Every so often, a politician gives a quote that comes nowhere close to passing the sniff test. Today’s version arrives via state Senate President Don Perata a man known for his partisanship, especially on behalf of his own interests and those of his best campaign contributors. But the Oakland Democrat was quoted today in the Oakland Tribune as objecting to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sweeping plan to end partisan gerrymandering in California because — wait for it — the proposal could be too partisan. How? Perata has the temerity to claim, apparently with a straight face, that county registrars of voters, who by law are nonpartisan officials in California and would be key to the governor’s plan, are somehow too biased politically to be trusted.
On the surface, it sounds like Perata was just looking for an excuse to oppose Schwarzenegger’s plan and this was the best he could come up with on short notice. Perata must have been scrambling, because, after all, the proposal would take the power over redistricting out of the hands of Democratic state legislators, whom he happens to lead as senate president. And after all, it was Perata who helped oversee the state’s 2001 district gerrymandering, which was widely viewed as one of the most brazen partisan displays in recent state history. Democrats redrew districts throughout the state in such a way as to make it nearly impossible for incumbents to lose.
Under Schwarzenegger’s plan, county registrars from throughout the state would select a panel of eleven commissioners — none of whom can be elected officials — to redraw the state’s district boundaries for state senators (like Perata), assembly members, and members of Congress. Perata and his cronies would have no power to select those members. Sounds a bit too partisan, doesn’t it?
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