Shenanigans abound

The Oak Park redistricting turf war is on. But some of it is Astroturf.

As you know, city council is moving quickly to approve a “base map” authored by members Steve Cohn, Kevin McCarty and Sandy Sheedy. And a lot of people are bent that the council chose to jettison several maps proposed by the Sacramento Redistricting Citizens Advisory Committee.

The most recent wrinkle is that Oak Park folks, along with Mayor Kevin Johnson and District 5 Councilman Jay Schenirer, are pretty freaked that the proposed base map would move Sacramento Charter High School and the UC Davis Medical Center neighborhood out of Schenirer’s District 5 and into McCarty’s District 6.

The mayor even called the move a “shenanigan.”

I’m getting a lot of stuff in my inbox about how “enraged” the Oak Park community is about this. I think most of the rage is coming from the activists with the Oak Park Neighborhood Association. And, of course, from Johnson and Schenirer.

Leading up to this latest flap, OPNA was really sensitive about any redistricting plan that decoupled Oak Park from Curtis Park. But while the Sac High/Med Center move is being described as a “land grab” by McCarty and Cohn, I sense that the grabbiness goes both ways.

Of course, moving Sac High out of Schenirer’s district does seem like more of an FU to Schenirer and the mayor—given how much Sac High is tied up with both of their political careers. But consider that three out of the four maps forwarded by the citizen committee also included the proposal to move UC Med Center from District 5 to District 6. And, the way I read those maps, two of them moved both Sac High and the Med Center.

Those are the same maps that the mayor says should be the basis for the council’s new district lines. It’s pretty much been on the table all along.

Finally, OPNA has been circulating an online petition, titled “Just Tell Us Why,” demanding that council tweak the base map to keep Oak Park shacked up with North Oak Park and the Med Center. That’s totally legitimate.

But there’s been another online petition, titled “Stop the Land Grab,” showing up in council members’ inboxes, too. And if you poke around a little bit, it quickly becomes clear that a big chunk of the folks signing on to this petition are people who a) don’t actually live in Sacramento (or even California), or b) have some sort of employment relationship with mayor.

Many are paid city employees, such as Johnson’s chief of staff, Kunal Merchant, and his media guy, Joaquin McPeek. Or they are employees of Sac High or St. Hope or, in many cases, members of K.J.’s youth brigade of interns and mayoral fellows.

This petition looks less like an expression of the community’s rage than it does Astroturf. And I think that kind of shenanigan is probably going to backfire, too.

Compiled from Snog.