Voters in California could become victims of a classic pincer movement on November 2nd.
It’s a simple strategy that’s been used in warfare throughout the centuries. General Grant would have appreciated the crafty maneuver shaping up in the Golden State. General Lee would have appreciated it, too, but he never had the manpower to execute one (more about that in a later segment of my Civil War Sesquicentenial series).
There are two propositions that may undo the checks and balances that protect the taxpayers from complete fiscal chaos, as if the state isn’t already heading to hell in a handbasket.
One arm of the pincer is Proposition 27 – Financial Accountability in Redistricting Act (FAIR). The aim of this deceivingly named measure is to undo Proposition 11, which was passed in November 2008. Proposition 11, authorized a citizens’ commission to redraw state office voting districts, rather than elected officials who have a vested interest in the outcome.
Congressman Howard Berman of Valley Village is the driving force behind this measure, using FAIR, a coterie of self-serving politicians and other operatives (reportedly including Howard’s brother Michael), to confuse the public that Prop 27 is in the interest of saving the state money. If 27 is saving anything, it is the political careers of many incumbents.
Proposition 27 is the counter to Proposition 20 which expands the citizens’ commission’s authority to Congressional Districts.
It is interesting that Berman does not want to face his constituents in a town hall on this issue; however, when was the last time anyone recalls Berman hosting a town meeting open to the general public?
By contrast, in the adjacent Congressional District to the west, Brad Sherman holds public meetings whenever he’s in town, as did his esteemed and admired predecessor Tony Beilenson.
Berman is not new to redistricting gamesmanship.
Back in 2000, Sherman opposed Berman’s initial attempt to force him into a more competitive district while Berman cherry-picked his own. Latino groups sided with Sherman because they saw it as an attempt to dilute the influence of their growing ethnic community. They threatened to sue if Berman’s plan was approved. Berman backed down.
While Berman is attempting to return redistricting to partisan politicians through Proposition 27, the other arm of the pincer is Proposition 25.
Mike Feuer (Assembly Member, 42nd District- straddling Beverly Hills to the Southeast Valley) is pitching this measure, which would lower the passage of a budget in the State Legislature to a simple majority vote. A two-thirds vote is required to pass a budget today.
Mike is not the author of 25, but he is the face of it in my district, so I am singling him out. I probably wouldn’t if it were not for his avoiding taking a stand on the citizens’ redistricting commission.
I actually support the concept of a simple majority threshold, but – only if redistricting remains with a citizens’ commission. If it returns to the legislators, Proposition 25 will assure that the budget will be in full control of the ideologues, whatever the party.
If the shoe were on the other foot and the Republicans dominated, they would most certainly support a comparable scheme.
Back when Proposition 11 was on the ballot, Feuer attended a meeting of the Neighborhood Council Valley Village and was asked whether he supported the measure. He said it did not make any difference to him. Translated, it meant he was satisfied with the status quo of having his peers carve up the map like a Big Ben jigsaw puzzle.
About three months ago, Feuer sent a staffer to NCVV with handouts supporting Proposition 25. I stated my support for the concept but would not back 25 without meaningful redistricting in place. I reminded her of Feuer’s previous non position on Prop 11 and asked if he had come around to support a citizens’ commission.
At the next meeting, she reaffirmed Feuer’s ambivalence.
Drawing election maps is at the core of our democracy. Anyone who is not disturbed by the outrageous district lines for both congressional and state offices is probably apathetic or a die-hard partisan of one party or the other.
Our current districts are handcuffs that prevent substantive compromise and perpetuate ideological impasse.
It is unconscionable that Feuer elects to stay on the sidelines. I can only speculate he does not want to get caught in a potentially hot crossfire.
It would not surprise me if he votes for Berman’s Prop 27; after all, it would enhance his influence as a member of the Assembly Budget Committee.
In summary, vote as follows:
Berman’s Prop 27: Vote No
Feuer’s favorite Prop 25: Vote No
Prop 20 (empowers citizens commission to also draw new Congressional District lines): Vote Yes.
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