A closer look at Proposition 11


State lawmakers draw their districts in an interesting way. For example, the East Bay's 18th Assembly District kind of winds around.

The neighboring 15th District stretches all the way to Sacramento. Well, the 15th is a district held by Republican Guy Houston and in the Bay Area, you sometimes have to go a ways to find a Republican.

"You look at the districts you can't believe someone would draw a district that way," said Jeannine English from California AARP.

English is president of the California AARP. She says lawmakers draw their own districts to protect themselves.

"Redistricting has become an incumbency protection plan," said English.

That's why AARP, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and the governor are backing /*Proposition 11*/.

"What happens is incumbents draw safe seats so they get to pick their voters," said English. "And what Prop 11 will do is it will allow voters to again start picking their elected representatives."

Proposition 11 would have districts drawn by a commission -- members would be selected by the state auditor, five Democrats, five Republicans and four Independents.

The measure would require geographically compact districts, maintain communities of interest and neighborhoods. It would forbid commissioners from drawing districts to favor or discriminate against incumbents, candidates or political parties.

English says it'll make state legislators more responsive to passing needed legislation.

"Like health care reform a budget that is not 80 days late, you know, water education. Things that they haven't addressed because of the gridlock in Sacramento," said English.

"That doesn't go well with the facts that are out there," said Art Torres from the California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres.

Torres is opposed to Proposition 11.

"A budget cannot be passed because it requires a two-thirds vote," said Torres.

Torres points to a recent study by non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California which states: "Contrary to conventional wisdom about redistrict reform, there is little evidence that it would reduce partisanship in Sacramento."

"No redistricting plan is going to change the dynamics of how people vote on a budget, or what kind of stalling occurs as we've experienced today," said Torres.

Torres and the Democratic Party are also concerned that Proposition 11 gives too much power to Republicans.

Republicans account for 34 percent of California's registered voters, and Democrats make up 42 percent.

But under Proposition 11, five Democratic commissioners would be matched with five Republican commissioners.

And if they couldn't agree, the State Supreme Court would have the final say, and six of the seven members of that court were appointed by Republican governors.

"I think it does give them an advantage an unfair advantage as I might say, and it's obvious where the money is coming from -- the Republican Party, the oil companies, the financial institutions," said Torres.

It is accurate to say that most of the money for Proposition 11 is coming from Republican sources.

Opposition money is coming from the Democratic Party and the Prison Guards Union, which is also funding a recall of Governor Schwarzenegger.

Related links:

  • Yes on Proposition 11
  • No on Proposition 11

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