Tuesday, October 18, 2005

IGS, Prop 77, And The Case Of The Missing Report

So an expected IGS report on Prop. 77 has been yanked at the last minute - though only after an Oakland Tribune reporter already wrote about its findings. That article is here, here, here, and here (yep, search for "Bruce Cain" on the Oakland Trib homepage and you get 4 versions):

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's special-election redistricting initiative would create some closer races — even in the populous Bay Area and Los Angeles Democratic strongholds — but it would not shift decisive power to Republicans, a report is expected to show today.

The study by the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, is foreshadowed in research papers obtained by the Oakland Tribune, a sister paper to The Argus, and roughly matches previous findings by institutes at Claremont McKenna College and the University of Southern California.
The reason for at least one of the updates is clear: between versions 1 and 2, additional data is discussed with respect to Joe Simitian's AD 21. Unfortunately, Joe hasn't represented that seat since he was elected to the Senate last year, but whatever. Wait, actually, it says that through version 4. Whatever. I think they meant that the data used was current through when Joe held the seat.

But we'll never know since IGS has had a change of heart.

More on this momentarily . . . .

And: So, the reason IGS gives is that the research was never intended to have any relationship to Prop. 77, it's an academic exploration of what happens when competitiveness is assigned different levels of priority in redistricting.

Okayyyy.

Rumors are supposedly flying around the capitol (with Reep communication directors grabbing any and all journalistic ears available)about whether this could have anything to do with IGS programs depending on state funding - that they have several key line items under direct control of the legislature.

But that's a bit much, isn't it? Honestly, it's not Chinatown here - this is a wonkfest of a ballot measure that is so bogged down in nuanced pro/con/basic political self interest it probably won't pass anyway. And IGS is highly respeted institution and Bruce Cain is, from what I understand, the reason why.

But it leaves a bad taste, doesn't it? One reporter has seen something - or not - or has - or whatever - and the cat's out of the bag. So there's a perception problem now - probably an unfair one - but it's there.

14 comments:

doughnut70 said...

Maybe the fairer perception would be that before they released the final report they noticed a lot of mistakes that could change their findings and decided to wait before releasing it.

Just a thought. I would also add that although I hope you are right about the measure having no chance of passing, the Hoover Institute poll which is very well thought of (unlike the earlier Survey USA poll) shows that the Governor has made dramatic gains and has a very chance of passing everything he has put on the ballot.

I mention that because I would hate to see anyone on either side of these important issues cast a protest vote based on something else and then be surprised to learn that they made a difference in the outcome. This election is very important and it looks like every vote will be also.

Not drinking the IGS kool-aid said...

Um, yeah. That's it.

In a nine+ month project they noticed mistakes just (minutes? one day?) before release and decided to hold everything until after the election?

Hmmmm. That's possible, but the fact that they were undoubtedly strongly reminded where their money comes from is probably more relevant.

Remember that the IGS Director now runs the UC Berkeley DC program and is in charge of putting all those students into internships -- and what is the CA Democratic delegation's position on 77?

Hmmmm.

doughnut70 said...

Let's not make this a one party thing. I know from conversation that 90% of the elected officials in both parties are opposed to Prop 77 and that many are publicly endorsing it and doing nothing more because they don't want to anger the Governor. If someone cares about a measure this significant, they would put money into supporting it.

As for why after all this time they might spot a mistake at the last minute, I don't think it's that unusual. Reapportionment is a very complicated subject (as was shown by the Rose Institute releasing a study that wouldn't have met civil rights law requirements) and a small mistake could easily change the entire map.

I also know as an opponent of 77 that we have been anxiously waiting for anyone to release an entire map so that we could show people the types of specific changes that would happen. So many elected officials are popular in their own district that for example the loss of Jerry Lewis as their congressman in Riverside (one of the strong possibilities in the Rose Institute Study) could persuade large numbers of Riverside residents to vote against the plan. I find it hard to believe anyone against the plan wouldn't want alternatives out there which would have to disillusion some supporters, especially since the Rose Institute provides enough academic cover for supporters.

I still think there is no conspiracy (and if there is I hope someone blows the whistle, that type of conduct is UnAmerican. Of course so is repeating unproven charges and that never stopped Joe McCarthy or others) and I would hope in the end every voter would study the issue carefully before making up their minds.

cd said...

"as was shown by the Rose Institute releasing a study that wouldn't have met civil rights law requirements"

That is a bullshit statement.

It's also part of a very weak excusing of IGS's last minute yank.

If you're so anxiously awaiting someone release a whole map - Why Don't You Go Make One Yourself? Read the rest of IGS's announcment at http://www.igs.berkeley.edu/about_igs/announcement.htm

Even if you aren't a member of the media, you could probably talk your way in.

It's difficult, but with an hour of training, you'd get the hang of it. Modern software makes the process basically Statewide Tetris. I've done it. It can be frustrating and time consuming, but it's a video game for wonks. Stop whining about it being someone else's job and do it yourself.

I doubt there's a grand conspiracy at work. And yeah, most ELECTED officials are going to be against it because they want to keep their jobs.

I don't fault them for this. Hell, I'm against term limits partly because if I'm elected I know it's a job I'll want to keep because I love everything about representation and its basically what I've been training for all along. And of course, term limits have always existed in the form of - duh - regularly scheduled elections. But I digress.

Sometimes, the legislature needs a dose of medicine. They'd have done better giving it to themselves, but they didn't. They were dumb. I hate, hate, hate this special election and I hate, hate the initiative process. But this particular reform isn't new.

Stop waiting and go find yourself some data. It's all public. Hell, call the Rose, I'm sure they'd love to have you over - maybe they'll even buy you some Hub fries.

Doug @ the Rose said...

What's more of a McCarthy-ite statement than "the Rose Institute releasing a study that wouldn't have met civil rights law requirements" -- without the slightest shred of support for such a claim?

doughnut70 said...

I am using the White paper as the source on the Rose Institute Report because I never saw it rebutted on the issue and it seemed correct.

Doug @ the Rose said...

Doughnut70:

That's just sad. Read, think, and you'll know better.

Need a hint? First, who made the charge? MALDEF? NAACP? Any other voting-rights activists? Nope. It was Michael Berman. Let's remember: what did MALDEF and the other Civil Rights groups think of Mr. Berman's work in 2001?

Second, what was the charge? That any competitive districts in Monterey or Merced would be a violation of the VRA because "As currently constituted, the districts encompassing these areas are relatively safe Democratic seats."

Now stop and think about that. If you still need help figuring out the absurdity here, call Senator Maldonado's office.

doughnut70 said...

A couple of comments.

First, the white papers statement was that there is currently a safe Democratic seat in that area and changing it to a marginal seat could only be done by dividing up latino voters in the area, which under the legal vagaries of the voting rights acts that are currently on the books, that wouldn't pass legal muster.

Since the White Paper was approved by Professor Lowenstein who is generally regarded as one of the countries foremost experts on election law matters, I think that's a fair reference for me to use.

I also thought it was kind of silly to attack Michael Berman as the author without mentioning the legal checking that was done and I think Mr. Johnson's comments qualified under "If you don't like the message, shoot the messenger" category.

As for CD's comments, remember, I basically think the current system is fair. I know you disagree.

However, my main point has always been that I think a lot of the people supporting 77 are being sold a bill of goods, because they are all being told their agenda will be advanced with new lines.

If I tried to draw up my own lines to convince people of a possible scenario, I don't think it would have any credibility, because I am an opponent of the measure. So I don't waste my time doing that. Instead I spend too much time on blogs like these enjoying the give and take with people who do study the subject.

But I know from personal experience, how many supporters are telling liberals that they will get rid of right wing Republicans and some of the party bosses that hold them down.

I also know that conservatives are being told that Republicans will pick up a lot of seats and change the balance of power in Sacramento while securing it in Washington (strange how most of the big backers of the measure are staunch Republicans and even groups like the League of Women Voters which have supported reform in the past oppose 77).

Then of course, moderates are told that the bill will make more districts competitive and lead to more moderate elected officials. Something for everybody.

The truth however is that no one knows the outcome for sure, because it would depend on a lot of decisions the judges would make in the process (such as how to interpret the requirements of the voting rights act) and even before that would be influenced by the composition of the panel. The one thing we do know, is that the panel would be much more upper class economically that California in general and would be more likely to be Caucasian and majority Republican (There are more retired Republican judges than Democrats). But I think Conservative politico's believe they would gain a lot under the measure, however I also think no one knows for sure. Which is why I keep pointing out that supporters never put out a complete plan. They don't want to lose any of their coalition.

However, if I am understanding CD correctly, she has drawn out a plan. I would love to see what she came up with. As the daughter of two Democratic legislative staffers one of whom nearly got elected to the State Assembly, a YD officer, but also as a former staffer from the Rose Institute who has talked about being disillisioned by a lot of what she saw when she worked in Sacramento, she might truly qualify as an unbiased source. I would certainly consider her that (as I have considered her comments on this site as being from an unbiased person even when I disagreed with them) and I would enjoy seeing a finished product if you had it.

Doug @ the Rose said...

Abel Maldonado is a Republican who represents Monterey. 'Nuff said.

cd said...

Man, I leave you kids alone for 2 days and . . . .

The plan may or may not do a lot of things for a lot of people. How it is packaged and sold isn't necessarily deceptive, but it is going to be selective by nature. I have less of a problem with that than I do the oppositions' continuing to pound one the Evil White Male Judges reason for nixing the reform. It's shortsighted and more than a touch offensive.

You have understood me correctly, doughnut70 that I have drawn a plan in the past. I have not drawn one with the latest census estimates (though, I suppose when I think about it, the last maps I drew were with 2000 census data and then-current estimates) nor using the Prop. 77 model per se. I have, for fun, drawn a plan that eviscerated the CRP, which was fun but not something my good-government side would support in real life. I lack the current software to draw a model using the Prop. 77 guidelines and - frankly - I lack the time right this second because getting it right to the census bloc is a time consuming process.

Now about me being unbiased: no one is UNbiased, but I try to be pretty upfront about where I'm coming from and I try to trust my readers to reach the correct conclusions about my biases. To say I was "disillusioned" in Sac is a bit of an overstatement. I am a booster through and through. I love state government and no matter how it frustrates me I'll never be able to give up on it. It has the potential to do real good. My view is, I suppose, and Aaron Sorkin one (not Sorkin-under-'shrooms, though, of course). That said, I have seen and will not excuse what I see as easily overcome shortcomings. A less polarized body is a better one. Change is good (but not faux, term-limits forced change). I think reform is necessary.

I think Arnold sucks (that's my highbrow evaluation, clearly) and this special election sucks more. Ted Costa's not so hot either. Those political factors alone doom Prop. 77 and it's bastard ballot bretheren.

But when I think of what might've been with this proposition - oh the places we could've gone . . . .

Anyway - if I had a finished product, I would gladly present it here. And if I thought I could produce something quickly and well, I would do so. But I've also been out of the technical side of things for awhile now and I trust the kids at the Rose to execute the program ably.

Doug @ the Rose said...

IGS says we at the Rose may actually have underestimated the number of competitive districts under Prop 77 (the Rose only predicted 10):

According to the NY Times, "The institute's [IGS's] computer modeling shows, so far, that at most a dozen or so of the state's 53 Congressional districts could have competitive races."

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/23/magazine/23idea.html

doughnut70 said...

Wow, I think anyone who reads the article would have a different take on it than you do and I would encourage everyone who is interested in the subject to take the time to read the article.

The emphasis in the story was on the words "at most" and "could be" with the basic point being that a change in competitiveness was hard to define and was very likely not to happen if the measure passed.

The article also talked about the failure of redistricting commissions to create competitive districts in Arizona or Iowa and mentioned that in Arizona many Latino groups felt they were shortchanged by the outcome of the process.

I suspect after the constant back and forth everyone knows where Mr. Johnson and I stand. I will say that I hope everyone who has read either of our posts on the issue and votes, will take the time to study the issue carefully not just accepting either of our conclusions, because I think this vote could wind up being the most important vote of your lifetime in terms of effect on the system. JMO!

cd said...

Okay - I've put up with it long enough: doughnut70, I'm now begging you to cease the foolish internet/personal ad "JMO" convention. You wrote the comment, you posted the comment, clearly, it's your opinion. Most of the readers here are educated enough to figure out from context that you aren't Jesus, the Pope, the Big Bang, a President or sovereign of state, the Supreme Court, or anyone else granted a presumption of infalliabilty.

Therefore, we know it's your opinion. When you say "JMO" not only are you employing a goofy personal ad shorthand, you undercut your O. Even if its J your HO, we know it's your O, so just say it and be done with it.

My inner grammar nerd appreciates your cooperation.

doughnut70 said...

What on Earth could possibly have led you to believe that I am not Joseph Ratzinger?