NEWS from NAACP Reno-Sparks Branch No. 1112



In hoc signo vinces.


The Business-as-Usual Gerrymandering Blues

Communities of interest don't count:
Reno City Council rebuffs NAACP redistricting proposal
By Brian Duggan / Reno Gazette-Journal blog / 12-14-2011

NAACP vs. City of Reno: Redistricting proposals contrasted
By Brian Duggan / Reno Gazette-Journal blog / 12-13-2011

Last chance to impact redistricting
Reno City Hall / 14 Dec. 2011
Currently, 2/5ths of the population control 5/5ths of the Reno City Council

How do Reno ward maps compare?
"The Reno City Council approved a tentative ward map for its redistricting process. It also gave an alternative map, pushed by the NAACP, a chance for a public airing on Dec. 14. The primary difference boils down to how Reno’s northeast is redistricted."
By Brian Duggan / Reno Gazette-Journal blog / 12-2-2011



NOTICE: On Wednesday, 16 Nov. 2011, the Reno City Council will consider placing ward-only council voting on the Nov. 2012 general election ballot

.The following item appears on the Nov. 16 agenda:

L.8 Discussion and potential direction to staff regarding the manner in which City Council Members are elected, including but not limited to "Ward-Only" Elections (For Possible Action). 
(Requested by Councilmember) J. Sferrazza

At its 10-26-2011 meeting, the Reno City Council tasked staff to set up a meeting for minority organizations to have input in the redistricting process. Staff apparently forgot, resulting in a special council meeting on Dec. 1 at which "[t]he Reno City Council approved a tentative ward map for its redistricting process. It also gave an alternative map, pushed by the NAACP, a chance for a public airing on Dec. 14. The primary difference boils down to how Reno’s northeast is redistricted." [MORE]



2011 Redistricting Proposal to Washoe County School District Board of Trustees

The current boundaries for the Washoe County School Board lack “contiguity” which is one of the redistricting principles considered “traditional” by the Supreme Court. (Miller v. Johnson 515 U. S. 900,916 1995; see also Shaw vs., Reno, 509 U. S. 630, 647 1993)

The issue of “compactness” is generally considered as a fairly regular shape with constituents living relatively near to one another. The boundary lines on the proposed maps take large chunks of the “communities of interest” from the urban core of Washoe County and couples them with suburbs.

The Washoe County School Board boundary lines should respect shared interest of the urban core and its “urban communities of interest”. This strategy for redistricting will allow the Trustees members to be more responsive to their constituents.

A community of interest is a group of people concentrated in a geographical area who share similar interests and priorities – whether social, cultural, ethnic, economic, political or religious.

We recommend an Urban Core Concept that takes into consideration the many important issues that urban population core share and create a “community of interest” that is geography compact and contiguous.

The “Urban Core” community of the City of Washoe County needs to have the opportunity to elect representatives of their choice.

Rather than try to make population adjustments to old boundaries that have many inherent flaws, the redistricting process should take into account the major changes to demographics in our urban core population.

We recommend three Washoe County School Board seats represent the population that compromise a majority “community of interest” in the urban core of the county. The boundaries should not split up the urban core communities of interest.

Currently the “at large seats" split the Black, Hispanic and other ethnic minority populations. The current redistricting strategy clearly violates the concepts of the Voting Rights Act and splits up a “community of interest.” After discussing this boundary issue with hundreds of Washoe County residents over the past year, not a single person thought it was right to split the community in this way.

Currently affluent suburbs control the whole school board election process denying the rights of the “urban core of Washoe County.” The urban core cannot elect candidates of their choice with the current redistricting map proposals.

Lonnie Feemster
President, Reno-Sparks NAACP



26 October 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
Lonnie Feemster, President
NAACP Reno-Sparks Branch No. 1112
RenoSparksNAACP.org
(775) 722-0042

Currently, 2/5ths of the population control 5/5ths of the Reno City Council

RENO, NV — Reno-Sparks Branch President Lonnie L. Feemster will present the following statement to the Reno City Council at its meeting today.

Charter digital cable customers may view the hearing on channel 216.

The meeting may also be monitored on the City of Reno website. Redistricting is agenda item L.0, toward the end of the agenda, although anything can be moved at the discretion of the chair.

UPDATE 3:01 p.m. PDT / 10:01 ZULU-GMT — Lonnie Feemster is testifying right now. Turn on, tune in and tell a friend.

RESULT: The council directed staff to have a meeting with Lonnie and other minority groups before finalizing the redistricting maps. Stay tuned.

2011 Redistricting Proposal
Before the Reno City Council
10-26-2011

The current boundaries for the Reno City Council lack “contiguity” which is one of the redistricting principles considered “traditional” by the Supreme Court. (Miller v. Johnson 515 U. S. 900,916 1995; see also Shaw vs., Reno, 509 U. S. 630, 647 1993)

The issue of “compactness” is generally considered as a fairly regular shape with constituents living relatively near to one another. The boundary on the proposed maps takes large chunks of the “communities of interest” from the urban core of Reno and couples them with suburbs.

The Reno City Council boundary lines should respect shared interest of the urban core of Reno’s “urban communities of interest”. This strategy for redistricting this will allow the council members to be more responsive to their constituents.

A community of interest is a group of people concentrated in a geographical area who share similar interests and priorities – whether social, cultural, ethnic, economic, political or religious.

We recommend an Urban Core Concept that takes into consideration the many important issues that urban population core share and create a “community of interest” that is geography compact and contiguous.

The “Urban Core” community of the City of Reno needs to have the opportunity to elect representatives of their choice.

Rather than try to make population adjustments to old boundaries that have many inherent flaws, the redistricting take into account the major changes to demographics in our urban core population.

We recommend three Reno City Council seats represent the 3/5ths of the population that comprise a majority “community of interest” in the urban core of Reno.

Currently, the most egregious offense is the Ward 3 and Ward 4 boundary down Montello St., which clearly violates the concepts of the Voting Rights Act. After discussing this boundary issue with hundreds of N.E. Reno residents over the past year, not a single one thought it right to split the community in this way.

Currently, 2/5ths of the population control 5/5ths of the Reno City Council.

Lonnie Feemster
President, Reno-Sparks NAACP

Feemster requests volunteers for local election district reapportionment task force

Reno, Nev. — The Reno and Sparks city councils, the Washoe County Commission and the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees are currently re-drawing their election boundaries. Fair minority representation is in jeopardy —> as always.

There is currently no minority representative on either the Reno and Sparks councils or the county commission. One Latina sits on the school board. That works out to just one of 25 elected positions.

If you can help with get-out-the-vote activities or want to serve on the redistricting task force, please call Branch President Lonnie Feemster at (775) 722-0042.

Washoe County Commissioners reject redistricting map pushed by the Reno-Sparks NAACP and the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada
Reno Gazette-Journal 10-2-2011

Washoe County Commission splits moderate income Sun Valley between 2 districts
Daily Sparks Tribune / 9-29-2011

City of Sparks redistricting hits road block
Daily Sparks Tribune / 9-29-2011

Feemster criticizes City of Reno redistricting plan
"Inherent flaws in the current system of dividing up political boundaries"
Reno Gazette-Journal 9-26-2011

Washoe school board redistricting struggle parallels legislative battle
Racial bias in school board plan alleged
Reno News & Review / 9-1-2011

The above story has an incorrect link to WCSD redistricting info. Click here for the right one.

Feemster: Expand number of Washoe County Commissioners
Daily Sparks Tribune / 3-1-2011

Branch President Feemster supports breakup of Reno voting districts that dilute minority communities of interest
Reno Councilmember Aiazzi fires back. Feemster calls status quo a "stacked deck."
Reno Gazette-Journal / Sunday 2-27-2011

Washoe County Commission redistricting information

The Sparks City Council will vote on redistricting Sept. 26; bill first reading Sept. 12
Daily Sparks Tribune / 9-12-2011

To look at Sparks numbers and maps, click on this link and scroll down to page 70 for Council Agenda Item 6.1

NAACP to push for better representation of minorities
BY SUSAN VOYLES • SVOYLES@RGJ.COM • FEBRUARY 27, 2011 • Comments (11)

Reno, Nevada USA — With the 2010 Census showing minorities have increased to 37 percent of Reno residents, the NAACP will be asking the Reno City Council for a vastly different way of drawing city ward lines so people of color are better represented.

The 37 percent boost is largely a factor of the growing number of Hispanics, whose numbers have increased from 34,616 in 2000 to 54,640 in 2010. The city's population now totals 225,221.

All racial and ethnic groups now total 84,469 in Reno, up from 55,610 a decade ago. Then they made up 30.8 percent of the city's population.

Lonnie Feemster, president of the local NAACP chapter, said he is working to create groups of minority citizens interested in politics and community advocacy to get involved with the ward issue as well as education issues.

"We know we can't win because of the way it's set up and rigged," he said.

Feemster said he also will be supporting a bill to be introduced by State Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, to have ward-only voters choose the five ward council members in the general election. Currently, ward voters choose the two candidates in the primary that advance to the general. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Gov. Brian Sandoval later vetoed the bill.]

Feemster likens the Reno's current ward map to a sliced pie.

With minorities largely concentrated in the central city within the McCarran Boulevard ring road, the city is divided into five wedges and each wedge has a small piece of the central core.

"The political power in the community is unfairly distributed because of the wedge shape. The core of Reno is about 80 percent ethnic population or people of color. They are disproportionately under-represented because of the way they carve up the city council seats," Feemster said.

A closer look

With changes in the ward boundary line between Ward 3 and Ward 4 in 2007, northeast Reno was split into two wards at Montello Street. For decades before, all of northeast Reno had been in Ward 4.

Feemster said the lines should be redrawn to give minorities a shot at running for office in at least one or two wards. And then their chances of getting elected would be raised in changing to ward-only general elections.

With a historically large percentage of active voters in the southwest, Feemster said these voters have been the ones to pick the council member for northeast Reno.

The Reno City Charter will require the City Council to change ward boundaries if the new census data shows any ward exceeds another ward by more than 5 percent in population.

Government entities that disregard minority interests in redistricting can be subject to U.S. Department of Justice supervision.

Councilman Dave Aiazzi said the council put an item on the council agenda to address redrawing ward boundaries after Feemster's issues were raised in a Reno Gazette-Journal story in June 2009. But no one came.

Feemster said he didn't have all day to wait for the agenda item to come up. But now that the time for redistricting has come, he said he intends to approach the council.

Aiazzi also said Leslie has never approached the council about changing the way city elections are conducted or held a town meeting to hear from residents.

"Right, wrong or indifferent, I'm not sure what's best," Aiazzi said. "But they need to talk to the people in Reno."

History, insights

Over the past 30 years, the number of people of color elected to the council have included Bernice Martin Mathews, Sherrie Doyle and Gus Nunez. Three others were appointed.

Aiazzi said part of the reason is not many qualified minority candidates have run for office. In the last election, for instance, one Hispanic college student ran in Ward 2.

"Not many candidates are coming out," Feemster said, because many people are frustrated by the way they stack the deck."

Aiazzi said Feemster doesn't even live in Reno. While Feemster lives in Spanish Springs, he was brought up in northeast Reno and said he still has many relatives and hundreds of friends there.

Copyright © 2011 Reno Gazette-Journal


Reno-Sparks NAACP kicks off get-out-the-vote campaign for special congressional election

Reno, Nev. (2 Sept. 2011) — The Reno-Sparks NAACP this week voted to immediately launch a major get out the vote (GOTV) drive for the Sept. 13 Congressional District 2 (CD2) special election.

The local civic engagement effort is part of the National NAACP “This Is My Vote 2012” campaign which was launched at the July NAACP National Convention in Los Angeles.

Seven adults and four youth council members from the Reno-Sparks Branch attended.

"Call friends and family and ask them to vote early if possible," Reno-Sparks NAACP President Lonnie Feemster stated in a message to all branch members and supporters of civil rights.

"We are building a foundation for our 2012 effort,” Feemster added.

Early voting locations are available at the Nevada Secretary of State and Washoe County Registrar of Voters websites.

Nevada Air National Guard Colonel Ondra Berry, keynote speaker at the Reno-Sparks NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet in May, received the Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award from the U. S. Department of Defense at the national convention.

Berry, retired City of Reno deputy police chief, received the award for outstanding accomplishments in equal opportunity and human relations. The prestigious honor was conferred at the Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Dinner during the convention.

“The local NAACP Branch and National NAACP office are proud of the support that Colonel Berry has shown the local NAACP Branch and his service to our country,” Feemster stated.

The Reno-Sparks NAACP Scholarship Committee awarded five scholarships to local high school students at its Sept. 1 meeting. Hawah Amad, Rollins Stallworth, Jr., Shannon Gallimore, Marcus A. Brown and Emanuel Madrigal were scholarship recipients.

Danielle Stallworth and Rollins Stallworth, Jr., also received scholarships from the National NAACP scholarship program. Winners must be NAACP Youth Council members and exhibit exemplary community service.

"The Branch is pleased to support these new young leaders in our community on their education journey,” President Feemster added.

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