The SF Redistricting Task Force kept redrawing supervisor districts in another raucous meeting that went ‘til nearly 3:30 Thursday morning, but now three members of the commission might be kicked off, and mind you this is three days before their deadline.
If you have not been following the ins and outs of the San Francisco supervisor map redistricting process, the most apt comparison we can make at this point is the gif below from the show Community.
To sum it up; a task force meets every ten years to redraw the SF supervisor map based on the latest Census numbers (so this is normal). There is currently controversy about splitting up the LGBTQ communities in two particular districts, so there are more than 100 angry public commenters at nearly every meeting they have (this is also fairly normal). And with all those angry commenters, the meetings have been going late, and Wednesday's meeting did not end until 3:21 a.m. Thursday morning (this is normal for San Francisco.)
BREAKING: SF Elections Commission schedules special meeting this Sunday regarding possible removal of redistricting task force members. Blatant gerrymandering by the redistricting task force absolutely compels this response.— Dean Preston (@DeanPreston) April 7, 2022
What is bizarre and probably unprecedented here is the shocking last-minute intervention that three members of the task force may be removed by the SF Elections Commission, according to the Chronicle. This announcement comes three days before the task force’s current April 9 deadline to redraw the map. But after an outcry from a number of community groups, the SF Elections commission will meet Sunday to consider the removal of SF Redistricting Task Force Vice Chair Ditka Reiner, plus members Chasel Lee and Raynell Cooper.
Why these three in particular? They’re the only three eligible for removal. They are the three members appointed by the SF Elections Commission (so they can be unappointed by the commission), whereas three members were appointed by the mayor, and three others appointed by the board of supervisors.
"What this task force has done is political gerrymandering that completely ignores hundreds of hours of public comment,” SOMA Pilipinas Cultural Heritage District representative David Woo said in a statement to the Bay Area Reporter. "I applaud the Elections Commission for taking steps to ensure their appointees are acting without undue influence and in keeping with their duty."
So we now have two separate tracks of drama here — the redrawing of the supervisors’ districts, and the potential removal of task force members.
The latest version of the map, as of the wee hours this morning, is seen above. One big deal point of contention remains intact; Valencia Street is removed from District 8, which means Supervisor Rafael Mandelman is removed from his own district. There remains a concern that the LGBTQ community’s voting power is diluted by the current configuration.
"[The Dyke March] doesn't go through the Haight or Cole Valley," Valencia Street’s West of Pecos owner Tyler MacNiven said at Wednesday’s meeting, referring to the new proposed District 8 boundaries.
But difficult choices have to be made. The task force has to make all of the districts more or less equal in population, and some districts have had more population growth than others.
NEW: In a highly unusual move, the San Francisco Elections Commission will consider removing its appointees to the Redistricting Task Force, which has been working to draw a new map of supervisor districts.https://t.co/la5q6Ne6ej— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) April 7, 2022
Yet this business of removing task force members at the 11th hour is unprecedented, and its outcomes impossible to predict. The SF Elections Commission will meet Sunday. April 10 at 3 p.m. to discuss the three members’ removal, according to the Chronicle.
That may be meaningless if the map is already finalized by then! According to a summary from the SF League of Women Voters, “Redrawing the district map must be done by April 9, so the task force can vote on it by April 13.” If three commissioners are removed on April 10, their map is already finished. Does this mean that only a six-member task force votes on it? What if they deadlock 3-3? Does this all end up in court? We are in kind of unchartered waters here.
"Let’s be clear: The Elections Commission’s move, under political pressure, to replace its appointees would send a clear signal that San Francisco’s redistricting process is about raw, hardball political power and nothing else," said state Senator Scott Wiener in a statement to the Chronicle.
“Extraordinary times lead to extraordinary measures,” said Supervisor Aaron Peskin in comments to the Chronicle. “This is my third redistricting in my elected political lifetime. The other two have gone relatively smoothly and have not been marked by political agendas and gerrymandering. This one is very different.”
The drama is nowhere near finished, and the task force meets again today at 3 p.m., Friday at 3 p.m., and Saturday at 10 a.m. Meetings are at City Hall, Room 406, and you can watch and comment online via links on the meeting dates.
Screenshot: SF League of Women Voters