The San Diego Democracy for America Meetup Group Message Board › Leave Redistricting to these Judges? Absurd!
|A former member||
I have located the following articles from the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee to add a bit of perspective to what seems to me to be a bit of paranoia and scaremongering among the respondents to Jim Wade's thread about DFA endorsing the Schwarzenneger initiative for (re-apportionment or redistricting -as you prefer) of Assembly, State Senate, Board of Equalization and Congressional seats. I have published one of them here, and another one in my last post, due to restriction in space for this column.
I will let you be the judge as to the wisdom of the articles, but only say that they were both done by Tony Quinn, who was on the Legislature's redistricting staff in 1981, and was an expert witness in a 2003 case challenging the current redistricting lines.
Here are the URLs if you want to read the original articles:
Below that is the text for each article. I will publish the actual text tomorrow for the "Costa" INITIATIVE, which is the one "supported" by Governor Schwarzennegger.
There are three BILLS before the Legislature, two of which (AXA Ex Sess. 3 - McCarthy and Runner, and SCA 3 - Lowenthal) contain the language Common Cause supports.
There could very well be a "compromise" between Governor Schwarzennegger and the Legislature before the "Costa" initiative ever gets enough signatures to justify a "special election".
Please don't mistake me for being an advocate of voting for the "special election" or for the Costa initiative's amendment to the state's constitution. My object is to INFORM, and to inform truthfully, so that each of you can make an intelligent and educated choice about what you want to vote for.
By the way, the "Costa" initiative contains a clause which bases the expense of his proposed panel of judges on 1/2 of what the 2001 re-apportionment cost (as you will see when I publish it). AND, it delegates the selection of the pool of candidates for Judges to be made by the LEGISLATURE.
Selection of candidates for Judges from that POOL are to be made by the SPEAKER of the ASSEMBLY, the MINORITY LEADER of the ASSEMBLY, the PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE of the SENATE, and the MINORITY LEADER od the SENATE. Two of these are from ONE major party, and two are from the OTHER major party.
By the way, a BILLION IS A THOUSAND MILLION, and, so far, other reliable estimates of the additional cost of a special election only put it at $70 million - a LONG way from a billion. I doubt that Conny "MacK", whose real name is Conny B. Mc Cormack, would have made that big of an error in her figures.
Let's have a little more "truth in reporting" and some closer adherence to the facts in this debate, please.
Leave redistricting to these judges? Absurd!
Sacramento Bee, The (CA)
March 13, 2005
Author: Tony Quinn
Special to The Bee
Estimated printed pages: 3
The failure of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to develop an adequate redistricting reform initiative, and his subsequent endorsement of the measure sponsored by political activist Ted Costa, has added a theater-of-the-absurd quality to what should be a serious debate on the needed remap.
The Costa measure, which has been around in various forms for several months without attracting significant support, not only is flawed but, even if enacted by the voters, would not achieve the new districts for California Schwarzenegger wants.
This initiative would place the responsibility of redistricting into the hands of three retired state or federal judges, and would order the immediate redrawing of legislative and congressional districts. The measure should never have included federal judges.
The image of those judges in California is the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, whose members just distinguished themselves by voting to take "under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance.
The author of that opinion, Judge Alfred T. Goodwin, is a senior circuit judge and thus would be in the pool of judges to redraw the districts.
This is also the same court that tried unsuccessfully to cancel the October 2003 recall election. So it will be wonderful theater to watch Schwarzenegger campaigning to place redistricting in the hands of the judges who want to take God out of our lives, and who sought to cancel his own election.
But the absurdity deepens. The Costa measure calls upon legislative leaders to choose the three retired judges - not because anybody thinks it is good policy, but because Costa's lawyers, and apparently the governor's lawyers, believe that without a legislative role, the courts would void the measure.
It is not clear that would be the case. But giving that power to legislative leaders has the effect of asking condemned men to select their own executioners. Within 20 days of passage, Speaker Fabian Nunez, Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata and their Republican counterparts would be required to "nominate three retired judges" as special court masters to redraw the districts.
Of course, the Democrats wouldn't do that. Is it realistic to expect the Legislature that never passes the budget on time to appoint the people who are going to put them out of business in this tight time frame? Democrats would find every excuse for delay, frustrating any hope of new lines by the 2006 primary.
The Costa measure seems to anticipate this by instructing that the chief clerk of the Assembly appoint the judges if the legislative leaders refuse to do so. The problem is that the chief clerk works for the leaders, so a chief clerk who would defy them by appointing the judges would not long be chief clerk.
Even if all these hurdles were overcome, a November special election would not allow enough time for new districts to be in effect for the June 2006 primary.
There would be enough time between the November election until January for new plans to be drawn up; that could be done in two weeks. But the U.S. Department of Justice would need to pre-clear the plans and counties would need to establish new precincts before the plans could take effect. Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters Conny B. McCormack has said there is "insufficient time" for new districts to be in place for a June primary.
Beyond that practical problem, there is the political problem. Democrats already have raised the specter that new districts drawn later this decade would be using out-of-date census data. While the argument is spurious, it is good enough for a lawsuit that would delay work on new districts by weeks or even months.
So the issue comes down to a matter of logistics. If we are not going to have new districts in 2006, why rush to the 2005 ballot a flawed redistricting initiative? It is true that it will take the governor himself to sell the public on redistricting reform, and that in 2006 as a candidate for re-election he will not be able to do so because of a quirk in our campaign financing laws. But even so, the Costa initiative does not do what he wants.
The governor and his allies should develop their own plan and spend the necessary time vetting and refining it.
|A former member||
Just got an email from Common Cause asking to 'hold their feet to the fire' regarding the legislative initiatives regarding re-districting. It seems that there's a lot of talk but litlle walk when it actually comes to doing something.