Questions for the CA Redistricting Commission Applicants

At the end of its last meeting, the California State Auditor’s Applicant Review Panel announced a list of questions that the Panel plans to ask the remaining 120 applicants. Unfortunately, two brief but important questions are missing from the list.

First, here are the six questions announced at the end of the last meeting:

1. What specific skills do you believe a good commissioner should possess? Of those skills, which do you possess? Which do you not possess and how will you compensate for it?

2. Is there anything in your life that would prohibit or impair your ability to perform all of the duties of a commissioner?

3. Describe a circumstance from your personal experience where you had to work with others to resolve a conflict or difference of opinion. Please describe the issue, and explain your role in addressing and resolving the conflict. If you are selected to serve on the Citizens Redistricting Commission, tell us how you would resolve conflicts that may arise among the commissioners.

4. How will the commission’s work impact the state? Which of these impacts will improve the state the most? Is there any potential for the commission’s work to harm the state and, if so, in what ways?

5. Describe a situation where you have had to work as part of a group to achieve a common goal. Tell us about the goal, describe your role within the group, and tell us how the group worked or did not work collaboratively to achieve this goal.If you are selected to serve on the Citizens Redistricting Commission, tell us what you would do to foster collaboration among the commissioners and ensure the Commission meets its legal deadlines.

6. A considerable amount of the commission’s work will involve meeting with people from all over California who come from very different backgrounds and very different perspectives. If you are selected to serve on the commission, tell us about the specific skills you possess that will make you effective at interacting with the public.

And below is the text of a message that Rose Institute Fellow Douglas Johnson sent to the Applicant Review Panel requesting they ask two additional important questions:

Dear Members of the Applicant Review Panel,

As you know, and have dutifully implemented, California voters set up an extremely rigorous system of conflict of interest rules and safeguards for potential members of the Citizens Redistricting Commission when they approved Proposition 11.

Just as every fortress has a weak point, every conflict of interest safeguard has a blind spot. The easiest, and most obvious, protection against someone with improper motives getting on the Commission is to simply ask each applicant two questions: (1) who suggested they apply for the Commission, and, (2) once they were thinking about applying, who either encouraged them to apply or helped them with advice regarding their application materials.

Clearly, there is no place on the Commission for someone whose main motivation for applying was the encouragement of his or her friend the state legislator or political party organizer. The only way to uncover such issues is to ask. Proposition 11’s safeguards likely already blocked most of those willing to lie in their answer (or at least hopefully blocked those who are any good at lying). I suspect that any remaining “plant” is desperately hoping the Panel will not ask those questions.

And so, I request that you ask the following two brief questions of each applicant: who first suggested that you apply for the Commission? And who, if anyone, encouraged you to apply and/or assisted you with advice or wording on your application materials?

Thank you,

Anyone who agrees that these questions need to be asked is encouraged to contact the Applicant Review Panel at ‘‘. Interviews begin this Friday, August 6th, so please do so as soon as possible. If you read this after August 6th, interviews continue until September 13th. You can request that the Panel ask the question in writing of those whose interviews are complete.

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