New boundaries up for approval

Kern County Board of Supervisors, federal judge to consider redistricting proposal today

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

New boundaries up for approvalAt press time, the News Review learned that the Kern County Board of Supervisors were scheduled for a closed-session discussion this morning for a compromise proposed during the eight-hour settlement conference held March 28 between County Counsel Mark Nations and attorneys representing the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

U.S. District Court Judge Dale Drozd ruled in February that redistricting lines drawn following the 2010 census violated the U.S. Voting Rights Act, diluting votes of Latinos residents and potentially reducing the chance of additional minority representation on the Board of Supervisors.

The supervisors recently voted to approve a map they believed would accommodate a second “minority majority” district while having the least negative impact on other county interests — including voters in outlying areas who have expressed concern about losing representation in favor of creating an increasingly metropolitan-centric board.

In addition to county attorneys, Supervisors Leticia Perez — the board’s sole Hispanic representative — and Zack Scrivner — one of two East Kern representatives — also participated in the conference.

“What happened [March 28] is a proposal was made by the other side in response to the proposal we made,” said Nations.

The court ordered counsel to present the counter-proposal to the board Friday. The board will either reject or accept it, and counsel will return to federal court at 2 p.m. Friday to advise the officials of the board’s position.

Although 1st District Supervisor Mick Gleason opened up his district office for public comment on Monday, county officials note that board deliberations are confidential.

“As a result of the finding, you enter into a remedial phase. The court had two options, and what they did was ordered us to settle on a map. Negotiations relating to any kind of litigation are conducted under court supervision out of the public eye,” explained Nations.

The other alternative that the judge could have chosen, but did not, was to engage the public in the process.

“So we are basically following the direction the federal court has given us,” said Nations. “Under either process, the court has to approve the map.”

If the current proposal is approved by the supervisors, as well as the judge, the settlement agreement — including the map — will be put on the public record.

Story First Published: 2018-03-30