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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What Hath Reform Wrought

The big achievement of the Redistricting Revolution in the mid-60s was the creation of districts of equal size.  Instead of every county in California having one Senator (putting Tulare and Los Angeles on equal footing) seats were apportioned by population.  Urban and suburban areas gained strength, rural areas lost.  The Voting Rights Act strengthened minority claims to representation, and most if not all observers would agree that the result was a fairer and better democratic process.

Now, 50 years later, we are amidst the Second Redistricting Revolution – and this one may not be working out as well…

The state commission has been under attack by conservatives that for years fought for the reforms.  Instead of balancing out the Gerrymander done by the Democratic Marjority in 2001, it could create an even better environment for progressives, and a more polarized state legislature.  Former Senate Leader Jim Brulte told the Sacramento Bee "If you think 2010 was bad, just get a load of what's going to happen in 2012."  The Democratic Speaker has urged fellow Democrats to start working towards a post-redraw 2/3 majority necessary to pass taxes without Republican approval.

Similarly, San Diego, the one of the birthplaces of the new commission system, is in disarray.  They close their pre-line drawing process this week, but still don’t have a line drawer.  And they too have been attacked by the very groups that fueled Redistricting Revolution v. 2.0.

Where does this put the Reformers?  After this process is over they may regret having promoted redistricting reform at all… 


Brown’s Countdown, Day 127: Democrats believe two-thirds margin in California Legislature is within reach
Sacramento Bee
State Democrats tired of dickering with Republicans for tax votes are increasingly hopeful that next year they will elect a majority large enough to make negotiating unnecessary.

County board, others want to bolster Central Coast representation through redistricting
San Jose Mercury News
Current and former local officials are pushing to unify Santa Cruz County and the Monterey Bay Area under new legislative maps being drawn by a citizen-led state redistricting commission.

Residents ask commission to end gerrymandering of local districts
La Canada Valley Sun
Foothills residents want their legislative districts to make more sense. That’s the message the California Citizens Redistricting Commission heard at meetings last month in San Gabriel and San Fernando.

Redistricting workshop to focus on Latino impact
The Stockton Record
El Concilio will hold a workshop today on redistricting and its importance to the Latino community.

From the Twitterverse

@drolland: "Well, let's define our terms, gentlemen. Are we talking about redistricting or are we talking about reapportionment?"

@mommadona: .@TexasTribune The hell with 'redistricting'~just call it a coup and secede, already~ #johnbirch #domesticterrorist #fascist #scum #txlege

@paulmitche11: My goal now is to use no less than 5 cycling analogies during my redistricting presentation. Are men who shave their leggies a community?


Elk Grove prepares to redraw City Council district lines
Sacramento Bee
Elk Grove isn't the small burg it used to be.

The school district, which blankets the city and sprawls to Rancho Cordova, grew into Northern California's largest during the last decade. The auto mall acquired regional status.

The Battle Heats Up Over New District Lines
Voices of San Diego
In late February, a group of local gay and lesbian leaders gathered in Hillcrest, political power on their minds. They were strategizing about how to lobby the city's Redistricting Commission to maximize their political influence as the commission reconfigures San Diego's City Council boundaries.

Our redistricting process seems more like a circus
The San Diego Daily Transcript
Nine years ago San Diego voters rebelled and approved an amendment to the city charter that, they were told, would take redistricting out of the hands of special interest groups. Voters agreed responsible government demanded redistricting be done by seven nonpartisan citizens.

County’s redistricting council reveals initial plans for how to redraw voting lines
The San Diego Daily Transcript
The five-person Redistricting Advisory Council unveiled their initial proposals for re-drawing the lines between San Diego County’s supervisory districts on Monday, but none of the plans completely corrected the county districts’ population discrepancies, and some actually made the discrepancies worse.

Board Reverses Tierra Rejada Decision, moves territy back to Foy
Ventura County Star
The entire Tierra Rejada Valley will stay in Simi Valley Supervisor Peter Foy’s district under a reversal backed Tuesday.


Congress watches California’s remapping from afar
Sacramento Bee
California's 53 House members seem to be simmering on the sidelines as an independent commission draws the new map that will determine their political futures.