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New redistricting panel takes aim at bizarre political boundaries

As the Citizens Redistricting Commission begins its work next month, members say, the 23rd Congressional District — which snakes 200 miles up the California coast — will be a good reminder of what not to do.

December 19, 2010|By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times

Clayton cites the example of congressional districts that divide the city of Long Beach. Part of that city is split into a district shared with Compton, making it easier, at least theoretically, for an African American to be elected. If Long Beach is kept in one congressional district without Compton, it could mean the loss of an African American seat, Clayton said.

Bob Hertzberg, who was Assembly speaker during the 2001 redistricting, said he doubts the new method will produce significant change in the numbers of Democratic- and Republican-held seats, because that is largely a function of voter registration.

"I don't think it makes a hill of beans' difference,'' he said. Still, he supported the ballot measure that took the job from the Legislature. "It's about restoring public confidence in government. You can't have people thinking that politicians are self-dealing.''

After last month's election, Schwarzenegger said the old method polarized government and contributed to its dysfunction.

"To win those districts, you had to be far to the left or far to the right," he said, "and of course that is why it is very tough here in Sacramento to get things done.''

patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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