David Dodd 1:48 a.m., May 18
Taxpayers Association Hires Ex-EdVoice Hand to Draw "Non-Partisan" Redistricting Maps
San Diego's city council redistricting free-for-all has been joined by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, long a stalwart of the city's big business establishment.
“To date there has been plenty of partisan bickering and seemingly little progress in coming closer to consensus," association director Lani Lutar said in a news release last week. "We felt it was important to put forward a non-partisan map that puts neighborhoods first, and we look forward to working with other groups to accomplish this goal."
The release adds that the map was drawn up in consultation with Paul Mitchell, who runs the firm Redistricting Partners in Sacramento. According to his website, from 2004 to 2008, Mitchell was employed as political director of EdVoice, the education reform advocacy group that has lobbied for more charter schools and against the influence of public school teachers unions.
Mitchell's website says that while at EdVoice he, "directed and oversaw over $15 million in political spending. Some of his most successful work was in state legislative races where he used data and mapping to help drive successful independent expenditure efforts."
EdVoice has long enjoyed the support of big money backers including billionaire builder Eli Broad of Los Angeles and La Jolla investor Buzz Woolley, who interestingly enough, is an honorary member of the board of the Rose Institute, the conservative think tank that has also expressed interest regarding the San Diego redistricting fray.
Woolley's other major philanthropic interest, the online Voice of San Diego news site, was listed as a gold sponsor of the Taxpayers Association annual banquet, held last week.
Among the principles on which the Taxpayer Association map is based, according to the release, is that it be non-partisan: "The Association’s goals for redistricting are non-partisan and are only to be shaped by the interest of maximizing representation."
But skeptics of the association's non-partisanship point to its 2011 board of directors, which includes Kimberly Hale of Public Policy Strategies, who is married to Darren Pudgil, communications director for GOP Mayor Jerry Sanders; April Boling, the professional Republican campaign treasurer who lost a bid for city council; Political fundraiser Nancy Chase, widow of Gregory Canyon landfill developer Richard Chase and friend of Tom Shepard, the Sanders political intimate who owns Public Policy Strategies; and T. J. Zane, of the GOP's Lincoln Club.