Friday, June 17, 2011

Of Dems and Demos

Tony Quinn tosses an ethnicity-charged grenade into the redistricting discussion with a piece titled "How the Redistricting Commission Screwed Latinos."  Now, I like Tony Quinn. I've met him. We share some Rose Institute connections. But lately, I've disagreed with a lot of his thoughts about the California Redistricting Commission (though I agree with his ire over the possibly unfair disqualification of, um, half of my previous employers, I am not taking it quite as personally as he seems to be taking it all).

This latest piece starts with a quote from a NALEO redistricting official that reads, in part, "The lines drawn by the Commission gerrymander Los Angeles Latinos into a district with the millionaires of Beverly Hills and Pacific Palisades. These lines would disenfranchise Latinos by denying them a fair voice in the democratic process."  Okay, first, not ALL Los Angeles Latinos are in that district. We're everywhere - we're far beyond the Pico-Union borders, right? 

Next, Quinn rhetorically asks whether the Arizona Legislature has snuck into California to draw the new lines Because AZ hates Latinos, right? I kind of think that's true - but the joke rings false to anyone who follows redistricting since AZ also uses an independent commission? Too fine a nerd point? Can't help it - this is as nerdy a topic as exists, so I think it's fair to call Quinn out on this.

I think what bothers me most in all of this is Quinn's lack of actual demographic references to back up his assertions. I assume he's looking at the data, so why not mention it?  No, that's not true, what bothers me most are lines like this one: "The incumbent in this area is Congresswoman Judy Chu, an Asian American, who took the former Latino seat held by Hilda Solis when she became Labor Secretary in 2009."  Asians are stealing Latino seats!  It's minority vs. minority in an ethnic/racial slugfest that can only be won by . . . nobody at all.

All of this seems to me like a set-up: if we make the Dems and Latinos fight themselves, may we can repack some minority districts and get, like, one more GOP seat? Maybe? How 'bout can we save David Dreier? No? Come-on, give us one....

I'd like to see Dems and Latinos (the Venn diagram of which is going to be, what, like 80% overlapping circles?) have a little closed door meeting and really hash this out and conclude that we're not going to take the bait on this.


Anonymous said...

Obviously Quinn has his own biases and reasons for his argument (and you can't seriously be arguing that a group created specifically to provide date to Republican members of the legislature should be able to now be the only group advising the nonpartisan commission on reapportionment) But Quinn does have a very valid point if we are being fair. Under most analysis, the number of latino seats in the State Assembly will decrease by one under the current commission plan. They also depending how you choose to analyze the numbers could either gain one or lose two seats in Congress. Well, I think Latino population has grown quite a bit over the last several years. Quinn is obviously making the argument because he knows minorities often live together and you are right, Republicans could benefit. But Democrats who hold office if they want to maintain minority support, have to realize that this commission didn't protect many groups and need to reach out to make sure they are included.

cd said...

Which group was specifically created to do that?

I've long argued that the folly of the CRC is thinking it can do this well without using people with partisan connections. The people with experience are going to have partisan connections. Because until now, this was a partisan process.

NALEO and other groups sent out a TON of mail during the creation of the CRC and if they stopped outreach after the commission was seated, well, that would be a strange option. Did no Latino groups argue for their communities in front of the CRC?

Anonymous said...

The Rose Institute was specifically created to do research for legislative Republicans who in their opinion were not getting enough information about the process in Sacramento from majority Democrats. It's silly to think they could perform an unbiased statewide reapportionment even if I accepted your argument that they have become simply an intellectual study group. As far as having people with partisan experience, I never thought much of the idea of people off the street handling this and even now when things may be breaking okay for Democrats overall, am just amazed at the legally questionable things they are doing. Assuming organized groups in some way are representative of various ethnicities doesn't quite work, but the bigger problem with these "nonpolitical" appointees is that they are overreacting to the input they got and because the latino groups are simply old hat, they are losing out. My favorite example of the nonsense of the hearings (where virtually every speaker has been sent up by some politician to influence the group)was the woman from American Canyon who represented a local chapter of the American Cancer society and argued if they split off American Canyon from their home county, they were endangering funding for cancer research at both the state and federal level because representatives of the other county were so conservative that they were consistently opposing their issues and so many votes were close that the little change in where people voted could affect everything. She nearly started crying at the mike. I of course was rolling at such nonsense, but I do want to go live in the other county because evidently cancer is not as much of a problem there as it is in most places and their representatives must really be clever if they can stop cancer research. Every meeting there are over 100 speakers and virtually every one is a put up job by someone.

cd said...

You know I worked there for 4 years, right?

As for the commission: hey, if people are too lazy to come out in support of themselves and all that's left are organized groups - well what the eff options do we have left? Seriously. I never really wanted a commission but I sure as hell don't think the legislature was doing right by Californians either.

Anonymous said...

You were a poor college student trying to make your way through school and were easily led astray by the dark side. As for the legislature I think they did much better for the citizens of California, but that's just opinion. The real bottom line to me is that since there is no way of measuring one plan as preferrable to another, what should matter is that the districts being designed democratically through an ACCOUNTABLE process of competition and negotiation. The proper place for that is the legislature which is representative by virtue of being elected by the people. What is especially bad about the "social activists" who naturally dominate bodies like this commission (and who are especially unrepresentative of the people as a whole)is that they start yielding to their natural tendency to experiment with something serious which can affect the lives of the rest of us.