5/9/12 – UPDATE: The PUSD School Board voted, 5-2 (Phelps, Miramontes) to approve the Consensus Map as recommended by the Districting Task Force. The recommendations of the Districting Task Force will now go before voters as Measure A in the June 5, 2012 election. Charter Amendment language as well as arguments for and against the proposed charter amendment can be found in the official sample ballot brochure that was mailed to all voters.
Kim Kenne: "The Task Force did an admirable job. I am unwilling to replace the Consensus Map that went through a lengthy public process unless we plan to repeat the same kind of process for a new map; and I think it would be unproductive for the Board to replicate the process that our Task Force has already completed – in addition to sending a very questionable message to anyone who is sitting on a PUSD task force now or in the future. On the matter of including the addresses of current incumbents as criteria, I believe the task force did the right thing by not including them."
Renatta Cooper (Board President): "I believe in participatory democracy. When a body gives a job to a task force to do, that you have to honor the work that was done. …The voters will make a decision about this redistricting process. If the voters don't feel that these maps do justice to the Latino community – which this whole process was created to address the need [for stronger representation of this population], then I trust they will vote against the map."
The PUSD Districting Task Force presented its findings along with a Consensus Map to the School Board in late March. This Tuesday, 5/8, the Board will conduct the second of two hearings on the map. Immediately following the hearing, the Board will consider the recommendations and "provide direction to staff on final approval and adoption of resolution identifying final maps."
As part of its discussion on this action item, the Board will consider a set of Potential Adjustments to the Task Force's Recommended Plan. The first two alternatives address electoral administrative issues. "Adjustments" 3-7 would manipulate the Consensus map to avoid putting current Board members in the position of having to compete in an election.
The Consensus Map is the result of input provided by community members at over 35 community outreach meetings, held all across the district over a period of several months. The Task Force worked for over 10 months to develop the enabling Charter language, to develop a strong, representative and balanced Consensus Map AND to provide a roadmap for continued community outreach on this subject.
Districting Task Force Chair Ken Chawkins is encouraging members of the community to come to the School Board hearings to speak their minds about the Consensus Map and the process of community engagement used to generate the Task Force's recommendations. Expressing concern about the "potential adjustments [to the Consensus map] that would assist incumbent Board members in keeping their seats," Chawkins has this to say: "Given the amount of time and effort that went into balancing the map AND avoiding the political pitfalls of gerrymandering the map, I don't believe that this would be a good idea. It would help to have many voices bear witness to the validity of the process and support of the Consensus Map."
While PEN has not taken a position on the proposed charter changes or map, we do value the commitment Districting Task Force members made to reaching out to all parts of our community and to developing a consensus recommendation based on principles of equity and fairness. As Chawkins notes, Districting "isn't the most exciting of issues, but it IS a critical one and, if the ballot measure passes, will determine how the PUSD is represented and governed in the future…That's important."
Whether you share Chawkins' concerns or have your own position on how the Board should proceed, Tuesday's meeting is an important opportunity to make your voice heard.
On the same topic, this Wednesday, May 9, from 6:00 to 6:30 pm, the Pasadena Sun and Southern California Public Radio will host a discussion about whether geographic voting districts should replace at-large elections for the Pasadena Board of Education. (The Measure will appear on the June 5 ballot as Measure A.) This free event will take place at KPCC's Crawford Family Forum at 474 S. Raymond Ave. RSVP to www.kpcc.org/forum is requested.