Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"County redistricting starting to heat up"

Jessica Levinson is quoted in this article in the Daily Breeze.

Here is an excerpt:

In a Q&A below, Jessica Levinson -- a Loyola Law School professor and moderator of a recent Zócalo Public Square panel on redistricting -- makes the case for why this really matters.

Q: What's at stake in the Los Angeles County redistricting process -- for the supervisors and for county residents?

The composition of the little-known, but nonetheless uber-powerful, Board of Supervisors will be determined in the Los Angeles County redistricting process. This mighty group is limited to three consecutive four-year terms. The group is so powerful that it has been nicknamed the "five kings."

Every 10 years we count how many people live in legislative districts throughout the country, including the five supervisorial districts for the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors. Boundary lines are drawn based on the number and local and residents in those districts. This redistrict process occurs to ensure that residents in each district are fairly represented.  

Q: Why should your average citizen -- or non-citizen -- care about this fairly obscure process?

The five-member, non-partisan county Board of Supervisors make up the county's governing body. Their decisions can have sweeping, significant repercussions for the residents of the County.

 With only five members and so many residents in the county, each member represents (almost) 2 million people. About 25 percent of the state's residents live in Los Angels County. Therefore, these five individuals wield enormous influence. Again, the way the boundary lines are drawn will help to determine who can be victorious in each of those five districts. 

Q. So why isn't anyone really paying attention to the county's redistricting? Do you expect that to change when board hearings start next week?

First, the independent redistricting, which has just released its final maps for state and congressional legislative districts, sucked up much of the oxygen in the redistricting debate. 

The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing about proposed boundary lines next week, and I expect politicos, policy wonks, and interested persons will then turn part of their attention to the County's redistricting process.

Second, who among us can even name all of the members of the Board of Supervisors? If we can't name them, and possibly don't know what they do, we're not going to be particularly enthralled by the process of drawing new boundary lines for them.

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