JOINT BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'

REAPPORTIONMENT TASK FORCE

LUNCH MEETING

October 23, 2001

12:00 Noon

Commissioners' Conference Room

APPROVED 11/6/01

 

Commissioner Anna Morrison presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Bobby Green, Sr., Peter Sorenson and Cindy Weeldreyer present.Acting County Administrator Dave Garnick, County Counsel Teresa Wilson and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.

 

Reapportionment Task Force Chair Steve Moe presided with Scott Bartlett, Sky Chamard, Ellie Dumdi, Greg Evans, Rick Lindholm, Arlene Marshall, Annette Newingham, Denise Pratt, Clair Van Bloem and Warren Weathers also present.

 

1. PRESENTATION/Redistricting Options.

 

Steve Moe, Chair, Lane County Reapportionment Task Force, explained the task force was assigned to work as an independent citizen committee.He said the process avoided potential conflicts of interest and kept political influencing to a minimum.He said it is used in other states.He added that Lane County used this process in 1981 and 1991.

 

Moe said at the first meeting they set up the guidelines and criteria the task force had to follow.He said they wanted to achieve equal population, coming as close to zero as possible.He noted they were submitting plans that were either at zero or plus or minus one percent.He said they used geographic boundaries (rivers, roads), political boundaries (state representatives, cities and school districts) and existing district boundaries.He noted that no designation shall disqualify a commissioner from completing a term of office.

 

He said they followed contiguous district boundaries.He said communities of interest were important as it might be necessary to compromise other standards and they did have to touch on that.He said it is important that they adhered to no favoritism.He noted the League of Women Voters had also given the task force a list.He said their standards were within their criteria.He added the task forces' criteria followed Lane County Charter, Oregon and Federal Law.He said their goal was to initiate a review of the population of Lane County based on the available 2000 census and modify the five commissioner districts by applying the criteria.He said their original charge was to furnish one scenario, but that was modified to more than one.He stated that the population of Lane County in 2000 was 322,959 and they had to make each district as close to 64,591 people as possible.He noted that Morrison had to lose 3,247 people; Dwyer had to lose 2,901 people, Sorenson would gain 8,771 people; Green would lose 4,174 and Weeldreyer would gain 1,547 people.

 

Moe explained Scenario A was the only option developed in open meetings by the task force.He noted the scenario fell between plus or minus one percent and modified current commissioner boundaries.He said it maintains communities of interest and crosses geographical boundaries for population equalization.He said they had received outside support for Scenario A from the Mayors of Eugene, Springfield, Lowell, Junction City, Florence and from the NAACP.

 

Green assumed Scenario A was developed in an open meeting, whereas it wasnít clearwho participated in the design of the others.

 

Moe said that Scenarios B and C were done outside the open meeting process and are a product of Scott Bartlett.

 

Bartlett noted that Scenarios B and C were in-part fully discussed during the meeting.He said Scenario B was an evolutionary one carrying the Boardís request of multiple options.He said Scenario B keys off neighborhood groups and uses neighborhood associations to come from West Eugene.He said the two plans most relevant were Scenario A and Scenario C.He said that Scenario C had clarity and fairness.He added the principles and criteria could best assist the Board in safeguarding the integrity of the County commission system.He said Scenario C should be the preferred option because it is a constructed, conservative, compromise plan.He recommended Scenario C.

 

Green asked Bartlett where the minutes stated there was a discussion by the task force regarding options.He said he read Bartlettís comments, but apparently no one else on the task force commented.

 

Bartlett said everyone had an opportunity to propose an alternative plan during the meeting, but he was the only one that proposed others plans.He took total responsibility for the options.

 

Sorenson asked if all the maps prepared by LCOG were discussed in committee.

 

Van Bloem responded the process was different in that Bartlett provided her maps before a meeting and she would make up the scenario.

 

Sorenson asked what rationale was used for retaining rural and urban communities separately.

 

Moe responded the process didnít need to be redone.He noted the charter stated there needed to be two rural and three urban commissioner districts.

 

Wilson stated the charter didnít say rural or urban, it stated that the West Lane County District was comprised of western Lane County outside of the metropolitan area and there was a similar description forEast Lane County.She noted the Springfield District was described as a metropolitan district.She added it would take a charter amendment to change the districts.

 

Evans said they considered minimal changes, geographically and population-wise.He said the group wanted to keep the continuity of the existing districts, making sure they were fair in shifting populations in specific districts and keeping communities of interest together.He added the group was not clear about the mission of the task force.He said the majority of the committee thought it was to represent the citizens and voters of Lane County and not specific commissioners. He said their charge was to do the best they could for the citizens of Lane County, to minimize political considerations and to try to clean up cumbersome voting patterns and areas that were confusing to voters. He said a majority of the group participated in developing the redistricting plan in a non-partisan way.He said that Scenario A was the scenario that six committee members recommended.He noted Scenario A was crafted at the table where they deliberated and it adhered to district compactness and continuity as outlined by the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965.He added that Scenario A incorporated modest changes from the 1991 reapportionment of geography and population.He said since 1990, the functional city of the urban center of Eugene had moved to the north and west and they looked at the orientation as a natural demarcation for crafting the lines.He said they followed communities of interest and national community boundaries. He noted that Scenario A was supported by an overwhelming majority of the task force (6-1) and that was their recommendation.

 

Evans said that Scenario B and C are plans developed outside the committee process.He said one committee member brought them to the table.He said that Scenario B was more radical in the way lines were drawn, in shifts of population, and not being consistent with current boundaries.He said that the committee did not see Scenario C until the end of their meeting and didnít have the time to completely study it.

 

Chamard said when he was appointed to the committee, it was his main goal to make the population of each district as equal as possible. He said the only scenario he worked on was Scenario A, but he was comfortable with B or C.He favored Scenario A.

 

Lindholm supported Scenario A as it was developed in a committee process.He wanted equal population, compact districts, and following communities of interest.He said Scenario A represented those requests.

 

Platt supported Scenario A.She explained at the first meeting, the attorney for Lane County spoke about being watchful in the process. She noted the attorney said nothing about nice clean straight lines.She said the attorney told them to watch for communities of interest and natural boundaries.She said if Scenario B or C is adopted, the County would be open to a potential lawsuit.She noted that Scenario C did not do as good a job as Scenario A in following the criteria.She thought there was an attempt to highjack the process.She noted that six people fully agreed on one scenario and worked together to prepare it.She had concerns about a potential lawsuit.

 

Morrison said the criteria given to the task force were based on the issues and needs under the results of the 2001 census.She noted that at the first meeting--when Stephen Vorhes went over the criteria with the group--it was to be used as a guide to make a decision.

 

Platt responded they did that with Scenario A, but had no idea if that had been done with Scenarios B or C.

 

Evans said the criteria was set was from the 1965 Voters Rights Act.He said it was federally mandated and there were certain ways they had to craft the reapportionment, based on compliance with state guidelines.He said their effort was to craft and give the Board a product or products consistent with the criteria and guidelines set forth in the process.He said the recommendation to the Board included three options but the majority of the committee preferred Scenario A.

 

Dwyer said he looked at all plans and saw nothing about violations, and would be pleased with either one.

 

Evans said they followed criteria and assumed that Bartlett followed the same criteria.He said the demographics were brought by one committee member andwere irrelevantbecause they donít have specific concentrations of communities of color which might be a violation of the Voting Rights Act.He said there are people of different races and ethnicities scattered throughout the county.He noted the fastest growing Hispanic population was in Junction City, and the second fastest was in Springfield.He said the numbers were irrelevant to their process because they donít have that concentration and they didnít have the community of interest specifically excluded from the process bydrawing lines.He said when this was brought to the table, he declared it was a non-issue.He said the race card was unfairly placed on the table and should have never had been brought up.

 

Weeldreyer said that when the Board clarified its position to include multiple scenarios; and two more scenarios came from Bartlett, she asked Platt why the committee chose not to discuss Bartlett's scenarios in detail, as it did with Scenario A.

 

Platt responded that Scenario C was brought to the meeting at the very end. She said every time they had a meeting, Bartlett presented a change in the scenarios.She noted that Scenario A was not changed a great deal from what it was initially.She added they didnít have to fix something that wasnít broken.She noted the other scenarios presented large changes through the entire map.

 

Weeldreyer noted at the last meeting Bartlettís comments were recorded in the minutes but there wasnít dialogue from the other committee members.

 

Platt said they wanted the least amount of damage to the process, so it didnít become political.Her concern was that there was an attempt to politicize the process.

 

Green noted there were multiple options committed.He didnít understand why there was stress between the Board and the task force.He said the effort was supposed to be for the citizens of Lane County, not any one particular commissioner. He didnít appreciate the committee members being interrogated by the Board.

 

Evans said the lack of deliberation that the Board may perceive in the process was due to the time constraint.He said they gave the Board the best product they could give.He said Bartlett might have had time to pull together other numbers on his own.Evans said they submitted three products, and the Board has the discretion to accept or reject them.He said they did their job as a task force.

 

Dumdi stated she came in for the last two meetings.She said that Scenario C came in at the end of the meeting on October 9 and was put into proper mapping for the October 15 meeting.She supported Scenario A as it effected change in the least amount of voters. She noted tweaking on the west side was minor, as the North Eugene District had grown more than the others, taking it out farther.

 

She said Bartlett had asked her what the commissioners thought about it.Her comment was that it didnít matter what the commissioners thought, it was a non-political processfor the voters of Lane County, not the commissioners.She added the commissioners would deal with what is given to them.She said that natural boundaries and communities of interest were important, and that was why Scenario A did the least tweaking with the communities of interest.She added that Scenario C made massive changes in communities of interest and ignored natural boundaries.††She said that people in the rural areas want representation consistent with the past.

 

Weathers said that the criteria was important and they tried to arrive at the best solution.He viewed this as his civic responsibility.He said the group tried following the criteria to provide for equal representation for the districts and not divide communities of interest.He noted that Scenario A was close to meeting all of the criteria and much closer than Scenario C.He said they developed something that was fair and represented everyone in Lane County.

 

Evans noted they included Glenwood in District 2.

 

Dwyer stated he had to go with the plan that was kept as close to zero as possible.He added that any of the plans could be defended and is above challenge in the courts.

 

Moe explained that Scenario A came from an evolutionary process in which the committee democratically developed the plan.He noted there were many little plans that evolved into Scenario A, and that was the reason there was only one final plan.He said in order to incorporate a community of interest into a district, it might be necessary to compromise other standards that weren't logical, but addressed the population.

 

Morrison did not support Bradburyís scenario regarding mixing urban and rural areas because the rural areas would lose their identity.She said the rural areas need rural representation.She said the original charge and time commitment were different from the end product.She noted this would come back to the Board for deliberation.

 

Wilson stated in order for this to come back to the Board for a first reading, staff would have to prepare a legal description.She said it would be helpful if the Board gave direction on one scenario for a legal description, otherwise staff would have to write three descriptions, which might not be possible.She explained the first reading would take place on November 6, with the second reading and public hearing on November 20 with adoption.

 

Sorenson asked if the legal descriptions were required for this ordinance.

 

Wilson responded the charter required that the commissioners adopt by ordinance the district boundaries.She said there were no definitions in the charter about district boundaries.She noted that historically that had been done by legal description.She said when it came to the areas between districts, they went to census tracks.She said a description would be needed that could be useful for the voters and a legal description was the best way to do this.

 

Dwyer asked if the legal description could be used as an attachment.

 

Wilson said legally they could do it as an attachment.She noted they had historically always had the legal description.

 

Sorenson suggested having a public hearing on the first reading of the ordinance and then deliberating on November 20.He wanted to avoid a public hearing on the day of the deliberation.He wanted counsel to come back with three different boundary descriptions.

 

Green wanted to limit the Scenarios to A and B.He didnít want to consider Scenario C.

 

Dwyer said the Springfield representatives should be able to comment on all of them.He said if he were to pick them, they would be Scenario A and C.

 

Weeldreyer said if there is going to be a public hearing, the public should be able to comment on all three.

 

Morrison was in favor of Scenario A.

 

Wilson stated she would ask staff if it were possible to produce three legal descriptions.

 

There being no further business, Commissioner Morrison adjourned the meeting at 1:40 p.m.

 

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary

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