Thursday, September 29, 2005

Triple-Dog Dare

The Rose Institute issues a press release today effectively daring Prop. 77 opponents to call UC Berkeley and USC fronts for the Republican Party.

Let's see if anyone bites.

Update: Here's the full report.


doughnut70 said...

If someone really wants a good example of how much the Rose Institute is nothing but a shill for the Republican Party, all you have to do is read their press release and then read the USC study.

The most telling thing in the whole press release was when Doug Johnson made his statement that "The numbers show that neither party will benefit from this measure, but the voters clearly will" in his official capacity as a spokesman with tax exempt organization. "Gee, I wonder how he's voting".

Again it is not just the comment itself that is outrageous, it is that is not a scholarly comment coming from what is supposed to be a spokesman for an academic study done by an institution of higher learning. That statement was political commercial and it is way over the line. If Johnson wants to go to work for the "Yes on 77" campaign, let them pay him.

Beyond that not insignificant point, if you read the USC study, the press release clearly misrepresents what is said in the study and does so in a way that attempts to reinforce the point the Rose Institute wanted to make.

They dodge any mention of possible problems with the initiative and take a quote out of context to try and reinforce their own study.

That might be acceptable if they were supposed to be a partisan Republican organization, but again, they are supposedly a nonpartisan think tank without an agenda and have been soliciting donations in that guise. It's just outrageous.

Don't misunderstand me, the USC study was not anti-77. In fact in some ways it did reinforce some of the points that supporters had made. But it clearly was very critical in some areas and at best I think it would be considered a neutral report by any unbiased observer. It laid out positives and negatives the way an academic report is supposed to and let readers by and large draw their own conclusions.

For the Rose Institute to issue a two press release making it look like they are gloating because USC's report validated their own findings is not only inaccurate in terms of what is in the report, but it's also bordering on fraud coming from an academic institution. You are not supposed to sell in that role, you are supposed to educate and make sure that subtleties are noticed. The Rose Institute clearly failed and I think raised the question again (as it has been many times in years past) as to whether or not they are truly an academic organization. As I keep coming back to, it is very telling that they didn't release a long commentary about the other two reports and add to the general sum of academic knowledge on the subject. Instead they issues a brief press release that clearly was written for political impact.

As to the USC report itself, mong the points that the study made that are not mentioned anywhere in the press release, was the fact that there was currently no Reapportionment Commission structured exactly like California's would be if 77 passed, meaning that it is very hard to judge the impact of the commission. They clearly did not want to be seen as taking a firm stand on what the outcome of the measure would be if it passed.

USC went on to say that experience from other states shows that Reapportionment Commissions are just as likely to be viewed as partisan and unfair as legislative reapportionment and they also mentioned that there have been just as many lawsuits challenging plans by commissions as there have been challenging plans by lawmakers. A strong statement when so many people are looking for a panacea with a commission that might be free from controversy.

USC makes a nod at academic fairness by saying that recently, court ordered reapportionments in California have generally been regarded as fairer than legislative ones, but they are not aggressive in making that point and intentionally stayed away from examing court reapportionments in other states which have been in many cases widely criticized. I think they clearly punted on an outcome they are not sure about.

But then they went on to perhaps the most significant point in the measure. The USC study talks about the possible impact of new requirements the measure adds to the process of drawing districts and the potential for negative impact that those requirements could have, especially on minority voters.

The USC study also say that the requirements will have a limiting role on the stated goal of creating more competitive districts but that it is hard to quantify how limiting that role will be, because a lot will depend on how the judges interpret those requirements.

Again if the Rose Institute were truly an academic institution instead of a partisan mouthpiece, all of those things would have been discussed in detail. Instead they release a two page press release claiming victory and put the other school in the position of explaining why their report was not a victory for either side.

Just so anyone reading this understands what the compactness requirement is and how it plays out in the reapportionment process, let me try and explain the problem.

First, the way you do a gerrymander is that you put as many voters of the other party in one district as is possible. Then you give your party just enough votes to win in as many districts as possible thus guaranteeing that you have control of the legislative body.

For example if you had a group of one hundred voters of whom fifty were members of each party and you had to divide these voters into ten districts, you could do so in such a way that one party would have more votes in eight of the districts by making two of the districts one hundred percent members of the other party.

This comes into play in redistricting because of civil rights laws that mandate ensuring that minorities are not discriminated against in the process.

Many years ago Republicans hit on the idea of complying aggressively with these requirements so that they packed every Democratic voter they could into a few minority districts.

In a lot of states, this gave minorities more elected officials, but gave the Republicans majority control of every legislative body at the same time.

Court decisions started to limit this tool, but the compactness requirement in Prop 77 is an attempt to get around court rulings and play the same game and that is one of the reasons that most people who have looked at this measure believe Republicans will make huge gains if the measure passes.

Unlike previous judicial reapportionments, this measure will mandate requirements that are in and of themselves harmful to the Democratic party.

It was pointed out in the USC study that compactness in this case could directly contribute to a gerrymander.

Anyway, we all have our beliefs about different groups and organizations based on what we have seen, but as far as I am concerned, someone needs to get over to Claremont with a large bag of peanuts because angry Republicans are about to overrun the school.

Anonymous said...

Nice spin control. Suspecting someone would attempt to distort the issue, I used direct quotes from all sources (unlike your spin).

I hope this debate inspires people to read both reports, then make their own decision. The quotes are clear, no matter how hard anyone tries to spin them.

And anyone who reads the reports will recognize the absurdity of the partisanship charges that those who benefit from the statis quo have made against the Rose, and have had rejected, for over 25 years.

cd said...

Doughnut70 - oh, where to start. You opening attack just doesn't make sense for one thing. How saying neither party will win is an obvious GOP ploy works out logically is beyond me.

Also - you do know that there are many, many really big Republicans who are dead set against this measure, right? The Republican Congressional Delegation doesn't love it - David Dreier doesn't love it, specifically.

Republicans harldy walk away with the store under this plan. They may - *may* gain a few seats, but Dems won't lose their majority. Specific Dems may lose their place in the majority, but that's about it.

Also - your attempt to explain how one gerrymanders a map is incomplete. There are many ways to screw many kinds and categories of voters. Our current maps gerrymandered the state to protect the prevailing balance of power and the incumbants and their heirs. The Reeps didn't fight to th death for fear of losing more seats - so for them, not gaining any seemed like a good deal.

The notion that a compactness requirement is a code word for a legalized gerrymander is ridiculous.

Also - no plan violating the FEDERAL Voting Rights Act would survive. This is because, as you might have learned, FEDERAL law is superior to STATE law, and STATE law can't undermine FEDERAL law. Any whiff of VRA-tampering would get 77 in front of a federal judge so fast it might lose a 7 on the way. And that part of it would be tossed out immediately.

IF, of course, that were its intended effect or consequence.

You are fundamentally confusing compactness with packing. Compactness says Dana Rohrabacher should NOT represent people in both Orange County and on the Palos Verdes Peninsula and that no district should stretch from Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz. Compactness means I have at least some passing connection to the other residents of my district: some kind of common interest based on geography, existing political subdivisions, and common sense.

Packing can be done even in a non-compact district. In fact, packed districts are frequently non-compact because they - here's the other term - crack undesireables out of other districts and those people have to go somewhere.

Your misuse of basic redistricting terms confuses the issue unfairly and makes accusations that are both false and jurisprudentially impossible.

I'll look more closely at the various reports in a separate post, but for now, let me leave you and everyone else with this: The Rose Institute - and many of those who lead it - may have, in the past, been involved - ON THEIR OWN TIME - with partisan activities. As have, say, everyone at Berkeley, ever. But so what? Why on earth should civic activism be held against anyone? I'm sickeningly involved in Democratic Party politics, but should I ever decide to actually practice law and end up a judge, you can bet your sweet ass I'll be able to spank Dems as easily as Rs from the bench. Part of me will even enjoy it.

The Rose Institute is a mouthpiece for no one. And, if you'd care to look past some recent spin to the contrary, it's governing board has had some pretty big time Dems (see e.g.: Eu, March Fong; UNRUH, JESSE).

In FOUR YEARS of working at the Rose Institute, no one ever said to me: find this result, use this number, say these words because our Republican backers need you to find, use, say it. And I assure you, I was more than just a low-level, disengaged employee.

If you could, try to keep your attacks to the data and facts available, and don't base them on old rumors and old history that really are no longer relevant. It's a far different world in Claremont.

ajit said...

I think that the overall idea that Prop 77 would create more competitive districts, to me, is probably the most intuitively obvious thing that anyone could say. In basic terms, any sort of system would be much better at creating competitive districts than the one that we currently have, duh. If anyone disagrees with that, then you seriously need to question your conceptions of elected officials. Nonetheless, the fact that it creates more competitive districts isn't enough for me to say that this would be a valuable piece of reform - as this could be done through a number of different, and possibly more democratic methods, like even an independent citizens' commission or something of the like.

I personally really value communities of interest and care at least a little bit about competitiveness. I also think that the Rose Institute sort of stepped over the larger issue of mid-decade redistricting. Yes, they say that we have done it before, but when it was court mandated, not when it was special interest (initiative) mandated. This is a very very big difference, especially since the initiative process is becoming more and more dominated by monied interests. This admission of a mid-decade redistricting throught the initiative process opens up a Pandora's box that could lead to dozens of initiatives circulated every time some group is pissed off about a redistricting. Clearly though, the idea that we need to reform now is part of a power grab by Republicans, who simply say, well the system is broken and needs fixing now, while we have a Republican Governor and Democratic Legislature. A coincidence of timing? I think not.

Lastly, there is the idea that the voters should be the ones who decide the legitimacy of the boundaries. This is probably the worst idea of the initiative - as once again, factions can easily distort the process and cost us more in time and resources. If the voters reject the plan, it goes to the Special Masters again, and again and again....

At least Costa put nesting in there though, although what will happen is we will have to identical legislative bodies (not that they differ much now anyways). But this make it a lot easier for voters to know who their legislators are, which far outweighs the consequences.

Overall though, there is still much to be desired in real reform, as this will change some things, but also has a number of problems.

cd said...

ajit - your concerns are exactly why I have yet to say "vote for it" or even decided to vote for it myself.

Ted Costa really f*cked up a chance to do something good for a change. The mid-decade provision was wholly unnecessary and does give some ammo to the "this is a Reep power grab" argument - though the fact remains, this is a Demo controlled legislature and will be for the foreseeable future (unless the CA GOP can get its act together, which it won't).

And the thing that never gets discussed - that goofy voter approval thing - is a real stinker. But this probably won't pass anyway because too many power-types are against it - Dem AND Reep.

Anonymous said...

ajit -

Your point about competitiveness being only one element of reform is right on target.

But your data is a bit off about the mid-decade redistricting. In 1982, the voters signed signatures, qualified a referendum, and rejected the districts drawn by the legislature. The 1980s mid-decade redistricting was a voter-drive mid-decade, just like Prop 77, not a court-ordered redrawing.

Your point about communities of interest is also a good point for voters to consider.

The question you raise, of whether this is the right reform for CA, or should voters hope for a 2nd chance at reform before the incumbents get to draw again in 2011, is exactly the question that the Rose Report raises in our conclusion -- that's the question that the voters must decide.

doughnut70 said...

Well, I would have to write another book to respond to all of this and since I have already written one, I will try and limit myself to a few points.

First, the Rose Institute was created specifically by a partisan Republican to help the Republican party in its fight against earlier Democratic redistricting proposals. So it's history is not that of a typical non partisan academic organization. Frankly the Hoover Institute probably qualifies as more nonpartisan.

To try and pass the Rose Institute off as a non partisan organization to me is misleading and wrong as I stated. Obviously some people on this site have personal ties and feel differently. That is their perogative, but I don't want to let the history of the Rose Institute not be known, when voters evaluate their report.

As to the very defensive comment about not worrying about what people do in their off hours, it's not what those people do in their off hours that draws my skepticism, it's the history of the organization itself and of course the history of the majority its funding. If there is anything people should have learned about politics in the last twenty years, it's that you cannot put too much trust in a title or an institution. Just as too many people just wanted to take the President's word about what was going on in Iraq, too many people take an academic institutions report at face value without knowing it's history. You have to ask quesitons and do follow up.

Moving on to the report itself, on the compactness requirement the USC Study identified it specifically as a potential problem. I merely referred to their comments and expressed concerns.

In spite of CD's comment that Federal Voting Rights Laws will stop abuses, I think the concern is very real and her hope in the court system doesn't square with reality, because these abuses which the USC report expresses concern over have already happened in several other states.

In some cases the courts have stepped in to stop abuses and in others they have ignored the problems. Such is the nature of our judicial system and for Democrats to trust their political future in the State of California to the courts system is a little too dicey for my taste.

As for my opening remark about Mr. Johnson's comment, in my opinion it was clearly aimed at convincing California voters that the measure was a good thing. He directly said that they would benefit by the measure's passage. What could be more partisan than that.

Since the Rose Institute cannot endorse or oppose a ballot measure, I thought the comment was unprofessional at best and using a nonprofit academic organization to hide a partisan agenda at worst.

If Mr. Johnson wants to work as a flack for the "Yes on 77" campaign, I have no problem with it. But be open about it. Don't claim to be an unbiased academician analyzing the impact of a ballot measure and then state conclusively that the controversial ballot measure is good for the people of California. That's a judgement that they are supposed to make, not him, at least if he has any sense of professionalism.

By the way, perhaps Mr. Johnson would like to enlighten the readers of this blog as to what charges have supposedly been rejected and by whom about the Rose Institute for the past twenty five years.

Since I remember some of the past complaints about the Institute I am sure such a report would be enlightening for anyone unaware of their history and he could probably explain his comment more fairly than I could (hopefully he will include specifics since he claims to take pride in that).

I could go on and on, but as I said at the start, I don't want to write a book and this may already qualify at least as a paperback version.

The bottom line is that almost everyone who follows poltiics agrees that there are some substantial problems with the reapportionment process and some reforms are clearly needed.

However, because reapportionment has such a huge impact over the entire political process, those reforms have to be implemented carefully.

Some activists who are unhappy with the current political division in this state are trying to take advantage of the need for reform to change the rules. Worst of all they are doing so in a way that has hidden benefits for their side of the battle which is what the people of California have to beware of.

This measure does open up the potential for a gerrymander for either side hidden under the sanction of judicial robes(Which is one of the reasons some Republican elected officials also oppose the measure becase they worry about a gerrymander going the other way) but since conservatives are a minority in this state, many of them are willing to role the dice and sadly they have convinced the Governor to go along.

The question in this election is whether or not the people of California are willing to give them that chance and also whether or not front groups can take advantage of the people's natural desire for fairness to con voters into supporting a measure that will have hidden outcomes and consequences. We shall see!

Oh, one other point. I haven't noticed the Rose Institute releasing their prediction of what the entire map would look like. I have simply seen comments on it's impact on a couple of districts. Maybe since they claim to be true academics, they could release their research in it's entirety and let people see for themselves where the Rose Institute thinks they will wind up if the plan passes.

Anonymous said...


To answer your question:

24 years ago (yes, partisan defenders of gerrymandering have been ranting about the Rose for that long) Senator Roberti put his name on a complaint charging that Claremont McKenna College was essentially a Republican front. A multi-year investigation completely exonerated CMC and the Rose Institute of any improper or partisan ties.

Can you imagine the reaction if such an investigation were lauched toward a think-tank that tended to be more in line with the current statis quo?

So the readers can listen to anonymous charges, or readers can believe the extensive official investigation.

My hope? That readers will read the reports and make their own decisions, instead of listening to spinsters who don't even use direct quotes. CD has kindly provided links to everything.

BTW, if that post is "limit myself to a few points," how long is the long version?

doughnut70 said...

The long version is too long, but a reader can see that the subject is emotional for people involved in politics.

As for Senator Roberti's complaint (and there have been several others) you might want to give a few examples of his specific charges. I don't know that I would consider the results as an exoneration, but that's just me.

But in the end, it's as you said, voters have to make the decision and hopefully everyone will read the reports in detail and study the issue (Particularly read their ballot arguments) and then make their decisions. If that happens, I will be satisfied with the results.

cd said...

Here's what I don't get doughnut70. You say: "As for my opening remark about Mr. Johnson's comment, in my opinion it was clearly aimed at convincing California voters that the measure was a good thing. He directly said that they would benefit by the measure's passage. What could be more partisan than that."

The only thing that makes it "partisan" to you is that it agrees with the "yes" people - sort of. It's the opinoin of an academic who, after having evaluating the proposal and comparing to the status quo, other ideas, other states, other systems, and likely his own personal experience with redistricting in CA and other states, decided that this proposal would benefit California. That's not partisan. That's research results. Others may disagree. That's fine. Maybe their research found something different.

But expressing the results of an evaluation, the process of which is fully open for public inspection, doesn't make someone a partisan hack. Seriously, i just don't get your logic.

I'll be getting on the USC/RISLOG angle later . . . .

Anonymous said...

Can someone post a link to the USC report?

I used to think that redistricting reform was unnecessary and it's a political issue that should be left to the political process. If a party wanted a change, then they should work their butts off in the field and actually change voters' minds or register new voters in hostile districts.

After reviewing 2004 election returns and seeing that many races (for Congress, the Assembly and the State Senate) were won with more than 60% of the vote (and in my own district by even larger margins without much effort by the successful candidate) I began to think that perhaps some reform is needed. But researching Prop. 77 has only convinced me that this is not the answer.

Ted Costa had a chance to do some good, you're right CD, but I don't trust him to do it, either. Redistricting "reform" has been a pet project of his for years, in one form or another. And yet, he never quite seems to get it right. And I do believe that Mr. Costa is pretty non-(or maybe anti-) partisan. On the phone with me he called the Republican Secretary of State a "son of a bitch." But he doesn't do it right. He wants to take power from the legislature for the sake of taking power from the legislature. For me that's not a good enough reason.

The problem with redistricting is the nature of redistricting itself. It is truly a zero sum game - if you take from one district, you have to give to another. You can create the perfect district, but only at the expense of most other districts. The criteria for redistricting can cut both ways. In order to make one community compact, you may have to take from another community. How do you define communities of interest? By economics? By race? By education? By party? Selecting one can cut harsh lines through the others. Compactness essentially means nothing to the average voter on the ground. What matter does it make to the voter if the district stretches for miles or is perfectly round? Sure it might matter to the candidate, but in the voter's everday life, it doesn't matter until election day. (Yeah, I'm consciously ignoring counterarguments about voters needing to know well in advance who their candidates are).

And I'm particularly concerned about the panel of retired judges called for in Prop. 77. Unfortunately, much of the reactionary public are just that: reactionary. And they're sheep. There's a great deal of sentiment now against so-called "activist" judges, on both sides of the aisle. The judiciary is taking a hit in the eyes of the public and that's not a good thing. More than the other branches, the judiciary needs to maintain legitimacy. I fear, and perhaps this is a bit overblown or unfounded, that the panel might come up with a plan that happens to screw one side or the other just a little. Then the redistricting losers can make political hay out of the fact that these "activist" judges are partisan players. (The average voter will pay no mind to the fact that they're retired from the bench.) This is not good for the judicial branch.

I'll just close by reiterating that perhaps redistricting reform is needed, but I don't believe that Prop. 77 is the answer, even if it makes a few more districts "competitive."

cd said...

USC link - provided in the Rose press release:

doughnut70 said...

I am sorry you don't see the problem with a spokesman for an academic institution stating that a ballot measure is (without any other qualification whatsoever) good for the people of the State of California.

There are a lot of reasons I believe the statement was inappropriate. One reason is that it takes time and effort for a regular citizen to hold a press conference and get coverage for their views and Mr Johnson received advantages as the employee of a tax exempt organization that other people do not have.

If Christina Dominguez for example wanted to give her opinion on this issue she would have to find a way to get that message out (perhaps by using this blog for example). So would anyone else on either side of the issue. That is part of the political system. Mr Johnson went into the Press Conference with all of the prestige of the Rose Institute, but also with the financial advantages they have through their tax exemption. When you take on the benefits of a tax exempt organization, you also take on some restrictions. One of them is no active campaigning and that is what I think his statement was.

Beyond my problems with Mr. Johnson, I am also unhappy that the organization itself so far as I know, has also not yet released the complete set of district maps that show how they think reapportionment would be likely to turn out with a judicial commission. They held the press conference and then didn't let anyone see their work product.

The reason that is important at least to me is twofold. First, it would allow other academics to critique the plan without doing a completely new study. One of the reasons Scientists network as much as they do, is to catch research mistakes.

Even Einstein talked about making obvious mistakes in his work that were caught by a colleague. It could be that there are some mistakes in the data that have not been caught and which would change not only some of the results that the Institute now believes the study shows but maybe even Mr. Johnson's opinion as to what will happen if the measure should pass.

Until they release the results of all of their research, there should certainly be some questions about the studies validity at least in my opinion.

Second, if you are going to make a statement that the measure is good for the people of California as Mr. Johnson did, then voters should be able to see some of the possibilities as to how their individual districts might come out. The press release took two areas that were controversial in the original plan (the Berman and Filner seats) and commented on the changes the Institute believes are likely. But so far as I know they didn't release any information to show the impact on other areas or if there were more logical alternatives given the data they were using. Again, there study would be stronger if the entire product was public and people could see the judgements they made and ask questions if they so chose. Instead, they held a press release and mentioned a few politically powerful examples of possible changes all the while saying that no one really knows what might happen. Seems to me like pandering for votes from unhappy citizens, but that is just my opinion. Of course maybe I missed it and they did release the entire result. If so can you tell me where to find it. Maybe they haven't released it yet, but they will in a few days. Since reapportionment is a pretty complicated process, I will be curious to see if they really have put something forward that would work under current law.

cd said...

Compactness absolutely matters to voters between election days. Again - there's a district here in that cuts from the OC out to the Palos Verdes Peninsula - and getting the OC-based Congressman to pay attention is, from what I hear, a pain in the arse.

Communities of interest are defined by the communities themselves through a long public comment period. It starts with obvious components: cities, neighborhoods, recognizable areas, it goes from geography and works its way out from there. Defining communities of interest - in the best system - comes from the bottom up, not the top down.

Compactness doesn't require taking anything from any community.

Good-government redistricting means scrapping the entire way we look at things and starting over again.

cd said...


If you can't spell my name right, you can't post comments here anymore.

Attention to detail is highly valued here at Lots of typos are excused. Misspelling the blogger's name, however . . . .

cd said...

The full report released has been available via this post since it came out:

doughnut70 said...

That sounds good, but I would say without meaning to offend, that your comments are mostly cliches.

Communities of interest can be defined in however a commission might choose to define them.

The key question on the compactness issue and on the question about keeping cities and counties whole is going to wind up being how the commission chooses to interpret that. If for example they tried not to create all of the Assembly Districts that are in the City of Los Angeles completely within the city limits, they would clearly hurt Democrats (who often pick up parts of LA in their districts) minorities (who would come into conflict with each other and voters who don't really have a lot of similarities (For example, if that criteria were used, the African American portions of Pacoima would probably wind up in a heavily Republican area that would include Northridge and other surrounding parts of Los Angeles, while the City of San Fernando would probably be part of a new Latino district running up through Palmdale. It doesn't have to turn out that way (and maybe would be even better if it did) but that is a very possible scenario which is why I keep asking about the entire plan.

By the way, I am really opening myself up to looking foolish by raising that point because there is a link which says it is to the entire plan, but when I click on it says "file not found". If the whole plan is up yet, I would very much like to read it and I am sure so would a lot of other people.

When someone says they have a model of a likely scenario I certainly would enjoy seeing how it turned out.

doughnut70 said...

Thanks for giving me the link and I apologize if I am going off half cocked, but I still get web page not found when I click on the link and everyone I have talked to has had a similar problem. I have conducted a search for a while and no one I know including one legislator from each party who said they had been trying to get a copy has been able to come up with the complete redistricting plan. I would certainly like to see it if it is available.

cd said...

Something appears to be wrong with the link via the main report page. If you access it off the direct link on the post I gave the link to above (the one marked "here"), you should be able to reach it. Just in case, however, if you check THIS post, I'll stick it on there directly so you can download it. Check in 2 seconds . . .

doughnut70 said...

Thank you very much for posting the report. I appreciate the effort. However I had read the report and somehow missed the comment at the end where the Institute stated that they would not draw a map of what individual districts would look like.

To me that decision eliminates much of the value of the study and in my opinion reinforces the question of political motives. The motives they ascribed to Congressman Berman and the repeating of supposed Washington rumors concerning the reasons Congressman Sherman supported the plan is outrageous without citing a source for the story is outrageous in what is supposed to be a scholarly work.

Any person who follows politics knows that the most common complaint about reapportionment has to do with groups that feel they are not getting their fair share of political power. To criticize the current system, then claim that a new proposed system is better for the voters of California without showing possible outcomes in any detail is still pretty amateurish for a supposedly high class academic organization. At least in my opinion.

doughnut70 said...

I looked over my past comments on this site and realize that I probably came on a little strong, so I would like to apologize to anyone offended, specifically Mr. Johnson. I am still skeptical of the Rose Institute which I think given it's history is justified. However that is just my interpretation of what I have seen from them and it's not fair for me to have delivered what in rereading looks like an ad hominem attack on Mr. johnson. So if you are reading this Mr. Johnson, please consider an apology rendered. My vitriol wasn't intended, it simply happened when I got caught up in the back and forth.

Back to the original subject, I had a friend who read my last quote that asked me why I was so insistent on the need for a complete plan, since there was a reasonable effort at showing what the Institute viewed as possible outcomes. My problems with what the Institute did were twofold. First, not drawing a complete map stops any other person from doublechecking the methodology.

As I stated before, Reapportionment is a complicated subject.

As an example, when the court ordered plan passed in the early 80's, it had so many mistakes in the number of voters in each district that many people were already calling for the lines to be redrawn. The so called Burton gerrymander actually did a much better job of balancing the number of voters in each distict than the court ordered plan. The court plan led to fewer minority districts than there should have been. These types of mistakes which can be made by anyone could in this case affect all of the conclusions in the report.

My other concern is a little more cynical. Becasue everyone thinks they are not getting their fair share of power, releasing an entire map would remind people that a new plan could also leave them with less power. Most people think it is obvious that there group should be better represented and need to understand that isn't the case. Any group of voters will have the potential to lose if a new system is put into place depending on the decisions a commission makes and I think any academic report on the subject has a responsibility to reinforce that fact. JMO!.

Anonymous said...

First off, I don't think the Rose had to map a thing to argue that, under Prop 77, some of the 2001 outrageous districts wouldn't pass muster. Look at them! Absolutely foolish shapes - and yes, even without evaluating the numbers specific to, say, the so-called "ribbon of shame" district, it's clear that it is a hack job.

Redistricting reform will leave one group of people with less power for sure: incumbants. I'm usually the last to argue that all office-holders need the smack-down, but in this case, they do. Other groups currently used to powerful positions they shouldn't really have may suffer to - but thems-the-breaks.

The misinformation out there on basic redistricting concepts is scary. You may be pleased to recognize some of your own talking points in recent CCD op-eds. I'm ashamed that a group of students would buy what the no-campaign is selling whole-cloth.

If you want to vote no on 77, by all means do so. Not only is it part of Schwarzengger's awful attack on basic representative government guarantees, but its mid-decade redraw provision was just plain stupid. The voter approval provision is lame as well. For that I blame "screw you all,here I go again" Costa whose millions have gone to his head. Had he left out the mid-decade redraw, this would be a vastly different discussion.

Of course, the CA Congressional Delegation - BOTH sides - would stil be against it.

But there are many good parts of the proposal as well. This on-going discussion reminds me that I never made good on my promise to review the good-government policy the Rose has championed for years. As soon as I'm home from my current travels, I'll dust that off and get to it.

Under THAT plan, which I have worked with not only in the hypothetical, but also nearly the real world in AZ, you'll be able to see that concepts like "compactness" are only scary if you think about them in our current f-ed up system. If the whole thing is dismantled and rebuilt, it works like a charm.

Anonymous said...

First, this has turned into a nicely reasoned debate -- just what the voters really need to make their decision.

Re: 1980s: the "court-ordered" plan was drawn by Phil Burton -- any errors were made by him and his team, not by the court (as the post seems to imply).

Re: the maps. It does not take the drawing of a complete, perfectly population balanced, set of plans to identify what the results will be. We tested a wide variety of districts and reported on these tests -- not a final plan.

And while there can be considerable debate over the criteria in Prop 77, the one thing that is not debatable is that they are clear: (1) obey the federal rules: comply with the voting rights act and balance populations; (2) split the fewest possible # of counties; (3) split the fewest # of cities; (4) draw compact districts.

There is no discretion in 2, 3 or 4 (except perhaps minor discretion in which formula to use for compactness, but that's a tiny difference).

If you want, draw your own plans and let us know if they match. This is what Bruce Cain at Berkeley is doing, and, while his plans are not yet final, he has made the judgement (just like us) that his results are similar to ours.

Also, be sure to read our entire report before commenting on what we should or should not have covered -- just because the reporters did not mention it does not mean that we did not cover it!

Anonymous said...

While we at the Rose Institute have no final maps to release, we are releasing a list of the areas where competitive districts are likely to result:

General descriptions of expected . . .

Competitive State Senate Seats:

1. Morgan Hill - Monterey – San Luis Obispo (similar to existing competitive SD 15)
2. Sacramento - Yolo
3. West Sacramento - Folsom
4. San Joaquin - Merced
5. Santa Barbara - Ventura
6. Diamond Bar - Claremont - Monrovia - Monterey Park
7. Santa Ana - Fountain Valley - Garden Grove
8. Chula Visa - Lemon Grove - Imperial Co.

Competitive Congressional Seats (all new):

1. Sacramento - Yolo - Sutter - Tehama
2. Inland Contra Costa / Alameda Counties
3. Monterey - San Luis Obispo
4. San Joaquin County
5. Merced - Mariposa - Madera
6. Santa Barbara - Ventura
7. Camarillo - Thousand Oaks - Malibu
8. Glendale - Pasadena - Tujunga
9. West Covina - Rancho Cucamonga
10. Redondo - Torrance - Palos Verde - Long Beach

Competitive Assembly Seats:

1. Inland Contra Costa
2. Monterey - San Luis Obispo
3. Santa Barbara - Ventura
4. Camarillo - Oxnard
5. Santa Clarita - North San Fernando Valley
6. Redlands - Moreno Valley
7. Chula Vista - Lemon Grove - La Mesa (similar to existing competitive AD 78)

Anonymous said...

Oooh. A competitive Congressional seat in Pasadena and Rancho Cucamonga, my two former homes? That makes me excited!

Could a Democrat actually represent Rancho and Claremont? Maybe I should move back to the IE...hmmm...

Could we get a competitive Assembly seat in RC too, pretty please? =)

That Monrovia/Claremont State Senate seat looks cool too.

doughnut70 said...

I have been out all day and will be out most of tomorrow, but I will try and pop in to put up a few of my thoughts on this issue after reading them more carefully.

A couple of points off the top of my head were to question how Malibu could justifiably be split across not just city lines, but county lines as well and then not be connected with the City of Santa Monica whom they share many municipal services including school and Community College Districts with. There are also many other agencies that jointly serve the cities of Santa Monica and Malibu. To me this is no different than a district encompassing Rancho Palos Verdes and Long Beach, but that's just my opinion.

Another point would be that the Arizona plan is nowhere near as universally popular as John McCain and the news media make it sound. You may recall reading that a petition for a ballot measure to repeal the commission was thrown out by a court on a technicality earlier this year. This measure was supported by many people considered campaign reformers.

Arizona has been trending Democratic for some time and I would argue that their reapportionment system has slowed down that movement even though the states voters have clearly become Democratic.

As to the rest of it, I will try and make some more comments tomorrow, but I would still state that changing the whole system is something that needs to be done carefully (especially since it is now very possible that these changes would take place this coming year) and people need to understand the full extent of those risks before they vote. JMO!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what you're talking about with the Malibu example. And PV is with not just LB, but THE OC. At any rate . . . .

All plans have critics and I'm sure that AZ has its flaws - no system is perfect - it certainly pissed off many people, but, I would argue, pissed off people equally. Which is a good thing.

Generally speaking, i distrust all "Campaign Reformers" - what McCain/Feingold has done to the political system is awful beyond words.

That said, sometimes, reforms are necessary. And a redistricting system won't stem demography - so arguing that AZ's move to the left is hindered by the system is too easy an answer.

Lastly - and this is just a pet peeve but - ending your comments with "JMO!" takes away their oomph. Why do it? I know it's your opinion - not like it's footnoted. So why couch it?

doughnut70 said...

Sorry, I am really rushed today, but I meant to compare tying Malibu in with Ventura County with tying Long Beach in with Orange County.

There is not much of a difference in splitting the two districts and it might be worse in the Malibu case because it has such strong ties to Santa Monica, especially with the shared school and college Districts. This split could lessen their political clout and the ability to fight for federal grant money.

My only reason for pointing that out was to reinforce my earlier point that any reapportionment plan will leave some people disappointed and in making hard choices will probably leave some people with less power than they should have. Too often people believe that they are underrepresented and the "Yes on 77" people are playing on that by letting everyone believe they will get more from a new system. That's not the way it will work out.

By the way, as I am reading the Rose Institute plan I am guessing that the current incumbents in Congress would either have to move or compete in a marginal seat which would limit their flexibility and their power in Congress.

Matsui, Pombo,Farr, Cardoza, Radanovich, Capps, Gallegly, Sherman or Waxman, Schiff, Dreier and Rohrabacher. I don't think any other incumbents live in the cities mentioned as comprising the new districts and there would be an open competitive seat that either Brad Sherman or Henry Waxman could move into, probably Brad because he has represented Ventura County in the past and even though I am guessing West LA would be split six ways from Sunday, I don't think Henry would want to give up West Los Angeles where he grew up. However, he might have to face another Democratic incumbent (as many members of both parties might have to do if this plan passes) because all of his current district could be matched with minority districts to the South (as the 47th AD runs into Westwood) or over the hill to Valley districts. It would be interesting.

For State Senate, the probable displaced are the Maldonado seat which remains leaning Republican but gets a little more marginal. The Ortiz seat, The Machado Seat, The Poochigian seat, The McClintock seat, The Margett seat, the Dunn seat and either Kehoe or Ducheny.

For Assembly, the people most likely to have to either move or compete in a marginal seat according to the Rose Institute are
Houston, Salinas, Nava, Strickland, Runner (I am assuming that Palmdale Lancaster where she is from is sent over the hill to San Bernardino or put into a Latino District running up from north Los Angeles), Emmerson and Horton (who represents a district that by registation should be Democratic and would remain so under the system.

For the state legislature, who represents which district is of lesser importance. Given term limits, incumbents will generally simply move to safe districts and use political connections to force newcomers to wait to run when the seat opens up. by then of course they may have created their own successor.

Marginal seats will with few exceptions be contested by newcomers on both sides who live in those districts which might not be bad in terms of new blood, however I think Sacramento has had a little too much of that lately because of term limits..

However, for Congress seats, who represents an area is huge. You have a million different things like appointments to Service Academies and money for district projects that are affected by who your congressmember is and how long he has been pushing for a project. All of these things and many others will have change in priority and many will have to be redone if this measure passes because a different member will represent a particular area.

Constituent services will also have to be reorganized and in many cases district offices will have to be moved from one location to another. It will be interesting if it happens.

Anyway, that's enough for now. I will try and get back on in the next day or two for further thoughts. As to the JMO, you are going to have to tolerate that if I continue to post here because I really want to make sure that people understand that my conclusions are just opinions. To often people yield their opinions to others who sound like authorities on a given subject and I really like to push them to think about the subject themselves, so I think it is best to add at the end, JMO! or just my opinion" which is all any of this really is.

Anonymous said...

Do you have any record or info regarding your report about repeal of Arizona? As a staff member to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission I recognize it's possible that it happend without my knowledge, but I don't know of any such proposal.

Are you confusing it with the proposal to repeal the Clean Elections campaign finance system? That's a completely different topic with no relation to redistricting.

Anonymous said...

Re: Malibu

All there really is to say on this is that districts need to enter LA County at some point, and exit LA County at some point. Prop. 77 requires that those entry and exit splits be minimized, but population balancing always requires at least two.

Also, just to avoid any confusion from the 3rd-to-last para of the last post, note that State Senate districts are more than 30 percent larger than Congressional districts. (639,088 people per CD vs people per 846,791 SD.) Perhaps there's an argument for increasing the size of the legislature, but that's a topic for another thread.

Doughnut70: does this last commentary about "marginal districts" mean you are now among the believers that Prop 77 will generate competition?

Anonymous said...

oh man, doughnut 70, the more we discuss the more I see our paradigms are so removed from one another, i doubt we'll ever agree on much of anything.

yes, under a new system, incumbents get shaken up. that's exactly as it should be (keeping in mind that there are few greater champions of institutional memory or career service in legislative bodies than i).

redistricting should be done with a totally blind eye to current legislators' home addresses. it may suck ass for the first go-'round, but won't be so bad in the future.

in arizona - doug, help me out on the number here - i think when we used AURs we ended up with like 9 state reps in one new district. boy were they bummed about that. but hey, we aren't really drawing the lines for them, right? we're drawing them for us. keeping current members in their districts should NEVER be the first thing that comes to mind when drawing the lines.

as for the malibu thing - i think breaking the ports of LB and LA off from their cities is pretty bad too. but maybe we can just agree that splitting up areas should be avoided when possible.

Anonymous said...

In Arizona I don't remember the exact count either, but it was something like 9 or 11 (Though they elect 3 per district. I think different papers may have had different counts -- the Independent Redistricting Commission of course did not count or even have the info needed to count).

Of course that many ended up together because the 1990s had been carefully drawn to separate them -- a gerrymandering so extreme that it led to the passage of a redistricting reform initiative.

doughnut70 said...

I am sorry, but I have just been swamped and will try and get to a response tomorrow, but I do hope Christiana will find the time to post Rick Hasen's excellent white paper on 77. For those who are not familiar with Professor Hasen, he and Dan Lowenstein (also an opponent of the measure) are generally considered the top attorneys in election law in the State and by some people the tops in the country. Hasen is currently a Professor at Loyola Marymount and also has a webblog on Political law.

Anonymous said...

according to this post: it's not Rick Hasen's white paper, it's dan's. Rick is still uncertain as to his position on 77.

I have my own list of top election law attorneys. I'm not saying Hasen isn't on it - and I don't know Lowenstein. But I don't know if they're one and two. But I'm biased.

doughnut70 said...

I had a friend send this to me and I will briefly state that Lowenstein wrote Prop. 9 the original Political Campaign Reform Act for the state of California and after that was the first head of the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

He has written numerous books on the subject as well as teaching the subject as a full Time Professor at UCLA Law School. Rick Hasen was at one point a student of Dr. Lowenstein. I apologize for giving Mr. Hasen the blame for the White paper. That is the kind of mistake I make too often when I try and rush things. However, I believe he was identified as the author by (again the name is escaping me and I am rushed) the relatively new writer for the Sacramento Bee who has his own blog on election issues which can be accessed on the Rough and Tumble site. I will try and provide a link when I get the chance. My apologies again.

cd said...

no apologies. but move further comment on the white paper/hasen, etc on the top post on the site dedicated to the white paper/hasen, etc topic.