the First down through Sohum and over to Alderpoint.  I noted that it was the only proposal which does not impact the communities of interest which had been identified in the public meetings as facing potential severance – Sohum, Rio Dell-Fortuna, and Palmer Avenue-Fortuna.  3a not only preserves all of those communities, but gives Sohum candidates a fighting chance.

But the minute I started speaking about it, I could see that Jimmy Smith was not happy about the proposition of a major restructuring of his district.  And later, a speaker from McKinleyville advocated 2a in the interest of avoiding “too many changes.”  Jimmy and Virginia later reported hearing from constituents who also don’t want “too many changes.”  Thing is, I don’t remember the avoidance of “too many changes” being a factor of consideration for redistricting.

What happened is that some Cutten residents in particular, which would be moved into the Second District with Fortuna and Rio Dell, saw plans 2a and 6a reported, and chimed in.  Apparently some residents enjoy their big kid on the block status within the First District, and don’t want to be the kid junior to Fortuna in a new district.  Believe me, I can understand.

In any case, the Supervisors reported that there was a great deal of input over the last three days in opposition to “too many changes.”  Before I left Jimmy had made a motion to accept the 2a framework and direct the committee to try to find a way to keep Weott in the Second District.  They were discussing additional details when I had to leave.  Mark Lovelace suggested that maybe they would accomplish it by allowing more of a variance in district sizes.  Pretty much Carolyn had been trying to keep them all within a hundred residents of each other.

Other than the Mckinleyville resident whose name I did not catch, nobody in the audience spoke in favor of avoiding “too many changes.”  And since the anti-“too many changes” faction has gotten their way, I don’t expect them to participate in the public discussions any more than they have up to now.

On the upside, Sohum was really the only community of interest which took the effort to make it to today’s meeting.  About half a dozen of us, including Estelle, Bonnie of CLMP, and Jim Ferguson spoke.  Sohum probably won’t be broken up, but it is clear that we have to speak much louder than, say, Cutten residents, in order to be heard.

Addendum:  In rereading my post, I think it sounds a little more bitter than I had intended.  The Supervisors did listen intently to the speakers, and I believe sincerely balanced the considerations in the way they believe is best for all concerned.  But it is frustrating that Carolyn and the committee have held so many public meetings, and generated several proposals based upon the input at those meetings, and yet the whole discussion is significantly altered by phone calls and e-mails made over the past few days from people who did not participate in the discussions with varying stakeholders.  There are probably some very good reasons Cutten residents don’t want to be severed from the districts to their west.  But they were never integrated into the discussion, and now we’re locked into one proposal without the benefit of the discussion.  I would rather the Board have tabled any decision as to which plan was chosen until that discussion could take place.

Second addendum:  Hank covered the hearing as well.

Third addendum:  The Times Standard story says that they basically moved to direct the committee to come up with variations of 2a which would address the issues raised by the testimony yesterday.  I don’t see how that’s possible, but if the outlying areas of Fortuna and Scotia don’t speak up soon, they will find themselves in District 1.  I’m fairly certain that Weott will not be moved.

Redheaded Blackbelt also has a post on subject.

The McKinleyville resident’s name is Brian Mitchel, who is quoted in the TS:

Mitchell suggested moving some precincts that had been put in the 4th District back into the 1st District. He said this would keep the city of Eureka’s 4th Ward boundaries within one supervisorial district and reduces the number of residents who would have their elected county official change.

Again, reducing the number of residents who would have their elected county official change is explicitly excluded from consideration under state law.  It’s all about preservation of communities of interest.  2a impacts several communities of interest.   3a, in theory, impacts one.

Fourth addendum:  I believe that Jimmy will be on Dennis’ show Monday morning to discuss the issue.  I am trying to get Virginia and Clif onto my show tomorrow night, but it is very short notice.   I also invited Jimmy, but he has an election committee meeting at the same time.  Not sure if Clif and/or Virginia will have the same conflict.

Fifth Addendum:  The video of the hearing is up.

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