Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Governor and reform groups celebrate redistricting reform victory

This afternoon I attended an event at the California Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento sponsored by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and featuring speakers from numerous groups that worked to get Proposition 11, the redistricting reform measure passed. Under the new law, an independent redistricting commission, rather than state legislators, will draw political districts lines for legislative seats following the 2010 census.

Kathay Feng, one of the lead organizers of the initiative campaign and director of California Common Cause, said Prop. 11 passed for three reasons: 1) proponents did their homework; 2) they built a strong, politically diverse coalition; and 3) they had the backing of the governor.

The Governor spoke and said that he was back at the Railroad Museum celebrating this victory because it was the place where he announced his reform agenda back at the beginning of his first term as governor in 2003. He commented that when he expressed interest in reforming the redistricting process he didn't know how hard it would be, noting the defeat of his earlier measure, Prop. 77 in 2005. Gov. Schwarzenegger said Prop. 11 passed this time because people are fed up with government and politicians, and that now we will see elections that are more competitive and reward politicians for performance.

Gov. Schwarzenegger said that some people say California cannot be governed and suggest splitting it up, but that he disagrees, and said it has been proven that we can fix a broken system, pointing to worker's comp reform, the passage of $42 billion in infrastructure bonds, and California's global warming law.

Janice HIrohama from the League of Women Voters also spoke and said that the fight for Prop. 11 isn't over, and that now we have to ensure the measure is implemented well and the guidelines articulated in the measure realized. Other speakers included representatives from AARP and the California Conference of Carpenters; both groups had numerous members in the audience for the event. More details about the Prop. 11 victory and the Governor's thoughts on new political reforms to push for, such as an open primary process for California elections, are featured in this excellent article by John Howard published in Monday's Capitol Weekly.

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