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Thursday, November 17, 2011


15 Seconds of Fame

A couple months ago CNN came to CA with a crew from CNN Presents.  Their task?  To do a one-hour documentary on redistricting.  “Are we PBS?” was the instant question the reporter asked management when given the job.

So, setup in a hotel in Hollywood, overlooking the city, they interviewed Kathay Feng from Common Cause, Commissioner Michael Ward (famous for having voted no on all the plans), and, apparently representing the dark forces, me and Matt Rexroad.  Their first question?  “We thought the voters of California voted to take people like you OUT of the redistricting process?”   Oh… this is going to be great, I thought.

Two hours later, and several instances of Matt basically throwing himself in front of some “who did you work for,” “who is Tony Quinn?” and “really, who did you work for?” questions, we had no idea what to expect as a final product.  Still don’t.

But the show will go on – airing on CNN this Sunday night at 5, 8 and 11pm.  We strongly suspect that our two hour interview will be distilled down to about 15 seconds as the real exciting TV Drama stuff isn’t in California at all, but Arizona where the legislature impeached the chair of the redistricting commission and the vast majority of other commission-less states that are still doing real legislative gerrymandering the old school way.  Even in CA there has got to be a lot more exciting things to cover than two white guys sweating under bright lights talking about retrogression and dodging loaded questions.

So no guarantees, except for this one: there will be no mention of the taint.  Conan Nolan in LA couldn’t promise the same as his interview with LA Councilwoman Jan Perry which clumsily dives into the taint @ 3:55. We have been avoiding running too much exploration of the dark nether-regions of the LA redistricting drama, but this could bring us in.

The other item drawing attention in CA redistricting is this pesky Senate referendum business.  Expect the Republicans any day now to claim that the signatures submitted should meet the  “referendum measure that is likely to qualify” condition in prop 20 which stays the commission lines and triggers a redraw of the lines by the State Supreme Court.  Someone there apparently thinks they know what the courts will draw in place of the current commission plan, and believes the Supremes will be forced to create new lines for the June election, even though the signature count should extend past the March filing deadline.  This would be a neat trick because it could mean that the ballot measure never qualifies, but the courts end up drawing new Senate lines and holding an election under them anyways.


710,924 Signatures for Overturning Senate Map. And Yet...
The sole challenge to the work of California's citizen redistricting panel appears to have crossed a significant milestone over the weekend, but still faces some tough odds to actually blocking the use of the panel's work in 2012. Starting last Thursday and concluding on Sunday, the political team that pushed the referendum against the state Senate districts drawn by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission turned in 710,924 signatures to elections officials in 57 California counties -- enough, they believe, to place the measure on the November 2012 ballot.

GOP group files signatures for vote on California redistricting
Los Angeles Times
Republican activists trying to overturn new state Senate districts began filing signed petitions Thursday for a California-wide referendum on the issue. Referendum proponents, calling themselves Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting (FAIR), have until Sunday to file the minimum 504,000 signatures needed to get the matter on the November 2012 ballot. FAIR charges that the maps, drawn for the first time by a citizens commission instead of the Legislature, bear "trademarks of gerrymandering" to favor Democrats. The maps include "bizarre shaped districts, numerous unnecessary county and city splits and the division of key communities of interest," the group said in a statement Thursday.

Senate redistricting referendum effort advances
California State and Local Government 180
A Republican effort to repeal the newly drawn state Senate districts by means of a ballot referendum has begun submitting the required petitions, and expects to have sufficient signatures turned in by Sunday to qualify the measure for the ballot. The new districts give Democrats a good chance to gain a two-thirds majority of the Senate, which would mean they could raise taxes without a single Republican vote. Republicans contend the districts have been gerrymandered.

Redistricting Could Cut Caribbean American Voices
New America Media
Every ten years states get an opportunity to redraw their district lines based on the database of population flux and migration gleaned from the Census. Thus, political boundaries are now being redesigned to reflect the demographic shifts recorded in the 2010 Census. Mandated by the US Constitution, redistricting is meant to put political power in the hands of the people and ensure real community representation. But some question the tactics used by political parties and incumbents seeking to get or keep control. Gerrymandering is one such method where districts are intentionally drawn to advantage one group or party over another. A clue that this has taken place is often the odd shape of the newly drawn district.

Republicans kick in money to block new Senate districts
Capitol Weekly
Republicans backing an effort to overturn the newly drawn state Senate districts pumped $120,000 into the campaign this week, including $95,000 from the California Republican party. The funding emerged as Republicans said they were turning in voter signatures on petitions to county registrars across the state as part of their campaign, called Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting. They need to collect at least 504,000 valid signatures to place the measure before voters next November. The proposed measure is a referendum, which asks voters if they want to keep the new maps or throw them out.

Redistricting Lessens Eagle Rock Representation
The Occidental Weekly
The California state legislature redrew its district boundaries on Aug. 15 following the 2010 Census, moving Occidental College and the Eagle Rock neighborhood from the 44 State Assembly District to the 51 District. Eagle Rock will remain in the 21 senate district, but surrounding towns, such as Pasadena and San Marino, will not. This redistricting will cause Eagle Rock to have less representation in Sacramento, according the Eagle Rock Patch. This redistricting of both the senate and assembly districts has caused the vast majority of Northeast Los Angeles to be merged with parts of East Los Angeles, one of the causes of Eagle Rock's loss of representation. The change will also drastically alter the district's demographics.

Redistricting process' lessons

San Francisco Chronicle
This year California tried an experiment for redrawing the lines of congressional and legislative districts - a commission of average citizens did the job, rather than the Legislature. What were the lessons? Here's an idiosyncratic list of some takeaways from a conference I helped organize at UC Berkeley: 1. The citizens commission did a good job. Most of the panelists agreed that, in most respects, the amateurs got it right. "There are no shenanigans here that I can see," said researcher Eric McGhee.

Are we better off redistricting by citizen panel?
The San Francisco Chronicle
Imagine what political insiders would be talking about today if the California Legislature had controlled redistricting this year: Democrats would have had a very high likelihood of gaining two-thirds majorities in both houses in Sacramento because line-drawers could have produced a few more reliably Democratic districts. Latinos, for the first time in the state's history, could have contemplated political power commensurate with their rising proportion in the population.

Republican opponents turn in signatures
The Press-Enterprise
A Republican-led campaign to overturn the state’s redrawn Senate map said almost 711,000 voter signatures have been submitted on petitions to put the maps before voters next year.
The petition deadline was Sunday. Organizers need 504,760 valid voter signatures to qualify a ballot measure to scrap the Senate plan crafted by the voter-approved Citizens Redistricting Commission. That would suspend the maps and trigger the California Supreme Court’s involvement, with a possible redraw in time for the 2012 elections.

District lines take shape
The redrawn electoral maps for state Assembly and Senate and for congressional districts have been certified, but a few challenges remain to the state’s first citizens-drawn districts. The new districts apply to June 2012 elections and others held through the next decade — unless they are overturned. A group called Fairness & Accountability In Redistricting, with the help of the California Republican Party, had until Sunday to submit a petition that would essentially rip up the maps drawn by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. Court-drafted districts would replace the commission-drawn ones under the petition.

Group challenging new Senate maps gets warning on disclosure
The Los Angeles Times
A group pushing a ballot measure to overturn new voting districts for the state Senate failed to properly report major backers, including the California Republican Party, in its initial filings, according to a warning letter issued by the state’s ethics watchdog agency. The state Fair Political Practices Commission’s chief of enforcement made the finding in a letter to the group Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting, which filed the proper disclosure after a complaint was submitted by California Common Cause.

Politics and FAIRness
As I was leaving Safeway the other day, a signature-gatherer beckoned: Would I sign a petition “to make voting districts more fair?” Only that wasn’t what the petition was about. Not even close. “This is the Republican Party’s attempt to overthrow the citizens’ commission’s legislative redistricting plan because they don’t like its look,” I said. The signature-gatherer grinned. “Yeah, I know,” he said sheepishly. “I wouldn’t sign it either.” A group called FAIR, for Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting, is the GOP front for the initiative.

GOP Attacks Senate Maps
Ah redistricting. A topic only a political junkie could love. But it has big implications for who's in -- and who's out -- at the California Capitol. Now, the issue of political maps may be back before voters in 2012. County election officials around California have a new task this week: verifying whether enough valid signatures have been collected to stage a new vote next year on the State Senate's political boundaries. A Republican-backed group called Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting just turned in more than 700,000 signatures.

REDISTRICTING: Republican opponents turn in signatures
California State and Local Government 180
A Republican-led campaign to overturn the state’s redrawn Senate map said almost 711,000 voter signatures have been submitted on petitions to put the maps before voters next year.
The petition deadline was Sunday. Organizers need 504,760 valid voter signatures to qualify a ballot measure to scrap the Senate plan crafted by the voter-approved Citizens Redistricting Commission. That would suspend the maps and trigger the California Supreme Court’s involvement, with a possible redraw in time for the 2012 elections.


No really, let's vote
Sacramento News & Review
One more note about redistricting and Sacramento's GLBT community. Bites recently talked reapportionment with political consultant Paul Mitchell, whose company Redistricting Partners has been all over the state helping cities and special districts.

Glendale Community College to consider trustee districts
Glendale News-Press
Glendale Community College has commissioned a $35,000 study exploring the possibility of moving from an at-large process for electing trustees to a district system. The decision comes six weeks after Cerritos Community College was sued by voters who claim its at-large structure violates the California Voting Rights Act by diluting the Latino vote. “One of the reasons that you do a study like this is for self reflection, to determine whether or not you need to look at making a change in the way that your elections are held,” said Mary Dowell, legal counsel for Glendale Community College.

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry
L.A. City Councilwoman Jan Perry resigned her leadership post as President pro-temp since 2009 with the LA City Council in protest over what she says are some backroom deals. She says the re-drawing of district maps should be dealt with openly not behind closed doors. What about the "Occupy L.A." movement? What does she really think? See the full interview.

Berkeley students, residents present proposals for redistricting
The Daily Californian
Community members and city staff met at the North Berkeley Senior Center Wednesday evening to view redistricting plans submitted by fellowBerkeley residents, including proposals from two groups of students with different intentions for student representation in city government. Authors of the six redistricting plans presented their proposals before a group of about 40 community members and four council members — Linda Maio, Gordon Wozniak, Laurie Capitelli and Jesse Arreguin — as well as city staff representatives, at the special meeting moderated by the League of Women Voters of Berkeley, Albany and Emeryville.

Trustees to discuss redistricting plans
Register Pajaronian
The Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees on Wednesday could choose how their trustee areas will be shaped for the next 10 years. By law, the school district must redraw its trustee area boundaries every 10 years after the U.S. census is completed. Lines must be redrawn to reflect changes in population. This year, each of the seven trustee areas must have as close to 15,665 as possible to redistribute the district’s population of 109,654.

Grossmont-Cuyamaca moves to district elections for governing board trustees
Sign On San Diego
The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District will hold public hearings Tuesday and next month to present three possible plans for its move from at-large to district elections for its governing board trustees. In the past, trustees have been elected at-large by voters in the more than 1,100-square-mile district that encompasses El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Santee and parts stretching as far east as the Imperial County line. Starting next year, the district will be divided into five trustee areas and voters in those areas will elect a trustee to represent them.

Redistricting fears -- City panel shouldn't be pressured by officeholders
Daily News Los Angeles
She might be guilty of grandstanding, but Jan Perry deserves credit for drawing attention to serious concerns about the Los Angeles City Council's redistricting process. Perry, the councilwoman from downtown, announced last week that she has stepped down as the council's president pro tem, saying she is frustrated by colleagues' backroom deals on new district lines. Perry, also a candidate for mayor, said on a television interview that leaving a leadership position will allow her to "be less diplomatic." Yet she has declined to get specific about who is making which deals, saying, "I don't want to be petty about it."

Capo Unified sets criteria for voter-approved redistricting
The Capistrano Unified School District will revise its election boundaries over the next few months by carefully considering city boundaries and "communities of interest," but will pay no attention to preserving existing trustee areas or to avoiding head-to-head election battles between incumbents. The initial guidelines for redrawing the district's seven geographical areas were decided at a school board meeting Monday, as trustees took the first steps toward implementing a voter-approved plan to elect trustees by geographical area beginning next year.


The Candidates Forum for California's 2nd Congressional District
Races and Redistricting
I attended a forum for the Congressional Candidates for California's 2nd Congressional District on October 21st in the Marin Academy High School. The California Redistricting Commission redrew the map of California's districts so Marin County (where Marin Academy is) is in the same district as Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte, Trinity and parts of Sonoma County including Petaluma.

Two super PACS set to support Howard Berman campaign
Jewish Journal
At his fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton on Nov. 10, Rep. Howard Berman (D-Van Nuys) announced that his campaign had raised $1.6 million that evening. The number, however, did not include additional money that has been flowing into at least two Independent Expenditure Committees established to help Berman win his battle against fellow Democratic incumbent congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks). Berman and Sherman are both hoping to be reelected in 2012, this time in the 30th Congressional district newly redrawn by California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission.

Knabe endorses Kawasaki for council
Contra Costa Times
Lillian Kawasaki, an 8th District City Council candidate, announced the endorsement of Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe on Thursday. Kawasaki lives in the Virginia Country Club neighborhood and is running to represent Long Beach's uptown, replacing the term-limited Rae Gabelich. "During these tough economic times, we need leaders like Lillian Kawasaki who will support local businesses, expand job opportunities and encourage economic growth," Knabe said in a statement.

Candidates for Legislature tout endorsements
Los Angeles Times
Equality California, a civil rights group supporting the state's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, has endorsed Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-Marina del Rey) for the newly drawn 50th Assembly District.  Butler's main competition for the Westside-area seat, activist Torie Osborn, received backing from Teamsters Joint Council 42. California Democratic Party officer Reginald Jones-Sawyer added to his list of backers Assemblyman Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and the Los Angeles Professional Managers Assn., an SEIU Local 721 affiliate. Jones-Sawyer is running for the newly drawn 59th Assembly District seat in Los Angeles.

Bruce McPherson may run for Santa Cruz County supervisor
Mercury News
Former California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson is weighing a job that would be an unexpected capstone to his decorated political career - county supervisor. McPherson said Thursday he may run to succeed Mark Stone in the county's 5th District, which includes Scotts Valley and the San Lorenzo Valley. Active in several local civic endeavors, McPherson said he is interested in local politics because it is the "best, most responsive form of government," and could bring his state-level experience to a changing relationship between state and local government. "I am leaning in the direction of 'yes' to run," McPherson said.

Current crop of SCC CA candidates offer pertinent experience
The Observer News
Five experienced candidates now are competing for election here as directors on the community’s top administrative board. The five – Al Alderman, Howie Griffin, Jane Keegan, Rob King and Paul Sasville – are vying for three open seats on the SCC Community Association Board of Directors which will be filled by CA members marking ballots for the annual election in December. Each has specific experience – either locally or in former home cities – serving in an elected position on a volunteer board.

Labor backs candidates in congressional races
The Los Angeles Times
Labor groups are continuing to choose sides in some of next year’s hot congressional contests: The California Assn. for Professional Employees has decided to back Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) over Rep. Howard Berman (D-Valley Village) for the newly drawn 30th District, in what many expect will become one of the costliest, hardest fought House races in history. The Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 105 has endorsed Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro) in her expected three-way battle for the new 44th District. Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Long Beach) and Assemblyman Isadore Hall (D-Compton) also are running.

Supervisor Uilkema announces plan to retire in 2013
Martinez News-Gazette
Gayle Uilkema, Martinez’s longtime former representative on the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, this week announced her intention to retire from politics in January of 2013, when her current term ends. She made it clear she will not seek reelection in November 2012. “I have been one of those fortunate people to never work a day in my life,” Uilkema told the Gazette in a phone interview yesterday. “You know, if you love your job, it’s not work and I’ve loved being a supervisor.”

SF voters signal OK with status quo
The Bay Area Reporter
Voters in San Francisco signaled their acceptance of the status quo by electing two incumbents and a candidate who campaigned largely on keeping his predecessor's programs intact. Based on the latest unofficial returns posted November 12, interim Mayor Ed Lee secured a full four-year term with 60 percent of the vote once ranked-choice voting results were tabulated. His final vote tally after 11 rounds was 81,217.

Former Gov. Deukmejian endorses in South Bay Assembly race
The Los Angeles Times
Former Gov. George Deukmejian on Wednesday endorsed aerospace engineer Nathan Mintz for a newly drawn state Assembly seat.  The  Mintz campaign announced the former GOP governor’s backing one day after Republican businessman Craig Huey jumped into the race for the South Bay based- 66th District seat. With Democratic and Republican registration nearly evenly divided, the district is likely to be targeted by both major parties in next year’s election.  Torrance school board member Al Muratsuchi, a Democrat, also is running.

Poll: Feinstein Outpaces Nunes, GOP
The Daily Deus
She may be incredibly vulnerable, as many California Republicans believe, but Dianne Feinstein is nearly untouchable by the speculative GOP candidates placed against her in the most recent Public Policy Poll. Following rumors and speculation that Republican Rep. Devin Nunes (CA-21) might challenge Feinstein, the poll gives Nunes all the cover he needs to bail from a Senate bid. According to the poll, Feinstein leads Nunes 55% to 31% with a 4.4% margin of error, the second worst performance among the candidates polled by Public Policy.

Thompson and Chesbro to Endorse Huffman for Congress
The Journal
California State Assemblyman Jared Huffman will announce tomorrow that he’s nabbed two major endorsements in his run for U.S. Congress, the Journal has learned. Namely he has acquired the backing of fellow Democratic Assemblyman Wes Chesbro, who represents us here in the First Assembly District, and U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson. Thompson’s 13 years representing the North Coast will end after 2012 thanks to the new congressional district boundaries that were created in the redistricting process earlier this year.

CA-26: Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett to Announce Candidacy for Congress
Today, Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett, a former Ojai High School teacher and administrator will announce he will run for Congress next year. Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett has scheduled a speech at Patagonia headquarters at noon today at which he is expected to announce he will be a candidate for Congress next year. Bennett, a Democrat, is scheduled to speak with employees of the renowned Ventura-based outdoor gear company, and sources close to the supervisor said this morning he will make his announcement at that time.

CA-25: Rep. Elton Gallegly to Face Off Against Rep. Buck McKeon?
Apparently, Elton has decided to run in CD-25 and run against a fellow Republican incumbent Congressman. The Antelope Valley Press last week reported last week that Congressman Elton Gallegly is either planning on retiring or running in CD25 against fellow Republican Buck McKeon. “‘As near as I can pin him, down, he’s running against me,’ said McKeon, who said he met with Gallegly last week.” This is consistent with what I’m hearing from locals as Gallegly isn’t sold on running in the Ventura’s CD26. This opens CD26 up for Republican candidates that have held back awaiting Gallegly’s decision. The most likely serious candidate is State Senator Tony Strickland.

Bennett For Congress Launch
A new 26th district that includes most of Ventura County, with the exception of Simi Valley, and small portion of Ventura, is paving the way to a competitive Congressional race. Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett launched his "Bennett for Congress," campaign today at Patagonia's Ventura headquarters. At the podium the Democrat said, "There is a war on the middle class that is being fought so cleverly that people are voting against their self interest."

Riding redistricting success, LGBT club endorses Hansen in Sacramento City Council race
The Sacramento Bee
Armed with momentum early in the election season, the city's main political organization representing the LGBT community made its endorsement this week in a closely-watched City Council race. The Stonewall Democrats - the largest Democratic club in the region - endorsed City Council candidate Steve Hansen this week in the race for District 4. That seat, covering midtown, downtown, Land Park and the River Oaks neighborhood of South Natomas, is being left vacant by two-term Councilman Rob Fong. Stonewall followed that endorsement with a $2,500 donation to Hansen, a downtown resident and advocate.

A House (very recently) divided
One morning, Congressman Elton Gallegly woke up in his Simi Valley home in his 24th Congressional District. The next day, he woke up in Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon’s 25th Congressional District. The California Citizens Redistricting Commission’s new boundaries placed Gallegly’s home about a half-mile within McKeon’s district. “I think it cuts through my master bedroom,” the 13-term congressman quipped during an interview Wednesday.

Incumbent, newcomer prepare to face off
The early running in the newly drawn 12th Assembly District pits a Republican rising star with two years of experience in Sacramento and a hefty fundraising lead against a Democrat who was elected to the Lathrop City Council in 2008 and is new to state-level politics. Assemblywoman Kristen Olsen, 37, R-Modesto, announced this week she will seek re-election. She represents the 25th Assembly District. Lathrop's Vice Mayor Christopher Mateo, 59, announced in October his interest in the 12th District.

Sherman, Berman gun for endorsements
The Jewish Journal
At his fundraising dinner on Nov. 10, Rep. Howard Berman (D-Valley Village) acknowledged that his race for re-election in the West San Fernando Valley’s new 30th Congressional District is likely to be the most competitive challenge he’s faced in a while. As a result of California’s citizen-led redistricting process that concluded over the summer, Berman is facing-off against another Jewish, Democratic incumbent congressman, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), who is also pinning his hopes for re-election on the 30th District.

3 candidates have announced for new 66th Assembly District seat
Three candidates have already announced their intentions to run next year in a newly created state Assembly district that takes in much of the South Bay. Businessman Craig Huey on Tuesday formally told supporters that he plans to run against fellow Republican Nathan Mintz, who already has expressed his interest in running for the new 66th Assembly District, which was created last summer by an independent redistricting panel. The district takes in Manhattan Beach, Gardena, Torrance, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Lomita, the Palos Verdes Peninsula and the unincorporated area known as west Carson.

Assemblywoman Alyson Huber to relocate in bid for third term
The Fresno Bee
Assemblywoman Alyson Huber will move into a neighboring district to seek re-election to a third and final term in the lower house next year. The El Dorado Hills Democrat, whose district was redrawn recently to tilt strongly to the right, will seek to represent the 8th Assembly District stretching from Citrus Heights south to the Wilton area, spokesman Andrew Acosta said. Huber, in a written statement today, said that she now represents about 40 percent of the residents in the new 8th District, created by the state's independent redistricting commission.

Gallegly Has Decision To Make
Last November voters elected Elton Gallegly to a 13th term in the US. House of Representatives. Today the 24th District Representative told KEY News he was humbled by phone calls urging him to run again. But redistricting, being challenged in Federal court, puts his Simi Valley hometown in the 25th district represented by Republican Buck McKeon. McKeon has already announced his run for re-election.

Businessman joins Assembly race; candidates name supporters in another hot contest
The Los Angeles Times
Republican businessman Craig Huey, who spent nearly $2 million of his own money in a special election for Congress earlier this year, said Tuesday that he’ll run for a new South Bay-based Assembly district seat  next year. Huey joins another Republican, aerospace engineer Nathan Mintz , and Torrance school board member Al Muratsuchi, a Democrat, in the race for the 66th District.  Much of the area currently is represented by  Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-Marina del Rey), who is seeking reelection from a new Westside-based district.