Politics in Play if the Supreme Court Throws Out Redistricting Commission

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

An effort by a newly announced coalition supporting California’s redistricting commission may run into some harsh political realities in its quest to keep current congressional lines in place if the United States Supreme Court throws out redistricting commissions in the Arizona State Legislature vs. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission case.

Californians supported two initiatives that took the power of drawing legislative district lines away from elected officials and turned that power over to an independent commission. Proposition 11 in 2008 created the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw state government district lines; Proposition 20 in 2010 added to the Commission’s responsibility drawing congressional districts. The latter measure is the one threatened by the Arizona case. 

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Government Union Wrath Aimed at Democrat

Gloria Romero
Director of Education Reform for the California Policy Center. Former Democratic Majority Leader of the California State Senate.

It didn’t take long for “the brotherhood” of status quo politics to pile on. Within hours of former Assembly member Joan Buchanan having lost her election bid for Northern California’s 7th Senate District seat in last week’s special election to fill the vacancy, she endorsed labor-embraced and fellow Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord. Together, they joined the panoply of monied special interests led by public sector unions that are largely funding the Democratic Party, to defeat a third Democrat – independent Steve Glazer.

Glazer describes himself as “fiscally conservative, socially progressive.” He is the mayor of Orinda and former political aide to Gov. Jerry Brown. Glazer brandishes “blue” credentials in California, having worked for decades to support Democratic candidates and causes.

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Governors Have Bad Case Of California Envy

Gary Chazen
Gary Chazen is founder and curator at CalPossible.com and longtime Northern California journalist.

From Florida to Texas, governors and presidential wannabes are clamoring for a piece of California’s action. Given how hot California’s economy has been in the past year, you can’t blame them, but it would help their cases if the numbers backed them up.

Earlier this month, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced he is planning an April trip to California as part of his effort to lure businesses from other states. Scott is urging shipping companies to shift their business to Florida after labor disputes in California ports.

And, of course, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is no stranger in attempting to pick California’s low-hanging fruit to boost his state’s economic fortunes. He ran ads in the Golden State in 2013, something California Gov. Jerry Brown famously brushed off as “barely a fart.” Apparently, the lesson sank in. Instead of going after businesses, Perry is going after conservative donors from California, among other states.

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New Battles Over Redistricting

Richard Rubin
He writes about political issues and is President of a Public Affairs Management Firm. He also teaches courses on the Presidential & Congressional Elections at the University of San Francisco and is Vice Chair of the California Commonwealth Club.

In 2008 California adopted a new redistricting system for state offices extended in 2010 to Congressional seats.

It was accomplished through the arduous efforts of a 14-member non-partisan Citizens Redistricting Commission approved by the voters which took the powerful “gerrymandering” authority out of the hands of the state legislature.

This hard fought revision of a framework that served mainly the transparent aims of the state’s lop-sided Democratic Party majorities for decades is now in jeopardy of unraveling as a result of a decision by Arizona’s GOP-dominated legislature challenging the constitutional basis of its own Redistricting Commission. The issue is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Politics Behind 16-Year-Old Voter and Mandatory Vote Proposals

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

In San Francisco, Supervisor John Avalos proposes that 16 year olds should vote. In Cleveland last week, President Barack Obama suggested mandatory voting was a transformative idea worth considering. One can’t help but sense political agendas at work.

Despite Supervisor Avalos’ argument that 16-year-olds are old enough to drive and pay taxes, the real question is do they have enough experience and understanding of the world and government to vote? A question for the president, should we mandate that people vote who pay no attention to public affairs and have no desire to vote?

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders unsettled Avalos when she asked him if 16-year-olds are mature enough to be allowed buy cigarettes and alcohol. If they have the reasoning and ability to make good decisions, then why not? Avalos objected. The key sentence in Saunders’ column:“To say that someone should have the right to vote, Avalos assured me, “It’s very different from saying someone is adult.”” (Italics by Saunders.)

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The Price of California’s Preoccupation with Renewables: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Rob Lapsley
President, California Business Roundtable

In his annual State of the State address, Governor Brown outlined ambitious goals for taking California’s climate change policies to the next level. Historically, our state has held the position of groundbreaking leadership when it comes to aggressive environmental programs, so it comes as no surprise that Governor Brown wants to expand on this trend by enacting even more aggressive policies aimed at 2030 and 2050 climate change goals.

In particular, the Governor called for California to increase its reliance on renewable power to 50 percent. Not only is this an extremely ambitious goal, but experience shows that overreliance on renewable power leads to increased costs and reduced grid reliability (while offering uncertain or minimal environmental benefits).

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California Should Make Regular People More of a Priority

Joel Kotkin
Editor of NewGeography.com and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University

California in 1970 was the American Dream writ large. Its economy was diversified, from aerospace and tech to agriculture, construction and manufacturing, and allowed for millions to achieve a level of prosperity and well-being rarely seen in the world.

Forty-five years later, California still is a land of dreams, but, increasingly, for a smaller group in the society. Silicon Valley, notes a recent Forbes article, is particularly productive in making billionaires’ lists and minting megafortunes faster than anywhere in the country. California’s billionaires, for the most part, epitomize American mythology – largely self-made, young and more than a little arrogant. Many older Californians, those who have held onto their houses, are mining gold of their own, as an ever-more environmentally stringent and density-mad planning regime turns even modest homes into million-dollar-plus properties.

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AG Harris’ Opinion Puts Children in Harm’s Way of Sex Offenders

Jim Nielsen
State Senator, Fourth Senate District, which includes the counties of Butte, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Shasta, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity and Yuba

California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris has advised parole officers at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation that sex offender residency restrictions, approved by the voters, would be found unconstitutional in every county. As a result, parole officers will no longer be enforcing residency restrictions prohibiting sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or parks.

This is outrageous. This unilateral decision by one politician not only goes against voters’ wishes, it puts children in harm’s way.

The decision stems from a San Diego case where four registered sex offenders petitioned the court. In the densely populated county, convicted sex offenders had a hard time finding housing. On March 2, the California Supreme Court agreed that the mandatory blanket residency restriction of Proposition 83, known as Jessica’s Law, is overly broad.

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Eureka Faces Pension Headwinds – Just Like Every Other California City

Ed Ring
Executive Director, California Public Policy Center

The city of Eureka on the far north coast of our state is part of a fabled land, far removed from the rest of drought stricken California. The winds that the ridiculously resilient ridge of high pressure push north find welcoming mountains and canyons in and around Eureka, drenching them with rain, nourishing endless groves of the tallest trees on earth, the magnificent coast redwoods. Gushing rivers run through thick green forests scented with maritime air. Downtown, the mansions of the 19th century lumber barons defy time, marvelous, intricate, stunning. And on postcard perfect shorelines, the rugged Pacific surf surges against the rocks. It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful place.

But when it comes to government unions making sure their compensation crowds out any hope of fiscal sanity, Eureka is as ordinary, and as challenged, as every other city in California.

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Don’t Damage the Initiative Process Out of Anger

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

From the contemptible (“Sodomite Suppression Act”) to the retaliatory to make a point (“Intolerant Jackass Act”) to the corny (“The President of California Act”), California’s initiative process seemed to have gone off the deep end recently prompting some legislators to propose initiative reform measures. Let’s not react in haste.

Most initiatives don’t qualify for the ballot, many don’t even bother getting one petition signature. Many times the filings are all about gaining attention for the proponent. But a swift reaction to highly publicized measures that are going nowhere can result in damage to the important role the initiative process has to play in this state.

There are times that the legislature doesn’t act when it should. With the initiative process, the people can take action. The initiative process came about because special interests (read: the railroads) at the beginning of the twentieth century controlled the legislature. Reforms to the legislative process itself would not come from the legislature, which would lose power because of certain reforms. A recent example is creating a redistricting commission to take the re-drawing of legislative districts out of the hands of the self-interested elected officials.

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