Public comment at Council meeting results in one more map

City Council chambers were overflowing Tuesday night with residents lined up to voice their concerns about which redistricting map will – finally – be the final map, but the meeting didn’t end until one council member asked for one more map to be brought to the table.

With audience members behind them holding signs that read, “Just tell us why?” and “Keep Oak Park whole,” more than 70 speakers chastised, questioned and – at times – shouted at council members as they expressed outrage over the most recent development in the redistricting saga.

The outpouring of emotion from meeting attendees stemmed from a City Council vote last week on a proposed map to redraw city district boundaries – the eighth map to be discussed by council members since the citizens advisory committee sent its final recommendations to the council on July 12.

The map, designated “Neighborhoods Together 2.0,” was introduced by Councilman Steve Cohn at the Aug. 9 council meeting – after public comment had concluded and before some council members had an opportunity to review it. That map was ultimately passed on a 6-3 vote as the ‘base map’ to be considered for final approval later this month.

During two hours of public comment Tuesday, council members heard testimony from lifelong residents of Oak Park, Sacramento High School students and community leaders.

Some speakers accused council members of “back room dealings,” while others questioned council members’ intentions by “creating a charade that was the advisory committee” on redistricting.

“You’re going to sit there and rip off the economic arm of Med Center off of Oak Park with no regard for the community?” asked Betty Williams, president of the Sacramento NAACP. “Really? No!”

Williams chastised council members for the “political theft of Oak Park,” and – with no subtle implication about the future of council seats – she added, “You are not the only ones who will take something away.”

All who spoke Tuesday opposed the boundaries in one district area or another, but the majority specifically opposed the shift of the neighborhood that includes Med Center and Sacramento High School from District 5 into Councilman Kevin McCarty’s District 6.

“My mother told me never to call folks ‘stupid,’ “ said Oak Park resident Joe Debbs, “so I’ll just say you are ‘unwise’ to break up Oak Park.

“It’s not too late to fix your mistake,” he added.

The impact of the outpouring of public comment seemed to sink in with council members right before the council adjourned.

District 5 Councilman Jay Schenirer asked city staff to re-analyze the most recent map and bring it back to council for consideration at the Aug. 23 meeting – this time redrawing district lines to return the contested area surrounding the Med Center to District 5.

“We’ll see if this (map) changes anybody’s mind (on the council),” Schenirer said after the meeting.

Although redistricting was not an item on the meeting agenda, the opportunity for public comment is a regular part of every council meeting. Speakers are limited to two minutes to address council members, and council members do not usually respond from the dais to public comments.

Tuesday’s meeting was anything but “usual,” however.

As the council chamber filled with people and stacks of speaker requests were handed to the city clerk, the first to step up to the podium was County Supervisor and former Sacramento mayor Jimmy Yee.

Yee told council members that he was speaking to them for one reason only – to plead for the South Land Park neighborhood to be kept together.

“I know how hard this (redistricting) process is and, as a county supervisor, I’m going through it now,” Yee said. “But what you simply have to do is try.”

Yee encouraged council members to consider the history of South Land Park and try to keep the neighborhood together.

Councilman Rob Fong, who represents the South Land Park neighborhood where Yee lives, thanked Yee for addressing the council but said there might not be any solution to dividing that neighborhood.

Yee suggested drawing the district boundary line at Sutterville Road instead of at Fruitridge, where the latest map shows it.

“So, you don’t care what district it’s in,” Fong asked, “you just want all of South Land Park together?”

“I love having you as my councilman, Rob,” Yee responded, “but I’ll love Jay Schenirer, too, if he’s my new representative. I’m not here for politics – I’m here for my neighborhood. Don’t split South Land Park.”

Michael Boyd, president of Oak Park Neighborhood Association, referred council members to an email sent to Elmhurst residents from McCarty that asked for support of the newest map and called Oak Park a “treasure.”

“Of course you see (it) as a treasure,” Boyd said to McCarty. “One that belongs in District 5.

“It smacks of elitism that cannot be ignored,” Boyd said of the new map boundaries.

At the end of the meeting, after the chambers had emptied, Schenirer said he asked for the new map revision so there would “at least be something on the table” when the council returns next week and takes up redistricting as a discussion item on the agenda.

“If we’re really about neighborhoods and keeping neighborhoods together,” Schenirer said, “and there’s no detrimental effects or musical chairs with other districts around (the changes), then I would hope the council takes it into consideration.”

Schenirer’s map revision will be brought before the City Council at its next meeting Aug. 23. A vote for final approval of a redistricting map is expected before the Sept. 6 deadline for submission to the state.

Melissa Corker is a Staff Reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCorker

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August 17, 2011 | 7:16 AM

The Latino community was also represented by a spokeswoman who decried the split of that community into multiple districts thereby diluting their political clout. We should support ALL neighborhoods to assure equal & fair representation across community groups.

August 17, 2011 | 7:26 AM

Well said, but any redistricting should reflect neighborhoods as historical neighborhoods. Ethnic gerrymandering would be no better than Cohn and Sheedy’s self-serving gerrymandering.

August 17, 2011 | 9:42 AM

I agree Curmudgeon. I like how the Oak Park interests took over the debate. Maybe I am ignorant but I’ve never viewed the UCD Med Center as being part of Oak Park. To me it could be in either district. Seems that it’s all about the money with the Oak Park group and not about community. I hope the concerns of the other neighborhoods are not ignored because of the loud and well-organized efforts of a few Oak Park interests.

August 17, 2011 | 7:28 PM

The hospital was actually there before Oak Park: it was originally founded as a county hospital in 1870, almost 20 years before the subdivision of Oak Park was laid out. The state fairgrounds moved south of there (at Stockton & Broadway) in 1905, and were quite closely associated with Oak Park: the multiple streetcar lines that ran from downtown Sacramento to the fairgrounds all ran through Oak Park on Broadway, 2nd Avenue and 4th Avenue (although the line that ran through East Sacramento and Elmhurst ended at the back entrance to the Fairgrounds at 48th and V.) The neighborhood between Stockton Boulevard and Broadway has been part of Oak Park for longer than it has been part of the city of Sacramento (Oak Park was annexed to the city of Sacramento 100 years ago next month!) And Sacramento High School has a legacy nearly as long in Oak Park–the same streetcar lines down Broadway brought students to Sacramento High School.

August 17, 2011 | 8:38 PM

Well there you go. I guess I was wrong. Pretty interesting history. Thanks William for the info. It looks the Oak Park residents have a strong argument for keeping UCD Med Center and the Sac High in their district.

August 17, 2011 | 9:35 AM

Mark, I would just like to clarify that UCD Med Center and the surrounding neighborhood realtor’s have dubbed ‘Med Center’ (known for the past 100 years as North Oak Park) as well as Sacramento Charter High School have been in Oak Park’s District 5 for the past 40 years. The UCD Med Center employs thousands of people and serves it’s immediate community through volunteer work and outreach. The Med Center and surrounding neighborhood are the economic ‘arm’ that served as a major catalyst for the Oak Park community when it was built and continues to do so today.

August 17, 2011 | 2:34 PM

A bit confused. Doesn’t Oak Park predate the med center by many years? Wasn’t this the site of the old state fair grounds? Wouldn’t the med center’s community outreach continue regardless of which neighborhood it is in? So my question is what is the purpose moving it into another district?

August 17, 2011 | 7:30 PM

As mentioned above, the hospital was there before Oak Park, and both were present before the State Fairgrounds. UCDMC has expanded onto much of the old fairgrounds, and at least one of the old fair buildings is now a biotech complex, but the original location was north of the fairgrounds site.

August 17, 2011 | 9:35 AM

Oak Park has a disproportionately higher rate of crimes for drug offenses, burglary, and violent crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assaults than any other neighborhood of Sacramento. Local unemployment area statistics reveal that nearly 50% of the residents in Oak Park are unemployed. THESE are the people bemoaning an “economic arm” being taken away from them? Where is this entitlement coming from?!

August 17, 2011 | 10:04 AM

How dare you be so ignorant.

August 17, 2011 | 11:56 AM

jl2237… can you please share where you are gathering your facts from?

August 17, 2011 | 1:24 PM

I would like to see your statistics that Oak Park has higher violent crime rates than the rest of the City.

August 18, 2011 | 12:28 AM

I’m pretty certain the folks voicing the opinions at city council aren’t among the ‘statistic’ noted by jlxxx. They are not even the victims of those ‘statistics’. I read your statement as contempt for the lower income, unemployed, perhaps even less fortunate in general. I have the stats to match your contemptuous summary for many neighborhoods within the city- perhaps your too if you happen to live in the city limits- that shows crime is down. Their is nothing in your little rip to support the breakup of our neighborhood and historic assets. You must have lost your place while blindly delivering the impassioned question regarding entitlements. Refer back to the article.

August 17, 2011 | 9:47 AM

It’s coming from the fact that Oak Park is their home and they don’t want to see if divided for political purposes. I’m not sure why you bring up the crime rate and unemployment. What does that have to do where the neighborhood begins and ends?

August 17, 2011 | 12:12 PM

Excellent point Ross. It was well noted last night that Oak Park is experiencing a “Renascence” and is at the crucial “Tipping Point”. It was also noted that to draw the new lines would only benefit the Havenhurst neighborhood with an aprox 1000 additional constituents, but at the same time it would nearly cripple the progress of a community that is in a turnaround. (forgive me if I have some of the numbers wrong…going off memory ;-) but that was the jest of it). The resounding question of the evening was “Why?” The people of OakPark just want to know what good is this boundary shift serving? Now I’m not a member of OakPark but I’m in the community nearly every day, signs of change and turnaround are evident. Call me ignorant, but I thought changing a community from a bad one to a good one was a good thing.

August 17, 2011 | 9:57 AM

I’m surprised the Hispanic community was so quiet. Demographics point to better representation but looks like Sheedy and crew are slicing the pie to keep Hispanics off the dias.

August 23, 2011 | 12:04 PM

Many of them not having citizenship, and thus unable to vote, might have something to do with the quiet. That said, Sheedy is a loathsome creature.

(Addendum: I am surprised at the thumbs downs. The non-citizenship (or not yet citizenship) of many in the Hispanic community–legal resdient alien immigrants, *not* illegal aliens–is a simple fact. This simple fact is *not* a comment against legal immigrants. And I had no idea Sandy Sheedy was so popular here.)

August 17, 2011 | 10:05 AM

Cohn’s map PROTECTS Sheedy from a Latino challenger!!!!!

August 18, 2011 | 8:12 AM

Assuming enough of that community can yet vote. (Again, this is not a put-down of anybody. Non-citizens don’t vote, and legal resident aliens are not citizens, or not yet anyway. This simple fact is *not* a comment against legal immigrants.)

August 17, 2011 | 10:32 AM

I bring up crime and unemployment because residents are whining about how redistricing impacts their local economy. What are they doing, exactly, to sustain said economy? Why is no one addressing this honestly? If a large percentage of a community is making negligible or no taxable income, what gives them to the right to be up in arms over redistricting?

And I don’t think there’s anything ignorant about my statements, anon. Watts, Stockton and Oakland are rife with crime. Does this statement make me ignorant? No. I’m calling a spade a spade.

August 17, 2011 | 12:15 PM

When making statements about crime it is probably best to at bare minimum have an authoritative source of information alongside your claims. Beyond that it is still tough to generalize an area with solely statistics, they often don’t tell the whole story.

Defining a region and then providing an authoritative source for crime statistics about that area will also help take some of the emotion out of your argument and likely make it more palatable to The Sacramento Press community

August 17, 2011 | 12:30 PM

So let me get this right jl2237… once a community has fallen to crime and a bad element, when the upstanding citizens of said community unite in rebirthing and taking back their community, the local government should cut off their legs? There’s a significant difference between “whining” and speaking out and fighting for what you believe in and have fought for for over 40 years. My ears didn’t hear whining last night in City Council Chambers, my ears heard a community uniting and vehemently fighting for what they believe in. In my eyes what happened last night was extremely patriotic and very American. The public had their voice and they will again next week. The beautiful thing about that is, jl2237, you have that same opportunity, and since you obviously have a great deal to say on the topic, exercise your right and go be heard at the City Council meeting next Tuesday.

August 18, 2011 | 12:43 AM

Great point. You should join and be vocal in public where we can look into the eyes of a bigot. Show up and show your true colors. I’ll see if 200 of my closest friends can be there to support your freedom of speech. Have you pointed out the lack of tax contribution from the UCDHS? Too bad only several billions of dollars – byproduct or benefit – Lots of UCD students & employees live in Oak Park. Have you spent any time in North Oak Park ie med center – there is no neighborhood association. And has been one since Senator Ortiz moved to east sac years and years ago.

Note: Check in our rights to participate in the process because we simply live in the United States! Via these rights you are tolerated much less encouraged to join in the discussion.

August 18, 2011 | 7:04 AM

Actually Jl, most of the people I know that are voicing their disapproval of both the process and out come of redistricting are professional, employed and are not only contributing through payment of taxes, but are also helping to build a better community in their spare time. For example we live in the Med Centre District, my wife works for UCDavis, and I am a part owner of two businesses. We do not support the break up of Oak Park. Regardless of this though, last time I checked, you have a wonderful thing in this country: It is called a Democracy, not a Plutocracy.

It is also interesting to note, that many of the inflammatory and sometimes mis-informed comments on this page come form people who do not have the courage to put their name to their posts.

Jl – Who are you, and what is your agenda? Why are you accusing us of dishonesty?

Take a tablespoon of cement, harden up and put your name up.

August 18, 2011 | 8:27 AM

Be that as it may jl2237, that does *not* justify breaking up neighborhoods and gerrymandering, gerrymandering, I might add, to benefit the very politicians that let the crime problem you rightly despise fester and grow. (No, I won’t smear you with false charges of racism, but your objections here miss the point).

August 18, 2011 | 11:21 AM

False charges of racism? Really?

A picture of a white wolf and the use of “calling a spade a spade” are easy giveaways this guy is proud of his racism. Don’t be so naive.

August 18, 2011 | 1:33 PM

“It interesting how people use racist dog whistle phrases like “spade” or “Nude pole dancing” and “24 hour liquor store” when describing a poorer neighborhood and then claim innocence when called on it. But something tells me Mr. White Wolf would stand firmly with his statements and wouldn’t have to cry to the moderator when called on it.

August 23, 2011 | 12:05 PM

Is this the same person who tried to smear me in the thread about the Oak Park McDonalds? Why yes, it is. And *my* picture has a white cat! Boo! Muhuahahahaha! And yes, I do call a spade a spade!

August 27, 2011 | 9:40 PM

Whatever, you crybaby commiecrat liberal liar.

August 17, 2011 | 10:57 AM

So what does that mean? Because people live in a poor neighborhood that they’re not allowed to voice their opinions about where the neighborhood lies? That they can’t say that they don’t want the public high school and the Med Center to go to McCarty’s district? That’s quite a statement. This will be interesting to watch.

City Council should leave Oak Park and (South Land Park) alone.

August 17, 2011 | 12:27 PM

Ed I wanted to let you know that I think your photos of this meeting are excellent. Since I couldn’t be there, this story is my only link to that night and your pictures help me feel quite immersed in the mood of the evening.

August 17, 2011 | 12:58 PM

Thanks Geoff…

August 17, 2011 | 1:20 PM

I second Geoff’s appreciation for your photos, Ed. I WAS at the meeting and I can attest that you captured the atmosphere of the meeting very well. Thank you for sharing them with us.

Article Author
August 17, 2011 | 1:50 PM

Thanks and my pleasure Melissa. Thanks for the article… I’m way to close and biased to the situation to have written an objective article. ;-) I’ll stick with the camera on this one…lol

August 17, 2011 | 2:14 PM

A rightfully concerned and angry community came out in force last evening and gave the 6 council members (Sheedy, Cohn, R. Fong, McCarty, D. Fong and Pannell) who voted for the so-called Cohn, Sheedy and McCarty “Neighborhoods Together 2.0 map” a large serving of crow. Crow is rather foul-tasting, hard to chew and hard to swallow. This exhibit of community activism gave a true meaning of the phrase “food for thought.” It would be wise for these council members to rethink their decision, and come to terms by putting public interest before self interest, which was a common theme throughout the evening. If not, then another serving of crow will be required until they get it right!

August 17, 2011 | 2:36 PM

It would seem that if the Med Center was such a great asset to Oak Park it would not be in the state it is in. I honestly do not know what benefit having the Med Center in a particular district has on the economic well being of that district but it seems clear that most of Oak Park did not reap the rewards. Same goes for the law school. I don’t know enough to form a educated opinion on whether or not the high school and med center should remain in Oak Park but I suspect that a small group of people do benefit from their presence at the expense of most of Oak Park residences. What was the rationale for moving them into another district?

August 17, 2011 | 5:33 PM

Mark… you notice your question has gone unanswered (twice). Exactly the point of the people of Oak Park. You will notice on some of their signs in the photos it says “Just tell us why!”. They are asking that very same question and hope to get a “rational” answer next Tuesday night.

August 17, 2011 | 8:36 PM

And after reading the Oak Park history that William Burg shared I am even more perplexed by the council’s actions.

August 18, 2011 | 1:02 AM

Community assets – they are part of the whole ‘entirety’ – which makes the community complete. It sounds too simple but after a conversation with the Urban Land Institute economic development folks, a community without assets will tend to loose their identity, fail to attract future investments, and as the community matures fall into a blighted condition. Realize the neighborhoods adjacent to these assets are considered to be in a better state or condition than blocks further away from the assets sphere of influence. Look closely. The quality of life that exists is often not represent honestly in the media – other than the posts here by local journalists.
Yet in the twenty years we have been here new-comers to my neighborhood have made decisions to relocate or invest because the the proximity and the hopeful expectations those area assets emote. You should come to the OPNA meetings and field those questions. Great questions to the dozens of neighbors who come to be part of the change, to share and re build Oak Park. You’ll get the honest answers.

August 17, 2011 | 4:56 PM

I listened to McCarthy politi-speak a rationalization for this move. How pathetic!! Regardless of how this turns out.. we need a change to the city charter to strip the city council of any involvement in the redistricting process.. have a citizen committee draw the line…judges…whomever. This should be the first priority for ALL Sacramentans.

August 18, 2011 | 9:56 AM

As the Mayor of Oak Park I don’t see how you Mr. McCarty and your landgrabbing allies can sleep at night with that an their concience. Nor “Mr McCarty I did not see or hear of any of your med center community members offer their services and/or time to Sacramento High School ,PS7 middle School m, PS7 elementeary school ,UCD Med Center or to Amani clinic at the PARK Park Community center, yet you want to play landgrab bully ?

August 18, 2011 | 6:09 PM

In a letter that (per the Sacbee’s City Beat) Councilmember McCarty sent to Elmhurst residents soliciting their support for his redrawn district, McCarty wrote the following:

“As you know, the UCD Med Center is a great community asset with huge economic and community benefits. But as our immediate neighbor, it does come with issues that directly affect Elmhurst more than any other neighborhood. As residents of Elmhurst, we’re all too familiar with the history of recent hospital construction, the Blue Lights, the helicopter noise and routes, parking, traffic, ambulance routes, and the future $1 billion expansion. We know firsthand how the UCD Med Center impacts our neighborhood the most.”

I find this a really odd summation of UCD Health System’s value to Elmhurst as perceived by McCarty, particularly in light of the pride and appreciation that Oak Park expresses when it comes to the institution. The comment suggests that McCarty wants UCDHS in his district not so that he can represent it as an advocate or even show community pride in it, but so that he can use it as a kind of NIMBY pinata from whose battered carcass there will come a shower of political candy.

More to the point, though, it suggests a values system in which complaining about traffic should trump neighborhood revitalization, improved safety and historic heritage. It’s interesting to me that Elmhurst residents aren’t really piling on in support.

McCarty’s attitude points to what makes this redistricting issue such an emotional and contentious one. There’s a sneaking suspicion on the part of some of the public that City leaders have lost sight of the greater civic good and these day are motivated more by their own personal gain and by in-fighting.

Every civic leader struggles to balance gamesmanship with statesmanship, I think. It goes with the personality profile. I get that. I just wish, I don’t know– that they could be more skilled at hiding the gamesmanship sometimes.

This isn’t a Milton Bradley board game. It’s a city.

August 18, 2011 | 5:07 PM

And our current Sacramento civic leaders have lost sight of what it means to be a public servant. The operative word here is servant.

August 18, 2011 | 5:49 PM


My concern and others is the naked, self-serving nature of the process despite an apparent attempt to get input from citizens. It puts into question the sincerity of the process and makes clear the council’s intentions to preserve their jobs over good policy.

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