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Anyone who tunes into the webcasts of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission's meetings this week might wonder why its members keep talking about goldfish.

Every other comment, it seems, refers to koi, the much-prized Asian fish. But insiders know that the commission, which is redrawing the state's congressional and legislative districts, isn't being fishy.

Rather, the acronym "COI" refers to "community of interest," which state law says should be one factor in deciding how to draw the lines, although its definition is a bit vague. It can refer to a geographic region, an ethnic enclave or economic symbiosis, depending on the specifics under discussion.

The 14-member commission is trying to firm up its plans for 80 Assembly districts, 40 state Senate districts, 53 congressional districts and four Board of Equalization districts because of a looming deadline. It has cancelled plans to release a second set of draft maps and is now concentrating on final maps.

The final maps are due next month but the commission's staff has set a July 20 deadline for major decisions so that it can complete the technical mapmaking.


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