Op-Ed: Fair and independent redistricting? Los Angeles County does it already.
SACRAMENTO – Sacramento, the seat of the state Legislature, is the epicenter of California’s political, media, and political-communications battles over redistricting – and it happens to be the first place where the public can easily and independently determine whether the state should be redrawn in a way that’s fair, and if it has to be redrawn at all.
So who does it matter?
The answer is simple – the voters. And that’s why state legislative redistricting has been called the “most democratic” form of government. The people are calling for it, they’ve seen it, and they’ve had to sit through years of political finger-pointing and political maneuvering after the politicians failed to draw their districts.
We’ve seen it happen at a time when redistricting has become a top legislative priority. This past cycle, the issue was top of mind with voters who elected to represent themselves in the Legislature. They had no choice but to pass the redistricting bill through the General Assembly, and for the first time ever, the California Redistricting Compact, the process for drawing new district boundaries, was put in place to make sure the most powerful politicians in the state were drawn together – and the only way to do that is to go to the voters and let them decide.
This is how the Legislature should work.
But it’s not working.
The governor’s lawyers and staff have spent months and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills defending the redistricting bill – fighting it out in court, even.
Despite the fact there was broad support from Californians for the bill, the legal battle is costing us more than $10 million a year, with over a thousand lawyers involved, and there just isn’t public support for this expensive and potentially divisive political fight.
The process by which the governor could have gone about the process of drawing new legislative districts was already fairly easy and transparent. The Assembly had already acted on a proposal by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Fair Oaks, that was agreed upon by lawmakers.
Here’s the way it works: Blumenfield’s proposal called for creating an independent citizens’ commission on redistricting, which had the power to draw new district lines independent of