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Monday, March 12, 2012

Booty Call for the CVRA

When not live-blogging Assembly Candidates on the Train, the editors of California Watch are checking out Mexican Booties for roundness and local cities for racially polarized voting.

Sounds like a story for The Onion, but this one is for realsies. California Watch’s Will Evans found this little nugget about how Mexican butts used to be flat, but now are round, in the deposition of a California Voting Rights Act lawsuit in Compton.

If you’re afraid of checking out this article from your work computer, you can listen to the booty-free podcast on the California Report.

As was mentioned in last week’s redistricting report, the California Voting Rights Act has got its sea legs and is well on its way to transforming local government in California. The fastest movers have been community colleges and K-12, arguably because they more directly serve minority groups protected by the CVRA, and therefore more sensitive to those concerns.

But cities too are a focus of the law, and most currently hold at-large elections that could be unlawful if they have racially polarized voting that is eliminating the opportunity for minority groups to influence council elections.

While not proof of CVRA violations, the California Watch provides a pretty compelling list of 14 cities with Latino or Asian majorities that have all-white councils and another 20 with just one minority elected. These range from some pretty large cities like Arcadia, Whittier, Bellflower, Ontario, West Covina and Covina, to little nooks like Winters, a community known for walnuts, a coffeeshop and a tough bike race.

While the CVRA transforms local elections, the State Legislature is facing a different and potentially long-lasting transformation. The new redistricting and the top-two primary will both hit in 2012 with 153 contests up for grabs.  And if voters approve a term-limits "reduction" to 12 years in any house then the outcomes of this election cycle will be much more long standing as first-time candidates will be elegible for re-election until 2024. 

Those in Sacramento on March 16th will have an opportunity to hear expert analysis of these changes , the hot races, mood of the electorate and all about the Statewide propositions at the Leadership California Institute’s Impact 2012 conference. The speakers include a who’s who of the political sphere, Former Speaker Fabian Nunez, Former Senate Pro Tem Don Perata, top Democratic and Republican consultants, and even and a guy named Wigglesworth (watch to the end- it will make your day!).

Sponsors will also be getting an insanely huge and in-depth databook for legislative races – A look at the pages for Assembly District 7 can be seen here.  

For more info on the conference email Michelle or Erin.


White-dominated boards face legal threats over racial makeup
Armed with 2010 census data, a network of attorneys is increasingly targeting local governments – from cities and school boards to hospital and community college districts – for not reflecting the demographics of their constituents.

“We’re seeing the fastest change in how California organizes local government since the Progressives of the early 20th century,” said Douglas Johnson of the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College, who has been critical of the law. “The law is extremely expansive. Every local government in California should be looking into this.”

Republicans aim to turn congressional wins into seats after redistricting
Financial Press
The question they face now is whether they can turn those advantages into seats. A review of the 66 districts that flipped from Democratic control to GOP control after the 2010 elections shows that Republicans have emerged with a better map than they had before redistricting, but in many cases, those improvements were slight. Most Republicans who were vulnerable before will continue to be at risk over the next decade. Despite the GOP’s unprecedented control over the drawing of new lines, there is little room to grow.

Redistricting and open primary shake up local 2012 election races
SB Sun
Three factors - California redistricting, incumbent retirement, and the new open-primary ballot - are making the 2012 elections in the Inland Empire much more dynamic and unpredictable than in the past, political experts said.  The new conditions, coupled with the top-two primary, also have the potential to reduce Republican power in the state and in Washington. It's no wonder the party has been fighting to get the lines redrawn.


Group unveils school board redistricting map
Pasadena Sun
A task force charged with drawing new districts for Pasadena Board of Education elections released a map Saturday establishing revised district boundaries. The plan will go before the board later this month. Voters in Pasadena, Altadena and Sierra Madre will decide in June whether to change the at-large election process for public school officials to one that elects board members from seven geographic zones. A final proposed map will be presented to school board members on March 26.

Report of Redistricting Commissioners Confirm ‘Unequal Treatment’
Studio City Patch
A letter from four of the Los Angeles Redistricting Commission that was drafting the city commission boundaries confirmed that the commission never saw some of the letters and emails that Studio City residents and other concerned citizens sent to the commission. Studio City Neighborhood Council vice president Lisa Sarkin, when hearing that the emails weren’t getting to the commissioners, even delivered a box of emails and notes to the commission and made copies for each one of them. “I sat through the whole meeting to see if the emails were going to be distributed and the box just sat there,” Sarkin said.

L.A. City Council begins public hearings on redistricting plan
Daily Breeze
Pledging to uphold the "integrity" of a new redistricting plan proposed by a citizens commission, a Los Angeles City Council panel Friday began public hearings on the maps that face a likelihood of legal challenges. Council President Herb Wesson, chair of the council's Rules and Elections Committee, also defended the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission against accusations of a backroom deal resulting in some significant changes in districts across Los Angeles. "I know you have been accused of a variety of things," Wesson said. "I can relate to that because I have been accused of everything but setting the Chicago Fire."

Slow Down on Redistricting, Herb Wesson
Los Angeles Downtown News
The rampant ugliness and poorly considered moves in the City Council Redistricting process just don’t stop. The latest shenanigans flow directly from Council President Herb Wesson, who in the past few months has demonstrated a propensity for punishing enemies and rewarding friends simply because he can. His latest move is additional evidence that he cares much more about political power than he does the good of constituents. Last week Wesson revealed his plan to slam shut the conversation about redistricting by March 16. This speeds up a process that previously was not expected to culminate until June 30.

L.A. Redistricting Enters Final Stages
Annenberg Digital News
The drama over the redrawing of Los Angeles' City Council districts is heading swiftly into its final act. Council President Herb Wesson is pushing for a vote on the final map by March 16, though the official deadline is not until June 30. This has been met with angry responses from some council members such as Bernard Parks, who has characterized the remapping as “racially motivated.” The redistricting process has been criticized for gerrymandering and a lack of transparency. It has sparked much acrimony for minority groups, particularly African-Americans in South L.A. and residents of Koreatown.

L.A. Board of Education OKs proposal for new district boundaries
The Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Board of Education districts would remain largely the same under a new proposed map, except for one area that was created to increase the likelihood of a third Latino board member. The panel charged with drawing proposed districts for the seven-member school board approved its final report this week; the issue now goes before a City Council committee. The effort, however, was not without controversy. The L.A. Unified Redistricting Commission voted 12 to 3 to support the final report. The dissenting commissioners wrote a second report, which describes the process as marred by politics and disorganization, and urged the City Council to reject the submitted map.

Councilman Lashes Out at Redistricting Panel, Mayor Over District Boundaries
North Hollywood-Toluca Lake Patch
In response to new proposed City Council district boundaries, Councilman Bernard Parks released a sharply worded statement today, calling the new district maps a "racially motivated assault" on South Los Angeles. The Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission, which began meeting last fall, voted 12-5 Wednesday to approve final boundaries for City Council districts that will last until after the 2020 census. The maps are a recommendation to the City Council, which has final say and will begin debating the district boundaries in committee tomorrow. The maps are slated for a final vote on March 16.

Redistricting threatens to tear L.A. City Council apart
Daily News Los Angeles
It is a political battle that threatens to tear the City Council apart. The fight over the new political boundaries for City Council members begins its final rounds of public hearings this week with no sign that either Council member Bernard Parks or Jan Perry will back off. The two are angry over the new map proposed by the Citizens Redistricting Commission which sharply changes the shape of their districts - all they say at the behest of Council President Herb Wesson. Wesson's 10th District, as proposed by the commission, would take in some of the wealthier areas of South Los Angeles and deprive Perry and Parks of key areas where they have been working for years to make improvements.

Loss of Lewis and Dreier could impact region
The Sun
The Inland Empire's loss of two longtime members of Congress may mean a slowdown in federal funding and projects for the region. Reps. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, and David Dreier, R-San Dimas, have both announced they will not seek re-election after each spending more than 30 years representing their Southern California districts in Congress. "It is a significant blow to the region and its influence in Washington," said Dan Schnur, director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. Dreier spent 32 years representing most of the San Gabriel Valley and parts of San Bernardino County. Lewis represented the Inland Empire for 33 years.

Redistricting Q&A: What is it all about
The South Los Angeles Report
The opinions have been heard and the votes cast, but do you really understand the fuss over redistricting Los Angeles’ city council districts? The redistricting commission sent official recommendations to the city council last week — a final map that included significant changes to South Los Angeles districts. Public hearings on the maps will be held today at 4 p.m. at the Port of Los Angeles, Harbor Commission board room, tomorrow at 4 p.m. at the Van Nuys City Hall council chamber and Wednesday at the City Hall council chamber.

Compton settles Latino voting rights lawsuit
The Los Angeles Times
The city of Compton has reached a settlement with two Latinas who sued the city saying its election system violated Latino residents'' voting rights. Plaintiffs Felicitas Gonzalez and Flora Ruiz sued the city in 2010, saying that the city's at-large council elections violated the California Voting Rights Act. The case had been scheduled to go to trial in May. The population of Compton, historically a black stronghold, is now about two-thirds Latino, but Latinos are a minority of eligible voters. The plaintiffs contend that no Latino candidate has ever been elected to Compton’s City Council and blame the city’s at-large voting system for diluting the Latino vote.

Pomona Unified Could Change the Way Trustees are Elected
Diamond Bar Patch
The way trustees are chosen for the Pomona Unified School District Board of Education could be changing soon. The Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organizations recently received a petition from a Pomona resident, asking to change the current number of trustees from five at-large members to five to seven members from designated areas (also known as "trustee areas"). The petition cited the California Voting Rights Act, which prohibits racially polarized voting. Currently, the five members of the board are allowed to live anywhere within PUSD boundaries, and represent all schools.

2 council members question new maps
Daily News Los Angeles
As a City Council panel began public hearings Monday for proposed new boundaries for council districts, attorneys for two disgruntled members sent a letter laying the groundwork for a potential lawsuit. The City Council's Rules and Election Committee, meeting in San Pedro, held a public hearing lasting less than 35 minutes in which there was general support voiced for the redistricting map developed by a citizens commission. At the same time, attorneys for Council members Bernard Parks and Jan Perry sent a letter to City Attorney Carmen Trutanich questioning the legality of the new map and whether it was drawn based on racial issues.


Senator Wolk Lone Contender For District 3 Seat
Martinez News-Gazette
So far, Senator Lois Wolk doesn't have any competition for the June primary election for District 3, the new district created after 2011's redistricting process that roughly equates to Wolk's current District 5. When the California Citizens Redistricting Commission created new maps, based on population counts derived from the 2010 U.S. Census Martinez was shifted out of District 7, a seat now held by Mark DeSaulnier and included as the most southern city in District 3. After the June election, Martinez will be represented in the California Senate along with such cities as Rohnert Park, Sonoma, Napa Valley, Vallejo, Fairfield, Vacaville, Davis and Woodland.

Congress' 'failure' spurs Boutte's bid
Running for political office was never anything longtime San Luis Obispo resident Matt Boutté gave much thought to, despite his second-grade teacher telling him at a young age that she saw political leadership in his future. “I remember reading the Constitution ...,” said Boutté, 26. “But I can’t say I had ever given any thought to running for office before last year.” The San Luis Obispo resident said he has always cared about decisions made by elected leaders and been informed about the process, but was never an individual who became upset or frustrated over politics.

George Plescia's candidacy puts San Diego Senate District in play
The Sacramento Bee
Capitol oddsmakers have assumed for months that the 39th Senate District, which covers the urban center of San Diego County, would be easy pickings for Democrats in this year's election. Maybe not. The district's once overwhelming Democratic registration margin has narrowed to under eight percentage points since it was redrawn by the new independent redistricting commission. And last week, the assumed Democratic candidate, Assemblyman Marty Block, acquired a potentially serious Republican opponent, former Assemblyman George Plescia, declared his candidacy.

Councilman King Aiding Candidate Saleeby with Run
Walnut Patch
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. John Saleeby, who is running for Walnut City Council, is gearing up for a fundraiser with the help of Councilman Tom King.  King is hosting a meet and greet and fundraiser from 3 to 5 p.m. March 18 at his home at 20880 Apache Way. The councilman has endorsed Saleeby and said he has been walking precincts in support of the candidate. Mayor Nancy Tragarz, who is running for re-election, said that her campaign signs keep disappearing across town.  In February, City Clerk Teresa De Dios sent an email to the candidates to inform them that seven of Tragarz’ signs, along with three belonging to challenger John Saleeby and one for Councilman Antonio “Tony” Cartegena, had been recovered.

State Senate candidates compete for support at Democratic forum
Ventura County Star
Hannah-Beth Jackson touted her experience and Jason Hodge his idealism at a debate Thursday in Camarillo between the two Democratic candidates for the new state Senate district that covers most of Ventura County. Jackson is a former assemblywoman from Santa Barbara and Hodge, an Oxnard resident, is a Ventura County firefighter and an elected commissioner with the Oxnard Harbor District, the board that governs the Port of Hueneme. Both will be on the ballot in the 19th Senate District primary in June.

“No Party Preference” Candidate – Game Changer or Passing Fad?
Fox & Hounds
The passage of Proposition 14 in the June 2010 Primary Election set into place a significant change in how we elect our representatives in Congress, the state Senate and Assembly. Under Proposition 14, all candidates in each congressional district and state legislative district will appear on the same ballot. Voters, regardless of their own personal political party preference, will be able to vote for any candidate on the ballot, with the top two vote getters – regardless of party – facing each other in a November General Election runoff.  (Presidential candidates and candidates for party central committees do not come under the top two system.)

GOP line forms to challenge Sen. Feinstein
The Orange County Register
No proven Republican candidates have stepped up yet to challenge Sen. Dianne Feinstein, but six little-known longshots plus Laguna Niguel's Orly Taitz are trying to gain traction. Senate hopefuls Elizabeth Emken, Dan Hughes, Al Ramirez and Greg Conlon were pumping the flesh at last month's convention of the California Republican Party, according to the Sacramento Bee's coverage of the event. There's also Ron Paul-styled Republican Rick Williams and San Diego County businessman John Boruff. The stagnating economy and general dissatisfaction with Congress have chipped into Feinstein's approval rating.

Son of ex-Rep. Gary Condit runs for Congress
Boston Herald
Chad Condit, the son and chief public defender of a former high-profile California congressman once tarnished in a media frenzy, has now entered a congressional race of his own. With the quiet unveiling of a campaign website, Condit has announced his candidacy as an independent in the newly redrawn House of Representatives district based around his hometown of Ceres, Calif. "Most of what is wrong with Washington is partisanship," Condit declares on his campaign website. "The best way to end the partisanship is to elect independent candidates who are not connected to either the Republicans or the Democrats."

Jack Scott to retire as California community college chancellor
The Sacramento Bee
Jack Scott, California's community college chancellor for the past three years, announced Tuesday that he will retire on Sept. 1. Scott, a former communtiy college administrator and Democratic state legislator, revealed his retirement plans to the system's statewide board of trustees and said he and his wife, Lacreta, "plan to return to our home in the Pasadena-area. We will enjoy travel and visiting with family and friends."