Thursday, July 28, 2011

Texas, Messed With

Dear Texas,

Shut up already. You are not better than California. Your budget is about to be as mangled as ours has been. You'd rather have your people be poorly paid, poorly educated, and uninsured than provide proper public services.

If I ever start a business, it will be in California. 


p.s. Someone forward this article to Megs.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Borrowing from Bob Dole

Could failed California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman be taking a page from Bob Dole's post-candidacy handbook?  Signs point to yes: she'll be featured on local Sacramento television station KCRA this evening shopping at Costco. Star-Billionaires - they're just like us!

For those two young or just to busy to recall, failed presidential candidate Bob Dole emerged from the wreckage of that campaign to be a pretty damn likeable guy.  He's neither the first nor last candidate to be convinced to hide his personality and go hard-core in pursuit of higher office.  During the presidential campaign, Dole was stiff, unfunny - he was a cranky old man. After? He was the best Daily Show guest and eventual Daily Show correspondent ever. Yes, really. Yes, that Bob Dole.

So it's time for Meg to show she's a person.  It is remarkable: a wealthy person who still eats food and needs to leave the house to acquire it. Food and household supplies. Wow.  What's the end game on this too-little-too-late effort to play nice with the media and show nice to the public? Guess we'll have to wait to see.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Can Maps Be 'Covertly-Partisan?'

John Eastman and Chuck Bell - two high-profile GOP-leaning election lawyers - wrote a Flash Report piece last Friday.  Here's the summary:
The Citizens Redistricting Commission process has gone seriously awry, hijacked by covert Democrat and leftist partisans who have violated open meeting, public records and conflict of interest laws, playing a “shell game” with draft district maps that likely will cement Democrat 2/3ds control of the State Legislature when finalized.  Proposition 11 provided a remedy – Republican commissioners can defeat the final district maps if three Republican commissioners simply vote no.  Then, redistricting can be conducted by the State Supreme Court which did an exemplary job in 1974 and 1991 in creating truly fair and impartially drawn districts.
They argue that the California Republic can only be saved from the devious, shadowy hands of Democratic cartographers by a GOP-led block of the vote to adopt the CRC's plans.  This GOP block would not signify the Commission's failure, rather, "it would be an acknowledgement that the gravitational pull of partisanship and leftwing ideology in the Redistricting Commission process can be resisted by partisan Commissioners voting to deadlock the Commission’s attempt to draw overtly- or covertly-partisan or ideological district plans, allowing the Supreme Court to perform its designated constitutional role."

So, to repeat, if one partisan set of commissioners blocks (bloc voting!) the insidious actions of another partisan set of commissioners, it is a win for non-partisans everywhere. Solid.

Also - this section heading strikes me as amusing: "Commission Process Was Hijacked by the Left & the Commission[.]"  The Commission was hijacked by . . . itself?

And: "The Commission’s selection process favored educated elites, mostly with left-wing backgrounds."  Well, shoot, if the right-leaning would-be commissioners weren't well-educated, how is that the left's fault?  Also, Eastman and Bell seem critical of the commissioner selection process having favored applicants with advanced educational backgrounds.  Said the two lawyers. With advanced educational backgrounds.  And will the GOP never tire of the party that advances the cause of less-education for all?  How do they say these things with a straight face?  This process is damn complicated. No matter how smart these people are, they still had to retain outside specialists (which defeats the entire point, but hey, whatever).  I don't want idiots creating my electoral maps. Sure, formal education and intelligence (or smarts) don't necessarily go hand-in-hand, but it's as useful a cue as is usually available.

And back to this notion of covert maps:
Commission’s Maps Are Unfair, Covertly-Partisan Gerrymanders
Were the objections to the Commission’s activities limited to process only, there would be an insufficient basis to urge Republican commissioners to take what may seem a drastic step – to block the Commission’s maps.  However, the Commission’s likely product, the maps, appears to be unfair and partisan.  Even Democrat redistricting effort Paul Mitchell has concluded that the Commission’s districting plans are likely to secure 2/3ds Democrat majorities in the State Senate and State Assembly.  Republican redistricting expert Dr. Tony Quinn agrees. The analysis that accompanied the Commission’s June 10th release of draft maps suggested that the commissioners had drawn districts likely to offer some competitive districts and no clear partisan tilt.  This promise has faded as the commissioners have continued to tinker with the draft maps, with each draft veering more in favor of Democrats
Dear Eastman & Bell: either it's covert or it's apparent to everyone. It can't be both. Here, let me fix that section header for you:
Commission’s Maps Are Unfair, Covertly-Partisan Gerrymanders

I suppose their bottom line is that Partisanship in defense of Partisanship is no vice.

But I'm still waiting for an explanation of how a map based on public data can take any sort of covert action.  If you can explain to me how that's possible, I'd love to hear it.

It's about transparency, stupid

Now that California's Citizen Redistricting Commission is thisclose to imposing a new political map on the state, charges of various forms of gerrymandering and threats of litigation and referendum are blooming like sunflowers along the 80.

Republicans will force a court remapping! Congressional African-Americans are pissed! San Pedro . . . still getting screwed but so accustomed to that now that no one showed up at commission meetings to complain.  But dammit! There will be blood! Or at least, there will be some very happy lawyers in about 2 week.

I pause in this regularly scheduled redistricting analysis to bring you the following message: do you need someone to blog, write, tweet, or post about redistricting? Public policy? Labor law? Law generally? Are you a legislative office in need of an experienced - and more importantly super fun - staffer?  Well look no further. You can retain this author for a reasonable rate. Available August 15. Because she got laid off. And the lay-off didn't have the decency to come when she could've devoted her full-time to CRC stuff. #blackflyinyourchardonnay, team. #deathrowpardontwominutestoolate.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled witty commentary.

Anyway, time to saddle-up, election lawyers of California!  The most qualified among you were excluded from the process, so now you get to take out all that bitterness-paired-with-extensive-experience on the very people who didn't hire you. This should be FUN to watch.

But more importantly, are the various pods of anger off the mark?  I think they are.  Take Cal Watchdog, a site that, well, you can figure it out from the title, can't you? They have a 4 part series on the scandalous conflicts of CRC commissioners.  Scandalous! And the punditry responds by reminding the public that Propositions 11/20 intention was to establish a commission comprised of members without significant partisan interests.  To which I ask: who is truly with out significant partisan interests? Also, would you want that person in charge of a process like this?

Since the start, I've argued that the public should value transparency instead of this faux non-partisanship that forces a person's leanings to take cover in euphemistic alternative interests. Ethnicity subs for one party, economics subs for another.  We needed a commission made up of people from each party and at the same time expected those people to be not really so party-ish after all. Can't have it both ways, California.

Instead, the easier method would've been to require all applicants to air their allegiances free from concern that doing so would disqualify them from the process. How many experienced, enthusiastic people were excluded from this process because they had participated in a partisan fashion in a process that, until now, was itself partisan?  It's nonsensical.  (If you think this theme sounds a lot like my argument against non-partisan judicial races,  you are correct.)

Of course, the real bottom of the lines here is that Republicans will waste now time co-opting other causes to help them challenge the 2/3ds majority Democrats have within their grasp.  (Should they be so worried? I'd argue no, but in grand CAGOP tradition, they will get worried about the wrong thing too late anyway) Except, well, the GOP can't count half the state among its members anymore. Why do they think they get half the Legislature?  No seriously, why? That wasn't a rhetorical question. Tony Quinn hasn't answered this yet. I'm still waiting.

The voters enacted, and the State Auditor upheld, an unrealistic standard when it aimed for a conflict-of-interest free commission.  This standard laid the groundwork for a thousand blog posts aimed at revealing telling information about Commissioners and calling into question the CRC's work. It didn't have to be that way.