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As if re-shaping California's congressional and legislative districts wasn't enough to occupy its time, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission distracted itself last month with an internal investigation into a commissioner's tiff with a consultant and a staffer who cried while recalling the exchange.

The commission's lawyer, Marian Johnston, concluded it was a misunderstanding, but not without issuing a five-page report. The incident and its "aftermath," Johnston said in an email to map-drawing expert Karin MacDonald, "are becoming a devisive (sic) issue for the Commission."

According to Johnston's report, MacDonald, whose selection was criticized by Republicans because of her ties to Democrats, was walking to her car with a staffer, Tamina Alon, when a commissioner, Michael Ward, told them he trusted their work but others didn't, advocating an independent review. MacDonald told another commissioner, Maria Blanco, about the exchange the next day. When Blanco asked Alon about it, she began crying, the report said.

Following a series of interviews, Johnston concluded Alon cried "because she was exhausted and insulted by the thought that she was not trusted," not because she was afraid of Ward.

She isn't afraid of him, the report said.

"This appears to be an unfortunate case of misunderstanding, caused by frustration and fatigue, with no apparent improper conduct or actions by Commissioner Ward," the lawyer concluded.

Johnston Report


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