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Johnston Report

Johnston Report

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Published by David Siders

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Published by: David Siders on Jun 09, 2011
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1May 31, 2011Report by Marian M. Johnston,Staff Counsel to the Commission
To: Citizens’ Redistricting CommissionInvestigation and Report to Citizens’ Redistricting Commission regarding interactions between Q2staff Karin MacDonald and Tamina Alon and Commissioner Michael WardSUMMARY
After the Salinas meeting on May 22, Commissioner Michael Ward wanted to speak with Karin Mac-Donald to request help with his proposal to have the Commission reconsider requiring an inline reviewprocess. Ms. MacDonald was in a hurry to leave, and asked him to walk with her and her staff member,Tamina Alon, to their car. He did so and also helped carry their equipment. Commissioner Ward wasinsistent that he needed Q2’s help and input in drafting a proposal for an inline review process. Ms.MacDonald was equally insistent that she and Ms. Alon needed to leave and that Commissioner Wardshould make his request by e-mail. While the exact exchange of words cannot be recreated, Commis-sioner Ward said something to the effect that although he trusted Q2, other people did not, and thatothers thought of Bruce Cain when they thought of Q2, so that an independent reviewer would protectQ2. Ms. MacDonald and Ms. Alon were both insulted by the idea that they were not trusted. They thendrove off. Everyone agrees there was absolutely no physical contact or threat of contact.Ms. MacDonald then reported this incident to Commissioner Maria Blanco the next day during the SanJose meeting and informed Commissioner Blanco that she was “pissed” off at Commissioner Ward. Ms.Alon went over to Commissioner Blanco after the meeting to tell her how sorry she was for how badlyCommissioner Blanco was treated during the meeting. Commissioner Blanco then asked Ms. Alon aboutthe incident in Salinas, and when Ms. Alon began to tell her about it, she began to cry. Ms. Alon statedshe cried because she was exhausted and upset that she and Q2 were not trusted. Ms. Alon is not afraidof Commissioner Ward and never told anyone she was afraid of him.
 This appears to be an unfortunate case of misunderstanding, caused by frustration and fatigue, with noapparent improper conduct or actions by Commissioner Ward. After the Salinas meeting, CommissionerWard wanted Q2’s help in developing a proposal for the Commission to reconsider its decision not torequire an inline review process, but Q2 staff were in a hurry and put him off. He tried to explain thatthe reviewer was needed because some members of the public did not trust Q2, and Q2 staff found thisinsulting. He tried to explain that he did trust Q2, but at least one Q2 member believed he was sayingthat the Commission did not trust Q2. His statement that some people still associated Bruce Cain withQ2 was particularly offensive to Q2.Ms. Alon did cry when Commissioner Blanco asked her about the incident the next day, but this was be-cause she was exhausted and insulted by the thought that she was not trusted. She never said she wasafraid of Commissioner Ward and does not feel afraid of him.
2Q2’s decision to put off interviews about this incident until the conclusion of the Northridge meetingsalso caused this incident to appear more serious than it was, and contributed to a misperception bysome Commissioners as to what had occurred in Salinas and why Ms. Alon was crying.
On Monday, May 23, 2011, at about 10:15 p.m., Chief Counsel Kirk Miller missed a telephone call fromCommissioner Maria Blanco. Mr. Miller called her the next morning, at which time CommissionerBlanco reported that she understood that an incident had occurred between an unidentified Commis-sioner and an unidentified Q2 staff member, leaving the Q2 staff member feeling afraid and threatened.Mr. Miller then contacted Commissioner Angelo Ancheta, then acting as Chair, and CommissionerAncheta responded with an e-mail reporting that he had already been advised of the incident by Com-missioner Blanco. He also identified the Commissioner who was involved as Commissioner MichaelWard. Commissioner Ancheta asked that the new Chair, Commissioner Vincent Barabba, be contactedand be the contact person for an investigation of the incident. On that same day, May 24, I met withExecutive Director Daniel Claypool and Mr. Miller, and they directed me to investigate these allegations,as an investigation was required by law once the Commission had such allegations. On Wednesday,May 25, I telephoned Commissioner Barabba, and he concurred that a review of the incident was re-quired.I determined that I needed to interview the persons directly involved, Commissioner Ward, Ms. Mac-Donald, and the other Q2 staff person.
Interview with Commissioner Barabba
Commissioner Barabba told me that in San Jose on May 23, the day after the Salinas meeting, he heardfrom Commissioner Blanco that Ms. MacDonald and one of her staff were upset. He heard that inSalinas, Commissioner Ward asked Ms. MacDonald how CRC would use the services of an inline processreviewer, and she asked him to put his request in writing or e-mail. He pursued her and her staff andfollowed them out to her car. He made comments to the effect that review was required because peo-ple didn’t trust Ms. MacDonald. Ms. MacDonald was frustrated; he kept persisting. One of Ms. Mac-Donald’s staff, he didn’t know her name, started to cry in San Jose and said she felt stressed about notbeing trusted. Commissioner Blanco witnessed this conversation and called over a few other commis-sioners. Commissioner Barabba instructed me to speak with Commissioner Blanco.
Messages and telephone calls
On Wednesday, May 25, I called and left a message for Ms. MacDonald and also sent her an e-mail ask-ing to speak with her as soon as possible. She responded by e-mail saying, “i would like to do this in per-son. we will be in northridge so lets find a time to talk.” She also identified the staff person as TaminaAlon. Copies of these e-mails are attached at the end of this report.I also called Commissioner Blanco and left her a message, and also sent her an e-mail, asking for moreinformation. A copy of the e-mail is also attached.I also sent an e-mail to Commissioner Ward, asking to speak with him. A copy of the e-mail is attached.
Interview with Commissioner Ward
3I spoke by telephone with Commissioner Ward on May 25. He told me that he wanted the Commissionto revisit the idea of requiring an inline process reviewer. After the meeting in Salinas, on May 22, hehelped carry out the computer monitors to Ms. MacDonald’s car. He asked her about what was neededfor an inline review process. She got very upset, and he tried to calm her. She was saying he didn’t trusther, and was emotional, so he had to raise his voice and tell her repeatedly “It’s not about you.” No oneelse was around except one of her staff, and he doesn’t know her name. The other staff person said “Itseems like you don’t trust our work.” He said he did trust them, but that others didn’t. The other staff person did not appear to be upset, only Ms. MacDonald. The next day he heard from another commis-sioner that Ms. MacDonald had gotten together with other commissioners and told them he verballyand physically accosted her in the parking lot. He wants to get the matter cleared up and have any ac-cusations made by Ms. MacDonald out in the open and pinned down.
Interviews with Tamina Alon and Karin MacDonald
In Northridge, I tried time after time to speak with Ms. MacDonald and Ms. Alon, as Ms. MacDonald hasrequested. Ms. MacDonald arrived on May 26 in the afternoon, but said she had no time to speak withme as she had to listen to the presentations. I replied that since she had already missed the morningpresentations it would not interfere with her work for her to take a few minutes to talk with me. Shethen told another CRC employee, Janeece Sargis, that I had yelled at her and accused her of not working.I was astonished by Ms. MacDonaId’s comment. I had not yelled, but spoken to her quietly while themeeting was underway, and I had never accused her of not working, but had only said that her workshould not interfere with taking time to talk with me, that she had promised to talk with me in North-ridge, I was only asking for a few minutes, and she had already missed the morning presentations. I in-appropriately called Ms. MacDonald “crazy,” but then apologized.Despite Ms. MacDonald’s May 25 e-mail to me stating that Ms. Alon would be in Northridge, Ms. Alonwas not at the Commission’s meeting on either May 26 or 27.Ms. MacDonald kept telling me there was no time to discuss the incident, even though I had come toNorthridge at her request. I kept telling her that it was urgent for me to talk with her and Ms. Alon assoon as possible to find out exactly what had happened in Salinas. Ms. MacDonald later e-mailed mesaying that she and Ms. Alon would call me on Thursday night, May 26, but they never called me. I sente-mails to both of them, again saying I really needed to speak with them. Copies of these e-mails areattached.On May 27, I tried again to speak with Ms. MacDonald, and she promised she would call me later thatday. However, she sent me an e-mail that night saying she would not be available until after 11 andwould prefer not to talk then, as she had little sleep and had a migraine. I replied that I hoped shewould get some sleep.On May 28, after the conclusion of the CRC meeting, Mr. Claypool and I changed our flight schedules sowe would be able to speak with Ms. MacDonald and Ms. Alon.
Tamina Alon
Mr. Claypool and I spoke first with Ms. Alon. She said that after the Salinas meeting, while she and Ms.MacDonald were packing up, Commissioner Ward came over to ask questions about Q2 helping him de-sign a system for inline review. He seemed very agitated and insistent. Ms. MacDonald said she could

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