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PUSD Task Force Hoping for Big Turnout at Next Altadena Meeting

A task force charged with looking at a plan for electoral sub-districts for Pasadena Unified School District is looking for public input from Altadena residents.

Altadena, like other areas in the Pasadena Unified School District, is in the midst of a districting process that could determine whether future board members are chosen in individual sub-districts or continue to be elected at-large by residents across the district.

However, interest from Altadena residents in the process may be lacking at this point: at Tuesday's Altadena Town Council meeting, Council member Tecumseh Shackleford remarked that he had attended part of an Altadena-based meeting of the task force charged with examining the districting process and noted that very few people were in attendance.

That meeting, which was at the Mountain View Cemetery, was in fact attended by very few people at all, according to Ken Chawkins, the chair of the Pasadena Unified Districting Task Force.  He said there were just a couple of meeting there, compared to 30 to 40 who showed up at a Pasadena meeting last weekend.

At the same time, Chawkins said, some of the people who showed up to last weekend's meeting and others in Pasadena have identified themselves as Altadena residents, so the task force has heard at least some input from residents.  He is hoping there will be better turnout at the next Altadena meeting on January 28 at the , so the task force can get more input from residents.

About the Task Force

The task force was created in January of 2011 to investigate the possibility of converting the Pasadena Unified board into seven sub-regional districts, each with its own elected representative.  Voters would then vote on just one board member representing their district rather than voting on all seven members of the board as they currently do.

The task force is composed of nine members with two from Altadena, appointed by Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.  The remaining members were appointed by Sierra Madre City council (one member), Pasadena City Council (three members), and PUSD (three members). 

The plan would have to be put before PUSD voters in a special election slated for June 5, 2012,  and its passage by voters is in no way guaranteed. A similar measure seeking to establish sub-districts failed in 2000 when Measure BB was rejected by a slim margin.

Altadena's Issues

Altadena is in an interesting position as one of the two smaller cities in the district: it is too large to be contained in one district, and will wind up divided into multiple districts.

Chawkins said each district will have about 29,000 people in it - since Altadena has approximately 42,000 residents, that will mean the city could be in the position of dominating one district and being a significant player in another, he said.  It could also be divided into multiple districts and have a smaller, but still possibly significant influence across a larger number of districts, Chawkins said.

Figuring out which option would better benefit Altadena residents is an important part of the process, he added, and he is hoping to get more input from residents who want to have a say in the make-up of the new district.

Chawkins said his own view is that different parts of Altadena might have more common interests with areas of Pasadena located close by, so simply dividing districts in a north to south kind of manner might not make sense.

"The key for me is to recognize this: while city and county boundaries matter, when we are looking at communities of interest you and I both know when you are driving down the street the community does not stop at the border line," Chawkins said.

Richard Moon, the vice chair of the task force, said from what he has heard from Altadena residents, they would like to have influence in a couple of districts.

"Mostly there is sort of a general concern about Altadena being kind of shoved off into their own district and forgotten," Moon said.

The next meeting of the group is on Saturday January 28 at 1 p.m. at the

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navigio January 27, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Hi Steve. As long as there are variations in voting behavior and resource usage, there will always be a disconnect between policy-makers and users. In California this is exacerbated by the fact that non-citizens currently cant vote (legal or not). There is a valid question as to the intent and meaning of 'representation' when such a disconnect exists. At minimum, I believe it highlights a hypocrisy that exists in our society (not limited to representation within the school environment). Obviously a redistricting task force is limited by current law in what it can do to 'rectify' that. Even so, I think it would be potentially dangerous to exclude non-users from representation. Not only morally, but it could even introduce a taxation without representation issue (which would likely be rectified not by increasing representation, but decreasing taxation, ie funding.. :-P ). Our area is an outlier in this regard, due to our funky demographic and usage patterns, and as a result the disparity probably seems even more extreme here. The other issues I cannot comment on because I have no insight and limited history. However, I will say that there is a responsibility for the community to remain on the ball. Its only half the sinners fault when apathy provokes the sin. imho anyway. You need to write a book about the history of pusd... I promise i'd buy at least one copy... in fact, I've thought about writing such a book myself... time, time...
Richard January 27, 2012 at 10:23 PM
I'd buy that book, too.
Nadine Isenberg January 27, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Richard, we always have to fight for what we need/want/have. It's a figure of speach and as far as wanting my imput, in alot of cases when some group wants your "imput" that group is just trying to keep everyone off their backs by saying "we will listen to you and take your comments into consideration". Isn't that the best line of BS in the world? Like I said before, if I wasn't already learning how to help others during an emergency then I would attend this meeting. But since Firemen are giving up their free time to teach me something that could help people in my area, it's a no brainers. My education and family safety first.
Richard January 28, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Completely understand that choice, Nadine, don't get me wrong. There are other meetings, hopefully one might not conflict with an important previous engagement. And yes, a lot of the time people say they want input, they're covering their butts. But, by the exact same token, a lot of the time people say they want your input, it's because they *want your input*. All I ask is that the worst is not the automatic assumption made about a group of people that volunteered their time for this.
Richard January 28, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Oh, and now ironies of ironies, I just found out that I can't make it to this meeting, either. D'oh!

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