California Proposition 11 (2008)

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Proposition 11 of 2008 (or the Voters FIRST Act) was a law enacted by California voters that placed the power to draw electoral boundaries for State Assembly and State Senate districts in a Citizens Redistricting Commission, as opposed to the State Legislature. To do this the Act amended both the Constitution of California and the Government Code.[1] The law was proposed by means of the initiative process and was put to voters as part of the November 4, 2008 state elections. In 2010, voters passed Proposition 20 which extended the Citizen Redistricting Commission's power to draw electoral boundaries to include U.S. House seats as well.

Provisions[edit]

The Act amended Article XXI of the state constitution and enacted Title 2, Division 1, Chapter 3.2 of the Government Code. These changes transfer authority for establishing Assembly, Senate, and Board of Equalization district boundaries from elected representatives to a fourteen member commission. The commission is chosen as follows:

  1. Government auditors select sixty registered voters from an applicant pool.
  2. Legislative leaders are permitted to reduce the pool.
  3. Auditors then pick eight commission members by lottery, and those commissioners pick six additional members for a total of fourteen.

The commission must include five commissioners of the largest political party in California (in practice the Democrats), five commissioners from the second largest party (currently the Republicans), and four of neither party. For approval, new district boundaries need votes from three commissioners of the largest party, three from the second largest, and three of the commissioners from neither party. The commission may hire lawyers and consultants to assist it in its work.

The state legislature retains responsibility for drawing district boundaries for California's Congressional Districts, but the Act adds additional criteria that the legislature must follow in drawing those boundaries.

Supporters[edit]

California Common Cause was the advocacy group sponsoring the initiative.

Others supporting the initiative include[edit]

  • AARP
  • The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce
  • The League of Women Voters
  • Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger[2][3] (Republican)
  • Former Governor Gray Davis (Democrat)
  • ACLU - Southern California
  • Bay Area Council
  • Bay Area Leadership Council
  • California Black Chamber of Commerce
  • California Democratic Council
  • California Police Chiefs Association
  • California Republican Assembly
  • California Small Business Association
  • California Taxpayers' Association
  • Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • National Federation of Independent Business, California
  • North San Diego County NAACP
  • Neighborhoods for Clean Elections
  • Santa Clara Cities Association
  • Silicon Valley Leadership Group
  • Small Business Action Committee

See also: List of California Proposition 11 donors and supporters[dead link]

Newspaper Editorial boards in favor[edit]

Arguments in favor of Prop. 11[edit]

Notable arguments that have been made in favor of Prop. 11 include:

  • Under current law the legislature draws its own districts which results in 99 percent of incumbents being re-elected[6]
  • The initiative will open up redistricting so that it will no longer be controlled by only the party in power.
  • When state legislators are in charge of drawing district boundaries, as they are currently, there is a conflict of interest such that legislators place their own self-interest ahead of the common good.
  • A citizen's commission created according to the dictates of Prop. 11 will be able to make independent decisions leading to legislative boundaries based on fairness and the public good and not political aspirations..
  • Partisan gridlock caused by the current way of drawing legislative districts has caused the legislature to underperform in its mission of serving the people of California.,[7][8]
  • State legislative contests held in districts drawn by a Proposition 11 commission would be more competitive, leading to voters electing more moderate legislators.[9]

Donors supporting Prop 11[edit]

As of September 24, three campaign committees supporting Prop. 11 have filed officially with the Secretary of State's office. Some donors have contributed to more than one of these committees. The largest donors altogether are:

  • Gov. Schwarzenegger's California Dream Team, $2,446,000.[10]
  • Charles Munger Jr., son of billionaire Charles Munger, $1 million
  • Michael Bloomberg (the mayor of New York City), $250,000.[11]
  • Howard Lester (of Williams-Sonoma), $250,000.
  • Brian Harvey, president of Cypress Land Company, $250,000.[12]
  • Reed Hastings, founder of Netflix, $250,000 [12]
  • New Majority California PAC, $237,500.
  • Meg Whitman, CEO, eBay, $200,000.[12]
  • William Bloomfield, $150,000

City of Pasadena endorses[edit]

On Monday, March 10, 2008 the Pasadena City Council became the first California city to endorse the proposition.[13]

Path to the ballot[edit]

Kimball Petition Management was paid $2,332,988 from two separate campaign committees to collect signatures to put this measure on the ballot.[14][15][16][17] Signatures to qualify the measure for the California 2008 ballot measures|November 2008 ballot were submitted to election officials on May 6, 2008. On June 17, the California Secretary of State announced that a check of the signatures had established that the measure qualifies for the ballot.,[18][19]

Supporters file campaign financing complaint[edit]

In late August, supporters of Prop. 11 filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission because the California Correctional Peace Officers Association—a group that opposes Prop. 11—gave contributions totaling $577,000 to the Leadership California committee, which is a campaign committee associated with state senate leader Don Perata. The Prop. 11 group said that it was wrong for the police officers union to give the money to the Perata committee rather than directly to the No on 11, and also alleged that the police union was trying to curry favor with Perata. Days later, the FPPC took the rare step of rejecting the complaint without conducting an investigation.[20][21]

Opposition[edit]

The official committee set up to oppose Proposition 11 was called "Citizens for Accountability; No on Proposition 11".[22] Paul Hefner is the spokesman for the "No on 11" effort.[23]

Opponents to Prop. 11 include[edit]

  • U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer,
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,
  • the California Democratic Party,
  • the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund,
  • the NAACP Defense Fund
  • the Asian-American Pacific Legal Center

Arguments against Prop. 11[edit]

Arguments that have been claimed in opposition to Prop. 11 include:

  • No accountability to taxpayers. Each commission member is guaranteed $300 a day, plus unlimited expenses in the form of staffing, offices, etc.
  • The commission created under Prop. 11 would allow politicians to hide behind the selected bureaucrats to maintain a hold on redistricting as they wish.
  • The overly complicated process created by Prop. 11 would make it easier to mask hidden agendas of the people behind those on the committee.[24]
  • Prop. 11 offers no assurance of the same representation for communities, such as California's Hispanic community in the redistricting process.[25]
  • The current version of Prop. 11 does not include congressional districts as an earlier draft did, thereby not being complete reform and creating additional detractors to the measure.[26]
  • Even when commissions do create competitive districts, the people who get elected in them do not necessarily behave as political moderates."[27]

Democrat against Democrat[edit]

Kathay Feng, the main author of the initiative, and director of California Common Cause, said in late June that since the measure qualified for the ballot and the California Democratic Party had announced its opposition, there had been an attempt to bring everybody into line and to encourage those in support of the measure to oppose it.[28]

Donations to opposition campaign[edit]

As of September 24, the opposition committee, "Citizens for Accountability; No on 11", had raised $350,000:

  • California Democratic Party, $75,000.
  • California Correctional Peace Officers Association, Truth in American Government Fund, $250,000.
  • Members' Voice of the State Building Trades, $25,000.[29]
  • "Voter's First" campaign committee, $40,000

Polling information[edit]

A poll released on July 22, 2008 by Field Poll showed Proposition 11 with 42% support and 30% opposition.[30] A late August poll released by the Public Policy Institute of California showed Prop. 11 with 39% of voters in support.[31]

Month of Poll Polling company In Favor Opposed Undecided
July 2008 Field 42 percent 30 percent 28 percent
August 2008 PPIC 39 percent 36 percent 25 percent
Sept. 2008 PPIC 38 percent 33 percent 29 percent[32]

Result of vote[edit]

Electoral results by county.
Proposition 11[33]
Choice Votes  %
Referendum passed Yes 6,095,033 50.82
No 5,897,655 49.18
Valid votes 11,992,688 87.26
Invalid or blank votes 1,750,489 12.74
Total votes 13,743,177 100.00

References[edit]

  1. ^ Full text of Proposition 11
  2. ^ Arnold in Remap X, Newsblog, Dec. 3, 2007
  3. ^ Governor to lead effort to pass redistrict measure, San Jose Mercury News, Dec. 4, 2007
  4. ^ Los Angeles Times, "California needs re-districting reform", September 12, 2008
  5. ^ San Francisco Chronicle, "Why Californians should support Prop. 11", September 12, 2008
  6. ^ Voters First Ballot Language
  7. ^ Proposition 11 arguments in the California voter's guide
  8. ^ Field Poll makes case for Prop 11, backers say
  9. ^ Sacramento Bee, "Budget signed, Schwarzenegger sets sights on re-districting", September 24, 2008
  10. ^ Record of donors to Prop 11
  11. ^ Mercury News, Fundraising, alliances on agenda during Schwarzenegger trip, April 16, 2008
  12. ^ a b c http://www.contracostatimes.com/election/ci_10750272
  13. ^ Pasadena Now, City Council Endorses Redistricting Reform Initiative, March 11, 2008
  14. ^ Expenditure detail for Voters First
  15. ^ Expenditure detail for the California Dream Team
  16. ^ The governor, the money, and Prop. 11
  17. ^ Rose Report, "Common Cause/League of Women Voters Support Redistricting Reform"
  18. ^ KPBS News, Governor Schwarzenegger Submits Redistricting Initiative, May 7, 2008
  19. ^ Governor to chair drive to qualify redistricting measure, San Diego Union-Tribune, Dec. 3, 2007
  20. ^ Oakland Tribune, "Complaint filed over union's contributions to Perata", August 28, 2008
  21. ^ Inside Bay Area, "Money-laundering suit washes out", September 18, 2008
  22. ^ No on Prop. 11
  23. ^ San Francisco Chronicle Politics Blog, "Democrats Break Ranks on Prop. 11", August 13, 2008
  24. ^ Arguments against Prop. 11 from the "No on 11" website
  25. ^ Los Angeles Times, "Would Proposition 11 hurt minorities?", July 27, 2008
  26. ^ FEC sets fundraising cap on ballot measure, The Sacramento Bee, Dec. 15, 2007
  27. ^ Governor to chair drive to qualify redistricting measure, Fresno Bee, Dec. 3, 2007
  28. ^ Contra Costa Times, Democratic leaders accused of pressuring supporters of redistricting measure, June 21, 2008
  29. ^ Details of $5,000+ donations to No on 11
  30. ^ July 22 Field Poll results on Proposition 11
  31. ^ Contra Costa Times, "Complaint filed over union's contributions to Perata, August 28, 2008
  32. ^ San Francisco Chronicle, "Poll: Same-sex marriage ban not wooing voters", September 25, 2008
  33. ^ "Statement of Vote: 2008 General Election" (PDF). California Secretary of State. 2008-12-13. 

Additional reading[edit]

External links[edit]