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California Legislators Look Out for Number One


Begrudgingly seeking to fill a promise made to voters during the 2005 California Special Election to put a “fair” redistricting measure on the ballot this year, legislators in Sacramento are doing their best to do what they do best: look out for themselves.

On the surface, it appears very magnanimous of the State legislature to put an initiative on the November ballot to give up their power to draw legislative and Congressional district boundaries. Over the decades, the California Legislature has cut the state into so many pieces, the maps make a Picasso drawing look practically Impressionistic.

But when you look under the surface it’s a much darker story. Having cut a deal with Karl Rove in 2001 to create an incumbent-protection scheme whereby Democrats would get California’s 53rd Congressional District in exchange for holding GOP officeholders harmless, national Democrats are beginning to see that the deal may be one of the greatest stumbling blocks to us ever seeing a Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

But this is not the reason I am not as cynical as the Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters, who thinks that the legislature is going to try to defeat Reapportionment Reform by tying it to term limits reform and making it so confusing voters will reject it. Tying redistricting to term limits may, in fact, be the carrot that encourages the Legislature to give up the gerrymandering stick.

Under the proposed term limits reform, State Senators who have not served in the Assembly will get an extra term and Assembly members who have not served in the Senate will get an extra six years.

The changes to term limits will go into effect in 2008 while the new Legislative districts will have to wait until the 2012 election cycle…meaning California will go six years without real elections and everyone in Sacramento gets to keep their jobs!

* Disclosures: The Valley Industry and Commerce Association, which has endorsed the extension of State legislative term limits, is a client of my company.

Share  Posted by Scott Olin Schmidt at 9:36 AM | Permalink

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