Proposition 27 is raking in the contributions from incumbent politicians, like Lynn Woolsey, who can’t stand that citizens, not politicians, draw the lines for election districts now. As reported on San Diego Newsroom’s website, many Democrats in office in both Sacramento and Washington D.C. have paid out huge sums to try to persuade the California voters to pass this proposition which would void the 2008 vote that set up a civilian commission to re-draw districts and put control of redistricting back in the hands of the state legislature — where it resided for many years and led to gerrymandering.
Topping the contribution list are
entertainment mogul Haim Saban, , who gave $2 million in March, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, one of the nation’s largest union groups, who gave $250,000 in march and another $1 million earlier this month. Another union, Working for Working Americans, has donated $500,000, and the Democratic State Central Committee of California has given $250,000.”
Among individual politicians, California Assembly members and state senators have contributed up to $100,000 each. As of last February, fourteen of our state’s congressional members (including Nancy Pelosi and , of course, Lynn Woolsey) had already contributed a combined total of $160,000.
Earlier this year, the state of California advertised for citizen applications for the first independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. I, among thousands, filled out the first application and was cleared to submit the second, far more detailed one. The winnowing process is long and thorough. Just yesterday, news sources reported that the California State Auditor’s Applicant Review Panel selected a group of sixty (twenty Democrats, twenty Republicans, and twenty Decline-To-States) from which the final commission of fourteen will be chosen. Then the commission will do its work over the next year.
So, at this point none of us knows yet whether this method of redistricting will work satisfactorily or not. We will have to allow the commission to have at least one turn at bat before any empirical conclusion can be drawn.
But politicians, worried about a redistricting process that actually might be fair rather than controlled by the majority party in power, have no desire whatsoever to wait and see what kind of results the Citizens Redistricting Commission produces. They are determined to do all they can to repeal the 2008 Proposition 11 , also known as the Voters First Act, that voters approved. You might wish to check out this blog, Creekside Chat, for additional comments on what politicians are trying to do.
One could see why state legislators of the majority party might oppose a citizens’ commission; it is their state office districts that will be redrawn by the commission. But why exactly are federal legislators getting into the act? Because of another proposal on the November ballot: Proposition 20. This proposition is also known as the VOTERS FIRST Act for Congress (emphasis mine). If approved, it will:
- Add the task of re-drawing congressional district boundaries to the commission created by Proposition 11.
- Define a “community of interest” as “a contiguous population which shares common social and economic interests that should be included within a single district for purposes of its effective and fair representation. Examples of such shared interests are those common to an urban area, an industrial area, or an agricultural area, and those common to areas in which the people share similar living standards, use the same transportation facilities, have similar work opportunities, or have access to the same media of communication relevant to the election process.”
The very idea apparently makes Lynn Woolsey, Nancy Pelosi, and some other career politicians nervous enough that they contributed money to defeating Proposition 20.
Wait, you might be saying. They contributed money to support Proposition 27, not to defeat Proposition 20. Technically, yes. However, Proposition 27 was added to our lengthy November ballot to counter and defeat Proposition 20. If Proposition 27 passes and Proposition 20 either does not pass or, if both pass but Proposition 20 receives fewer votes than Proposition 27, Congressional districts will not be subject to being redrawn by the citizen commission.
Actually, both Proposition 27 and 20 have “poison pill” provisions:
This means that if they both receive a majority vote, the proposition that receives the highest majority vote is the law that will go into effect. This means that they could both, technically, be approved, but that only one of them would become law.
Again quoting from ballotpedia:
According to political journalist Shane Goldmacher, Democratic political strategists say that this initiative can be seen as a political tactic to defeat Proposition 20, the Congressional Redistricting Initiative, which is on the November 2, 2010 ballot: “Democratic political strategists say the best way to ensure a ‘no’ vote this fall on [Proposition 20] is to confuse the public further with a second ballot measure on the already head spinning topic of political line drawing.”[
What is the bottom line? Lynn Woolsey, along with other career politicians, is lining up for Proposition 27 because she considers her own political self-interest more important than fairness in redistricting. She prefers gerrymandering because her own party is in control and she knows as long as it is, she will benefit if the legislature, not an independent commission, redistricts.
Let’s let the first independent Citizens Redistricting Commission be selected and complete its work. If their redistricting map produces even more screwy-looking districts than the one below, then we voters will have to think of another way to redistrict, but I have faith the commission will have more sense than that.
I’m with the Mercury News editorial which urged: “Vote yes on Prop. 20, no on Prop. 27.” Lynn Woolsey and Nancy Pelosi are willing to shell out thousands to try to pass Proposition 27 and defeat Proposition 20, and that in itself is a signal that voters ought to look at very closely. Don’t the politicians already have too many other factors helping them stay in office? Turnover is so low in most elections (although, hopefully, this year will be an exception) due to so many advantages the incumbents enjoy. We need to stick to our guns and prevent 2008’s Proposition 11 from being repealed by now passing Proposition 27. We also need to pass Proposition 20 and put California congressional districts under the jurisdiction of the independent Citizens Redistricting Commission too.