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THE NOONER for April 1, 2013

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As Californians were closely watching the Supreme Court of the United States for last week's gay marriage arguments, nobody expected the landscape-changing ruling from the California Supreme Court in a rare Sunday night ruling.

Part of a unanimous ruling, the court held in Citizens for Fair Elections v. Bowen (S20130401) that the California Voting Rights Act approved by the Legislature in 2002 creates a higher standard for competitiveness that the California Citizens Redistricting Commission should have relied on to draw districts with as much inter-party parity as possible. The court reasoned that the Commission should have drawn districts much differently to foster the competitive elections voters were promised in Proposition 11. Citizens for Fair Elections only challenged state legislative districts, and the court's ruling seemingly only applies to Assembly and Senate districts, effective with the 2014 elections.

Redistricting has been a subject the court has rarely weighed in on, opting against intervening against the Commission maps in Vandermost v. Bowen in 2012. In that case, GOP activist Julie Vandermost argued that the Court should set-aside the State Senate redistricting plan pending the referendum that appeared on the November ballot. However, Citizens for Fair Elections relied on different legal arguments, winning the court over.

In response to the ruling, California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton initially offered an undecipherable tirade that covered each of George Carlin's seven words. GOP chairman Jim Brulte would not comment, but was seen with a cheshire grin as he boarded a Southwest flight from Ontario to Sacramento this morning. 

Lawyers scrambled to decipher the court's rationale and determine whether the ruling could be appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States. Attorneys believe the subjugation of the concept of "communities of interest" and "compactness," factors that were mandated in Proposition 11, could run afoul of federal constitutional law. However, some court watchers believe that the high court would rather stay out of the issue as the court continues to back off of high scrutiny for redistricting methodology.

Following the ruling, Citizens for Fair Elections spokesman Robert White cheered the ruling. "For far too long, courts have suggested that packing groups of like-minded people into a district provides the best government," White said. "Instead, the old system handed the keys to the People's Capitol to special interest groups, where elections were won in primaries and a real dialog never occurred." The Fair Political Practices Commission is looking in to Citizens for Fair Elections, which doesn't disclose its donors.

"Our whole system of elections has just been shaken like a Southern California temblor," said GOP consultant Matt Rexroad. "While I'm sad that the very truly independent work of the Citizens Commission has been set aside, our candidates are now immediately competitive in another ten senate districts."  

"Our database already has the new districts, and we're happy to provide solutions to customers new and old," said Paul Mitchell of Political Data Inc. "I want to thank Temple Coffee for staying open all night to allow me to get the work done. It's time for a very long bike ride."

Looking ahead to 2014, the ruling provides many competitive races for state senate, as the court-drawn scheme provides an east-west district that balances the generally Democratic areas west of I-5 with the generally Republican areas east of I-5. "A f***ing zebra sitting on its ass," was how John Burton characterized the plan.

Some 2014 candidates were excited about the opportunity of reaching beyond the neighborhoods they call home. "I can't wait to demonstrate to the voters of Manteca the sartorial value of the classic seersucker suit," said Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco). "From Lake Arrowhead to Toluca Lake, guns a blazin'!" tweeted Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks). 




IMPORTANT: If you have absolutely no clue what the date is, you probably slept in to long, and may be perplexed by the above. Let me assure you that today is a day of fiction, including the entire story above. None of the individuals quoted above should be actually attributed to their quotes. And, I thank them for their sense of humor.




Sacramento hanging victim's death appears to be accidental
Police and fire personnel responded downtown to remove a man's body found hanging from a building. A report was received about 7:45 a.m. today of a man hanging from rope high on a building at 12th and K streets.The man's death appears to be accidental, according to police. However, a police spokeswoman could not elaborate yet on how the man died.

Mental Health Care Issues In California Prisons Are Rooted In The Past
Dan Morain @
At last count, the California state prison system housed 33,777 inmates diagnosed with significant mental illness, including 6,051 with severe conditions such as schizophrenia.

Stockton Bankruptcy: The Case For CalPERS Cuts
Ed Mendel @
If a federal judge rules today that Stockton is eligible for bankruptcy, bond insurers facing big losses may wonder if they should have taken a harder look at how the city’s CalPERS debt could be cut.

New Biography Of Jerry Brown Is But A Primer
Dan Walters @
During Jerry Brown's first stint as governor three-plus decades ago, a number of books were written about him – some laudatory, some critical and some analytical. Brown has been back in the governorship for two years and that brief second act has already spawned one new book.

Healthcare An Obstacle As Republicans Court Latinos
Noam N. Levey, Washington Bureau @
As Republicans try to woo Latinos with a new openness to immigration reform, the party remains at odds with the community on healthcare.

The Great Water Debate
Michael Gardner @
Governor’s ‘twin tunnels’ concept that would deliver supplies from the delta to our region raises questions about impacts and cost and also rekindles tensions over a canal proposal blocked durin

State Still Has A Role In Supporting And Holding Districts Accountable
Erin Gabel @
With the passage of Proposition 30 and almost nine out of 10 local ballot measures last November, the voters of California gave our schools an almost unprecedented chance to begin rebuilding after years of budget cuts.

Lobbying To Intensify As Committees Begin Considering Bills
Marc Lifsher @
This year, Sacramento is home to 1,526 registered lobbyists representing 2,410 clients. Their vying for lawmakers' attention and votes begins in earnest Tuesday.

Public meeting Thursday on Delta water tunnels
The public is invited to a meeting Thursday in Sacramento on the state's proposal to build two giant water diversion tunnels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Harry Reid Draws on Political Calculus as He Leads Senate
The gun bills that the Senate is about to consider offer a new example of the skill with which its leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, evolves on issues.

San Francisco Symphony Strike: Tentative Agreement Reached
The San Francisco Symphony announced in a statement that its negotiators and leaders of the musicians union have agreed to terms on a 26-month contract, subject to the approval of the full orchestra and the symphonys board of governors.

Tech Pac Rewriting Political Party Lines - San Francisco Chronicle
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States vote yes to online registration
Kevin Robillard @
Finally, a change to election law that Democrats and Republicans can agree on. And it’s sweeping the nation. A wave of states in recent years have moved to allow residents to register online and the pace is quickening today as many more are debating the issue — a development that is swelling voting rolls, saving taxpayers’ money and providing a welcome demilitarized zone in the raging partisan wars over ballot access.

Red Flags Ignored In Shirakawa Case
A trail of embarrassing inaction at numerous levels of county government allowed for the years-long crime spree of disgraced former Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr., who will be sentenced in the coming weeks for perjury and misuse of public funds.

Political Blotter: Rep. Mike Honda leads lawmakers in urging gun-trace rules reform
Josh Richman @
South Bay Rep. Mike Honda rallies lawmakers to urge that police have better access to data for tracing guns used in crimes; also, activists opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline plan a protest outside Obama's fundraiser in San Francisco.

Editorial: Lawmakers must end fundraising during sessions
Former Fair Political Practices Commission Chairman Dan Schnur wanted to start a "conversation" about Sacramento fundraising.

Dan Walters Daily
Jeremy B. White @
Taxpayers should be irate given the San Francisco Transportation Authority's costly ferry service scheme, Dan says.

Caroline Kennedy Is Considered for Japan Ambassador
Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of John F. Kennedy, was an early supporter of President Obama, and the assignment would vault her into the kind of public life that her father and uncles pursued for decades.

Sacramento emergency crews swarm office tower
Sacramento emergency personnel are responding to an 18-story downtown office building where an object that appeared to be a body was hanging off the side.

Report: Ambassador Kennedy?
Donovan Slack @
Obama plans to name Caroline Kennedy as the next ambassador to Japan, the Washington Post reports.

California officials found flaws in parolee trackers
LOS ANGELES -- Thousands of ankle monitors that track the movements of paroled sex offenders and other criminals were ordered removed and replaced by California officials last year because they were flawed and unreliable, the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.