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Thursday, December 22, 2011


Fool me Once…

Everyone in Sacramento was atwitter, blogging, emailing, texting and calling yesterday in a big pre-xmas spazz-out.  What was the hubbub?  Well, of course it was everyone gabbing about their new iPhone covers with the new district maps they bought using this link.  Serious nerd cred, delivered to your doorstep by Redistricting Partners.

Oh, and some people were talking about the report by ProPublica on how Democrats duped the Redistricting Commission into saving a few key Democratic seats.  The responses to the article have been Pollyannaish to Apocalyptic.  Either this is a great total f$%king fabrication or proof that  Democrats manipulated while Republican’s sat on the sidelines like good little boys and girls and kept their hands in their pockets. 

I will let others, like the great John Myers cover the more trivial parts of the process.  Here, for the followers of the Redistricting Report are the inside facts…. The real Red Meat of the issue:

1)      Jennifer Wada is from Idaho.  YES.  Idaho, like as in Potatoes.  She and James Lau, who worked with CAUSE on their redistricting are BOTH FROM IDAHO, yet claim to speak for the interests of the California Asian Community.  Someone please launch an investigation!

2)      Get Outta My Twitter!  Seriously, the investigators at ProPublica apparently went through all my 1800 tweets on my private account and 900 from the @udrawthelines.  After the article posted they let me know they had a staff person assigned to read them all and wanted to know what my “Sweet Baby Jesus” tweet was in regard to.  Journalism at its best…

3)      No Taint?  How could ProPublica write a 4,000 word tome on redistricting scandal and malfeasance without uttering the best word in redistricting?  Dan Walters did it… Conan Nolan said it with a straight face on live TV  and John Hrabe made a living out of the taint.  (a google search of “John Hrabe” and “taint” gives 151 results!)    ProPublica did say “perennial” which is a typo away from the same thing… but that’s not good enough. 

4)      Bruce Cain is a genius.  He drew a Congressional district that was justified by the flight pattern of a near extinct pre-historic bird?  Hopefully this article helps us get back to legislatively drawn redistricting plans.  I've already go the lines drawn by proximity to In-n-Out locations... and it's ready to go. TOTAL GENIUS!

5)      Who is Chris Chaffee and why do his maps look so cool?   Well @chrischaffee is a sports nerd and food nerd who can also draw himself a map or two.  And the ProPublica site decided to pick on him and redraw three of this mapping creations.  They made some interesting maps, particularly this one with a slide of what we produced and what the commission had.

6)      The Awesome Timing award goes to Fox and Hounds that reported just 24 hours earlier that their Californians of the Year were the State Redistricting Commission.  That’s timing!

In all seriousness, it is ludicrous that any one party or interest would run the tables as people are reading the ProPublica article to say, but it is equally ludicrous to believe that incumbents were not looking at maps, discussing testimony, and tracking the process.  Matt Rexroad and I, along with the other dozen or so redistricting experts in the state were fielding constant calls from incumbents and groups, clients and not.  And the rooms were FILLED with people from one organization or another.  In one hearing in particular I could name about 30% of the audience and everyone in the know knew why they were there --- and they ended up being successful in getting the lines they wanted.

My website, redistrictingpartners.com and Matt Rexroad’s website mpimaps.com both received over 250,000 views of maps in the past year.  The top users from the sitelogs, were Comcast, ATT, Roadrunner then Us House, Assembly Data Center and the State Senate.  You can’t say with a straight face that incumbents were disengaged.

If you are in LA you should listen in to Which Way LA as I will be on at 2:30 with Olga Diaz from ProPublica, Commissioner Stan Forbes, Redistricting Curmudgeon Emeritus Tony Quinn.  Should be a nerd riot.

But, back to ground level…   The holidays are upon us, and you haven’t found that perfect gift for Tom Del Becarro and John Burton, right?  Well, here is your chance.  If you go to Zazzle site using this link you will be able to view a collection of iPhone cases with the maps of all CA Assembly, Senate and Congressional districts.   Even if you don’t have an iPhone (yet) this will be a fun thing to keep in your office or give to a candidate you are supporting.  And, no, these lines do not change in the event of a successful Senate referendum or Congressional lawsuit. 

And in the holiday spirit, if you use this link to go to the store we will donate our merchant profit of 15% to the Tim Hodson Foundation at Sac State supporting the Capitol Fellows program.  Tim was a friend of Redistricting Partners and provided some valuable assistance when we started this adventure.  His passing was a great loss and we could not find a more fitting holiday gift than to support the program he loved.


How Democrats Fooled California’s Redistricting Commission
This spring, a group of California Democrats gathered at a modern, airy office building just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. The meeting was House members only — no aides allowed — and the mission was seemingly impossible. In previous years, the party had used its perennial control of California’s state Legislature to draw district maps that protected Democratic incumbents. But in 2010, California voters put redistricting in the hands of a citizens’ commission where decisions would be guided by public testimony and open debate.

The Frenzy Over ProPublica's Redistricting Report
It should come as little surprise that California's political class is all abuzz over a new and lengthy report on the state's first ever independent redistricting process, one that describes in great detail private machinations apparently employed to help influence the final placement of district lines. But the reaction has been so predictably partisan -- Republicans calling for a formal investigation, Democrats attacking the report as overblown hype -- that it's hard to discern the substantive jabs from the superficial spin.

Californians of the Year: Redistricting Commissioners
Fox & Hounds Daily
With partisan gridlock bogging down both Sacramento and Washington, it’s easy to wonder whether Democrats and Republicans can ever get together, look beyond what’s best for their parties and make the tough decisions they were hired to make. Well, there’s one state body that’s shown multi-partisan, good government agreements still are possible and that’s why the 14 members of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission are my choice for Californians of the Year.

Santa Cruz exerted own influence over political maps
Santa Cruz Sentinel
A report alleging congressional Democrats organized a secret effort to influence California's political maps may cause snickering among Santa Cruz officials: They did the same thing with less forethought or skullduggery. As California's novel citizen-led process neared completion, a lone union organizer was watching redistricting meetings at home in July as redrawn congressional and state Assembly, Senate and Board of Equalization maps were debuted. He noticed that a proposed boundary between Democratic Reps. Sam Farr's and Anna Eshoo's district would run smack through the middle of downtown Santa Cruz.

California’s ‘independent’ redistricting fiasco: a cautionary tale
The Empire
ProPublica has a breathlessly delivered article about California’s redistrict process that was “surreptitiously” hijacked by Democrats for maximum partisan gain in their new Congressional maps. It’s an instructive tale of how arguably the most extremely “independent” process in the country led—at least at the Congressional level—to even more lopsided lines than before. “What emerges is a portrait of skilled political professionals armed with modern mapping software and detailed voter information who managed to replicate the results of the smoked-filled rooms of old,” ProPublica tells us. You can read the full article here. In the end, there’s something violently Californian about the whole thing.

California Republicans Call for Official Investigation of Dems’ Redistricting Tactics
Early reactions to ProPublica’s report on the ways California Democrats manipulated the state’s citizen redistricting commission split along partisan lines. The Chairman of California’s Republican Party called for “an immediate and thorough investigation.” “No fair minded person can now say the process or the result was fair,” Chairman Tom Del Beccaro said in a press release. “I am calling for an immediate and thorough investigation, by Congressional and State authorities, to get to the bottom of this obviously corrupted process.  Beyond that, the Congressional and Senate lines as drawn by the Commission should not be used in any way for the upcoming elections."

ProPublica Ignores Worst Redistricting Lines
Cal WatchDog
Pulitzer Prize-winning ProPublica published an investigative report Wednesday into how Democratic political operatives influenced California’s independent redistricting commission. National media outlets lavished praise on the piece, describing it as “explosive,” “startling” and “exceptionally researched.” Charlie Mahtesian, national politics editor at Politico, tweeted, “Newsroom consensus: ProPublica piece on Calif is prob the single best piece of redistricting reporting all year.” However, the ProPublica story ignored the most explosive allegations first uncovered by CalWatchDog.com nearly six months ago.

Corruption in a California Congressional Redistricting?
Big Government
As so often happens in California, the worst of consequences comes from the best of intentions. “We need a system where voters choose the politicians, not where politicians choose the voters,” Governor Schwarzenegger proclaimed and so, with much fanfare, Californians passed Prop. 11 in 2008, hoping to change forever the way the state redraws its state office political boundaries every ten years. Proposition 20 passed in 2010 added the task of re-drawing the boundaries of California’s congressional Democrats to the California Citizen’s Redistricting Commission. Voters put redistricting in the hands of a supposedly indifferent citizens’s commission.

CA Dem chair John Burton lambastes story alleging party redistricting manipulation as “complete bull…t”
San Francisco Chronicle
California Democratic Party chair John Burton, asked moments ago for his comment about the new ProPublica story that contends Democrats here manipulated the state’s redistricting process, was pretty direct: “It’s complete bull…t,  an absolute f…ing fabrication.” Burton said he was never contacted for comment on the story which published by the San Jose Mercury News this afternoon — and only just heard about the allegations it contains. The story, titled “How Democrats Fooled California’s Redistricting Commission,” alleges party operatives “secretly organized testimony,” and “surreptitiously enlisted local voters, elected officials, labor unions and community groups,” often hiding their affiliations to outwit the members of the independent commission and win favorable lines for the party officials.

Redistricting scandal: GOP was right to smell a rat
For the past five months, California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro and some other high-profile GOPers have been saying something was seriously screwy with the electoral maps approved by the state redistricting commission. The California media, however, saw a commission consisting mostly of naifs and regular Joes and found it hard to buy conspiracy talk, so much so that they mocked GOP gripers as paranoid fools who overlooked other, obvious reasons for the party’s declining influence. Full disclosure: Based on the totality of my radio and print remarks, it’s fair to say I was part of this group. Whoops. Talk about a spectacular reversal of fortune.

ProPublica's Absurd Attack on California Redistricting
Roots Wire
California Democratic Party chair John Burton and I agree on many things (one reason I voted for him to be chair back in April 2009). One of them is that this ProPublica article attacking California's redistricting is complete bullshit.

ProPublica's argument is basically this: California Democrats organized to try and influence the Citizens Redistricting Commission to produce outcomes favorable to Democrats. Ultimately, the Commission produced outcomes favorable to Democrats. Therefore, California Democrats successfully manipulated the commission to produce that result: As part of a national look at redistricting, ProPublica reconstructed the Democrats' stealth success in California, drawing on internal memos, emails, interviews with participants and map analysis.

California Democrats secretly influenced drawing of new political district boundaries
Inside Bay Area
California's congressional Democrats ran a secret effort this year to manipulate the work of the independent citizens panel that drew the state's new political districts, foiling the intent of reformers who sought to remove the redistricting process from the control of party bosses. Democrats met behind closed doors at the party's Washington, D.C., headquarters, hired consultants, drew their ideal districts and presented maps to the panel through proxies who never disclosed their party ties or "public interest" groups created specifically for the purpose. In many cases, the panel responded by doing just what the Democrats wanted.

GOP must connect with state's voters
The Sun
California Republicans are still assessing the impact of the new congressional map - and still hating it. Republican leaders reportedly fear the 2012 elections could cost the party as many as five of its 19 seats in the state's 53-member delegation. The implications could be huge, both here and nationally, as Democrats seek to win back the House of Representatives. Does it have to be this bad for Republicans? No, if they can put the blame where it belongs - not on the citizens commission that redrew California's congressional and state-legislative district lines this year, but on their candidates' failure to connect with voters.


State finds no fraud in 3rd District race
Santa Ynez Valley News
An independent investigation by the California Secretary of State Elections Fraud Division has found no evidence of fraud in the November 2008 election for 3rd District county supervisor, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s office has announced. California Secretary of State senior investigator Paul Rutledge conducted an eight-month investigation in response to allegations of voter-registration fraud in the race between losing candidate Steve Pappas and Doreen Farr, who was elected 3rd District Supervisor.

Latinos, labor union sue city over elections
North County Times
Seeking to increase the political power of Latinos in Escondido, five city residents and a labor union filed a lawsuit Wednesday demanding that the city immediately switch from at-large elections to having City Council members elected by smaller geographic districts. The suit, filed in Vista Superior Court by a group of San Francisco attorneys, says allowing each council member to be elected citywide violates state and federal voting rights laws by making it extremely difficult for Latinos to win.


7 pull nomination papers to begin Long Beach council campaign season
Contra Costa Times
Seven people pulled nomination papers Monday, the first day they could do so, to run for four City Council seats, according to the City Clerk's office. There were no surprises in the early crop of candidates, with each having announced official intention, either publicly or through city documents, to seek election on April 10. Just one likely candidate, 6th District Councilman Dee Andrews, doesn't face competition yet. Andrews didn't pull nomination papers Monday, but he has formed a fundraising committee to raise money for a campaign.