10:30 PM PDT on Tuesday, August 16, 2011

BY DUANE W. GANG
STAFF WRITER
dgang@pe.com

Riverside County supervisors approved new district boundaries Tuesday amid heated debate and accusations of gerrymandering between supervisors Bob Buster and John Tavaglione.

At issue was how best to divide the city of Riverside between the two longtime supervisors. The battle lines were drawn during more than an hour of public testimony and board argument over the two supervisors’ competing proposals.

Each had backers show up to support their respective plans and each had favorable letters from Riverside council members read into the record.

“I am just trying to do the right thing by keeping the same (Riverside) neigh- borhoods intact,” Supervisor John Tavaglione said.

Buster accused Tavaglione of “gerrymander by cherry picking” to add the Victoria neighborhood east of Highway 91 to his district.

Tavaglione said Buster’s proposal to shift the district boundary from the Santa Ana River south to Arlington Avenue would split the neighborhoods of Arlanza and La Sierra Acres. He accused Buster of trying to keep areas more likely to vote for him in next year’s election.

“I hate when issues like this are politicized,” Tavaglione said.

But after it became clear the board would deadlock — Supervisor Jeff Stone as the swing vote declined to take sides — Tavaglione backed off and supported Buster’s proposal.

The board will now take up a formal redistricting ordinance Sept. 13 and adopt the plan Sept. 27. It takes effect 30 days later — in time to meet the Nov. 1 deadline for new boundaries.

The national census, conducted every 10 years, triggers requirements to reapportion districts so residents are equally represented.

During the past decade, the county’s population soared nearly 42 percent, to 2,189,641. That means the five supervisorial districts each should have about 437,928 people.

To read entire story, click here.