If Proposition 27 Fails, a Redistricting Commission Is Near

Proposition 27 on the November ballot would eliminate a 14-member citizens commission, approved by voters as Proposition 11 in November 2008, that’s charged with drawing the district lines for California’s 80 Assembly seats and 40 Senate seats.

Propositon 27 was placed on the ballot by the California congressional delegation which would have its lines drawn by the commission if voters approve Proposition 20, also on the November ballot.

Supporters of both Proposition 11 and Proposition 20 argue it’s an inherent conflict-of-interest for incumbent legislators to create their own districts and that having an independent commission do the once-a-decade job, known as redistricting, will create more competitive seats.

If voters pass Proposition 27, the commission would be nixed at a pivotal time.

A true experiment in direct democracy, the commission garnered 31,000 applications by the cut-off date of February 16, 2010.

“I could not have predicted that nearly 11,000 more Californians would apply by 5 p.m. yesterday,” said State Auditor Elaine Howle, whose office is charged with creating the commission, in a February 17 statement after extending the application deadline from February 12 to February 16.

“(We have) a pool of applicants from which to select a commission that reflects California’s richness and diversity.”

Of the initial applicants, more than 21,500 were white — over 15,000 of them male. Some 12,700 Democrats applied, 12,000 Republicans and 4,500 decline-to-state voters.

Nearly 21,000 of 31,000 came either from the Bay Area or the greater Los Angeles area.

From February through September 29, Howle’s office winnowed down the list of applicants. First to 4,546. Then to 622, then 313 and finally to 120.

Personal interviews were conducted with nearly 120 of the most qualified candidates as were background checks using information culled from numerous sources including Google, opensecrets.org, Huffingtonpost.com, newsmeat.com and the state library, among others.

Finally a list was created of what the auditor considers the most qualified 60 – 20 Democrats, 20 Republicans and 20 persons who are members of other parties or independents.

The interviews were held in public hearings that were live-streamed, the auditor said, to provide “maximum public accessibility.”

The videos and transcripts can be found at www.WeDrawtheLines.ca.gov.

Under the terms of Proposition 11, the final 60 applicants were to be submitted to the leaders of the Legislature by October 1.

Assembly Speaker John Perez, a Los Angeles Democrat, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, a Sacramento Democrat, and the GOP leaders of each house, Sen. Bob Dutton of Rancho Cucamonga and Martin Garrick of Carlsbad have until November 15 to strike up to 24 of the 60 names on the final applicants list.

Each legislative leader is limited to two names on the Democrats list, two names on the Republican list and two names on the “other” list.

If the legislative leaders don’t make their selections by November 15, the Auditor General draws randomly from the list of 60 names to select the first eight members of the commission.

If legislative leaders do strike names from the list then, before November 20, the Auditor General randomly draws eight names from the remaining pool of applicants.

Those eight must select the final six commission members – two Democrats, two Republicans and two “others” – by December 31.

The names and demographic breakdown of the 60 finalists can also be found at the “We Draw the Lines” website in the lower right-hand corner.

A quick look at each subgroup shows this:

Of the 20 Republicans, 14 are male. Seven are white, four are Latino or Hispanic, five are Asian and one is African-American.

Three come from the Bay Area and, by county, three are from Los Angeles, four from Sacramento, two from San Diego, two from Santa Cruz and one from Orange.

Two of the applicants earn more than $250,000, nine earn $75,000 to $125,000, four earn $125,000 to $250,000, four earn between $35,000 to $75,00 and one earns under $35,000.

In contrast, 12 of the 20 Democrats earn between $125,000 and $250,000, five earn between $75,000 and $125,000, two over $250,000 and one, $35,000 to $75,000.

Ten live in the Bay Area. Four come from Los Angeles County. One each from Butte, Ventura, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Tulare.

Seven of the 20 are male. Four are white. Seven are Latino or Hispanic. Four are African-American and four are Asian.

The “other” list is evenly divided between male and female.

Nine are white. Six are Latino or Hispanic. Three are African-American. One is American Indian or Alaskan Native and one is Asian.

Four earn between $35,000 and $75,000, six between $75,000 and $125,000, six between $125,000 and $250,000 and four over $250,000.

Seven come from the Bay Area and five from Los Angeles County. Three come from Sacramento County and one each from Yolo, Humboldt, San Diego, San Joaquin and Fresno.

Two are members of the Green Party. One lists “other” as his party affiliation. The remainder are decline-to-state.


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