Redrawing the lines: The controversy behind Proposition 27


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The American Association of Retired Persons, American Civil Liberties Union and the League of Women Voters are among the chorus coming out against Proposition 27.

In 2008, voters decided to take the power to draw voting districts away from politicians and put them in the hands of an independent 14-member commission. Passage of Proposition 27 would overturn that decision and give redistricting responsibilities back to legislators.

Clarissa Woo of the ACLU believes letting legislators make the call is not good governance.

“Allowing lawmakers to draw their own district lines is a conflict of interest that is hard to resist abusing,” Woo said.

Janis Hirohama of the League of Women Voters echoed that complaint.

“We had politicians carving up communities and neighborhoods to suit their own interests,” Hirohama said.

Many proponents of Proposition 27 are calling the new citizen commission an expensive add-on during a state budget crisis. Environmental groups, including the California League of Conservation Voters, are supporting it for entirely different reasons.

Mark Murray of Californians Against Waste said creating districts with secure seats for incumbents is crucial in passing environmental legislation.

“When Democrats are in a district that is considered politically safe, they tend to vote and support environmental policies,” Murray said. “When Democrats are in a competitive district, they tend to not support environmental policies as well.”

And while Murray concedes he understands the good governance argument from groups like the ACLU, he said that having every district be competitive is not good for public policy, especially environmental policy.

But opponents see the independent commission as more diverse than the legislature and less likely to break up communities.

“Right now, it’s polling really close,” Woo said.

Both sides are hoping people will pay more attention to a proposition that is tended to be overlooked.

Proposition 27 advocates say re-districting should be in hands of state legislature


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It is why Daniel Lowenstein, University of California, Los Angeles law professor and former chairman of California for Fair Political Practices Commission, supports Proposition 27. If passed, the proposition would disband the independent commission that is currently scheduled to draw up state senate and assembly boundaries. Proposition 27 would also prevent the independent commission from drawing the United States congressional district lines.

Californians passed Proposition 11 in 2008, which originally established this commission to draw state lines. Proposition 20, on next Tuesday’s ballot, would extend the jurisdiction of the commission to include doing congressional lines.

Proposition 20 and Proposition 27 directly oppose each other.