BY CHRIS MANN
Published: Friday, June 24, 2011 5:09 AM CDT
Not long ago, a little known redistricting proposal appeared on the ballot. Named Proposition 11, it promised an end to the practice of self-serving politicians in Sacramento controlling the drawing of their own districts. Some raised eyebrows, a few protested, yet it passed with relative ease amidst the chaos of that year’s election cycle. Most didn’t understand exactly how the new process for drawing political boundaries would work … it was somewhat complicated with several moving parts and a “non-partisan” citizens redistricting panel. Initially designed to merely affect state legislative districts, in 2010 Proposition 20 passed adding congressional districts to the process as well.
The redistricting commission did of course need to hire an outside firm to assist with the drawing of the maps. The choice of firms ultimately came down to two options … one from the conservative Claremont Institute and the other from the notably liberal Berkeley. No-one was overly surprised when the team from Berkeley was chosen.
The official first draft of the new maps came out on June 10. What the Commission has put together is nothing less than alarming. As the maps stand now, almost every Democrat district wound up safe, some considerably safer than before redistricting. Other districts are now set up nicely for a Democrat takeover. Where ever it was possible, Republican districts became increasingly competitive and certain conservative legislators were drawn out of their districts by a squiggle that makes no sense to even the most seasoned redistricting veterans. We are told Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly recently received a call from the Speaker of the Assembly asking him for his exact address. Coincidence? As the maps must be finalized by Aug. 15, taxpayers are now two months away from finalized districts set to dangle us upside down until all of the loose change falls out of our pockets.
Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat this is a catastrophe in the making. If these redistricting plans move forward, Democrats will most certainly gain what is called a “supermajority” in the Legislature after next year’s elections. This means that they will control two-thirds or more of the seats in the state Senate and Assembly, giving them complete control to pass budgets and taxes without even one Republican voting with them. No need for negotiation or compromise. Democrats in the Legislature, who have proven themselves time and time again to be controlled by the state’s public employee unions, will have absolute power to continue increasing state spending and implement tax increases the likes of which we’ve never seen in order to pay for runaway salaries and pensions. Likely, this will only be the tip of the iceberg.
We do have a chance to make our voices heard before these draft maps are finalized.
Please find the location of your local redistricting commission hearing by going to the following Web site: www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov/hearings.
Let the commission know your concerns. Let them know what a devastating impact the draft maps will have on this state if adopted as-is.
This is our most significant opportunity to shape the political landscape of California for the next 10 years.
Chris Mann is a former member of the San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency board and is Founder and past President of the Inland Empire Taxpayers Association.