Category Archives: Politics

City of Berkeley heads to court over redistricting lines

The city has filed a lawsuit to ask a judge to decide which lines to use during November's election. (Click to learn more.)
Print Friendly

The city of Berkeley has filed a lawsuit against the Alameda County registrar of voters and the Berkeley city clerk to determine which district lines to use in the November 2014 election.

City officials say the lawsuit is necessary to determine district lines after a successful referendum drive by some Berkeley voters earlier this year halted the use of a new district map adopted by a 6-3 vote by the Berkeley City Council in December.

The city is required to redraw district lines every decade to rebalance the population across Berkeley’s eight council districts.

Three members of the council — Kriss Worthington (District 7), Jesse Arreguín (District 4) and Max Anderson (District 3) — have taken issue with the adopted map, primarily due to the boundaries of District 7. The district, as adopted, features a majority of student-aged voters, but detractors say it cuts out some of the most progressive members of the Cal community by failing to incorporate several blocks north and east of campus, which include co-op housing and other group living accommodations such as dorms and International House. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Official pushes for independent redistricting panel

Councilman Jesse Arreguin. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

Berkeley Councilman Jesse Arreguín has launched a ballot initiative to change the city’s approach to redistricting, arguing that “partisan self interest” and a “broken” process have crippled recent efforts, as well as those during the last redistricting attempt more than a decade ago.

Arreguín wants the city to create an independent citizen redistricting commission “that will be insulated from political influence, represent the diversity of the community, and develop lines based on objective criteria that are also not bound by incumbency.”

Among the changes he would like to see is the removal of a current requirement that sitting council members must be included within any proposed district lines that are submitted.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Council majority pushes redistricting decisions to March

Many of the speakers who came to Tuesday night's council meeting oppose a redistricting ordinance adopted in December. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

In a 6-3 vote, a Berkeley City Council majority ruled Tuesday night to wait until at least March 11 to make a decision on whether to repeal the city’s recently adopted redistricting ordinance or put the new district lines to the voters in November.

Council members Kriss Worthington, Jesse Arreguín and Max Anderson pushed on Tuesday night for council to rescind the ordinance, which was approved in December, in favor of an alternative map. But others on the dais said they wanted more time before taking any additional steps.

Detractors of the new ordinance led a successful signature-gathering campaign in January to force council to repeal the ordinance and adopt a new map, or put it before the voters later this year. New district lines are required to balance the population as much as possible across the city’s eight council districts. The adopted map does that, but some say it unfairly cuts out many “progressive” voices from District 7, which is represented by Worthington.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Berkeley redistricting referendum effort prevails

Xan Join collected a number of signatures in late December. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Print Friendly

An effort underway over the past month to force the Berkeley City Council to revoke a recently adopted redistricting map, or put the council district issue before the voters later this year, has officially collected enough signatures for the referendum to proceed, city staff said Monday evening.

The Berkeley Referendum Coalition turned in 7,867 signatures, which were filed with the Berkeley city clerk Jan. 21.

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters examined a random sampling of 429 of those signatures, and found that the group would have more than enough valid names on the list, said city spokesman Matthai Chakko. To force a referendum, 5,275 of the signatures needed to be valid.

The successful signature drive means the redistricting ordinance adopted in December is now suspended. Council will consider whether to take back its vote and reconsider the topic, or put the issue before the voters.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,
Politics

Long-time Berkeley progressives back referendum drive

City council members Kriss Worthington, Jesse Arreguin and members the Berkeley Referendum Campaign turn in signatures to the city clerk’s office on Jan 21. Photo: Anthony Sanchez
Print Friendly

The group that collected 7,896 signatures to force a City Council redistricting plan onto the ballot spent more than $5,000 on paid signature gatherers in January, but only raised $2,790, according to a campaign disclosure report filed with the city.

The single largest contributor to the campaign was Michael O’Malley who co-owns The Daily Planet with his wife Becky. The O’Malleys are a politically progressive couple who are often critical of Mayor Tom Bates and his more moderate allies on the council. Michael O’Malley contributed $1,000 to the referendum effort. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Redistricting opponents secure signatures to force vote

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 12.55.58 PM
Print Friendly

Opponents of a redistricting plan adopted by the City Council in December turned in 7,876 signatures to the City Clerk’s office on Tuesday that they hope will lead to a redrawing of District 7 boundaries.

Despite the fact that UC Berkeley students, who would be most affected by the changes, were on vacation during the 30 days opponents had to collect signatures, the Berkeley Referendum Campaign gathered more than the 5,275 necessary to reconsider the map, according to City Councilman Kriss Worthington. He led the drive along with City Councilman Jesse Arreguin. That response shows just how disenfranchised many Berkeley residents felt by the new redistricting lines, he said.

“Many progressives saw it (the redistricting plan adopted by the council) as classic gerrymandering for the advantage of a moderate candidate,” said Worthington. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

$2,750 fine assessed after Measure S campaign violations

The FCPC commissioners review their papers in a fall meeting. (Note: Some of these commissioners are no longer serving.)  Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Print Friendly

Update, Jan. 17: Berkeley’s Fair Campaign Practices Commission voted Thursday night to increase the fine for “Yes on S” campaign violations to $3,750, according to the East Bay Express. The campaign had failed to list the individual names of canvassers hired on election day 2012, made cash payments to them that should have been paid by check or card, and did not properly categorize or disclose two of its non-monetary contributions. After two votes failed, one to increase the fine amount and one to leave it at $2,750 — which had previously been set through an agreement between the city and “Yes on S” — the “Yes on S” campaign attorney agreed to raise the fine to $3,750.

Original story, Jan. 16: Thursday night, Berkeley’s Fair Campaign Practices Commission will consider adopting an agreement that fines the “Yes on Measure S” campaign for violating several election-related rules in 2012. One of the violations included the campaign’s failure to report it had paid people $50-$100 in cash to pass out flyers on election day.

The Yes on S campaign has acknowledged its mistakes and agreed to pay $2,750 in fines, according to a draft of the agreement negotiated by the campaign and the Berkeley city attorney’s office. If the commission approves the agreement, it will be the second time in recent months the FCPC has levied a large fine in connection with the 2012 election. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tight deadline to get redistricting referendum on ballot

Xan Join collected a number of signatures in late December. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Print Friendly

With only two weeks left to collect 5,275 signatures to force a city council redistricting measure on the ballot, members of the Berkeley Referendum Coalition are holding a rally on Saturday to train volunteers.

Those who are opposed to the redistricting plan approved by the City Council in December plan to meet at Mudracker’s Café at 2801 Telegraph Ave. at 11 a.m. to kick off an intense weekend of voter education.

“We are training people how to get signatures,” said Alejandro Soto-Vigil, an aide to City Councilman Kriss Worthington who is helping plan the campaign. “We are going to be sending teams out, generally two people per team, to certain blocks throughout the city of Berkeley, dispatching them to supermarkets, BART, and the neighborhoods that are going to be adversely affected by the redistricting.”

About 45 people showed up to the first meeting on Dec. 21 and organizers hope many more will turn out this weekend, said Soto-Vigil.

The Berkeley Referendum Coalition hopes to overturn a new redistricting map that they believe creates a less progressive District 7 and which is aimed at forcing out Worthington, said Soto-Vigil. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Spying on Democracy: Author details rise in surveillance

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 12.06.22 PM
Print Friendly

In the last few months, Americans’ expectations about government interference in their lives has been turned completely upside down. Edward Snowden’s leaks have shown that the National Security Agency has paid millions to Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft, as well as telephone companies, for data about its customers. The government has information on hundreds of millions of its law-abiding citizens.

Heidi Boghosian’s new book, Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance, which details the myriad ways governments and corporations are spying on us — and not necessarily to the benefit of the nation — couldn’t be more timely.

Boghosian, the executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, details the increase in surveillance of ordinary citizens and the dangers she believes it poses to our privacy and to democracy. Boghosian will be talking about Spying on Democracy at Berkeley Arts and Letters on Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m. Investigative journalist Robert Scheer will interview her. In advance of the discussion, Berkeleyside caught up with Boghosian: … Continue reading »

Tagged , ,

FCPC looks into alleged violations by Yes on S supporters

Members of the Fair Campaign Practices Commission review material before their Oct. 25 meeting. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Print Friendly

The Fair Campaign Practices Commission has decided to investigate whether any campaign laws were broken when the Yes on Measure S campaign paid people from $50 to $100 in cash to pass out campaign material on election day.

The commission also wants staff to look into whether the Yes on S campaign paid for an extra printing of endorsement fliers put out by the Berkeley Democratic Club without declaring its participation.

The decision to investigate came as the commission considered another complaint on Sept. 19 filed by Patricia Wall, executive director of the Homeless Action Center, and Bob Offer-Westort, the coordinator of the No on Measure S campaign. Measure S, which was defeated in November 2012, would have made it illegal to sit on sidewalks in commercial districts for much of the day. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Redistricting meeting sheds light on past process

Council approved the "Berkeley Student District Campaign" map in December.
Print Friendly

A small group of community members came together earlier this week at the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce to learn how the city’s redistricting process, underway for the past two years, will impact the city going forward.

Redistricting takes place in Berkeley every 10 years, when U.S. Census data are released, to ensure that districts have roughly equal populations.

Since at least 2000, students and others who live around the UC Berkeley campus have been trying to establish a student-majority district with the aim of giving students a larger voice and role in city decisions. In 2000, a proposal that essentially created a ring around campus was rejected by the city attorney because it didn’t comply with the city charter’s rules for redistricting. Last fall, Berkeley voters passed Measure R to change the way redistricting takes place. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,

Berkeley legislators play key role in state budget process

State Senator Loni Hancock (left) and State Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner speak at a recent rally in front of Berkeley's Main Post Office. Photo: Lance Knobel
Print Friendly

The California legislature is now deep in the throes of the state budget process, with the combined senate and assembly conference committee working to reconcile the differences between the legislative budgets and the governor’s. Decisions happen in a rush of committee meetings and votes: both houses need to approve the budget by June 15 and the final budget act and governor’s signature are required by the end of the month.

Berkeley’s own legislators, State Senator Loni Hancock and State Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, are both among their chamber’s four members of the conference committee. So, although no one expects Hancock and Skinner to think about their city’s needs over the state’s, Berkeley represents one-fourth of the decision-making power for this year’s budget.  … Continue reading »

Tagged ,
Politics

City could face most dramatic redistricting in 27 years

Berkeley from the air by D.H. Parks
Print Friendly

Berkeley is seeking redistricting plans for the city’s eight council districts. Since 1986, Berkeley redistricting has been constrained to boundaries resembling the 1986 lines. After the passage of Measure R in November, those geographic constraints have been removed.

Redistricting plans must be submitted by March 15. A community meeting and two public hearings will be held in the spring and summer of this year, leading to the City Council considering a redistricting ordinance at its September 10th meeting. If the announced redistricting process calendar is adhered to, the redistricting ordinance will become effective on October 20, 2013, and the new districts will be used in the 2014 election, when seats for districts 1, 4, 7 and 8 will be up for election.  … Continue reading »

Tagged ,