Gerrymandering

There are two measures on the November ballot dealing with gerrymandering. 

Before you roll your eyes, let me direct you to a discussion held at UCLA a week or so ago. 

A new documentary opens this weekend called "Gerrymandering" and it looks at how politics influences the lines that are drawn to determine legislative districts.  I discussed the topic with the head of Common Cause Kathay Feng, filmmaker Jerry Reichert, and former Governor Gray Davis.  (Former GOP state Senate leader Jim Brulte was supposed to be there, but he was sick.)

Hungry for more? 

Ever wonder why the legislature in Sacramento and most of the Congressional delegation are Democrats?  Yes, California is a "blue" state.  But that blue?  It all started in 1950 when GOP lawmakers figured out a way to draw the district lines to favor their party.  A young Democratic politico named Phil Burton was paying attention.  For the next three decades, Burton redrew the lines and outfoxed his GOP colleagues to skew the lines in favor of Democrats.  This, according to a terrific biography of Phil Burton called "A Rage for Justice" by John Jacobs.  It's fascinating reading.

Two years ago, California voters took the job of drawing state district lines away from Sacramento lawmakers and gave it to an independent commission.  The two ballot measures on the November ballot would either give the job back to the legislature or let a commission draw Congressional districts as well.

Oh, and in case you were wondering where the word "gerrymandering" comes from...it's in the movie.

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