The first eight members to be empaneled on California's new Citizens Redistricting Commission met today for the first time. The commission is charged with apportioning the state into different geographical areas that will represent House, State Legislature, and Board of Equalization districts. As described by KQED's John Myers, the creation of the commission represents a unique approach to setting these important boundaries, which traditionally have been a means of gaining partisan advantage or protecting incumbency through the exploitation of demographic voting patterns. This process, instituted through voter initiatives, has now been taken away from political officeholders and put in the hands of private citizens.
While the commission's first meeting may not be the most scintillating web content you've ever consumed, I have to say I'm finding it fairly fascinating to watch the embryonic stages of something that has at least the potential to change the political map of California in a way that could endanger formerly entrenched incumbents. The first eight of an eventual 14 commissioners, chosen by lottery, include the CEO of a management and marketing firm, a self-employed attorney, a bookstore owner, and a former research analyst who is now a full-time caregiver to her father.
Watch the commissions' first meeting by clicking on the logo or the link below:
UPDATE 1:40 P.M. John Myers reports on all the hot and heavy action from today's meeting on Capital Notes. He sums up the daunting task of the fledgling public servants this way:
Eight of the eventual 14 members of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission took the oath of office this morning from state Auditor Elaine Howle, perhaps the simplest action they will take between now and next summer.
In that period of time, they'll have to draw 120 legislative districts, four state Board of Equalization districts, and (most likely) 53 congressional districts -- all the while being scrutinized and criticized by just about everyone who wants those maps to represent one thing or another.