California Citizens Redistricting Commission,  Flap's California Morning Collection

Flap’s California Morning Collection: August 1, 2011

A morning collection of links and comments about my home, California.

As everyone, especially the POLS and their consultants in Sacramento wait for the final Legislative and Congressional Maps, the California Legislature continues its summer recess. Later today I will post the tentative maps for Ventura County’s new State Assembly and State Senate districts which are both less GOP dominated. I had the latest Ventura County Congressional District map here.

On to the links…..

Redistricting: The Line Dancing Ends

There are two, and only two, options left at this point for the political districts in which Californians will reside for the next decade: the current maps from the state’s citizens redistricting panel or as-yet-to-exist maps drawn by judges.

And that second option — judicial intervention — only will happen if opponents prevail in court, the voters step in, or a subset of the 14 commissioners change their vote on August 15.

On Friday morning, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission ended months of debate, discussion, and drawing with conditional approval of district lines for the Legislature, Congress, and the state Board of Equalization.

In 17 days, the commission will reconvene to formally certify the maps, the final step of the process laid out by voter-approved initiatives in 2008 and 2010.

“The commission is confident that these maps will prevail will against any and all legal challenges,” said commissioner Connie Galambos Malloy. “We also believe that the new districts will be upheld in the court of public opinion.”

Those two tests are, of course, huge. Already, political and interest group forces are mulling over challenges to the independently drawn maps — the first redistricting process in California history to be conducted largely in public with statewide hearings and thousands of citizen suggestions.

You’ve got a few different options for viewing the maps. The commission’s own web-based map system allows you to see your own state and congressional district by typing in an address; it also uses Google’s satellite maps to allow you to zoom in to see how the lines cross streets, bridges, and beaches.

For political junkies, there are two very good sites that offer partisan, ethnic, and incumbent information: the Democratic consulting firm of Redistricting Partners and the GOP firm Meridian Pacific. These are the guys most reporters have turned to for help in understanding the political implications, given that the commission did not use incumbent and political party information.

There’s also the website of the Rose Institute at Claremont McKenna College, whose map allows you to toggle between draft maps, the existing political maps (drawn in 2001), and the maps submitted by several interest groups.

Calif. poised to OK political donations via text

Donors with fat checkbooks have long been the A-listers in political campaigns.

But the 2012 election cycle may extend membership in that gilded group to small donors – and their cell phones.

California is poised to become the first state to allow residents to donate to a state or local political campaign on their cell phones, an idea that election officials say could bring millions of voters of all economic levels into the campaign donor club.

The state’s Fair Political Practices Commission, which enforces political campaign laws, is backing the idea, which is on track to be approved by October and could be in force by the 2012 elections.

“Sounds like a good idea to me,” said Gov. Jerry Brown, adding his support to the proposal.

The plan would make donating any amount to a state or local campaign as easy as texting a donation to a disaster relief fund or a charity, said FPPC Chair Ann Ravel.

“The goal is democratizing the campaign process – making sure that people at every level are more involved in politics,” Ravel said.

FPPC Executive Director Roman Porter agrees: “If we can get more people to engage in political campaigns – even if they’re giving just $5 – they’re more likely to want to learn about what’s happening with their candidate. And they’re more likely to go out and vote.”

Get your 4G enabled phones, ready – along with your e-Starbucks card!

Dan Walters: New report disparages legislative term limits

A new report by the Los Angeles-based Center for Governmental Studies typifies the genre, saying that the term limit ballot measure adopted by voters in 1990 “has failed to achieve its original purposes, and has triggered additional problems as well.”

The report found that term limits has brought more men and women with local government experience to the Capitol, that most of them pursue their political careers elsewhere after being “termed-out,” and that legislators are more dependent on lobbyists and staff than they used to be.

The report presents what one might term the intellectual case against term limits and clearly touts a pending ballot measure that would exchange the current limits, six years in the Assembly and eight in the Senate, for a single 12-year limit on all legislative service.

That would not be an unreasonable modification, but if term limits are as terrible as their critics contend, why not ask voters to scrap them altogether? Because voters still like term limits, seeing them as a bulwark against self-dealing professional politicians.

Indeed, given the chance, voters probably would de-professionalize the Capitol even more. A recent USC/Los Angeles Times poll found that two-thirds would favor reducing the Legislature to a part-time body.

The question, however, remains: Have term limits improved or damaged the Legislature’s effectiveness? And it’s truly impossible to answer definitively because other concurrent factors, such as gerrymandered legislative districts, have played roles.

Enjoy your morning!