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Prop. 27 gives politicians back redistricting duties

Lisa Olivia Fitch | 10/27/2010, 5 p.m.

Putting the redistricting process into the hands of the people is the topic of two initiatives on the Nov. 2 ballot--Propositions 20 and 27.

Although Proposition 11 passed just two years ago, creating a 14-member Citizens Redistricting Commission, passage of Prop. 27 would eliminate the commission, giving power back to legislators to draw legislative district lines.

Proposition 20 amends the state constitution to change the redistricting process for California's districts in the U.S. House of Representatives. The measure would take redistricting power away from legislators, and give the authority to the Citizens Redistricting Commission.

Proposition 27 creates certain requirements for district boundaries. The population of each district would be almost equal with other districts for the same office. The Legislature would have to hold hearings before and after district boundary maps are created, as well as provide the public access to certain redistricting data.

If both Proposition 20 and 27 pass with "yes" votes, the proposition receiving the greater number of "yes" votes will be the only one to go into effect.

According to the "Minority News," an election publication of the Committee to Protect the Political Rights of Minorities, a yes vote on Proposition 20 and a no on proposition 27 will make elected officials more accountable to us and prevent consultants and elected officials "from making millions of dollars by drawing the lines in the back room as favors for their friends."

In an advertisement supported by the California State NAACP, the California Black Chamber and Black Women Organized for Political action yes on 20/no on 27 votes would "make it easier to hold politicians accountable and vote them out of office, if they don't address our needs."

"When Proposition 20 passes and Proposition 27 fails, we will be in a better position to demand the resources we need in our community and get California back on track."

But Californians Against Waste, a nonprofit environmental research and advocacy organization, is urging a yes vote on the proposition, saying that passage will save taxpayer dollars.

"Current redistricting law wastes millions of taxpayer dollars and gives another unaccountable bureaucracy overwhelming power," they state in the voter's guide.

According to the legislative analyst, Proposition 27 forbids the Legislature from spending more than $2.5 million for redistricting activities once every 10 years. This pending limit would be adjusted every 10 years for inflation.

"The savings from this measure over the next year could be around $1 million," the analyst states.
Proponents want the legislature--those accountable to voters--to have the redistricting power, not those whom they call "a faceless group of amateurs."