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  1. Redistricting Maps Approved, Republicans go on attack
  2. It's Redistricting Day!
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Redistricting Maps Approved, Republicans go on attack

GOP plans for an attack on the maps, dreams of a brighter past.

By Brian Leubitz

As we mentioned earlier, the Redistricting Comission was scheduled to vote on their maps today.  Despite some public pressure on the GOP Comissioners, the vote remains unchanged and it passed:

The first voter-approved California Citizens Redistricting Commission finished its No. 1 job this morning and adopted new maps for Congress, state Assembly and Senate and the Board of Equalization.

The boundaries will be in effect for the next decade until the 2020 Census triggers a revision.

Passage was never really in question despite grumbling from a few corners.  The Several commissioners expressed frustration with some of the maps but conceded that wholesale perfection was unattainable in a state with so many competing interests.  (I confess, I couldn't hear everything that was said. The webstream kept cutting out; perhaps the site was overtaxed.) (Lisa Vorderbrueggen/bay Area News)

But don't think redistricting could be done easily here in California. Already one commissioner is alleging that other commissioners held secret meetings in violation of the rules laid out in Prop 11. The other commissioners are denying the charge, and perhaps this is an instance of trying to provide something for the inevitable GOP lawsuit.  But in any case, it looks like the Republicans aren't going to limit themselves to a lawsuit.

"A referendum will be filed with respect to the Senate lines and possibly the congressional lines," said California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro. "The California Republican Party will wholeheartedly support those efforts when they come about."

He said the redistricting commission's actions "have been unfair if not unconstitutional."

GOP lawmakers and activists have formed a committee called Fairness & Accountability in Redistricting to launch a petition drive to overturn the state Senate lines, according to Republican political consultant Dave Gilliard. The new district boundaries could give Democrats the two-thirds majority in the Legislature needed to pass taxes.

The Senate Republican Caucus has voted to endorse the referendum drive, according to Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton of Rancho Cucamonga. (LA Times)

You'll have to forgive me when I let out my cry of shock upon that news.  Unfair! Unconstitutional! Just plain outrageous! Of course, other than the trumped up charge of back room deals (because that would be sooooo different than past redistricting plans), the is no real evidence if anything running contrary to the intent of the proposition.  On the contrary, on the whole, these commissioners went bode and beyond the call of duty in their efforts to make this a transparent and open process. The meetings were all webcast, and they traveled the state to hear from as many people as possible.

Of coursem if this does go to a referendum, we then toss it to the Supreme Court which hardly represents the will of the people of California.  Nonetheless, I find it difficult to believe that the Court would come up with anything much more favorable to Republicans.  But, if the GOP wants to attack their own creation, I won't be the one to wipe away Arnold Schwarzenegger's crocodile tears.


It's Redistricting Day!

Redistricting Commission votes on final maps today

by Brian Leubitz

"Paying off" is really a loaded phrase.  Sure, the redistricting commission has done a ton of work, and they deserve rich praise for that.  But, as noted last week, it is something of a fool's errand. The districts are too large, and so they are constantly fighting competing interests that ensure few will be really satisfied when the time comes. But, today is the day when the work of the Commission will "pay off."

Be that as it may, today is the day that the Commission will vote on its final maps.  They have already tentatively approved the last visualization, and it appears that they have the votes for passage.  However, over the last few days, they have been receiving testimony of disgruntled groups.  Some are more serious than others.  Notably, MALDEF has suggest rejection of these maps because they underrepresent the Latino community.  Many other localized, and valid, concerns have been raised.  But, the feeling from the meetings is that the Commissioners feel that this is the best they could do.

The GOP has been putting public pressure on one of the 3 supportive Republicans to change their vote, but that seems unlikely.  If it is approved, expect to see the GOP quickly file papers for a referendum.  They are terrified that they might lose their superminority in one or both houses of the Legislature.  However, whether they have the money is seriously in doubt.  As of last reports, they had less than a quarter of a million dollars in the bank.  That's not enough to throw a good party, let alone put a measure on the ballot.

But at some level, there has to be a sense of fatalism to the complaints:

If it's all just grumbling, then perhaps the lessons of this redistricting process -- the first of its kind in California -- will improve future efforts. The ultimate reality of redistricting is that the lines have to go somewhere; but keeping the criticism at a low level will no doubt help remind voters why they chose the new system in the first place.(John Myers)

With lines that nearly touch a million, there are going to be some very tough choices.  That is inevitable.  And people will be disappointed.  Peter Schrag, in a brilliant column, over at the California Progress Report points out that pretty much everybody is going to be disappointed in one way or another.  And, despite the potential for Democrats to take 2/3 majorities in each House, it may not be enough:

But maybe the biggest frustrated expectation in this set of political reforms could be the hope of the left that Democrats may at last get the two or three additional seats in each house to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to raise taxes without Republican votes.

Democrats may get the seats, but don't count on the votes. The Republican minority, in rigidly blocking any road to tax increases or, as this year, even a ballot measure giving voters a chance to extend the expiring taxes that the legislature itself approved in prior years, also protected Democrats from the voter backlash against the tax increases that they might have voted for. California Democrats have also voted for corporate tax loopholes.

If any new competitive districts produce those marginal Democrats, how eager will they be to vote for boosts in the vehicle license fee, the sales tax, or the gas tax? How willing would Gov. Jerry Brown be to sign such tax increases? In his last terms as governor his austere heart was always in thinking small for an era of limits. He stiffed the universities and never trusted big institutions.(Peter Schrag)

But for today, let's keep an eye on the Redistricting Commission.  They are likely to get a few legal challenges, and perhaps that referendum.  However, the redistricting task is a huge one, and they've done their best in a thoughtful process.  You can watch the meetings live at their website and check out the maps here.  The meeting is today at 9AM in Room 4203 of the State Capitol.


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