Assemblyman to talk on fire tax and redistricting

ANZA – On Wednesday, Nov. 28, at the Anza Community Hall at 7 p.m., Assemblyman Brain Nestande of the former 64th District will be visiting the community to answer some questions on the new fire tax and the newly formed Assembly District 71.

This is sponsored by the Anza Community Hall to benefit the public. The Community Hall is in the heart of Anza on Hwy 371.

According to his website, “Assemblyman Nestande began his professional career working as a field representative for Congressman Michael Huffington after graduating from California State University Fullerton with a degree in Political Science.

“In 1994, he managed Sonny Bono’s successful congressional campaign and subsequently served as his Chief of Staff in Washington D.C. After the untimely passing of Congressman Bono, Assemblyman Nestande managed Mary Bono’s campaign to succeed her husband in the House of Representatives. He served as Congresswoman Bono’s Chief of Staff until 2000 when he returned to Palm Desert to start his consulting practice.

“Using his business as a springboard, Assemblyman Nestande has been active in confronting the important issues facing Riverside County and the rest of California. He has formed good working relationships with community leaders and elected officials which will enable him to effectively represent their interests in the State Capitol.

“Assemblyman Nestande resides in Palm Desert with his wife Gina and their seven children.”

Voters FIRST Act influences redistricting in California in 2012 (source: Wikipedia)

Redistricting occurs ever 10 years after each censes. This is the first time the newly redistricting law has affected the redistricting outcome. Here is some history on that act.

The Voters FIRST Act, Prop 11 was a law enacted by California voters in 2008 that placed the power to draw electoral boundaries for State Assembly and State Senate districts in a Citizens Redistricting Commission, as opposed to the State Legislature. To do this, the Act amended both the Constitution of California and the Government Code.

The law was proposed by means of the initiative process and was put to voters as part of the Nov. 4, 2008 state elections. In 2010, voters passed Proposition 20 which extended the Citizen Redistricting Commission’s power to draw electoral boundaries to include U.S. House seats as well.

Prop 11 purposes: Under old law the legislature drew its own districts which results in 99 percent of incumbents being re-elected. Prop 11 would open up redistricting so that it will no longer be controlled by only the party in power. A citizen’s commission would be created according to the dictates of Prop. 11 will be able to make independent decisions leading to legislative boundaries based on fairness and the public good and not political aspirations.

In accordance with the Voters FIRST Act (Act), the California State Auditor randomly selected the first eight members of the first Citizens Redistricting Commission (Commission) on Nov. 18, 2010. These first eight commissioners – three who are Democrats, three who are Republican, and two who are either Decline-to-State or are registered with another party – were part of the 36 eligible applicants that remained in the sub-pools after the legislative leaders, exercised their authority to make strikes and eliminated the names of 24 applicants from the pool of 60 of the most qualified applicants identified on Sept. 23, 2010 by the Auditor’s Applicant Review Panel (Panel).

The Panel reviewed and evaluated the applicants based on criteria set forth by the Act approved by voters in November 2008; including relevant analytical skills, the ability to be impartial; and a demonstrated appreciation for California’s diverse demographics and geography.

The Voters First Act and Voters First Act for Congress amended Article XXI section 2(d) of the California Constitution to establish a set of rank-ordered criteria that the Commission followed to create new districts:

Population Equality: Districts must comply with the U.S. Constitution’s requirement of “one person, one vote”

Federal Voting Rights Act: Districts must ensure an equal opportunity for minorities to elect a candidate of their choice

Geographic Contiguity: All areas within a district must be connected to each other, except for the special case of islands

Geographic Integrity: Districts shall minimize the division of cities, counties, local neighborhoods and communities of interests to the extent possible, without violating previous criteria. A community of interest is a contiguous population which shares common social and economic interests that should be included within a single district for purposes of its effective and fair representation.

Geographic Compactness: To the extent practicable, and where this does not conflict with previous criteria, districts must not bypass nearby communities for more distant communities

Nesting: To the extent practicable, and where this does not conflict with previous criteria, each Senate district will be comprised of two whole Assembly districts, Board of Equalization districts will be comprised of 10 Senate districts.

In addition, incumbents, political candidates or political parties cannot be considered when drawing districts. Article XXI section 2(b) of the California Constitution also requires that the Commission “conduct an open and transparent process enabling full public consideration of and comment on the drawing of district lines.”

As documented in its final report, the Commission engaged in an extensive public input process that included 34 hearings across the state where 2700 citizens and a diverse range of organized groups gave public testimony, including organizations such as the League of Women Voters, California Forward, Common Cause, the California Chamber of Commerce (Cal Chamber), Equality California, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and the Sierra Club. Over 20,000 written public comments were submitted through the website, via email or fax.

Since the process was open, partisans were among those who attempted to influence the Commission during the public hearing process to ensure the resulting districts were drawn in their favor.

In a much-cited article, the investigative journalism publisher Pro Publica found evidence that the California Democratic Party leaders coordinated with community groups to testify in front of the Commission, and concluded that these efforts had manipulated the process. While the California Republican Party was quick to call for an investigation, other political observers were less surprised and noted that similar Republican efforts during the hearing process were simply less effective. In a response to the story, the Commission stated that it “had its eyes wide open” and “were not unduly influenced by that.”

To learn more and to view redistricting maps go to

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