The most important initiative on November’s ballot is Proposition
11. In simple terms, Prop 11 will take redistricting out of the
hands of the legislature and create a 14 person (5 Democrats, 5
Republicans and 4 others) independent committee. Every 10 years the
California State Legislature goes into a dark room, redraws the
legislative districts to virtually guarantee the status quo (just
about the only time the two parties can agree on anything), and
effectively prevents real reform in Sacramento for another 10 years.
Let me give you 11 excellent reasons to support Prop 11 this November
and end the current incumbent protection program.
1. Last month’s Field poll shows that only 27% of Californians think
our legislature is doing a good job. Yet, 99% of our state
legislators are reelected. Either we are stupid, or the system is
rigged. Personally, I would rather think we’re not stupid.
2. In 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006 not one of the state’s 120
legislative seats changed parties. Odds are that none will again
this year and if there is no redistricting, it may stay that way
3. In 2006, two State Senators and 5 Assemblypeople won with 100% of
the vote. 100%. As former Democrat State Controller Steve Westly
(who along with Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is co-
chairing the pro-11 campaign.) said, “It was easier to get voted out
of the old U.S.S.R. Politburo than it is out of the California state
4. In 2005, the two parties came together to help defeat a similar
measure, Prop 77, by promising to pass their own redistricting
legislation. When they reneged on their promise, this is what Oakland
Democrat and Senate President Don Perata said – reportedly with a
“I don’t think our whole idea was so much to get it on this year’s
ballot as it was to show people that there was a determination to
have an alternative method to draw the state lines.” Three years
later we still don’t have the promised redistricting reform and
Perata, not surprisingly, is leading the charge against Prop 11.
5. This redistricting measure is important enough to Californians to
bring together people who are rarely on the same side of any issue.
The California Chamber of Commerce and the California Business
Roundtable are standing side-by-side with the ACLU of Southern
California and California Democratic Council, along with hundreds of
other organizations and prominent individuals.
6. Opponents falsely claim that minority representation will be put
in danger should Prop 11 pass. Love them or hate them, does anyone
believe the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California
would support legislation that had even a remote chance of hurting
7. The time is now. The next scheduled redistricting is 2011 and to
prepare for a fair redistricting, we need to put reforms in place at
once. If we don’t, our next opportunity won’t be until 2021!
8. The current system prevents moderates from either party from
getting to Sacramento. Since general elections are a foregone
conclusion in our party-safe districts, the only battle is in the
primaries when extremists prevail thanks to historically smaller
turnouts which give the rabid wing of each party disproportionate
influence on candidate selection. Non-rigged districts will restore
the relevance of general elections and give moderates a chance to win.
9. Because there are no moderates in the state legislature (see
above), we have gridlock, as evidenced by our current budget crisis.
Democrats and Republicans legislators both vote as mindless blocks.
Our state is imploding while our elected officials ignore the needs
of 38 million constituents to focus on the needs of 120 power-hungry,
10. We deserve better. We deserve a legislature that is fair,
responsive, effective and efficient. The only way we’re going to get
this is through honest redistricting and right now, Proposition 11
represents our best – and maybe only – chance.
11. Because it is our fault and our responsibility. When three out
of four Californians believe our representatives are doing a bad job
and we don’t do anything to change it – it is our fault. On November
4, we need to stand up as Democrats, Republicans and independents and
say “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!”