The redistricting commission has approved the final, final political maps for state lawmakers, California's members of Congress and the four-member Board of Equalization. Now the scramble begins, as politicians look around for a safer haven. And many of them are looking at Congress, which has no term limits.
From Marisa Lagos in the Chronicle: "If the maps survive any legal or ballot box challenges, they will remain in place for the next decade, and could give Democrats the chance to seize a two-thirds majority in the state Senate. The new boundaries may also lead to fewer Republican members of Congress. California has 53 congressional representatives; currently, Republicans hold 19 of those seats."
"The overwhelming majority of commissioners voted in favor of the new lines, including Chairman Vincent Barabba, a Republican from Capitola (Santa Cruz County), who said that in past years when lawmakers drew their own boundaries, the two major parties often struck deals to protect incumbent lawmakers."
"He noted that since 2002, California has held 765 congressional and legislative elections, yet only five seats have changed parties, and predicted that the true impact of the commission and new maps won't be felt for several years. He urged critics of the new maps to look at the "totality" of the state, rather than only their district."
On the day the maps are approved, Republicans announced they'll seek a referendum to ask voters to overturn the new districts. The LA Times' Patrick McGreevy and Rich Simon report.
"GOP lawmakers and activists have formed a committee called Fairness & Accountability in Redistricting to launch a petition drive to overturn the state Senate lines, according to Republican political consultant Dave Gilliard. The new district boundaries could give Democrats the two-thirds majority in the Legislature needed to pass taxes."
"The Senate Republican Caucus has voted to endorse the referendum drive, according to Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton of Rancho Cucamonga."
"As an individual I do support it and I indicated my willingness to try to help raise some money for the referendum," Dutton said. "I just think it [the redistricting plan] is questionable. The people of California were hoping for an open and free process that was free of political influence and I'm not so sure that's what they got."
Meawnhile, the flap continues over lawmakers' release of their office schedules and records, an issue that pops up every few years and then subsides with a whimper. So far the information released is incomplete, notes the AP's Juliet Williams.
"The Assembly this month released budget figures that should have shined a light on lawmakers' spending, after a formal request for them from a legislator who is embroiled in a feud with the Democratic leadership over his office budget."
"Instead, the documents offer an incomplete and at times contradictory picture. For example, they show some rank-and-file Republican lawmakers -- in the minority party -- with more lavish budgets than the Assembly speaker or the Democratic heads of powerful committees."
"The numbers were released in response to a request from Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada-Flintridge, who is feuding with Assembly Speaker John Perez. He says Perez, a fellow Democrat, slashed Portantino's office budget when he refused to vote for the state budget earlier this summer. Perez says Portantino was overspending, a charge Portantino denies."
Meanwhile, it's back to the real business of the Capitol, tax breaks, with the Bee's Dan Walters taking a look at a half-billion-dollar boon to California's movie industry -- a loophole that is a particular favorite of Democrats.
"Two years ago, former movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a tax credit for in-state film production. This year, Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar, introduced legislation to extend the $100 million-per-year subsidy for five additional years – potentially creating a half-billion-dollar hit on the state budget."
"Assembly Bill 1069 sailed through the Assembly on a 77-1 vote – the sole dissenter being Fullerton Republican Chris Norby – and then through the Senate Governance and Finance Committee unanimously."
"It hit the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday and was universally praised by committee members and lobbyists for the film industry and its unions."
"As supporters told it, the tax credit makes California more competitive with rival states, has had a beneficial impact on stemming "runaway production," and saves thousands of jobs that otherwise would vanish."
And from our "You've Got to be Kidding Me" file, comes the tale of a fire department official who claimed physical disability and refused to come to work, while at the same time was doing bodybuilding. No fraud here, though.
"Carris had reminded jurors that Arroyo had complained his back problems were so bad he had trouble lifting a piece of paper. At the same time, she noted, he was working out twice a day, at times using dumbbells to squat more than 200 pounds."
“It’s like telling people at work that you can’t type because your fingers are bothering you, but you’re a concert pianist in your spare time,” Carris said in asking jurors to convict Arroyo."
"In addition to asserting the government hadn’t proved its case, Watkins said, “Bodybuilding or not, Albert Arroyo had a good faith basis for filing the [disability] application.” He noted that the former firefighter had first sought treatment for on-the-job back injuries in 2000."