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California Citizens Redistricting Commission

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See also: Redistricting in California
We Draw The Lines
The California Citizens Redistricting Commission (CCRC) is a state agency created by the passage of California Proposition 11 (2008), also known as the Voters First Act. It will draw the boundary lines for California state legislative districts and Board of Equalization districts after each decennial census.[1] The successful passage of Proposition 20, also known as the Voters First Act for Congress on November 2, 2010 means that the CCRC is also in charge of re-drawing district lines for California's U.S. Congressional delegation.

With the advent of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, California joins eleven other states as states where commissions are used to draw the boundaries of state legislative districts. According to Douglas Johnson, a redistricting scholar at the Rose Institute of State and Local Government, California's new commission is the only redistricting system in the nation that entirely separates redistricting from legislative influence.[2]

An attempt on the November 2, 2010 ballot to do away with the CCRC by repealing Proposition 11 (2008) through Proposition 27 (2010) was unsuccessful, with 59.5% of voters in favor of keeping the CCRC.

After a complex selection process, the Commission includes fourteen members.[3]

Names of the 14 members

The 14 people ultimately chosen to serve on the CCRC are:[3]

Democrats

  • Cynthia Dai (chosen in a lottery-style drawing on November 18, 2010)
  • Elaine Kuo (chosen in November 18 drawing, she later resigned and was replaced by Angelo Ancheta)[4][5]
  • Jeanne Raya (chosen in November 18 drawing)
  • Gabino Aguirre (chosen by first 8 members) Ventura County
  • Maria Blanco (chosen by first 8 members) Los Angeles County

Republicans

  • Vincent Barabba (chosen in November 18 drawing)
  • Jodie Filkins Webber (chosen in November 18 drawing)
  • Peter Yao (chosen in November 18 drawing)
  • Gil Ontai (chosen on December 15 by first 8 members) San Diego County
  • Michael Ward (chosen on December 15 by first 8 members) Orange County

Unaffiliated/"Other Party"

  • Stanley Forbes (chosen in November 18 drawing)
  • Connie Galambos Malloy (chosen in November 18 drawing)
  • Michelle DiGuilio-Matz (chosen on December 15 by first 8 members) San Joaquin County[6]
  • M. Andre Parvenu (chosen on December 15 by first 8 members) Los Angeles County

Commissioner Selection Process

Applicant Review Panel

The first step in choosing the 14 members of the CCRC was the creation of an "Applicant Review Panel." The ARP was chosen by drawing "the names of three qualified independent auditors from a pool consisting of all auditors employed by the state and licensed by the California Board of Accountancy at the time of the drawing. The State Auditor shall draw until the names of three auditors have been drawn including one who is registered with the largest political party in California based on party registration, one who is registered with the second largest political party in California based on party registration, and one who is not registered with either of the two largest political parties in California."

The randomly-selected list of the three members of the ARP was announced on November 16, 2009. They are:[7]

  • Nasir Ahmadi. Ahmadi has been an independent auditor with the California State Auditor’s Office for fifteen years. He is the member of the ARP who is a registered Republican. He currently serves as a Senior Auditor Evaluator II. He participates in the California State Auditor’s recruiting program, and has a B.S. in Accounting from California State University-San Diego.
  • Mary Camacho. Camacho is a Senior Auditor Evaluator II with the California State Auditor's Office. Her voter registration indicates her party affliation as "decline-to-state." Before joining the staff of the California State Auditor, she worked for ten years at the Department of Finance, conductng independent audits of state government entities. Camacho earned a B.S. in Accounting at California State University-Sacramento and is an active Certified Public Accountant.
  • Kerri Spano. Spano has worked for the California State Auditor’s Office since 2007. She is the member of the ARP who is a registered Democrat. In her position at the auditor's office, she investigates improper activities by state employees. She worked with the Department of Justice for six years, and the Department of Finance for three years prior to joining the state auditor's office. Camacho earned a B.S. in Accounting at California State University-Sacramento and is an active Certified Public Accountant.

The ARP narrowed the pool of over 30,000 applicants to 60, including 20 members from California's "largest party" as calculated by voter registration (Democrats), 20 members of the second largest party (Republicans), and 20 members who did not indicate an affiliation with either of those parties on their voter registration. The panel submitted the list of 60 of the most qualified applicants to the Legislature on September 29, 2010.[8]

Legislative Strikes

The California Assembly Speaker, the California Senate President Pro Tempore, and the minority party leaders in the Assembly and the Senate, as authorized by the law, jointly reduced the pools to 12 members in each pool. The Legislature submitted a list of the 36 applicants remaining in the pool on November 12, 2010.[8]

The Lottery

The California State Auditor then randomly drew three Democrats, three Republicans, and two applicants from neither major party to become commissioners on November 18, 2010.[8]

Ensuring a Commission that Represents California

Finally, these first eight commissioners selected six commissioners from the remaining 28 applicants in the pools on December 15, 2010 to balance the diversity of Commission in accordance with the Voters First Act.[8]

Pace of applications

Applications for membership on the commission began to flow in on December 15, the day set for the start of the application process. 1,761 people applied in the first two days.[9] The initial application process concluded on February 12, 2010 with about 31,000 applications. 26,000 of these applications were judged to have met the basic, formal requirements for an application.[10]

Shaun Bowler, a professor of political science at the University of California-Riverside, said that the number of applicants is "a sign of just how engaged or enraged people are by the political process."[11]

Timeline

  • December 15, 2009-February 16, 2010: Online application period
  • February 16-April 19, 2010: Supplemental application filing period for most qualified applicants
  • April 19-July 19, 2010: ABR reviewed applicant qualifications and narrowed down the field to 120 candidates
  • July 20-September 13, 2010: ABR interviewed 120 candidates
  • September 14-29, 2010: ABR narrowed the field of applicants down to 60.
  • October 1-November 12, 2010: Legislature struck 24 names from the list of 60 names, narrowing the list down to 36.
  • November 18, 2010: The California State Auditor randomly selected 8 names from the remaining 36 candidates.
  • November 29-December 15, 2010: The eight candidates chosen for the CRC were then given the list of the remaining 28 candidates on the list. They selected six names from this list to serve on the final 14-person commission.

Criticisms

Ethnic diversity

Early in the application process, concern was raised about the diversity of the applicant pool. 42% of California's population is classified as "non-Hispanic white," whereas 74% of the 7,681 registered voters who had applied for membership on the CCRC by mid-January 2010 were non-Hispanic white. Daniel Lowenstein, who sponsored a ballot initiative that would have eliminated the CCRC, says, "Nothing is in there to make the commission representative of California, or more importantly, accountable to anyone. People don't like the Legislature, but one advantage is that you get to vote on them every two years."[12]

Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, said, "Unfortunately,it seems like our fears are coming true in terms of ending up with a commission not representative of California."[13]

The state awarded a $1.3-million contract for minority recruitment to Ogilvy Public Relations. The advertising agency is charged with "barbershop and beauty salon outreach," among other outreach techniques. Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist who opposed Proposition 11 said that the barbershop and beauty salon language is "ludicrous and laughable" and shows "no sensitivity to the African American community."[13]

Ultimately however, the selected 14 commissioners self-identified as:[14]

  • 4 Asian-American members
  • 3 Hispanic members
  • 3 White members
  • 2 African-American members
  • 1 Pacific Islander member
  • 1 American Indian member

Partisan Influence During the Public Input Process

Article XXI section 2(b) of the California Constitution also requires that the Commission “conduct an open and transparent process enabling full public consideration of and comment on the drawing of district lines.” As documented in its final report, the Commission engaged in an extensive public input process that included 34 hearings across the state where 2700 citizens and a diverse range of organized groups gave public testimony, including organizations such as the League of Women Voters, California Forward, Common Cause, the California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber), Equality California, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans for Fair Redistricting, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and the Sierra Club. Over 20,000 written public comments were submitted through the wedrawthelines.ca.gov website, via email or fax.[15]

Although Article XXI prohibits consideration of incumbents, political candidates or political parties in the map-drawing process, since the process was open, partisans were among those who attempted to influence the Commission during the public hearing process. Pro Publica, a national investigative journalism organization, released a often-cited story on December 21, 2011 that alleged that the CCRC had been manipulated by the California Democratic Party:

"The citizens’ commission had pledged to create districts based on testimony from the communities themselves, not from parties or statewide political players. To get around that, Democrats surreptitiously enlisted local voters, elected officials, labor unions and community groups to testify in support of configurations that coincided with the party’s interests.
When they appeared before the commission, those groups identified themselves as ordinary Californians and did not disclose their ties to the party. One woman who purported to represent the Asian community of the San Gabriel Valley was actually a lobbyist who grew up in rural Idaho, and lives in Sacramento.
In one instance, party operatives invented a local group to advocate for the Democrats’ map."[16]

and:

"As part of a national look at redistricting, ProPublica reconstructed the Democrats’ stealth success in California, drawing on internal memos, emails, interviews with participants and map analysis. What emerges is a portrait of skilled political professionals armed with modern mapping software and detailed voter information who managed to replicate the results of the smoked-filled rooms of old.
The losers in this once-a-decade reshaping of the electoral map, experts say, were the state’s voters. The intent of the citizens’ commission was to directly link a lawmaker’s political fate to the will of his or her constituents. But as ProPublica’s review makes clear, Democratic incumbents are once again insulated from the will of the electorate."[16]

While the California Republican Party called for an investigation, other political observers noted tongue-in-cheek that they were "shocked" or "stunned" at the allegations, and "few people were ever naive enough to believe that a redistricting exercise could, or even should, be purified of partisan politics.[17][18][19]Similar Republican efforts to influence the hearing process were "bumbling." In the words of prominent Republican redistricting consultant Max Rexroad, "As Republicans, if we did get beat at redistricting, we should blame ourselves for being outworked by people that engaged the process while our party stood by waiting for things to happen."[20] Meanwhile, others have pointed out that potential Democratic gains with new districts are simply reflective of the bi-partisan gerrymander of 2001, declining Republican registration, and the state's changing demographics.[21][22][23] In a formal response to the story, the Commission stated that it “had its eyes wide open” and “were not unduly influenced.”[24] One commissioner said, "By nature of the beast, we of the Commission always knew that political interests would try to influence the process...But commissioners don’t live in a bubble. We were put there as independent thinkers.”[25]

External links

References

  1. PR Newswire, "California State Auditor Announces the Citizens Redistricting Commission Applicant Review Panel," 16 November 2009
  2. Fox & Hounds, "California leads “Redistricting In America”, 23 April 2010"
  3. 3.0 3.1 Sacramento Bee, "Final six members selected for state's redistricting commission," December 16, 2010
  4. San Francisco Chronicle "Panelist drops out of Calif. redistricting board," January 14, 2011
  5. Sacramento Bee "Replacement picked for redistricting panel," January 28, 2011
  6. California Independent Voters Network, "Citizens Redistricting Commission Reflects Growing Influence of Independents in California," December 22, 2010
  7. We Draw The Lines, "Applicant Review Panel and Alternates Selected California State Auditor’s Office," November 16, 2009
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Citizens Redistricting Commission "Application and Selection Process"
  9. Fox and Hounds Daily, "Who Wants to be on the Redistricting Commission? You May be Surprised. Or Not.," December 17, 2009
  10. Laist, "31,000 Californians Want to be on State's Redistricting Commission," March 5, 2010
  11. New York Times, "Californians Compete for a Shot at Redistricting," March 3, 2010
  12. San Francisco Chronicle, "Critics say redistricting panel needs diversity," January 25, 2010
  13. 13.0 13.1 Los Angeles Times, "California redistricting effort is out of the backroom but not free of politics," February 3, 2010
  14. The Greenlining Institute "A Post Line-Drawing Analysis: Diversity on the Commission", Retrieved 28 September 2012
  15. "State Of California Citizens Redistricting Commission Final Report On 2011 Redistricting". California Citizens Redistricting Commission. 15 August 2011. http://wedrawthelines.ca.gov/downloads/meeting_handouts_082011/crc_20110815_2final_report.pdf. Retrieved on 26 September 2012. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 Pro Publica, "How Democrats Fooled California’s Redistricting Commission," December 21, 2011
  17. Sacramento Bee "Shocker! Dirty politics played role in redistricting maps," 29 December 2011
  18. Los Angeles Times "The politics of redistricting in California," 24 December 2011
  19. KQED News "The Frenzy Over ProPublica's Redistricting Report," 21 December 2011
  20. Capitol Weekly "Redistricting flap: ProPublica story flawed, Republican strategy questioned," 5 January 2012
  21. Los Angeles Times, "To survive, state GOP must reinvent itself," 12 June 2011
  22. Politic365, "Reality Check Hits GOP in Cali Redistricting Fight," 2 February 2012
  23. The People's Vanguard of Davis, "Redistricting: Lesson in Being Careful What You Ask For," 6 February 2012
  24. ProPublica "Statement from California Citizens Redistricting Commission Responding to Our Story," 23 December 2011
  25. San Francisco Chronicle "CA redistricting commissioner: Dem manipulation charges “dead wrong”," 22 December 2011