SLO County Roundup

Los Osos

It’s official: California has a new Citizens Redistricting Commission, and a Los Osos woman who came tantalizingly close to being named to the panel didn’t make the final cut.

The final six commissioners of the 14-member body were chosen Wednesday morning, and the list did not include Lillian Judd.

Nonetheless, Judd told The Tribune on Wednesday, she “wish(es) the commissioners all the luck in the world and hope they enjoy the process and each other.

“I also hope Californians will rally behind the commissioners and appreciate their hard work in the very difficult job ahead,” Judd wrote.

Judd, who has deep roots in the community, spent many years with the county’s Economic Opportunity Commission, now known as the Community Action Partnership. She was one of 30,000 people who applied for the commission.

The commission will redraw district lines for the House of Representatives, the state Senate and Assembly, and the state Board of Equalization. Voters created the commission and defined its powers in two separate statewide ballot measures.

Voters wanted to remove redistricting power from the Legislature, whose Republican and Democratic leaders, critics say, conspire to draw the lines in a way that protects incumbents of both parties.

The Constitution requires that the boundaries be redrawn every 10 years, after the U.S. Census is conducted.

The chosen commissioners were meant to represent geographic, demographic, ethnic, political, and economic balance, among other criteria.

San Luis Obispo County also must redraw the lines for its five districts, a process that incoming Board of Supervisors Chairman Adam Hill said he will turn his attention to in January. County officials are working on the project.

— Bob Cuddy

SLO County

Mike Brown, former chief executive officer for Santa Barbara County, has been named director of governmental affairs for the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business, which operates in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

Brown’s “primary duties will be in San Luis Obispo County,” according to Alan Volbrecht, chairman of the COLAB board of directors.

However, Volbrecht added, Brown and COLAB executive director Andy Caldwell “will collaborate and work together across county lines.”

Brown will start his new job Jan. 4.

“Mike Brown brings a wealth of experience and expertise from the public sector perspective. Combining his knowledge and skills with that of Mr. Caldwell is going to create quite a dynamic team,” COLAB’s Tobe Plough said.

Brown retired in October after 14 years as chief executive officer of Santa Barbara County. He also served as city manager of Tucson, Ariz. and Berkeley; chief deputy commissioner of the Connecticut State Department of Housing; and deputy city manager of Hartford, Conn.

COLAB aims to “help the decision-makers understand the impacts that policies and regulations will have on the ability of the private sector to create jobs and generate the healthy tax base we need to fund essential services for all county residents.”

“We could not have found a more stellar individual to help lead our counties back to fiscal health and well being via our participation in local government affairs,” Caldwell wrote.

— Bob Cuddy

SLO County

A bill to help detect hearing problems in newborn babies has passed the House of Representatives and gone to President Obama’s desk for his signature, Rep. Lois Capps (D-San Luis Obispo) announced Wednesday.

The Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2010 is modeled after a similar bill that went into effect last year.

The Act promotes universal newborn hearing screening. More than 12,000 babies in the United States are born either deaf or hard of hearing, and absent newborn screening, hearing loss can go undetected in the beginning of a child’s life, Capps wrote in a news release.

In 2000, only about 45 percent of newborns were screened for hearing, Capps wrote.

Today, more than 93 percent of newborns are screened.

The reauthorization “strengthens language to ensure that newborns and infants identified with hearing loss receive the follow-up services to help lessen and even prevent delays in cognitive and language development,” she wrote.

— Bob Cuddy