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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.

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Visduh May 23, 2011 @ 10:08 a.m.

The adage that he whomever controls the agenda controls the outcome of the meeting fits here. Whomever draws those council district boundaries will determine the partisanship and makeup of the council for years to come. It is a sure thing that the city employee unions will have a great deal of clout in these proceedings, as will some of the more activist organizations. This could all come down to dueling gerrymanders, or if Sanders gets into it, "gerrysanders". Could a group of competing plans actually end up in a compromise that would offer real representation? Maybe, but I'd advise that nobody count on that.


InOmbra May 23, 2011 @ 4:05 p.m.

Thanks for this info, Matt. Visduh, I think we have lots more to worry about than city employee unions... It's more to do with money-controlling power fiefdoms in neighborhoods and existing districts. Much of the urban in-fighting blather is about forming "voting rights" (translation: ethnic and gender blocs) districts vs. forming "residential" (everyone else) districts. It's just nauseating. Adding Lutar and the Voice's Rose Institute sycophants (aka "coastal Republicans") to the mix, not to mention billionaire Redevelopment-money-reaping Broad, is truly toxic.


Visduh May 23, 2011 @ 4:24 p.m.

Oh, I don't doubt what you are saying for a moment. Toxic politics defines San Diego now, and has for quite some time (even though that wasn't always obvious and still isn't obvious to much of the electorate.) The city has been on a downslope for sure since this district election of city councilmen/women took effect. The old way seemed weird, and it was far from perfect, but what the city has now is just plain awful.


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