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Monday, February 20, 2012


Final Bell

The fighting is over and now an actual election will decide the ultimate winners and losers in this decade’s legislative and congressional redistricting.  It seems the Teflon Commission wasn’t vulnerable to lawsuit, repeated taint-exposure or @propublica scandal – their workproduct will stand.  Even the referendum, if it qualifies, will have absolutely zero backing from potential funders. 

Aside from the impact on upcoming elections, this resounding success will likely cast Props 11/20 as the model for national and local redistricting reforms.  Already local cities and counties are looking to charter reforms based on the Citizen’s commission and several states (at least those with referendum processes) are likely to dive in. 

The big election news of the week is in Ventura County where Democrats now have what Daily Kos calls a “Top Tier” Congressional Candidate in Assemblywoman Julia Brownley.  She and Senator Fran Pavley will both be headed north for Ventura seats post-redistricting.  And with that ticket the NYT reading, latte drinking, Birkenstock wearing, Prius driving, NPR tote bag Ventura County progressives must feel like they just won the lottery.  Not sure if they will be casting ballots or just framing them.

Standing in Brownley’s way is current Senator Tony Strickland who barely overcame a progressive champion, Hannah Beth Jackson, in his last competitive race.  This gives Strickland another opportunity to run to the left with his lefty environmental messaging and Erin Brokovitch TV ad (note the brief Cam Smyth Cameo).

This also ends the speculation that Congressman Brad Sherman will bail on the San Fernando Valley seat (which is 60% his old seat) to run for a Ventura-based congressional seat that Betty Yee urged him to run in because he represented it when he was on the Board of Equalization.  (Of course, when he was on BOE he represented one-quarter of the state and overlapped a dozen congressional seats.).

If you’re in politics and haven’t become totally fixated on the Berm-Sherman race then you should get your head examined.  This speech alone should be enough to prompt you to create a Google Alert for “Berman or Sherman and insecure or pathetic.”  Even Republicans are getting in the mix.  Matt Rexroad was on CNN salivating at the thought of this race, and recently tweeted “I don’t know why, but I’m favoring Sherman.” 

To add a twist, the Berm-Sherman battle has some interesting Prop 14 potential.  Scott Lay of the Nooner has a bet that the race will go to a Berman/Sherman General election in November, but a recent poll from the Independent Voter Network showed 34% for the white balding Jewish incumbent Democratic congressman who has gone to 158 local town halls, 30% for the Republican, and 14% for the white balding Jewish incumbent Democratic congressman who has gone on 162 foreign trips.  (for a great writeup of this snarky point, read the Parke Skelton comment at the bottom of this article: http://www.calbuzz.com/2012/01/berman-v-sherman-politics-v-politics-in-cd-30/)

In past primary elections the vote in CD30 has been around 56% Democratic and 38% Republican.  And if Santorum makes a strong stand on Super Tuesday we could see that Republican turnout surge.  That would make it mathematically tough for both Berman and Sherman to make it to November, and advantage lucky white Jewish balding guy.


Stop the Fight! Redistricting Commission Vanquishes Final Challenger
NBC Southern California
You can stop the fight now, Mr. Referee. California's redistricting commission has won. The commission -- and the maps it drew -- face no more serious challenges now that a federal court has dismissed a case contesting its Congressional district maps. Claims of political influence on the commission have dissipated. A Republican referendum against state senate maps remains a live matter, but its prospects are about as good as the Raiders' chances of winning a Super Bowl soon. Which is to say: not very good.

Laura Richardson's ethics woes mount
Democratic Rep. Laura Richardson instructed taxpayer-funded House aides to work on political redistricting last year, sources familiar with the situation told POLITICO. Such activities could amount to a violation of prohibitions against lawmakers pressuring aides to do political work, as well as rules against using official resources, including staff, for campaign purposes. The redistricting work, which has not previously been disclosed, allegedly occurred after it became clear Richardson was under investigation over another set of allegations that she forced House aides to perform political and personal tasks in violation of House rules. Richardson did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Rep. Richardson's attorney disputes allegations she ordered redistricting work
An attorney for South Bay Rep. Laura Richardson on Tuesday disputed a published story alleging that the congresswoman instructed her staffers to work on political redistricting, rather than allowing them to do the work voluntarily. Richardson allegedly told her congressional aides to collect information about communities outside her district, organized a workshop to train constituents and wrote talking points for those constituents to deliver while the California Citizens Redistricting Commission met in Long Beach last April, according to a story by Politico that relies heavily on anonymous sources.

California redistricting fueling partisan unprecedented competition
California’s new congressional districts might prove key in deciding which political party will exert control of the U.S. House of Representatives. According to Mercury News, the congressional and legislative districts recently approved by the Citizens Redistricting Commission have sparked an almost unprecedented competitive political race in the most populated state in the nation. For one, Democrats– which need at least 25 seats to snatch back the House from Republicans– have already identified eight “red to blue” targets in the map. Republicans in turn have five young candidates ready to fight districts where no incumbents were assigned after the redistricting, or where democrats lead.

11 More Ways to Fix Busted Redistricting
City Watch
My list of 10 Ways To Improve the Redistricting Process [link] has elicited a large number of thoughtful responses from experts in the Capitol. One legislative office told CalWatchDog.com that they’re investigating whether any of the reforms can be introduced as legislation this term. I’ve culled through the feedback and assembled a revised list of recommendations and observations based on the experts, many of whom were directly involved in the redistricting process. The only organization that didn’t send us feedback was the one group we asked: the California Citizens’ Redistricting Commission.

Citizen commission got the job done on redistricting
Mercury News
California's grand experiment to let a nonpartisan citizen commission redraw election maps rather than having self-serving politicians do the job has made us -- and other supporters of the idea -- proud. The voter-approved initiative that made this change is a reminder that we can still put democracy into action. The new maps released in August have survived five legal challenges. Just this past Friday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by a Republican group that argued the commission improperly considered race as a factor in drawing congressional districts.

Why the California Redistricting Commission Has Prevailed in the Courts
Huffington Post
There were four challenges in which partisans sought to have the California Redistricting Commission's congressional and legislative maps overturned. In four cases the courts, and in one case the U.S. Department of Justice, supported the maps drawn by the commission. Why? Among many reasons is the fact that the commission, to the best of its ability, met the following criteria written in California's Constitution. Here are the seven criteria in their priority order and the manner in which the commission met them…

Party bullish on Inland area in 2012
The Press-Enterprise
It’s been a long time since Democrats could look at Inland Southern California as a place of political opportunity. That’s changed. California Democrats returned home Sunday after a weekend convention that highlighted a “Battleground California” strategy to build on Democratic majorities in the state Senate and Assembly and help the party regain control of Congress in this year’s presidential election. The Inland region is a major part of the effort. A glossy party brochure listed several seats in Riverside and San Bernardino counties as pick-up opportunities.

Redistricting California Style – Bad Idea Gone Bad (Part 1)
Aggreived societal interests see a problem – and then develop a solution that’s worse than the problem. Political interests with an agenda are perhaps the worst offenders; nobody is better at crafting legislation that fails to consider all of the side effects. One shining example of this tradition was McCain-Feingold. The newest case of overzealous government reform is the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.As you know, the Constitution requires that the United States perform a census every ten years.

Redistricting California Style – Bad Idea Gone Bad (Part 2)
Free Republic
Republicans believe that they were hoodwinked by the Democrats in the new redistricting process in California – principally because the Republicans played by the rules specified in the initiative. What they obviously didn’t understand was that the process itself – specifically, how the commission’s members were selected – undermined the Republicans from the outset. The first problem facing the Republicans was finding people willing to sit on the commission, whose work would require an extensive amount of time.

Judge rejects GOP suit aimed at redistricting maps
The Los Angeles Times
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by Republicans seeking to overturn California's new congressional district maps, eliminating one of the last remaining challenges to the work of the citizens commission that drew new political lines for state and congressional offices. U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson on Thursday dismissed the suit brought by former Rep. George Radanovich and four others, who alleged that the commission had improperly considered race in creating the new districts.

Redistricting by citizens' panel sparks competitive California congressional races
Mercury News
For the first time in two decades, California's newly drawn congressional districts could play a big role in deciding which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, needing 25 more seats to take the House back from Republicans, has singled out eight California seats -- many of them made more attractive by recent redistricting -- as "red to blue" targets this year. At stake is whether San Francisco's Nancy Pelosi gets another turn with the speaker's gavel, which she held from 2007 to 2011.


City Council Redistricting Plan Puts Neighborhood Groups at Odds
Sherman Oaks Patch
A proposal to redraw the boundaries of the Los Angeles City Council district that includes Sherman Oaks is causing friction between the two main groups that represent the community’s residents. Jill Banks Barad, president of the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council, said she asked that a member of her group be allowed to speak about the redistricting plan, at Wednesday night's monthly meeting of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association, but her request was denied. "They won't let us speak at their meeting," Banks Barad said. "We have a right to present our opinion to their membership, but they will not let us."

Redistricting panel to release new map Saturday
Mercury News
Ignoring the pleas of the San Fernando Valley and threats by two downtown area council members, the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission began changes to its draft plan for the new 2013 council districts. A new map is scheduled to be released Saturday showing the most recent changes, but much is still to be decided when the 21-member panel meets again next week. A meeting is being scheduled for Wednesday to further discuss the map. The committee held a nine-hour hearing, culminating at 1 a.m. Thursday, leaving a number of issues to be decided next week as it works to meet a March 1 deadline to submit a map to the City Council.

New Draft Redistricting Map Leaves Encino in CD5
Encino Patch
Many people voiced strong opposition to the rough draft maps of new Los Angeles city district lines that were released by the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission in January. The draft maps planned to move Encino out of Councilman Paul Koretz's Council District 5 and into CD4. The new map pulls both Encino and Lake Balboa out of CD4. To view the new map, click here for the L.A.Times' interactive graphic: http://graphics.latimes.com/la-council-redistricting-v2/ Perhaps no proposed district in the first map was as publicly questioned as CD4.

Redistricting commission goes back to the drawing board for district map
Blog Downtown
The L.A. redistricting commission is scheduled to vote on proposed boundary changes tomorrow that will determine the outcome of the new council districts map. The public is invited to City Hall at 4 p.m. Wednesday to see the process first-hand. The draft map was released late last month and greeted with heated debate by both the public and city councilmembers. Changing district boundaries has huge implications for the economy and development of certain L.A. neighborhoods, and many, Jan Perry in particular, got vocal about it.

Redistricting changes for South LA one step closer
Intersections South L.A.
After what turned into a nine-hour-long meeting on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Redistricting Commission has moved one step closer to solidifying major changes to the city’s council districts, including those in South Los Angeles. The commission voted Wednesday night to move the Leimert Park and Baldwin Hills area out of Councilman Bernard Park’s 8th District, and into District 10, represented by City Council President Herb Wesson. Additionally, Councilwoman Jan Perry lost most of Downtown Los Angeles from her 9th District, including the financial district, Little Tokyo and the Civic Center. Under the new boundaries, District 9 retains only the Staples Center and L.A. Live.

Redistricting commission prepares to draft new council district map
Southern California Public Radio
The L.A. redistricting commission is scheduled to vote on proposed boundary changes that will determine the outcome of the new council districts map. The public is invited to City Hall tomorrow at 4 p.m. to see the process first-hand. The draft map was released late last month and greeted with heated debate by both the public and city councilmembers. Changing district boundaries has huge implications for the economy and development of many L.A. neighborhoods; South L.A. in particular. And Ninth District Councilwoman Jan Perry got very vocal about it.

L.A.'s flawed redistricting process
The Los Angeles Times
Under the old-school method of redrawing political boundaries, elected officials would get together in a back room to horse-trade, bicker and dicker, then meet again in the open to adopt their new maps as a done deal. If you didn't like what they came up with, you had to sue — and you could win, but only if you could show that the maps discriminated against a historically underrepresented group. This is still the way it's done in most jurisdictions in the country, and was the way the Los Angeles City Council did things until 2000.

Redistricting commission votes on council districts: New map, same problems
Blog Downtown
Last night the L.A. redistricting commission voted (for more than nine hours) on 75 proposed changes to the draft council district map. The changes that passed will be implemented in the redrawing of the map, and this has huge implications for the Downtown community. Ninth District councilwoman Jan Perry said the outcome was "not a surprise" but she was disappointed that the council didn't heed her or her constituents' recommendations. After last night's vote, Perry is still primed to lose most of her Downtown real estate except for L.A. Live, the Staples Center and the Convention Center. She said that the map ruined the "economic nexus between Downtown and South Los Angeles."

L.A. Redistricting: Herb Wesson's District 10 Looks Like a Fat Turkey
LA Weekly
City Council President Herb Wesson is no pushover. He's really set the tone, during this whole redistricting mess, for how he plans to run the city as new council president: with an iron fist and no tolerance for wussies. Unlike his predecessor, the lovey-dovey family man Eric Garcetti... Wesson lets more contentious votes play out and opposing parties go head-to-head. Unless they go against him -- in which case, it's a lost cause. After a series of contentious land garbs by Wesson's appointed redistricting commissioner, the king's new City Council District 10 has gone from an unassuming puddle of Thanksgiving gravy (below, orange) to a the main course: A fat turkey that could feed a lifetime of election campaigns.

Ninth District Loses More Ground in Redistricting Battle
Los Angeles Downtown News
For weeks, City Councilwoman Jan Perry and her allies have been clamoring for the city's Redistricting Commission to rethink its proposal to push her Ninth District mostly out of Downtown. Last night the panel re-thought the plan, but voted instead to move nearly all of her Central City territory into the 14th District. The commission voted to keep only L.A. Live and the west side of Figueroa Street south of Olympic Boulevard in the Ninth District.

‘District Nine Is Not up for Sale’
Rafu Shimpo
At a packed public hearing with a few hundred people standing in the hallways of Los Angeles City Hall on Feb. 8, downtown residents and business owners as well as elected officials gathered to express their strong opinions over a proposed redrawing of City Council districts. “It is unnecessary, it is unreasonable, and as a matter of common sense and decency, it is harmful to the communities. I assure you that it’s just plain wrong,” said 9th District Councilwoman Jan Perry, raising her voice in front of the City Council Redistricting Commission and nearly 800 people.

City Redistricting Hearings Continue, More in Hollywood Express Concern
Hollywood Patch
At one of the last public hearings involving the redrawing of Los Angeles city district lines—held at Walter Reed Middle School in Studio City Thursday night—more than 250 people showed up and 148 of them signed up to speak. The marathon session was a place to air concerns over the rough draft put together by the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission. There will only be one more chance to do so, on Saturday (see details below), before they rework the borders to get it ready to submit to the City Council on March 1. The council must pass it by July 1.

A Redistricting War of Words
Los Angeles Downtown News
On Wednesday, Feb. 8, more than 800 people flooded City Hall to voice their opinions on proposed maps that would vastly change the City Council boundaries in Downtown. Initial maps would take much of the community out of Councilwoman Jan Perry’s Ninth District and put it in Councilman José Huizar’s 14th.  Approximately 180 people submitted comment cards to speak before the city’s Redistricting Commission in a meeting that lasted nearly five hours. This is a sample of the testimony.

L.A. Redistricting: Ed Reyes' District 1 Looks Like a Ridiculous Poodle
L.A. Weekly
Sorry, Councilman Ed Reyes -- but these new voting boundaries make you your district look an awful lot like a ridiculous poodle. And we don't mean the cute au-naturale kind. We're talking about an obnoxiously groomed, primped to the max... prissy pink Paris Hilton poodle. Not that it's your fault. The real culprit here is City Councilman Jose Huizar. (Most infamous, previously, for losing track of a $1.5 million neighborhood cleanup fund and proposing a citywide ban of L.A.'s beloved marijuana dispensaries.)

Sacramento Redistricting Plan Spurs Suit
Courthouse News Service
A nonprofit public interest group has sued Sacramento in Superior Court for access to City Council emails about its April 2011 redistricting plan. Eye on Sacramento says the city refused its August 2011 request for several records under the "deliberative process exemption" of the California Public Records Act. It is joined by the First Amendment Coalition in the lawsuit. "Eye on Sacramento requested all written and electronic communications between two or more members of the City Council on the subject of redistricting or reapportionment of City Council Districts," the complaint states.

Send your Email on Redistricting TODAY
Larchmont Buzz
As many people know, when the first draft map of new Los Angeles City Council districts was released on January 25, the Greater Wilshire area was united – as requested by the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council – within one council district (instead of the three it has been divided among for the last 10 years). At the same time, however, the draft map put the united GWNC area wholly within Council District 5, instead of CD 4, which has traditionally represented about 75% of Greater Wilshire. At its Wednesday board meeting, the GWNC discussed the draft map and passed a resolution containing three requests to the Redistricting Commission and the City Council as the redistricting process moves for


Emotional redistricting for California lawmakers on both sides of the aisle
The Hill
California lawmakers are on edge. For the past decade, incumbents in the Golden State have, by and large, sailed to reelection. But things have changed this cycle as six California members have announced their retirements and a seventh (Republican Rep. David Dreier) is anticipated to do so later this year. Redistricting in California, which was handled by an independent citizen board, has tested friendships on both sides of the aisle. Much of the political media’s attention has focused on the left amid showdowns between California Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman in the 30th district and Reps. Janice Hahn and Laura Richardson in the 44th. But there is plenty of GOP drama as well.

Redistricting changes political landscape
The Daily Journal
Residents in San Mateo County will no longer have two state senators representing the area in Sacramento next year as redistricting has changed the local boundaries significantly. Currently, both Leland Yee from San Francisco and Joe Simitian from Palo Alto represent the county in the state Senate but after the lines have been redrawn, the new Senate District 13 boundaries now stretch from Brisbane to the north down to Sunnyvale to the south. The maps have also changed for Assembly seats, with San Mateo County retaining parts of three districts including 19, 22 and 24. District 19 is mostly in San Francisco County, all of Daly City and parts of South San Francisco.

“Battleground California” Pits Democrat vs. Democrat
Independent Voter Network
Rep. Brad Sherman and Rep. Howard Berman butted heads this weekend at the California Democratic Convention, both vying for the Democratic endorsement for the 30th congressional district. Due to California’s newly redistricted maps, both candidates forfeited the advantage of incumbency and are now fighting against one another to represent the newly defined San Fernando Valley district. And despite cries from the Republican Party, the California Supreme Court upheld the legality of the Senate district lines drawn by the California New Citizens Redistricting Commission. So we’re left with one district, two Democrats.

Calif. Democratic Party Endorses Sánchez
Cerritos-Artesia Patch
U.S. Congresswoman Linda Sánchez was officially endorsed Sunday by the California Democratic Party to represent the the new 38th congressional district in California. Sánchez, who has represented California's 39th district since 2003, won the party's nod after a landslide vote held during a California Democratic Party conference in Whittier last month.  During that conference, 84% of delegates in the new 38th district voted to endorse Sánchez for the position. "I am honored to have the California Democratic Party’s official endorsement," said Congresswoman Sánchez in a release.

Incumbent vs. Incumbent in CA-44
The Claremont Port Side
In 2010, California instituted a new redistricting policy that gave the blank map of the Golden State to a bipartisan board of commissioners and said “Go.” The result has left a mad scramble for Congressional seats, pitting incumbents of the same party against each other as they campaign for their slightly adjusted seat against a colleague who was bumped out, or clash over an entirely new lucrative district that was smashed together once the dust settled. With that, let’s start local.

Furutani says he won't run for re-election
Daily Breeze
Even though he's eligible to run one more time, Warren Furutani said he will not seek a third and final term to the state Assembly or any other political office in the immediate future. The South Bay assemblyman's decision to step aside from state politics comes one month after a 21-point defeat to police Officer Joe Buscaino in the race to replace Janice Hahn on the Los Angeles City Council. The move also clears a path for Assemblyman Isadore Hall to run for the newly created 64th Assembly District, which includes Carson, Harbor City, Harbor Gateway, Compton, Willowbrook and the north end of Wilmington.

State Democratic party won't endorse Howard Berman, Brad Sherman
Contra Costa Times
The contentious battle between Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman for the new 30th Congressional District spilled over to the state Democratic Convention in San Diego over the weekend, when Berman was able to head off an endorsement of Sherman by the party. Under party rules, a candidate needs 60 percent of the vote to win an endorsement, which brings with it campaign workers and supportive mailings to Democratic voters. Sherman previously had won the backing of the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley. But, after a sharp exchange between the two candidates, Sherman nabbed 55 percent of the vote - below the 60 percent threshold needed for the endorsement.

With Maldonado in the race, GOP tries to figure out who is best poised to beat Capps in November
Daily Sound
With new demographics and an open primary, candidates are getting ready for a heavy fight in the 2012 battle for the new 24th Congressional District. While the new district still leans Democratic, the redistricting has eliminated a double-digit advantage incumbent Lois Capps has had since 2000. Though Democrats still hold a three percent advantage according to Capps, the race will be competitive. Complicating things is the new open primary for the district. Rather than each party fielding a candidate, the two candidates who receive the most votes in the June primary will square off in the general election in November.

Smyth won't challenge Pavley in east county Senate district
Ventura County Star
Assemblyman Cameron Smyth of Santa Clarita, widely believed to be the Republicans' best potential candidate in the new 27th Senate District, said Tuesday he will not run against Democratic Sen. Fran Pavley. Smyth, who will be termed out of the Assembly at the end of this year, said he plans to return to private life in Southern California to be with his wife and their three children, ages 18 months to 8 years. "I don't want to commit to another four years of missing so much of their lives," he said. "I never expected to spend my life chasing a government paycheck. I'm not afraid of life in the private sector."

Kevin wraps it up
The Daily Journal
While many candidates for state Assembly in 2012 in newly apportioned districts are facing difficult primary challenges, South San Francisco Councilman Kevin Mullin is not. In fact, he will probably run unopposed in June. Kevin just announced his candidacy for newly created Assembly District 22 in San Mateo County. Before the print dried on his press release, he had already secured the endorsement of the state Democratic Party ( at its recent convention in San Diego). He has the endorsement of the county’s political elite including the entire Board of Supervisors; his former boss, U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo; state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo; his dad, former assemblyman Gene Mullin; assemblymen Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, and Richard Gordon, D-Menlo Park.

Valerie Brown endorses Mark Bramfitt in supervisorial race
Valerie Brown, the retiring Sonoma County Board of Supervisors veteran, has thrown her support behind Mark Bramfitt in the race to claim her 1st District supervisorial seat. The 1st District takes in Sonoma Valley, including the city of Sonoma, and parts of eastern Santa Rosa. The race has attracted five candidates, two of whom are Santa Rosa city councilmembers. Brown said Bramfitt, an energy consultant and Valley of the Moon Water District board member, has the best combination of leadership and public policy experience in the Sonoma Valley among the five candidates.