That's because, try as they might, the 14 men and women picked to oversee the redistricting process can't please everyone.
"We're trying to share the pain," said Commissioner Michelle DiGuilio in comments after a long and passionate plea from residents of Fremont, who trekked up to Sacramento to complain about the possibility that they will be split into a congressional district apart from the cities of Newark and Union City.
"Our relationships are deep," said Raj Salwan, a planning commissioner in Fremont when testifying today about the three cities in question, often called the Tri-Cities.
Mind you, the protest wasn't over the actual draft map -- not to come out for another 72 hours -- but rather over some of the "visualizations" of Bay Area communities recently presented to the commission by the consultants hired to draw the maps.
The grumbling will no doubt get louder and larger come next week. In many instances, the commission is finding that even well-defined communities must sometimes be sliced up to meet the criteria which trump all others: equal population (in congressional districts, to the person) and the federal Voting Rights Act and its protection of minority voting rights.
The driving imperative of the Voting Rights Act -- both the impact on four California counties and its overall interest in 'majority-minority' districts -- has been obvious to many observers of the process to date. On Tuesday, it was hammered home by two of the authors of the original redistricting initiative, Proposition 11, in a letter to the commission.
"Compliance with the Voting Rights Act," wrote Prop 11 proponents Kathay Feng and Steven Reyes, "must be considered before contiguity, and respect for geographic integrity of any city, county, city and county, local neighborhood, or local community of interest."
The letter was prompted by concerns from the Prop 11 proponents that the commission may be getting the wrong legal advice. In a more general sense, advice flies back and forth at every single commission meeting. For weeks, commissioners have asked the map drawers to move a line left or right, up or down, to see what impact it has. Some lament part of a city that's "orphaned" into another legislative or congressional district from the rest of the same city. Others talk about the shape of districts -- the "Bakersfield Curl" or the "Stanislaus Finger" -- which will no doubt be a simple (probably overly simple) way by which some in the public will evaluate the draft maps.
Others, like Commissioner Cynthia Dai, openly muse on the cost of certain decisions. On Tuesday, Dai lamented that some communities were on the verge of being "badly split, multiple times" because the commission was trying to protect other communities "at all costs."
It's important to note that Friday's draft maps will be just that -- drafts. The final maps are due on August 15, thus leaving the citizen commissioners a lot of time to rethink some of their early decisions. What we will not get from them this week, but others will no doubt quickly calculate, is the partisan impact of the 120 new legislative and 53 new congressional districts; the process has been done only using Census data of ethnicity and voting age, and not with an eye toward Democratic or Republican advantage.
And while the commission has been a pretty happy bunch so far, we may soon start to see where the dividing lines lie among their own ranks. For starters, commission staff confirms that the draft maps will be approved by the same rigorous consensus vote that Prop 11 requires for the final maps to be certified: 4 of the 5 Dems, 4 of the 5 Reeps, and 3 of the 5 independents on the commission.