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  1980s california districts
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freepcrusher
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« on: March 17, 2011, 10:35:06 pm »

this was supposedly one of the biggest gerrymanders of the 1980s. But looking at a map of the districts, I didn't find the lines to be all that convoluted? Why was it constituted as a gerrymander?
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jimrtex
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« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2011, 05:32:01 pm »

this was supposedly one of the biggest gerrymanders of the 1980s. But looking at a map of the districts, I didn't find the lines to be all that convoluted? Why was it constituted as a gerrymander?

http://www.hss.caltech.edu/~kousser/redistricting/Redistricting%20California.pdf

This makes it sound like it was more of a myth.  But the congressional delegation did go from 22:21 to 27:18, while the 1982 gubernatorial election was won by Deukmajian, and the 1984 presidential election was a landslide (57:41).

Some factors in the myth:  Phil Burton was said to have drawn the map at a Chinese Restaurant in Sacramento using a mechanical adding machine, and claimed that he determined whether wealthy neighborhoods were Republican or Democratic, based on whether there were more Buick or Volvo registrations, and that he drew a district to help his brother John get re-elected.  John had been elected in 1980 with 51% of the vote.  The new district began in Daly City went through eastern San Francisco and Marin County and ended up in Vallejo.  The Phil and John districts switched between 1980 and 1982 (CA-5 and CA-6) so there were probably parts of San Francisco switched as well.  John didn't run in 1982, and Barbara Boxer was elected in the district with 56% of the vote.

Phil Burton died in 1983, so it may be useful to promote the idea of political hackery for the public good (ala Jesse Unruh or Lyndon Johnson).  John Burton is now the California Democratic Parry chairman, and people might want to provide a contrast (ie Phil would never have let this commission nonsense get passed).

The 1981 boundaries were passed in statute, so were subject to referendum just like any other law.  All three maps, congression and legislative were challenged in a referendum.  Ordinarily, once petitions are gathered for a referendum, the newly passed law is not put into effect.  But in a 4-3 decision by Rose Bird and other Jerry Brown appointed justices, the California Supreme Court ruled that the 1970s legislative districts were so unequal in population, that they couldn't be used, and that it was now illegal for newly apportioned representatives to be elected at large (the practice through the 1960s).  Bird and two other justices were voted off the court in 1986.

The 1981 districts were overturned in the 1982 primary by 63-65% margins, but the primary and general election were conducted on the new boundaries. 

In November 1982, there was an intitiative proposal for a redistricting commission backed by Common Cause and the Republicans, which was defeated by a 45.5%:54.5% vote.

After the general election, the legislature passed new "compromise" boundaries that were able to get a 2/3 majority and were signed into law by Jerry Brown, the younger before governor-elect Deukmajian took office.  In California, legislative terms begin in December, while the gubernatorial term starts in January.

If legislation passes by a 2/3 margin it can have an urgency clause attached which means it can not be challenged in a referendum (ie it is so important, that you can't have it delayed for an election).

In 2010, Proposition 27 would have eliminated the newly created redistricting commission (approved in 2008, and which under Proposition 20, which was also on the 2010 ballot, was extended to congressional redistricting.

The findings for Proposition 27 stated: "Voters should always have the final voice. Under current law, voters can be denied the right to pass a referendum against unfair Congressional district gerrymanders. A referendum means that we, the voters, have a right to say “no” to the Legislature, say “no” to a statute with which we disagree. Under current law, protections to ensure a transparent, open process can be changed against the will of the people. This initiative reform ensures that voters will always have the right to challenge any redistricting plan (including the Congressional plan) and that no government officials can deny the public the right to participate in the process."

Maps drawn by the redistricting commission are subject to referendum.  But this is written in such a way that it implies that they are not, and those backing Proposition 27 were not only going to make legislative plans subject to referendum by returning legislative map-carving to the legislature, but they would even extend it to the congressional plan drawn by the legislature.

What Proposition 27 would have done was remove the urgency exception for redistricting plans.

So I will provide a translation (in red)

"Voters should always have the final voice.  Under current law, voters can be denied the right to pass a referendum against unfair Congressional district gerrymanders.  Back in 1982, the People rejected by a 65-35 margin a congressional redistricting plan drawn by Phil Burton, the brother of current California Democrat boss John Burton.  The legislature which had been elected on the rejected boundaries, then passed a new somewhat modified map which was signed by lame duck governor Jerry Brown.  Because it was passed by a 2/3 majority it was not subject to a referendum, and so the voices of the people were stifled by a corrupt legislature and governor.  A referendum means that we, the voters, have a right to say “no” to the Legislature, say “no” to a statute with which we disagree. Like we did back in 1982.  Um no, I didn't vote against that corrupt plan.  I said we should have a right to say no.  Under current law, protections to ensure a transparent, open process can be changed against the will of the people. Because each legislative session can set its own rules and procedures, a new corrupt plan can be drawn just months after the voters have rejected a similar plan. This initiative reform ensures that voters will always have the right to challenge any redistricting plan drawn by a corrupt Democrat-controlled legislature and a corrupt Governor Jerry Brown  (including the Congressional plan) Bet you didn't know that legislative plans drawn by the redistricting commission are subject to referendum. and that no government officials (like the legislature and governor Jerry Brown, the older, and supreme court justices like Liberal Rose Bird) can deny the public the right to participate in the process."

It is possible that you have seen the 1982 maps which were somewhat modified in order to get a 2/3 vote.  And since the 1982 election was based on the 1981 map, the new representatives and legislators would have an advantage as incumbents, even if the districts are less favorable.

The Republicans then tried to pass a new redistricting maps by the initiative process, but the California Supreme Court (including Rose Bird) ruled that there can only be one redistricting plan, and the corrupt action of Governor Jerry Brown and the legislature prevented another chance.

And finally the Republicans had another go at passing a redistricting commission plan in 1984, but it was also defeated.
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