Sneak Attack on Open Government

L.A. City Council foiled in effort to oppose Prop. 11 redistricting measure without a public vote

Who needs open government, transparency or even a semblance of democracy -- that's the attitude of City Council President Eric Garcetti, president Pro Tem Wendy Greuel and several other council members who tried to slip through a resolution opposing Proposition 11 without a committee vote, public hearing or even giving supporters a chance to make the case for ending gerrymandered legislative and congressional districts in California.

Plucking a resolution straight out of the Rules Committee, they tried to slip it through on Friday -- with only 10 of the 15 members present because it's day normally used for proclamations and rarely for much official business. Fortunately, Dennis Zine, Greig Smith and Bill Rosendahl voted against the resolution and forced the council to take it up Tuesday.

Supporters -- Common Cause, the Chamber of Commerce, League of Women Voters, AARP, civil rights attorney Connie Rice -- went ballistic when they found out the council thinks open government should be practiced in the dark with the lights out.

They'll be out in force to argue for an independent state redistricting commission and will certainly raise questions about how the council itself has gerrymandered its own districts to make sure voters remain apathetic and the candidates owned by special interests remain unbeatable.

Proposition 11 was developed in reaction to what Democrats and Republicans did after the 2000 census. They carved up the state so almost all seats were safe, thus ensuring that moderate candidates stood little chance in party primaries since districts were lopsidedly Democrat or Republican. The result is the legislative gridlock that has led to record delays in adopting budgets, record budget deficits and the failure to solve the state's mounting problems through compromise.

The idea of an independent panel that would design competitive districts doesn't sit well with Democrats or unions. Their view is they paid to put overwhelming majorities of their candidates into the Legislature and Congress who serve their interests well and they don't need political moderates in office who have a bad habit of taking independent stands.

Even groups like MALDEF that were involved in writing Prop. 11 flip-flopped in the face of the party and union opposition and Latino and black council members got in step as well to propose the resolution opposing it. The best the Chief Legislative Analyst could do was explain the sorry history of gerrymandered districts and the legislature's failure to deal with redistricting fairly and then offer a contorted logic on why the process of picking members of the commission is too cumbersome.

So they tried a sneak attack to get the resolution approved.

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