Redlining Lake County

Redlining is a term of exclusion used by the real estate and insurance industries.  Those on one side of the line are the favored ones while those on the other side are deemed the great unwashed, cursing them to higher rates and loan denials.  Of course, they may be within sight of people they have known for years on the other side of this invisible barrier.  Sometimes the line drawers deny the lines even exist but the proof is in the community changes over time caused by those who use those lines.

After 2010 another type of redline tore through Lake County without any pretense of invisibility.  At first glance it is just another example of Congressional gerrymandering but this boundary is much more.  Gerrymandering means an irrational line change in a district but in Lake County there was never a Congressional division to begin with.  We were always in one district which is important since we are so small, poor, and isolated.  These factors did not impress the 2010 committee of line drawers.

Looking at this new jagged line that rips through the County, East to West, I cannot help but be shocked by the stark demographics of the division.  Two “Lake Counties” were created.  A desperate North which included the Lake (District 3) and a better off South, comprising Middletown, Kelseyville, Lakeport, Clearlake Riviera, Hidden Valley, and the Cobb Mountain communities.  Neatly sliced off like bad meat is the sprawling County redevelopment district of the North Shore and the 16,000 people occupying the war zone of Clearlake.

I live in Clearlake.  We had enough problems without this political stab in the back.  So what kind of representation can our sliver of desperation expect in Congress.  We can answer this question by looking at the makeup of the rest of Districts 3 and 5.  Neither of these Districts include Mendocino County, the easiest county to get to from Lake County and formerly part of our district.

District 3 protrudes into Lake County like a hernia from several Central Valley rural counties.  The rest of the District is accessible on Highway 20 through a long mountainous pass with no public transit.  This District is mostly Big Ag, the upscale Sacramento suburb of Woodland, and UC Davis.  So what does the distant colony of North Shore and Clearlake have in common with this constituency?  Not a whole lot.  What can we expect from Washington?  Not a whole lot.

District 5 is another kettle of votes.  South Lake County is now floating on the fringe of Napa County and a piece of Sonoma “Wine Country.”  Congressman Thompson no longer has to tightly smile his way through endless fish fry fundraisers in Clearlake.  He is lord of the Napa Frontier and its continuous devastation of the pristine South County in the service of cheap vineyard knockoffs.  District 5 gets grapes and hillside development.  District 3 gets the runoff into the Lake from both.

I can’t help but suspect Congressman Thompson was somehow behind this antidemocratic maneuver.  He has always been known as the Republicans’ favorite Democrat.  Never much of a social program booster, he is now free to boost the North County in other ways.  Lake County is a neater fit geographically to Napa than Colusa.  North County and its 30 some thousand people is now a representative island.

I’m making this an issue for the 2020 redistricting.  This outrage cannot be repeated.  In the meantime, we should lobby the District 3 Congressman to give Lake Transit an earmark grant for a bus line extension to the Central Valley region we are now supposedly part of.

Going Like 60 – Voting So Far

By Dante DeAmicis

They say ours is a representative government.  So when do I get my representative?  I keep voting and voting and still I have never got a representative.  Oh, someone always gets elected to this gig or that but they never claim to represent me.  Their stationary says they represent the such or such district or the State of California.  None of them have claimed to represent my goals, values, principles, or premises.

A certain number of people come with a district but their standing is less than that of a renter to a landlord.  They are more like the furniture that go with a furnished apartment.  Just as someone normally wouldn’t care what the sofa thinks of the Federal Reserve System no representative of any of my districts has shown much interest in how that or any issue ranks with me in particular.

I’m not a needy citizen.  Under the best system, a representative can’t give everything to everybody.  Just push my top 5 line items.  That’s all I would expect from my legislative representative.  Hollywood agents deliver that much.  But I’m told America has a “winner take all” system that has more in common with a casino than a job interview.

Many other counties have representatives that really are more like agents or personal advocates.  Their system is called “proportional representation.”  On the Federal level, our House of Representatives has 435 casino winners warming seats.  If our country had proportional representation I would only have to ideally share views and basic values with one out of 435 people walking down the street.  But in my 42 years of being a good voting citizen I have only been allowed to play a middleman role for a district.

In school we are conditioned to believe its an honor to be a transient middleman.  We were even forced to recite a kind of middleman pledge every day which never mentions any expectation of reciprocity from the other side.  Commentators regularly editorialize that our low voter turnouts for this one sided contract shows apathy on voters part rather than indifference on the system’s part.  It never occurs to these pundits that if politicians acted toward citizens more like job applicants in a hiring interview voters would have more incentive to show up to the polls.  It never occurs to these finger waggers that people might feel unappreciated as middleman bit players with little influence in show elections, before, during or after the main event.

Is there any way in our system to vote for someone who represents our ideas, even if they don’t get elected, instead of some nebulous district?  Yes.  You can run for office.  You’re sure to get one vote.