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THE NOONER for July 29, 2011

CALIFORNIA DIVIDED

Did the Redistricting Commission listen to the Republican threats of a lawsuit or referendum?  Or, is the changing outlook simply a consequence of the work to create more "majority-minority" Latino districts?

Today, the Citizens Redistricting Commission voted to approve the draft maps, with final adoption scheduled August 15.  While several questions were raised by commissioners yesterday, commission staff said that it would take 2 days to make any adjustments, forcing members to swallow their frustrations and making the maps looked at yesterday likely the final ones.

While earlier versions of the plan looked like two-thirds majorities for Dems in both the Assembly and Senate, it now appears likely that Dems will need a 2008-sized turnout to accomplish it.  On a preliminary basis, here's the breakdown:

Assembly:  50 Dems, 25 Reps, 5 Swing
Senate: 24 Dems, 12 Reps, 4 Swing 

Congress
33 Democratic
1 Lean Dem
5 Swing
2 Lean Rep
12 Republican

A couple of weeks ago, the Senate looked solidly above the 27 Democrats needed for two-thirds, and the Assembly looked likely to reach its 54.  However, now it's a lot harder to pave a way for Democrats to get to two-thirds in either house next year, although the plan would likely yield it over the next decade.  Next week, I'll dive into the battleground races.  

Even in Congress, depending on the outcome of 5 swing districts, it is possible Republicans hold on to their 19 seats.  A couple of weeks ago, there were hopes of as many as 4 new solid Dem congressional seats.

What happened?  The initial maps were heavily criticized by the Latino community.  While increasing Democratic majorities in the Assembly, Senate and congressional delegation, the initial maps had fewer Latino seats.  However, this was dramatically changed in the final maps, with an expected increase of total Latino majority-minority seats from 19 under the current lines to 29.  However, this "packing" led to fewer Democratic districts statewide.  Interestingly, African-American leaders fought the packing in LA, hoping to hold on to three seats rather than take 1 or 2 with a majority-minority black district.

For now, the big question is whether the Republican Party will pursue its threatened referendum.  If sufficient signatures are collected, the California Supreme Court would draw lines to use for 2012, but likely with only modest changes to the commission's plan.  The referendum would essentially be a choice between the commission's plan and the court-drawn plan.  

It's a tough gamble, as this final plan looks a lot more like the 2001 bipartisan plan than previous "visualizations" put out by the commission and more than anyone expected (particularly Prop 11 proponents).  It's very possible the Supreme Court's plan would yield more Democratic seats in the Assembly, Senate and Congressional delegation.

In the Republican party, the only people that would likely benefit from a referendum would be the members who are losing seats. However, without a political redistricting, David Dreier isn't going to find a nearby winnable seat.  To quote the governor, everywhere Dreier looks, there are bears in the forest.  Of course, the House Rules Committee chair can certainly land a nice lobbying gig.

In fact, most of the mess is now on the Democratic side (Sherman v. Berman, Hahn v. Somebody not white, Lowenthal v. Richardson, Portantino v. Chu).  Republicans should love all the wasted resources on the Dem side is a presidential year. Yes, it might be possible to separate Ed Royce and Gary Miller, but is that really worth a referendum?

Hat-tip to Redistricting Partners, Meridian Pacific and Political Data Inc. for the amazing work quickly translating the data into political implications.

On to the headlines...

Kamala Harris: Redevelopment lawsuit is 'meritless' - Kevin Yamamura @ blogs.sacbee.com
California Attorney General Kamala Harris told the state Supreme Court this week that it should allow the state's elimination of redevelopment agencies to proceed.

Voter Imposed Term Limits Continue To Inconvenience The Political Class - Jon Fleischman @ foxandhoundsdaily.com
Ever since the people of California, back in 1990, passed Proposition 140 and imposed term limits on California's Constitutional officers and the State Legislature, there have been efforts promoted by political insiders to do away with those limits, or at least to weaken them. Many politicians and the people engaged directly with them find term limits to be an inconvenient insertion of the people's will into what they prefer to be a Patrician process.

California Redistricting Panel Prepares For Lawsuits - Jim Sanders @ blogs.sacbee.com
Bracing for litigation, California's independent redistricting commission has decided to temporarily retain most of its key aides after acting on the state political districts it was formed to create.

Not Everyone Wins In Redistricting - John Wildermuth @ foxandhoundsdaily.com
Here's a reminder, courtesy of the Rolling Stones, to the various Californians already camped out on the courthouse steps in advance of Friday's presentation of the final redistricting maps: Cue the music: "You can't always get what you want."

Final Draft Redistricting Maps Unveiled - blogs.pe.com
Democrats would outnumber Republicans by at least five percentage points in 51 Assembly, 26 Senate and 36 congressional districts in final draft remaps to be voted on today by the state's redistricting panel.

Free Pot In Exchange For Registering To Vote? - Us News - Life - Msnbc.com - msnbc.msn.com
Your Healthy Choice Clinic of Lansing, Mich., had been offering a half gram on its website ahead of a vote for city council seats and after the council approved capping the number of medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits and setting a $1,000 application fee.

Youths Get A Peek At Life In Capitol - sacbee.com
More than 100 student representatives from the Chicano-Latino Youth Leadership Project gathered at the state Capitol on Wednesday to meet with lawmakers and conduct mock legislative hearings on top policy issues facing California.

For One Lawmaker, Recess Means Added 'Duties' As Reservist - Torey Van Oot @ blogs.sacbee.com
Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, is spending part of the four-week break on duty in the United States Air Force Reserves. Lieu, who served four years on active duty as a prosecutor in the JAG corps, is at work this week at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo. His assignment? Reviewing tort claims and ethics disclosures and writing a litigation report for a case in federal district court.

The Redistricting Commission's Primary Failure - Tony Quinn @ foxandhoundsdaily.com
African-Americans had initially complained about being ignored, but when it became clear the congressional plan would fail without the votes of the two black commissioners the commission acquiesced to the three black districts, although not without a tearful and bitter debate. And now it turns out that a white Democratic congresswoman is threatening to run in one of the black seats; the commission will probably be forced back to the drawing board to stop that.

Workers' Compensation Heating Up In Capitol - Dan Walters @ sacbee.com
Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger often cited an overhaul of the system that compensates workers for job-related illnesses and injuries seven years ago as one of his proudest achievements.

Chromium 6 Limit In Water Goal Set By Calif. Epa - Wyatt Buchanan @ sfgate.com
The California Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday released the nation's first standard for limiting a cancer-causing chemical in drinking water. The agency set a public health goal for hexavalent chromium,...

Citizens Commission Releases Final Maps - Lisa Vorderbrueggen @ mercurynews.com
After months of speculation and discord, California's "citizen" mappers Thursday unveiled nearly final congressional and legislative district lines that portend significant changes in the state's political landscape.

Founder Of Americans Elect Used Tax Shelter Scheme - californiawatch.org
The businessman behind an ambitious effort to field an alternative, nonpartisan presidential candidate has paid millions of dollars in delinquent taxes and penalties for his part in an alleged tax shelter scheme, records and interviews show.

Harris Backs Rollback Of City Agencies - sacbee.com
California Attorney General Kamala Harris told the state Supreme Court this week that it should allow the state's elimination of redevelopment agencies to proceed.

Newsom Unveils Plan To Fix Ailing Economy - mercurynews.com
California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom arrives in San Jose today to unveil his plan to hoist the state out of its economic abyss -- borrowing on the successes of Silicon Valleys global reach and the need to restore long-absent state leadership in job creation.

Debt Ceiling Vote Delayed: John Boehner Down To The Wire With Vote Count - Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan and Jonathan Allen @ politico.com
House Republican leaders delayed a vote on Speaker John Boehner’s package to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, at the tail end of a long day of vote counting.

Strange But True: State Lawmakers May Legally Accept Cash Gifts, Gift Cards - Ramon Solis @ taxdollars.ocregister.com
While Government Code section 89502 prohibits state lawmakers from accepting honorarium for making speeches, the law does allow them to accept cash gifts or gift cards worth up to $420.

Another Setback In Funding Lawsuits - toped.svefoundation.org
Plaintiffs in the second suit are Campaign for Quality Education, a coalition of grassroots, civil rights and research organizations; Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment; PICO, representing 400 religious congregations statewide; Californians for Justice, which works with students in Oakland, Long Beach, Fresno and San Jose; and and San Francisco Organizing Project, a church- and school-based organization in four neighborhoods of San Francisco.

New Maps Would Force GOP Showdown In O.C. - MARTIN WISCKOL @ ocregister.com
The proposed final redistricting maps could force GOP congressmen Gary Miller and Ed Royce to battle for a single seat.

Audit Says University Of California Should Be More Transparent - Laurel Rosenhall @ blogs.sacbee.com
The University of California should make more information about its finances available to the public, according to a report released today by State Auditor Elaine Howle.