PROP 77 CON: Measure power grab by GOP

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SACRAMENTO – Opponents of Proposition 77 agree that the current system of redistricting might need changes, but say the proposed measure is not the way to do it. The measure, they say, is an effort by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his allies to shift more seats in California to the Republican Party by splitting minority groups into different districts. “Prop. 77 is a bad idea because it represents, in essence, a political power grab,” said Paul Hefner, spokesman for the anti-77 campaign. “What you have under Prop. 77 is an effort to shift power from one set of hands to the other and to rewrite California’s Constitution for political purposes.” The measure, he said, would remove a current requirement that “communities of interest” – such as certain ethnic or socioeconomic groups – be considered in drawing district lines, meaning such groups could be more easily split, disenfranchising substantial minority populations. Also, Hefner said, retired judges tend to be older, white men, and would not represent the diversity of California. Another concern about the measure is its timeline. It is intended to take effect immediately, rather than waiting for the next census. County elections officials have complained that it would be difficult to implement the maps by the next election – the June 2006 primary. For example, they said, if the maps are not drawn by Dec. 30, 2005, when candidates can begin running, those candidates will not know which voters are eligible to sign their nomination papers and could risk being disqualified from the ballot. Additionally, the demographic data used to draw the maps in 2006 would be based on the 2000 Census, meaning the data would be 6 years old and could be substantially inaccurate in regions that are facing significant population swings, such as the Inland Empire. Several political-reform groups that oppose the measure said they support the idea of changing the redistricting process in California, but don’t believe Proposition 77 is the right path. Trudy Schafer, legislative advocate for the League of Women Voters of California, said she would like to see the maps drawn by a larger, more balanced panel that better represents California, including ordinary citizens and minority representatives. “We do want to see reform in how district lines are drawn, but we think there are too many flaws in Prop. 77,” she said. “It’s just not the way to reform the system.” Harrison Sheppard, (916) 446-6723 [email protected]last_img read more