Long accused of gerrymandering their own districts to protect themselves and their political interests, the Los Angeles City Council voted 10-3 Tuesday to oppose Proposition 11 on the Nov. 4 California ballot, a measure that would create an independent Redistricting Commission to draw new electoral boundaries for the State Legislature after the 2010 Census.
Supporters -- the ACLU, Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, AARP, League of Women Voters among many others -- have argued the Legislature created districts for itself that freeze out moderate voices and resulted in gridlock in Sacramento. Under the current formula created by the Legislature, few districts are competitive, making primaries tantamount to election and giving liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans an overwhelming advantage.
Former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg, former L.A. Chamber head David Fleming and City Controller Laura Chick appealed to the City Council to support Prop. 11 at a public hearing Tuesday which was forced on the council when Councilman Grieg Smith, Dennis Zine and Bill Rosendo foiled an effort through on Friday to pass the resolution opposing the measure.
Polls show voters are evenly divided on Prop. 11 in the face of a strong effort by the Democratic Party to defeat it and keep control of designing districts in the hands of the Legislature where they hold roughly a 3-2 advantage. They have picked up support from various minority voting rights groups.
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Hertz berg and others argued federal law protects minority voting rights and the purpose of Prop. 11 is to create a better balance of political views in the Legislature which has twice run up spectacular budget deficits in this decade and faced accusations of failing to deal with California's problems despite the strong Democratic majorities.
Councilman Richard Alarcon and other opponents claimed the ballot measure was an attempt by Republicans, particularly Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who has put up $2.5 million for the Prop. 11campaign, to take away minority gains in the Legislature and achieve gains for themselves through the redistricting process they have been unable to achieve at the ballot box under the current system.