The vote was nearly unanimous and the next day, the Assembly followed suit in a rare showing of bipartisan unanimity.
In a moment of understatment, then Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg was quoted as saying, “I understand it’s not a perfect plan.”
Indeed, the plan preserved the status quo, cut across communities of interest, advantaged some minority groups at the expense of others and most importantly made sure that nearly every district in the Assembly, Senate and Congress was safely in the hands of Democrats or Republicans.
That’s why we have seen nothing but legislative gridlock ever since, a budget catastrophe that led to the recall of Gov. Gray Davis and an even worse one today that ought to cost them all their elected offices.
With all but a few districts in the hands of one party or another, primary elections almost always go to very liberal Democrats and very conservative Republicans and the general elections are a farce with little chance of the minority party in the district pulling off an upset.
“We won’t have to worry about elections
for six, eight, 10 years because they are all preset. Everybody wins,”
said a rare independent voice, Republican Assemblyman Tim Leslie. “What happened to drawing
lines for the people of the state rather than ourselves?”
The problem in the Legislature isn’t the constitutional requirement of a two-thirds majority to adopt a state budget or the taxpayer protections of Prop. 13. It is the lack of centrists, people who reflect the views of the majority of voters in the mainstream of our political life.
They needed the darkness of tragedy, of a nation in shock and shaken by fear, to enact a redistricting plan that was embroiled in controversy and conflict as late as Sept. 10, the day before the Twin Towers came down.
The result of the legislature’s action on redistricting has been a catastrophe for the people of California — a catastrophe that will diminish the quality of our lives for years to come.
The latest budget deal isn’t a solution to the state’s financial crisis. The problem is masked over for the moment by robbing the cities, counties and schools, freeing hardened criminals onto our streets and cutting off services to the old, the poor and the sick.
The ideologues are still in charge and in service to the same special interests.. They have fought every effort to bring about competitive legislative districts, respect geographical boundaries and communities of interests.
We don’t need a constitutional convention that strips away protections of taxpayers. We need fair and balanced districts where moderates can be elected, people who will represent the disenfranchised majority of the citizenry.
So that’s the answer to the question why those people are laughing: They are sticking it to the people once again and think they can get away with it once again.