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Nuñez proposes panel to redraw districts

The Assembly speaker wants members chosen by the Legislature, governor and judges. He hopes to put a measure on the February ballot.

August 31, 2007|Nancy Vogel | Times Staff Writer

Pelosi and others in California's congressional delegation have warned Nuñez that they will campaign against any redistricting measure that includes their districts. Nuñez said he was taking the threat seriously but would try to win Pelosi's support.

Democrats have little to fear from an independent redistricting, Nuñez said, and could actually gain numbers in the Legislature they already dominate.

"We've got nothing to lose," Nuñez said.

Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), author of a separate redistricting measure that has passed the Senate and is awaiting a vote in the Assembly, called Nuñez's approach "worlds better" than the traditional backroom map-drawing. But he said the commission that Nuñez envisions would be too heavily weighted with commissioners picked by lawmakers.

It also slights unaffiliated voters, said Lowenthal, who are the fastest-growing segment of the electorate.

"I don't like the eight [commissioners] that come from the Legislature," he said. "It's almost half of them. There's no screening of them by anybody else but the legislative leadership."

Tony Quinn, co-editor of the California Target Book, which tracks legislative and congressional races, agreed. He said he "smelled a rat" in the way lawmakers could control eight of 17 members.

"It sounds too convoluted," he said, "and too self-serving."

Lowenthal's plan, which is modeled on a commission that was created in Arizona, draws upon a pool of citizens screened by retired judges. It would include four Republicans, four Democrats and three independent or third-party voters.



Remap panels

A dozen states give primary responsibility for drawing legislative districts to commissions rather than their legislatures. They are:

* Alaska

* Arizona

* Arkansas

* Colorado

* Hawaii

* Idaho

* Missouri

* Montana

* New Jersey

* Ohio

* Pennsylvania

* Washington

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

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