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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

California Redistricting gets an “A”

At a Berkeley panel discussion on redistricting, Proposition 11/20 author, Munger the Younger, suggested that the success or failure of his redistricting reforms wouldn’t be known until the elections which resulted.  But with the co-implementation of redistricting reform and the new open primary it could be impossible to disaggregate what outcomes were caused by one or the other.

So the rest of the world is gonna just call it:  This state’s redistricting process was the best in the country, best in history, the best thing since Plato invented Democracy then some geometry nerd with his abacus and untreated OCD invented districts.

Yes, the commission process did have some taint exposures, tear-jerkers, and constant poking from Curmudgeon Emeritus Tony Quinn (who is lucky he didn’t get Nancy Kerrigan’d by some commission staff).  It also had a handful of lawsuits and one arguably “successful” collection of signatures for a referendum.  We could obviously have another ProPublica story or someone could get caught scheming on a train to Oakland

But unless something catastrophic happens, the California Redistricting Process will be the biggest thing to happen to the decennial dance since Baker v. Carr and the Redistricting Revolution of the 1960s. And we know what a party that was!

Already, local governments from Sacramento to San Diego are looking to replicate the state’s independent process, and states like New York are considering adopting the model.  Presumably this wave of reform is easier now than it will be in 2016..17..18 when the new status quo realizes what they will be screwing up by handing the responsibility to anyone but themselves.

In another redistricting related tidbit, our sister company RPdata.ca is having a little contest on Scott Lay's Nooner Email.  This quiz has a growing prize, currently at a whopping $10 Temple Cofee Gift Card.  The first question was "name CA's Bellweather City" which, of course, was Gilroy with a 98% rate of voting with winners statewide candidates and ballot measures.  Today's question: "What is the state's anti-Bellweather" getting it wrong 57% of the time?"  To win tweet your answer with #RPdataCA in the message.

And we can’t finish a report without at least touching the Big Round (or is it Flat?) debate around the California Voting Rights Act.  In Escondido a judge threw the State Building Trades Council off of a lawsuit against their At Large election system.  This is the most pyrrhic victory in election law history as they will still be able to fund the case and have plenty of plaintiffs, but it does answer the question: If a corporation is a “person” can a labor union be a “voter?”  Apparently that answer is no.



Redistricting Comes out of the Back Room
Investigative News Source
One great irony in California’s redistricting reforms was that the Republicans who supported the changes wound up suing to try to undo them. Voters passed two propositions that took the power to draw district boundaries away from legislators and gave it to a Citizens Redistricting Commission. California’s legislature long has been dominated by Democrats; Republicans thought the changes would shift the balance. The reforms brought the process out of the backrooms. Commissioners drew praise for conducting 34 public hearings around the state and for considering at least 46 proposed maps.

California ranks 4th in openness review
U-T San Diego
In a national review of government accountability and transparency to be released Monday, California gets good news and bad news. The good news: it ranked fourth overall out of 50 states. The bad news: No state did very well, and California got a B-minus. New Jersey and Connecticut scored best in the review, with a B-plus and B, respectively. Eight states flunked, with Georgia and South Dakota at the bottom of the rankings. The State Integrity Investigation, a months-long project, concluded that “State governments are largely doing a poor job delivering transparency and accountability to their citizenry. Meanwhile, statehouses remain ripe for corruption and self-dealing.”

Redistricting Not a Big Story in 2012
Real Clear Politics
The 2012 congressional redistricting cycle following the 2010 Census is just about over and done with. And it seems likely to make much less difference than many of us expected. Redistricting is when state legislatures, governors and/or commissions draw new lines for congressional districts after the 435 seats in the U.S. House are reapportioned according to a statutory formula into which are plugged the figures from the 2010 census. I predicted that this cycle, like the 2002 cycle, would produce significant gains for Republicans. Their success in electing governors and legislators in 2010 gave them control in big states like Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia and North Carolina.


Judge Bars Union From Voting Rights Lawsuit
U-T San Diego
A judge has ruled that a construction labor union cannot be a plaintiff in a voting rights lawsuit that seeks to change the way Escondido City Council members are elected so the city’s majority Latino population can have more say in their representation. Vista Superior Court Judge Earl Maas announced his decision during a hearing Friday afternoon. Mass said he agreed with lawyers from Escondido that the state’s Building and Construction Trades Council, which has been funding the litigation filed late last year, cannot be listed as a plaintiff because it is not a “voter” as defined by the California Voting Rights Act.

Redistricting gives San Mateo County a power boost
San Mateo County Times
San Mateo County will get a nice perk out of redistricting: two years of extra representation in the state Senate. Because of a quirk in the process of redrawing the state's electoral maps, county voters will get to elect a new state senator this November and keep the current one, Leland Yee, who has two years left in his second term. But some other Bay Area voters will go without an elected state senator until 2014. It's a conundrum that occurs every 10 years when the state's legislative boundaries are redrawn. This time around, it means a temporary boost in clout for the central Peninsula.

Hundreds pack L.A. Council chambers to protest redistricting maps
The Los Angeles Times
Hundreds of people from South Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley and elsewhere showed up at City Hall on Friday to speak out on new maps drawn for 15 council districts, amid a circus-like atmosphere that included bagpipes for St. Patrick’s Day and an elaborate buffet for Persian New Year. So many people showed up to discuss redistricting that they were directed to an overflow room. Others were forced to stand in the hallway, listening to the proceedings on an overhead speaker. Grace Yoo, executive director of the Korean American Coalition, said she had stood in the hallway for two hours waiting to get in to testify. “There have been shenanigans left and right,” she said.

'I feel your wrath,' Perry tells Wesson amid redistricting debate
The Los Angeles Times
The strained relations between Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson and Councilwoman Jan Perry moved center stage Friday during the contentious fight over 15 newly drawn council districts, with Perry apologizing publicly to Wesson in hopes of preserving her district. After about three hours of testimony, Perry gave a highly unusual speech in which she told Wesson she wished she could “turn the clock back” to the day she met with him privately to discuss his run for the presidency. “Had I known then what I know now, I would have kept my mouth shut so that my district would not be sacrificed,” she said.

L.A. Council approves new redistricting map
Daily Breeze
After four hours of contentious testimony and debate, the Los Angeles City Council on Friday approved a map with new boundaries for the 15 council districts. The 13-2 vote gives the city attorney authority to draft an ordinance that would legally establish the new districts until after the next census in 2020. Hundreds of people packed City Hall to comment on the new districts, which will result in Westchester remaining whole in the 11th Council District, as residents had wanted. But the vast majority of those who turned out Friday were opponents of changes to two South Los Angeles districts, the 8th and 9th represented by Bernard Parks and Jan Perry, respectively.

After Redistricting, All Encino Residents Now Part of CD5
Encino Patch
As a result of the vote on the much disputed final City Council redistricting maps Friday, all Encino residents will now be in CD5, including the small, disputed portion of Encino Village, according to Councilman Paul Koretz's office. Jeff Ebenstein of the Councilman's office told Patch that they were pleased with the result. "in the end we were able to get the entire population of Encino into CD5. What the community expressed that it wanted—to be unified into one Council District—happened, and we were happy to be able to achieve that," Ebenstein said.

After tense debate, LA's new political boundaries pass city council muster
The L.A. City Council on Friday approved new political boundaries that will govern elections in the city for the next decade. The vote came down to 13-2, with Councilman Bernard Parks and Councilwoman Jan Perry were the two dissenting votes. A big winner was Councilman Jose Huizar, who will now represent most of wealthy downtown. Councilwoman Jan Perry, whose district includes much of downtown now, had said Council President Herb Wesson orchestrated the move to punish her for refusing to support his bid to lead the council.

Redistricting Keeps Englander's District 12 Mostly Intact
Chatsworth Patch
After four hours of contentious testimony and debate, the Los Angeles City Council Friday approved a map with new boundaries for the 15 council districts. The 13-2 vote gives the city attorney authority to draft an ordinance that would legally establish the new districts until after the next census in 2020. A day prior to the vote, Councilman Mitch Englander who represents Chatsworth as part of District 12, said he was satisfied with the map for his district. Although he lost some territory in Encino and the vicinity, the district stretches all the way from and West Hills and Chatsworth on the West to the 405 Freeway on the East. And he has just opened a new district office in Chatsworth.

L.A. City Council OKs power-shifting remap
The Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles City Council on Friday approved a sweeping plan to redraw the borders of its 15 districts, disregarding lawsuit threats that had been lodged by Korean American civic groups and two veteran council members. Against the distracting backdrop of St. Patrick's Day bagpipers and a Persian New Year's buffet, council members realigned political territory across the city, including a move to cut much of downtown out of the district now represented by Councilwoman Jan Perry.

Council approves new maps with Studio City-Toluca Lake compromise
Daily News Los Angeles
Ending a bruising battle over Los Angeles political boundaries, the City Council approved 15 new district maps on Friday in a vote expected to face legal challenges from numerous neighborhood groups. Council members Bernard Parks and Jan Perry dissented in the 13-2 vote and both said they plan to sue. "They basically disgorged my district," said Perry, who lost her politically powerful downtown district to City Councilman Jose Huizar. The once-a-decade process of drawing the council district boundaries has been particularly contentious this year.

City Council Agrees to New Final Districts
The Arroyo Seco Journal
Following a long and contentious meeting, the Los Angeles City Council has agreed to the new Council District maps produced by the appointed City Council Redistricting Commission, with the amendments affecting Northeast Los Angeles detailed yesterday in the Arroyo Seco Journal. http://thearroyosecojournal.com/?p=254 And now it’s on to the law suits. The Council opened its meeting dramatically at 10 a.m. with a procession led by bagpipers and a celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day.

Studio City Considers Getting Half of Campo as a Victory
Studio City Patch
The Studio City Neighborhood Council and activists who fought for full inclusion in one council district are, in retrospect, happy with the compromise agreed upon by the Los Angeles City Council office on Friday—sharing the historic land of the Campo de Cahuenga, and the Universal Metro Station. Peter Hartz, president of the Toluca Lake Homeowners Association who testified before the council at City Hall on Friday, said "We would like to continue to speak with one voice on what happens to these areas and Toluca Lake has a long history at the Campo de Cahuenga."


California candidates set to battle in new political landscape
The Los Angeles Times
Filing has closed, the candidate lists are final and the curtain has risen on California's reconstructed political stage, where the contests for 153 congressional and legislative seats will play out for the first time under new rules and in altered districts. Look for intraparty fights that will last into the November runoffs, a likely lack of third-party candidates on the fall ballot and, possibly, a larger number of contested seats, compliments of a new primary system and a redrawing of political maps that did not seek to protect incumbents. Voters authorized the two new wrinkles in this year's elections.

GOP pair to run against Thompson
Napa Valley Register
U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, has drawn two Republican challengers who are newcomers to running for elected office but tout their roles as political outsiders and their fiscal conservatism. In the California Legislature, State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, is running unopposed in a newly drawn district that now includes Napa County. In the race for the Assembly seat representing Napa County, incumbent Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, is facing Republican John Munn, a 63-year-old retired soils scientist also from Davis.

New Districts, New Rules and New Candidates on June Ballot
Pleasanton Patch
On June 5, Californians for the first time will vote in an open primary. The top two vote getters in a race will move on to the November general election, whether or not they are from the same party. In addition, this will be the first election with the new congressional, state Senate and state Assembly districts approved last fall by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. They officially take effect in January. You can look at the new districts at this website. The Alameda County elections department website is here. Below are the races people in Alameda County will see on their June ballot. Patch will have more coverage of these races between now and the primary.

County elections chief to retire in summer
Press Democrat
Janice Atkinson, Sonoma County's clerk, recorder, assessor and registrar of voters, has announced her plans to retire this summer. Atkinson, 58, began her career in 1972 as a temporary elections clerk and is one of the longest serving employees in the county's workforce. She will be 19 months into her second term in the elected Clerk-Recorder-Assessor's office when she steps down in July. She has backed Ray Leonard, an administrative manager in the office, to be her successor for the remainder of the term. The decision is up to the Board of Supervisors.

Local Congress race may be historic
Press Democrat
The script for North Coast congressional elections appears due for a major rewrite this year, with two Democrats likely to compete, for the first time ever, in an expensive and possibly vitriolic November runoff. The Democrat-dominated 2nd Congressional District race, with no incumbent and eight Democratic candidates, including three with ample resources, has the earmarks of a contest that ends with a two-candidate, same-party showdown in the fall. There are two Republicans in the field, but neither is guaranteed a role in the November election under the new top-two, open-primary rules. That could knock their party out of the running by dividing North Coast Republican votes in the June 5 primary.

Assembly Candidates Strive For Distinction at Glassell Park Forum
Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch
The four candidates in the race for California's 51st Assembly District tried to distinguish themselves to voters during a forum held at the Glassell Park Recreation Center on Thursday evening. As they all shared similar progressive agendas, candidates Luis Lopez, Arturo Chavez, Oscar Gutierrez and Jimmy Gomez spoke largely about how their backgrounds in public service or business uniquely qualified them to serve the district that comprised all of Northeast Los Angeles and parts of Echo Park and Silver Lake.

Union man goes door to door for Assembly seat
The Orange County Register
On a bright Saturday morning in February, Julio Perez walks Santa Ana's posh Floral Park neighborhood, asking for votes. Knocking on the doors of Victoria Street mansions, he doesn't find much of a welcome. One woman chides him, saying she pays too much in taxes. At another house, a man says he supports Tom Daly, Orange County's Clerk-Recorder and one of Perez's opponents in the race for an open Assembly seat. A block away, on N. Ross Street, where the homes are more modestly affluent, Perez fares better. After speaking with him on her doorstep, Susan Fleming says she'll vote for Perez. Why? "First, I've met him. That's a good thing. He's a Democrat."

Marquez faces crowded field in Assembly race
The Downey Patriot
After months of courting key endorsements and quietly fundraising among base supporters, campaign season is now in full swing as six candidates have officially filed to run in the newly-created 58th Assembly District. Downey Councilman Luis Marquez, who announced his intentions to run for the seat last October, said his campaign is already preparing for the competitive election by focusing heavily on voter outreach in the nine cities represented under the large district. "Things are going great, it's a lot of work, but the endorsements are going great. We're getting new endorsements on a weekly basis," Marquez said.

'March Madness' hits political fundraising in California
The Los Angeles Times
Like many people, California politicians are caught up in March Madness, but their version is as much about filling campaign coffers as watching college basketball. Several state legislators are holding March Madness fundraisers this month, going as far afield as Las Vegas to mix game-watching with check-collecting. Those tying campaign events to the basketball tournament just this week include state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes (D-Sylmar), Democratic Senate candidate Joe Coto and Democratic Assembly candidate Tom Calderon.

State's 49th Assembly District home to changing demographic and multi-ethnic coalition
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
As the racial and ethnic makeup of the San Gabriel Valley continues to shift, a unique form of coalition building that has emerged may be a trend setter for the state and the nation. Over the past 20 years, cities like Rosemead, San Gabriel, Alhambra and Temple City have shifted from working class white neighborhoods to Latino strongholds. USC researchers looking at Census numbers now say the number of Latinos is in significant decline across the West San Gabriel Valley as the number Asian residents continues to grow. But, where experts expected to see a Balkinization in the political arena, instead they've seen new coalitions formed.

Primary debuts changes that could give voters fits
The Fresno Bee
California's June 5 primary will throw voters the biggest election curve they've seen since the 2003 gubernatorial recall saw 135 candidates clog the ballot. In the upcoming election -- and from now on -- ballots for all state and federal offices except president will include every candidate, regardless of political party. That means all voters will choose from Republican, Democrat and third-party candidates seeking a seat in Congress, U.S. Senate, state Senate and state Assembly. In 2014, state offices such as governor, insurance commissioner and treasurer will be part of the mix.

Republicans seek inroads in liberal San Francisco
The San Francisco Chronicle
A devout Sikh, a gay Republican leader and an activist "millennial" conservative hardly represent the staid image of "your father's Republican Party" - but that's exactly the point for San Francisco Republicans who make up a diverse slate of candidates hoping to reboot the GOP in a famously liberal bastion. "Our goal is to give voters a choice" in San Francisco, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a more than 5 to 1, said San Francisco attorney Harmeet Dhillon, the activist chairwoman of the city's Republican Party and a leader in the South Asian community.

Democrats see new chances in California's Inland Empire
The Republic
For the first time in 20 years, a Republican running for Congress in Riverside needs help. John Tavaglione huddled with supporters in the mirrored back room of a local Coco’s on a recent rainy evening, laying out a ground game for his first crack at federal office. As a Republican and political heir of a powerful Riverside family, the longtime county supervisor would have breezed into Washington, D.C., in past elections. The Inland Empire was heralded as California’s new conservative frontier — the “new Orange County” — just 10 years ago. But political districts have been remade. Weed-covered fields have metamorphosed into Spanish-tile suburbs packed with new voters.

Dutton and Miller spar over endorsement
The Press-Enterprise
Rep. Gary Miller and state Sen. Bob Dutton had far different interpretations of the California Republican Party’s recent endorsement of Miller for San Bernardino County’s redrawn 31st Congressional District. To Dutton, the party’s endorsement of Miller last Sunday was indicative of “the big boys in D.C.” big-footing local party activists to ensure the support of a Diamond Bar resident who has never represented the district. To Miller, the state party’s backing — which he said was unanimous — was simply the product of GOP leaders recognizing that Miller’s years of experience at the local, state and federal level make him the better candidate for a tough fall campaign.

Long Beach Resident Likely to Represent OC in 47th District
Voice of OC
Northwest Orange County's inland cities from Garden Grove to the Los Angeles County border are likely to be represented in Congress next year by someone from Long Beach, according to deadline candidate filings and articles in the Long Beach Press Telegram. The newly drawn 47th Congressional District is generally centered in Long Beach, but crosses into Orange County inland from Seal Beach. The Press Telegram reports that onetime Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona has endorsed former GOP Rep. Steve Kuykendall in the race.

Conaway leads in 8th Congressional District polling
Desert Dispatch
Barstow-area Democrat Jackie Conaway led the pack of 8th Congressional District candidates in a recent poll, while Victorville Councilwoman Angela Valles and 1st District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt were locked in a dead heat for second place, according to results released Thursday by an independent political consulting firm. The Los Angeles-based Blair Biggs Campaigns — which is now running Valles’ campaign — conducted what it called a scientific telephone survey on March 8 among 364 likely voters drawn from voter registration files. The poll asked voters to choose among nine candidates.