Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Just Possibly

'California Insider' blogger Dan Weintraub weighs in on the heated response to the Rose study. I'm not willing to go quite as far as Weintraub in supporting 77 as fair redistricting proposal (it is still flawed), but it's hard to arge that it is hated by partisans on both sides.

Two things his post bring up (somewhat by inference), however, are worth noting.

First, congressional opposition to redistricting reform can fairly be described as non-partisan. No federal elected wants to admit that states retain control over certain, key factors in their political lives. File this under "Federalism Schmederalism" ideals discussed earlier today.

Second, several papers/bloggers note the study's finding that were brother-of-Demo-redistricting-guru-Michael-Berman Congressman Howard Berman's SFV congressional district redrawn under 77, it would be a majority Latino district.

Few papers/bloggers push that statement further, other than to comment, as Weintraub dows, that Berman's current distrct was drawn to safeguard Howard - cracking the Latinos right out of the picture. The implication, of course, is that Berman couldn't carry the Latino vote.

Feel free to ponder the broader implications of this idea to representative democracy - Phoblog's other favorite topic.


Anonymous said...

Lok at it the other way. Is having Latino's packed into one district to that group's benefit?

In this instance, given population growth patterns, concentration would serve to dilute Latino voting strength overall.

Anonymous said...

No, I get that, thanks. My point is that I'm asking y'all to look past that particular demographic fact and into greater questions of representation. Can only a Latino represent a Latino? Are all Latino residents of the San Fernando Valley united in their needs and views?

Even if those answers could be answered "yes" for now, eventually, my bet is, they won't be.

How do we plan for the future of an entire state, beyond the current needs of a forced-fragmented society?

Anonymous said...

Contrary to Costa's assertion otherwise, absolutely nothing in Prop. 77 guarantees that a redrawn San Fernando Valley district would be drawn as a majority Latino district. And certainly, the use of 5 year old data doesn't help things either.

The voting rights act is properly focused on the greater question of representation, by striving to ensure that the Latino electorate, like other parts of the general electorate have an equal opportunity to participate in the political process.

The vra is not about guaranteeing outcomes or guaranteeing the election of a candidate of a particular race, but instead to ensure that a protected group's population isn't cracked and packed thus diluting their voting strength, as happened in the 2001 redistricting.

Accordingly, the vra should be properly focused on the race of the electorate (and their voting patterns, if any), and not necessarily the race of the elected officials.

In looking at the question of repressentation, I think it's helpful looking at the issue from a slightly different perspective by asking why Berman felt compelled to hack sfv Latinos in half if the needs or voting patterns weren't likely to manifest in some form of a Latino voting bloc.

Do I think Latino representative are always the best representatives? Nope. Not at all. But I'd like to leave that up to the Latino voters in a district to decide, and not some plan between brothers that hacks a community in half.

just some thoughts...

Anonymous said...

I don't think Costa has said anything one way or the other on the SFV district.

My over-arching question remains: was a community hacked in half? Does ethnicity = a cognziable community of similarly interested voters? Frequently, it does. But not always. Latinos are already the plurality in Los Angeles - when they become the majority or the overwhemlming majority - how will their community be defined then? How will anyone's? It can be a dangerous shorthand that only works for a limited period of any one group's history.

An excellent example of this is the VRA's application to Latinos. When it was developed, it primarily contemplated African Americans. As each ethnic group in an area reaches a level of political power, it will seek to employ the tools developed by those who came before it.

In the SFV, about which I'm no demographic expert, the faces are rapidly changing.

And Prop 77 - or any redistricting reform, for that matter - is properly focused on redistricting over the next 100 years not the next 4 or 10 years.

Anonymous said...


I believe redistricting reform, in some fashion, is needed, one that ensures vra protections remain in place. Btw, Costa has said as much about Latinos in the sfv somewhere. I'll look it up.

on the representation issue....

I agree with your "Frequently, it does. But not always" comment.

Built within the vra is consideration of the context in which an alleged hacking occurs. If a court says Latinos or African Americans have reached a stage in their political development (not always dependent only on demographic growth...i.e. lots of cities with at-large cities/school districts that have a majority population that is Latino, over 18, and are citizens that have never been able to break through the power structure to get elected--- ever) then, surely, the types of protections envisioned by the vra aren't necessary for that region/state/locality because there already exists equal opportunity to participate in the political process.