On the day the California Independent Redistribution Commission approved and released the long-awaited draft political maps, one of the 14 panelists was absent for most of the key meeting.
Commissioners spent seven hours on Nov. 10 reworking draft legislative, congressional and council equalization lines that, when finalized, will be used for the next decade. Antonio Le Mons, a No Party Preference Commissioner from Studio City who now has a Rancho Mirage address, logged in late and did not participate in the process, as video recordings and transcripts show. But before voting to approve the draft lines, he congratulated his fellow commissioners for the accomplishment.
âI am very proud to have been part of this process with my fellow Commissioners,â he said. âIt has been quite a journey into the heart of a pandemic, and I think we should all be feeling great. ”
It was not the first time that Le Mons had logged in late or missed a meeting before important deadlines. The commission marked Le Mons absent for the roll call in 16 of 44 hearings since October, as members gathered for marathon line drawing sessions. Commissioners have until Dec. 27 to send certified cards to Secretary of State Shirley Weber before they are used in the 2022 statewide election.
Sometimes, as was the case on November 10, Le Mons was marked absent during the call before arriving late. The committee, according to spokesperson Fredy Ceja, only records attendance to establish a quorum at the start of a meeting.
The non-partisan panel includes five Republicans, five Democrats and four voters with no preference for the parties selected in a long process that began in 2019. Commissioners are tasked with drawing lines using census data that ” provide fair representation to all Californians âas part of the voting measures approved in 2008 and 2010 to strip the legislature of redistribution power.
The profile of the Commissioner of Le Mons describes 25 years of leadership in the private and non-profit sector. He is listed as the director of operations for the Skid Row Housing Trust, an Los Angeles-based organization that helps the homeless, disabled and poor, as well as those struggling with drug addiction, find permanent shelter. Mons is also, according to his biography of commissioner, a former member of the California Assn. marriage and family therapists. He now runs a consulting and personal coaching firm.
He is also a co-star of the Fox Soul streaming channel âThe House,â a show that premiered on October 8 and focuses on black LGBTQ issues. It is not known when the filming started or if it coincided with the responsibilities of the commission.
Most commissioners missed one meeting, and some more than one, although it is difficult to determine how many under the commission’s record-keeping system. Some members also participate more than others, and many turn off their cameras during meetings. Republican Commissioner Derric Taylor has been marked absent for almost as many meetings – 14 – as Le Mons in recent months. Ceja said Taylor has started a new assignment with additional responsibilities in his role in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Ceja said he did not know why Le Mons had missed meetings.
Ceja said the commission has no attendance requirement, but “commissioners are expected to attend as many meetings as possible, acknowledging that many still have full-time jobs outside of their functions of voluntary commission “. Members are paid $ 378 per day when performing commission related work. Ceja said the salary does not depend on the number of hours worked or meetings he has attended, but is earned “for each day the member is engaged in commission business.”
Mons participated in the meetings while assuming the rotating presidency at the beginning of November. He now attends meetings in silence more often and rarely appears in front of the camera.
Mons did not respond to Times interview requests.
âIt’s unfortunate because he was selected through an incredible process of trying to attract people who are diverse – regional, experiential, ethnic, LGBTQ. All of those things were valuable aspects of his candidacy, âsaid Paul Mitchell, political data consultant and redistribution expert. “If he had not wanted to be fully engaged, he should not have applied or continued the process because there could have been other candidates who represent the communities he represents and who are more engaged. ”
Le Mons’s absence, Mitchell added, has “become a bit of a meme on Twitter.”
Le Mons’ lack of participation also raises concerns among those watching the process that it will soon vote on maps it does not know. At least nine members, three from each party, must approve the final cards.
Matt Rexroad, a Republican political consultant, compared Le Mons voting on the final cards to a local elected official missing audiences and public testimony, then voting on a general city plan.
“Or even if you were a judge,” Rexroad added, “but didn’t bother to show up for trial before making a decision.”
Ceja said the commission would likely have a unanimous vote to approve the final designs.
“We have complete and utter confidence that all Commissioners will fulfill their duty to create fair and equitable maps for the people of California,” Ceja said.