Oakland’s Citizen Redistricting Comission

In late 2013 as the city’s redistricting process began to wind down, several organizations involved in the Oakland Votes Coalition and city officials began talking about the possibility of creating a Citizens Redistricting Commission to avoid the usual politicized process in Oakland every 10 years.  The commission concept has been discussed as being somewhat aligned to the structures of those used in the California State Redistricting and the model that Austin implemented (based on California’s).

The main components for consideration in creating such a commission are:

  • Independently appointed citizen commissioners;
  • Diversity amongst commissioners;
  • Size of commission;
  • Budget & staffing support;
  • Authority & Process;
  • Cycle- Oakland is on a strange cycle, a year or two behind other cities/states, we can correct that;
  • Disqualifying factors for commissioners;
  • Who gets to appoint or nominate; and
  • Timeframe for existence- an ad-hoc committee can form the year of a redistricting process and be terminated after the process and any court cases are complete.

The groups present in the discussions so far include: Council Members Schaaf and Kalb, The League of Women Voters, Urban Strategies Council. ACCE, Oakland Rising and the Greenlining Institute.  This is not a formal body of any kind and the group  is not limited to these organizations.

To get broader feedback on this concept the city and the coalition are seeking your ideas, you can respond in the survey here.

The current intention is that this could be passed by City Council for inclusion in the November election as a ballot measure.  This will require Council to hear and approve this starting in May 2014.  it will result in a Charter Amendment to create such a commission if the ballot were to pass.

Those who would like to be involved organizationally can contact the Oakland Votes Coalition or Council Member Kalb or Schaaf’s offices.

In 2013 we created a number of resources to inform our community about redistricting and voting patterns in Oakland, check out our dynamic voting outcomes map tool and our summary of the redistricting outcomes here.


The Last Month of My Life

I realized today that I haven’t written much in the last month, even though it’s been quite a month.  That may be because much of this month has involved the following: (warning, NTSF)

Aand also don’t let your girlfriends see this or they may leave you for me..

it’s pretty hot…

Yup, we’ve once again landed into the wonderful world of sleep deprivation and projectile pooping and well, utter, inexplicable joy.  Lucy Jane was born on 12/13/13, she arrived ridiculously easily to be honest, a long labor but cray fast delivery, it was an absolute blessing for us both.

So we got another of those best Christmas present ever things and now we’re a full car family. Someone recently said Merry Christmas to All the Spikers, and it kinda struck me- there are “all of us” now, we’re a full car load, a family of four, it’s a really strange feeling.  Doesn’t make you feel old or mature still, just strangely unqualified to be a parent once again with all this responsibility. Awesome and nerve racking at the same time.

I honestly expected to be a little less emotional with our second daughter’s arrival- perhaps a dumb idea that the second time is less significant? In the end it was so much the opposite- I was overwrought with joy and love when she arrived, I think perhaps the first child is an unknown thing, you know you want kids but not what it really means.  The second comes with you having a much deeper, realer understanding of the indescribable joy and love that parenthood can bring.  Knowing how much a child means seemed to deepen my reaction to a new addition.

To be honest I was dreading the first few months of having another newborn- Grace’s first few months were hard, really hard. On me anyway… And being a selfish bastard that’s what counts right? Ok maybe not. I had a mixed set of feelings about our second- excitement and anxiety.  But so far this month has been a huge joy, partly because Lucy Jane actually sleeps ten times better than her big sister did, but partly because it’s been almost a whole month of just being with my family.

Which brings me back to the point of this post- the last month. I’ve worked as a social impact org for almost 8 years, like most such orgs the pay is modest but fair and we don’t provide full family health insurance, but we do have an awesomely family friendly workplace and policies.  Making the choice to take a whole month from work once you hit the exec level is really tough- you live with the idea that people really need you, but you have to choose to put time into your family or you risk losing one or the other… So I’m extremely grateful to my CEO Junious Williams for allowing me this time with my new family- many companies wouldn’t give the nod to a time away this long, but it has really been a super valuable time to just be with my girls, all three of them.  When I think about the default in the USA it makes me really fricking angry- we claim to be a Christian country all the time yet we have the most un-Christian, anti-family federal policies and business practices in a developed western country- we don’t encourage strong, healthy families, we encourage profit. 

I’m feeling pressure to get back into the mix, but I don’t want to end this time of just being a dad every day, all day. And all night, like at 4am holding a crying baby while watching Game of Thrones with wireless headphones on.

Oh and sure, sometimes I miss the freedom of not having kids and being able to go to every single hackathon or event in the bay area, but really, you can’t get much happier than sitting on the sofa with a daughter lying on each arm.  This is the shit people.

Google Bussing

Stamen Design’s talented Eric Rodenbeck wrote a very illuminating piece for Wired on the work they did surveying the tech bus route and usage patterns recently- it’s a fantastic example of mapping and data work to provide clarity on a complex issue that affects equity, justice and urban change. Read it here and check out their map below- nothing like hard(ish) data to inform a public discourse!