The Editor's Back Fence

Updated: Berkeley City Council Cancels Redistricting Despite Receiving Six Viable Plans from Citizens

By Becky O'Malley
Tuesday January 17, 2012 - 11:18:00 PM

Well, folks, I just wanted to tell you that I've now watched what must rank as the single most disgusting display of hypocrisy in the close to 40 years I've been watching the Berkeley City Council in action. The council majority, comprised of former-Progs and former-Mods now allied to deceive the citizens as often as possible, employed specious semantics to claim that keeping a couple of thousand citizens from voting for city council in the upcoming election was not really "disenfranchising" them.

I suggest that when Wikipedia comes back up all of these self-righteous pseudo-pedants should check out the meaning and usage of the term.Until then, plain old Merriam Webster will have to suffice:

"to disenfranchise: to deprive of a franchise, of a legal right, or of some privilege or immunity; especially : to deprive of the right to vote." Seems clear to me.

The worst among them was Councilmember Darryl Moore, who defiled the sacred memory of the civil rights movement (Yes, Darryl, I was there—where were you in 1962?) to suggest that it's really okay to deprive some people of their vote for some kinds of offices some of the time.

No, it's not.

Residents were asked to submit plans, and six good plans, any of which would meet the requirements of the Berkeley City Charter, were submitted. But the council majority seized on the excuse provided by a proposal supported by a subset of student pols to postpone redistricting until a charter amendment changing the rules can be devised and passed.

Surely this will happen sometime soon. As Woody used to sing, there'll be pie in the sky by and by.

And while they wait for this blessed day, some number of thousands of voters, including a couple of thousand students, will be deprived of the right to vote for the councilmember who will represent them. But that's not disenfranchisement? Give me a break.

Anyone who has kept their eyes on the prize knows that the real purpose of this delay is to give the council majority time to figure out a way to shove most campus-area students into a single district, thus knocking off the two remaining genuine progressives on the council. Worthington and Arreguin depend on student votes to retain their seats, and their homes could even be cut out of the districts they now represent if lines are redrawn as Councilmember Wozniak proposes.

Wozniak clearly hopes to be left with an all-homeowner District 8, making an even safer seat than he now enjoys. But even homeowners, even comfortable Elmwood homeowners, might eventually get tired of this kind of naked gerrymandering. As might the constituents of the hypocritical Councilmember Moore, who is up for election this November.

This is one council performance that anyone who cares about good government, whether Prog, Mod, Radical, Liberal or just plain old Democrat, should watch. Here it is:

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