Starved of money, redistricting commission closing down
June 5, 2012
• In a multi-billion dollar government, not a penny can be found
• ‘A step back into shadowed government’
The state Legislature and the governor cannot seem to find any money to keep the lights on at the nonpartisan Citizens Redistricting Commission, which drew up the first nonpartisan legislative direct maps in state history last year.
The redistricting, which is taking effect with Tuesday’s primaries, is thought to have spelled the end to so-called “safe” seats, gerrymandered by politicians to favor either the Democratic or Republican incumbent.
Now those lawmakers, some of whom are serving their last months in the Legislature, have refused to find any money to keep the commission, created by a vote of the people, going past June 30.
The voter-approved initiative creating the commission as a Constitutional agency, however, makes it clear that the commission has a continuing existence and the current commissioners have "the sole legal standing to defend any action regarding a certified map and shall inform the Legislature if it determines that funds and other resources provided for the operation of the commission are not adequate," the commission says.
"The Legislature is unquestionably responsible for providing adequate funding to defend any action regarding a certified map," says Stan Forbes, the current chairman of the Citizens Redistricting Commission. "The Legislature's decision to eliminate funding for CRC staff or to provide funding to a "host" agency for the remaining term of the commission jeopardizes its ability to respond should there be future litigation."
With the intent of minimizing costs to the state while maintaining the basic level of operational support required for the commission to fulfill its voter-approved mandates, CRC staff has inquired with multiple agencies to determine where operations might be housed while maintaining the basic level of operational support required for the commission to fulfill its voter-approved mandates.
In each instance the contacted agencies have declined the request, with the final refusal delivered May 30, just one month prior to the day the Commission's own staff will be eliminated due to defunding by the Legislature.
Neither the original voter-approved initiative that created the Citizens Redistricting Commission, Proposition 11, nor the subsequent voter-approved initiative, Proposition 20, designates a host agency or even contemplated independent operations being defunded by the Legislature.
"The commission needs to be able to maintain the CRC website, www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov, to preserve the basic level of transparency that the citizens of California deserve and have come to expect, especially in light of the referendum this November," says Mr. Forbes. "No other agency has comprehensive informational resources available to the public and restricting the commission now by defunding it and not providing a host agency is a step back into shadowed government."