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share save 120 16 Flaps California Morning Collection: August 15, 2011
CaliforniaStateCapitol Flaps California Morning Collection: August 15, 2011

California’s Capitol

Watch out Californians, the California Legislature is back in session this morning after a month’s long summer hiatus.
The Legislature returns from a month-long summer recess this week with hundreds of bills, many of them highly controversial, still awaiting action before the Sept. 9 adjournment.

The recess itself was unusual, since in recent years the Legislature has remained in session through the summer due to budget stalemates. This year, with a budget – albeit a very shaky one – in place, the Capitol’s denizens can concentrate on bills.

That means renewing traditional end-of-session follies. Hundreds of lobbyists will battle over high- dollar issues, and legislators will cash in with fundraising events – an average of at least five every working day.

Fittingly, perhaps, the Legislature’s return coincides with the supposedly final vote of the new Citizens Redistricting Commission on legislative and congressional maps for the 2012 elections and beyond.

New maps mean some incumbents will be fighting for their political lives next year while others will be maneuvering to ascend the political food chain, thus making late-session campaign fundraising even more frantic than usual.

Late-session bills tend to be controversial and/or involve taking money from someone and giving it to someone else, which is fertile ground for political fundraising.

Plus, an added bonus today, with the above referenced California Citizen’s Redistricting Commission approving final legislative and congressional maps. The meeting starts at 9 AM.

OK, on to the links…..

For Some, Redistricting is Splitsville

Even with testimony from the public and formal guidelines written into law, California’s first-ever citizens redistricting effort has found no easy answers to the question, “What is a community?”

And so, in the statewide maps being certified Monday morning, some will see their communities split between political districts. Others will be lumped together with communities with which they think they have nothing in common.

The complexity and controversy of shaping political maps based, when possible, on community boundaries has been a dominant theme of the dozens of meetings and decisions made by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.

On Monday morning’s edition of The California Report, we take a look at how some of those decisions have left some grumbling in different parts of the state, while commissioners believe the new maps reflect a thoughtful and careful deference to the needs of the public.

Mike Ward: Redistricting Panel Broke Law

A member of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission believes that the commission broke the law, failed to uphold an open and transparent decision-making process and used political motives in drawing California’s new state and federal legislative districts, according to an exclusive, in-depth interview with CalWatchDog.com.

“This commission simply traded the partisan, backroom gerrymandering by the Legislature for partisan, backroom gerrymandering by average citizens,” Commissioner Mike Ward said in an interview with CalWatchDog.com on Sunday night. “This commission became the Citizens Smoke-Filled Room, where average citizen commissioners engaged in dinner-table deals and partisan gerrymandering — the very problems that this commission was supposed to prevent.”

Ward, who was the lone member of the commission to oppose all of the commission’s proposed maps at its July 29 meeting, will outline his opposition in a detailed statement to be delivered at the commission’s press conference later today. An advance copy of the commissioner’s remarks was obtained exclusively by CalWatchDog.com and is reprinted below.

Life after politics for O’Connell

Former state superintendent of public instruction and longtime Ventura County lawmaker Jack O’Connell seems to be settling into life after politics. I visited him yesterday in his Sacramento office at School Innovations & Advocacy, the national education consulting firm where he serves as “chief education officer.”

Interesting for Jack saying he didn’t miss the zoo. For someone who taught continuation high school, for what less than two years, before sitting at a card table in a gerrymandered Democratic districts to win the first of many political jobs, he should not be so dismissive. Wouldn’t you think?

Have a wonderful morning!

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