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Election 2010: Propositions 20, 27 and the Citizens Redistricting Commission

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, November 1, 2010

Marianne: We're telling this story together because the politics behind the two ballot measures are intertwined. I'm Marianne. 

Ida:  And I'm Ida.  These are two separate propositions with opposite goals - but one important thing in common.  Neither would be on the ballot if not for another proposition approved by California voters a couple of years ago. 

Marianne: Proposition 11 created the citizens' redistricting commission.  This Commission's job will be to re-draw the legislative district map - something lawmakers used to do themselves.

Ida:  The state Auditor's office worked for months to winnow the group of applicants from thousands to 60. But even as the final 14 members are being selected, voters will decide Tuesday whether the group ever meets.   Prop. 20 would expand the commission's power to include re-drawing Congressional District lines. 

Marianne: Prop. 27 would abolish the commission and put redistricting back in the hands of the legislature.

David Pacheco is President of AARP California. He says people shouldn't trust politicians with this job.

"They meet behind closed doors, make backroom deals, they gerrymander districts that benefit both political parties. In doing this they make it easier for their friends in Congress to get re-elected even when they don't do their jobs."

Film nat sound of "gerrymandering"

Ida: This is from a documentary called "Gerrymandering." It recently premiered at Sacramento's Crest theatre.

Marianne: So here's where it gets a little tricky.  The supporters of prop 20

Ida:  Are also the opponents of prop 27.

Marianne:  One of those people is Governor Schwarzenegger.  The redistricting commission is one of his proudest accomplishments, and he used the premiere of the Gerrymandering documentary as a campaign event:

"So today I'm officially endorsing prop. 20, and for you to vote no on prop. 27. Clapping fades."

Marianne: Schwarzenegger says gerrymandering contributes to hyper partisanship:

"To have the legislators involved in drawing the district lines, it's the worst thing that can happen and that's why we see now, the parties, the democrats and republicans growing further and further apart."

Ida:    But the whole debate over who should draw the lines is also divisive.  Democratic Assemblyman Sandre Swanson defends lawmakers' ability to do the job.

"So I take a little offense to the notion that legislators that are elected by the people of California can't stand in good judgment on questions of reapportionment."

Marianne:   At a recent legislative hearing, Former Democratic state lawmaker Charles Murray said he's concerned the commission isn't accountable to voters:

"All of you members of the legislature have constituents and people that can come to your office and if they're really upset they can picket your house.  You're not going to be able to do that with any of the members of this magic 14 member commission."

Ida: Murray also points out that prop 20 does more than expand the commission.  It also contains new criteria for drawing the lines, including consideration of economic interests.

Ida: The organizations paying for these measures are quite different.

Marianne: Prop. 20 has been funded largely by a Stanford University physicist named Charles T. Munger Jr. He was also a major backer of the ballot measure that created the redistricting commission in the first place. 

Ida: And prop 27 is being funded largely by unions and Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Marianne: Thirteen states have commissions directly involved in the redistricting process-

Ida: but none is quite like California's citizens' commission.  So - what happens if both measures pass?

Marianne:  The Secretary of State's office says the one with the most votes wins.

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