10:03 PM PDT on Monday, September 12, 2011

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

Riverside County supervisors take up a formal redistricting ordinance today, and it is likely to be a low-key affair compared to last month when Supervisors Bob Buster and John Tavaglione clashed over how to divide the city of Riverside.

After the board deadlocked in August, Tavaglione ultimately supported a plan by Buster to add portions of La Sierra Acres and Arlanza north of Arlington Avenue into Tavaglione’s 2nd District. Tavaglione had instead sought to add the Victoria neighborhood east of Highway 91 to his district.

Now, the two supervisors said they are working to reach out to constituents they will gain. Both said they are meeting with community leaders in those areas.

But setting district boundaries was definitely a political issue in preceding discussions. During an Aug. 16 public hearing, Tavaglione and Buster accused each other of gerrymandering for political gain.

Emails obtained through the Public Records Act show tension among supervisors’ staff members over redistricting. The emails also show efforts by both supervisors to gather support for their respective plans.

In an email to his chief of staff, John Field, Tavaglione said it was important to get supporters to attend public hearings and point out that Buster’s proposal splits the Arlanza neighborhood along Arlington Avenue.

“RPD (Riverside police) will back me up that it’s all considered Arlanza,” Tavaglione wrote in a July 14 email.

Meanwhile, Buster’s chief of staff, Dave Stahovich, appeared concerned over whether Field was attempting last-minute changes to the redistricting plan.

Tina Grande, a management analyst who worked on redistricting, sent a July 13 email to Stahovich after speaking with Field, who wanted to add the Hunter Park area to Tavaglione’s proposal.

“There was no discussion of the Hunter Park area or any approval by the Board to include that in the map,” Stahovich responded. “Please explain how this was even possible based on what I was told in our meeting yesterday afternoon.”

Stahovich did not return messages seeking comment.

Hunter Park borders the unincorporated area of Highgrove and includes a Riverside redevelopment zone. It is one of the city’s most active industrial areas.

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