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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Banging the Drum

Republicans continue to lead the march against the Citizen’s Redistricting Plans – the result of a crackpot scheme that gave the job of redistricting to a bunch of elite “commissioners” who were given unilateral control to draw all the districts within 50 miles of their home or anywhere they once lived.  The process is so misguided that it has driven conservatives, such as the Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton, into great taint explorations, exposing the underside of reform.

Who’s idea was this thing anyways?  Oh, yeah, it was theirs.  But please don’t remind them of this irony.  They are having too much fun railing against the system and can’t be reminded that they created it in order to avoid a redraw by Steinberg, Perez and Brown.

As we transition from maps to actual elections, eyes are on two Jewish members in the San Fernando Valley who appear ready to rumble.  With Sherman already at $4 million cash on hand, and Berman’s ability to tap high dollar donors, this could be the first $10 million congressional intra-party contest.  Scientists believe the two could drive right into each other with such great force that they would create a new super candidate Bradward Shermberman – a darkly mysterious politician that looks like Emperor Palpatine but hands out combs and makes bad jokes.

According to an internal poll, voters in the San Fernando Valley like bad jokes – and look forward to hearing more of them.  Or at least the same ones over and over.

State

Popular lawmakers Berman, Sherman in `fight of decade'
Daily News Los Angeles
Pitted against each other because of redistricting, two powerful San Fernando Valley congressmen are gearing up for an expensive, tough campaign next year that will test the loyalties of local Democrats. Reps. Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, who collectively have 42 years in Congress, are launching early campaigns for a new district that encompasses parts of both their previous seats. Neither man has officially declared yet, but in separate interviews this week, both said they will run.  See Sherman Polling results here.

State redistricting by citizens beats politicians
The San Francisco Examiner
Now that the process has been completed, it turns out that politics intruded into an essentially political process, some districts have strange shapes and not everybody is happy with the results. Republicans are planning to place a referendum on the June 2012 ballot to redo the state Senate districts, which they feel could lead to a two-thirds Democrat majority in the Senate. That’s large enough to raise taxes without GOP support.

Flaws in Redistricting
NBC LA
Propositions 11 and 20 promised to change the political landscape of California by redrawing district lines based on non-partisan, objective criteria. But the data used to draw some of those lines may have been flawed, according to Dr. Michael Ward of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. A key basis for building the redistricting maps were what Ward called "main themed wrap-ups" where map makers compiled data from the communities they visited and then "boiled it down"  to a main theme.

Redistricting could aid Calvert, Bono Mack in 2012
The Press-Enterprise
Republicans around California are grumbling over a newly minted set of political lines that they say are friendlier to their Democratic rivals. But Inland GOP Reps. Ken Calvert and Mary Bono Mack have few complaints about the way their districts look. In each of the past two elections, Calvert, R-Corona, and Bono Mack, R-Palm Springs, faced stiffer challenges than any of their Inland colleagues. But the new maps appear to strengthen the lawmakers' re-election chances, prompting speculation that Democrats will look elsewhere to pick up the seats they need to regain the House majority.

Redistricting Will Have Big Impacts on Political Landscape for Business
Nooz Hawk
The coastal district of state Sen. Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, now has a sizable Democratic majority, probably too much for this moderate Republican to overcome. He is expected not to seek re-election to the Senate. The district of Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, will remain a strong Democratic district, and the freshman legislator is expected to seek re-election in 2012.

California's voting lines of contention
The Los Angeles Times
Many Republican politicos had been complaining for weeks about the new line-drawing process, especially after seeing "visualizations" drawn by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission for new state Senate districts. Some Republican movers and shakers suggested they would sue; momentum now seems to be moving toward a referendum petition.

Most vulnerable redistricted Republicans
The Hill
Congress’s lines are being redrawn, putting some longtime incumbents in a tough spot heading into next year’s election. Due to population shifts and partisan interests, some congressional districts are undergoing extreme makeovers, forcing their representatives to run in unfamiliar and sometimes inhospitable territory. Here are the five most vulnerable Republican incumbents.

Leave redistricting maps alone
Contra Costa Times
Even though the 14-member, bipartisan California Citizens Redistricting Commission reached near-unanimous agreement on the new maps, Del Beccaro has vowed to launch a referendum drive to overturn the state Senate boundaries and possibly the congressional lines. If he succeeds in collecting 504,000 signatures in 90 days, those maps will be placed before the voters in 2012 and it will be up to the state Supreme Court to draw temporary boundaries for next year's election.

Redistricting forcing state Sen. Ted Gaines to move to keep seat
Auburn Journal
State Sen. Ted Gaines is planning to pull up stakes in the wake of a redistricting change that places his Roseville home inside fellow Republican Sen. Doug LaMalfa’s District 4. Gaines said that he’ll have to move at least a quarter mile to remain in District 1 and meet state Senate residency requirements. The part of east Roseville he lives in has been shifted into District 4 as part of remapping by the California Redistricting Commission. The redistricting of electoral boundaries was finalized last week.

Political Redistricting With Transparency
Directions Magazine
The Public Mapping Project aims to change this by encouraging a more transparent process that makes it possible for the public to draw the boundaries of their communities and to generate redistricting plans for their state and localities, and do so from within a Web browser. Led by Professors Michael McDonald and Micah Altman, the Public Mapping Project has developed DistrictBuilder, an open source redistricting software application designed to give the public transparent and easy-to-use online mapping tools. In addition to software, the Public Mapping Project has developed data sets for each state, training materials, and performs outreach to educate the public about the redistricting process.

Redistricting means Marin gets new state senator
Marin Independent Journal
Marin has done well under the Citizens Redistricting Commission. The county will be the dominant force in its new congressional and state Assembly districts. The county has avoided being divided between adjacent districts. Marin's community of interest with Sonoma is recognized. The only dilemma is a quirk in redistricting law causing Marin to technically be without any representation in the state Senate for two full years.

Sen. Wolk welcomes political turns
RecordNet.com
Lois Wolk, the Democratic state senator from Davis whose sprawling Fifth District includes most of Stockton and Lathrop and portions of Tracy and Manteca, declared California's first stab at citizen redistricting a win-win for her and the citizens of San Joaquin County, despite the fact she will not represent the area after the next election. "Redistricting treated me well. It treated Stockton and San Joaquin County well," said Wolk, who explained during a wide-ranging interview with The Record's editorial board Friday that she intends to run in 2012 for the newly configured Third Senate District that includes her traditional base of Yolo and Solano counties.

Older Democratic politicians clogging up the waiting line
The Modesto Bee
Democrats will control the Legislature – with two-thirds majorities in reach – and the congressional delegation. And while it may not be impossible for a Republican to win statewide office, as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steve Poizner demonstrated, it's at best unlikely, even when lavishly self- financed, à la Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina. California's most important political contests will either be over the state's biennial spate of ballot measures, or in the primary elections that choose Democratic Party nominees, which will be governed by the new "top-two" system.

Local

Drawn and Quartered
KCET
For the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the clumping is done by the supervisors themselves. And there's nothing simple about that. If the supervisors can't decide how to sort about 10 million of us into five equal portions, someone else will do the clumping. In this case, redistricting would be the responsibility of the three officials who are elected countywide: the sheriff, the district attorney, and the county assessor.

Residents will have a say in redistricting
The Press-Enterprise
City Council districts have been contentious in Menifee since the city was formed in 2008. Menifee began with five districts, but some residents complained they cut apart key communities, particularly Sun City, diluting their political power. In a city where local politics are often raucous, council members saw value in letting resident activists who frequently battle with the council in public meetings, have a say in drawing the lines, Mayor Wallace Edgerton said.

Santa Barbara County’s Redistricting Process Is Flawed
Nooz Hawk
Is it time for a ballot initiative to redistrict Santa Barbara County? The process has been left in the hands of the Board of Supervisors and a coalition of three members — Salud Carbajal (1st District), Janet Wolf (2nd District) and Doreen Farr (3rd District) — who had clearly prejudged the issue to arrive at a conclusion that continues to divide communities and leaves the 3rd District under the control of the students at UCSB. This has been a major issue since I moved to Santa Barbara almost 34 years ago. The oft-quoted adage, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” is apt.