California redistricting commissioner misses key conferences

California redistricting commissioner misses key meetings

2021-12-17 18:30:15

On the day California’s impartial redistricting fee accepted and launched to the general public long-awaited draft political maps, one of many panel’s 14 members was lacking for the majority of the important thing assembly.

Commissioners spent seven hours on Nov. 10 transforming draft legislative, congressional and board of equalization traces that, as soon as finalized, might be used for the following decade. Antonio Le Mons, a No Occasion Desire commissioner from Studio Metropolis who now has a Rancho Mirage tackle, logged on late and didn’t take part within the course of, video recordings and transcripts present. However earlier than voting to approve the draft traces, he congratulated his fellow commissioners for the accomplishment.

“I’m very proud to have been part of this course of with my fellow commissioners,” he stated. “This has been fairly a journey within the coronary heart of a pandemic, and I feel we should always all really feel superb.”

This wasn’t the primary time Le Mons logged on late or missed a gathering earlier than necessary deadlines. The fee has marked Le Mons absent for roll name in 16 of 44 hearings since October, as members met for marathon line-drawing periods. Commissioners have till Dec. 27 to ship licensed maps to Secretary of State Shirley Weber earlier than they’re utilized in 2022 statewide elections.

Typically, as occurred on Nov. 10, Le Mons was marked absent throughout roll name earlier than arriving late. The fee, in keeping with spokesperson Fredy Ceja, data attendance solely to determine a quorum at first of a gathering.

The nonpartisan panel includes 5 Republicans, 5 Democrats and 4 No Occasion Desire voters chosen throughout a prolonged course of that started in 2019. Commissioners are charged with drawing traces utilizing census information that “present honest illustration for all Californians” beneath poll measures voters accepted in 2008 and 2010 to strip the Legislature of redistricting energy.

Le Mons’ commissioner profile outlines 25 years of nonprofit and personal sector management. He’s listed because the chief working officer of the Skid Row Housing Belief, a Los Angeles-based group that helps homeless, disabled and poor folks, together with these battling drug addictions, to search out everlasting shelter. Le Mons can be, in keeping with his commissioner biography, a former member of the California Assn. of Marriage and Household Therapists. He now runs a private teaching and consulting agency.

He’s additionally a co-star on streaming channel Fox Soul’s “The Home,” a present that premiered Oct. 8 and focuses on Black LGBTQ points. It’s unclear when filming started or if it coincided with fee duties.

Most commissioners have missed a gathering, and a few a couple of, although it’s troublesome to find out what number of beneath the fee’s record-keeping system. Sure members additionally take part greater than others, and lots of flip off their cameras throughout conferences. Republican commissioner Derric Taylor was marked absent for practically as many conferences — 14 — as Le Mons over the previous few months. Ceja stated Taylor began a brand new task with further duties in his position on the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Division. Ceja stated he didn’t know why Le Mons had missed conferences.

Ceja stated the fee doesn’t have an attendance requirement, however “the expectation is that commissioners attend as many conferences as doable, recognizing that many nonetheless have full-time jobs exterior of their volunteer fee duties.” Members are paid $378 per day when performing commission-related work. Ceja stated the pay shouldn’t be contingent on quite a few hours labored or conferences attended, however is earned “for every day the member is engaged in fee enterprise.”

Le Mons participated throughout conferences whereas serving as rotating chair in early November. Now, he extra typically attends conferences in silence and barely seems on digicam.

Le Mons didn’t reply to interview requests from The Instances.

“It’s unlucky as a result of he was chosen by means of a tremendous course of making an attempt to get individuals who have range — regional, experiential, ethnic, LGBTQ. All these items had been useful facets to his software,” stated Paul Mitchell, a political information guide and redistricting knowledgeable. “If he wasn’t going to be totally dedicated, he mustn’t have utilized or continued within the course of as a result of there might need been different candidates who symbolize the communities he represents and been extra engaged.”

Le Mons’ absence, Mitchell added, has “change into considerably of a meme on Twitter.”

Le Mons’ lack of participation additionally raises issues amongst these watching the method that he’ll quickly vote on maps that he doesn’t know. At the least 9 members, three from every celebration, should approve the ultimate maps.

Matt Rexroad, a Republican political guide, in contrast Le Mons voting on the ultimate maps to an area elected official lacking hearings and public testimony after which voting on a metropolis common plan.

“And even if you happen to had been a choose,” Rexroad added, “however didn’t hassle to point out up for the trial earlier than making a ruling.”

Ceja stated the fee is prone to have a unanimous vote to approve the ultimate drawings.

“We’ve full and utter confidence that each one commissioners will execute their obligation to create honest and equitable maps for the folks of California,” Ceja stated.

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