A recent article appearing in LA Weekly takes an in-depth look at Proposition 11. The article attempts to explain what Proposition 11 hopes to accomplish to novices of the redistricting process, entitling the article “Proposition 11: The Most Misunderstood.” The article also highlights some particularly notable cases of gerrymandering and the details of how the process currently works in Sacramento.
Like snapping a freeze-frame photo, the 2001 deal cynically preserves the number of legislative seats held by Democrats and by Republicans, cementing the partiesâ€™ balance of power over California. Voters can thank former Republican leader Jim Brulte and former Democratic leader Bob Hertzberg, among others.
Newbie legislator Canciamilla remembers how he was called into an office near the Capitol, where, in strict privacy, thenâ€“Assembly Speaker Hertzberg showed him the maps and essentially told him what shape his 11th District might take.
â€œIt was not presented as an option,â€ he recalls. â€œI just said, â€˜Hey, as long as you donâ€™t split it up too crazy, whatever you need to do.â€™â€
Secrecy reigns over the practice. The Assembly, for example, has an Elections and Redistricting Committee. But its chief consultant, Ethan Jones, says he really doesnâ€™t know how redistricting is done â€” and suggests the Weekly instead contact Jim Wisley, a specialist assigned to Speaker Karen Bassâ€™ office by the Assembly Rules Committee. Wisley confirms he was heavily involved in 2001 remapping but declined to comment, saying he only builds databases.