Monday, July 25, 2011

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.


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