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Related Categories: California | Government & Elections
California Voters FIRST Asks Senate President pro Tem Don Perata For Meeting Before Back Room Deal is Made
by Ryan Rauzon (rrauzon [at] caforward.org)
Wednesday Jun 25th, 2008 12:31 PM
“We are disappointed in Senator Perata’s choice to host a private meeting among lobbyists and special interest groups to work against this measure before taking the time to meet with us to better understand this proposal and how it will help Californians. The California Voters FIRST Act is exactly what the people of this state want – the opportunity to put themselves back in charge through a fair redistricting process that allows the voters to pick their representatives and hold them accountable for producing results,” said Kathay Feng, Executive Director of California Common Cause.
California Voters FIRST Asks Senate President pro Tem Don Perata For Meeting Before Back Room Deal Is Made

Sacramento – AARP, California Common Cause, The League of Women Voters of California – all proponents of the California Voters FIRST initiative sent a letter to Senate President pro Tem Don Perata (D – Alameda) today expressing disappointment at the Senator’s recent actions regarding the measure. The three organizations also requested an opportunity to meet with the Senator to discuss how this measure will benefit the people of California.

“We are disappointed in Senator Perata’s choice to host a private meeting among lobbyists and special interest groups to work against this measure before taking the time to meet with us to better understand this proposal and how it will help Californians. The California Voters FIRST Act is exactly what the people of this state want – the opportunity to put themselves back in charge through a fair redistricting process that allows the voters to pick their representatives and hold them accountable for producing results,” said Kathay Feng, Executive Director of California Common Cause.

Below and attached is the full text of the letter.

June 25, 2008

The Honorable Don Perata
Senate President Pro Tem
California State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Senator Perata:

We have recently learned of an email circulating among Sacramento lobbyists and special interests about a meeting with you and your political consultant regarding the redistricting initiative we are sponsoring – the California Voters FIRST Act. Additionally, we have heard of discussions that you have begun soliciting donations into a political account expressly to defeat California Voters FIRST. This initiative would end a major conflict of interest by removing the power of politicians to draw their own districts; as a result, it would help to ensure elected officials are truly accountable to voters.

For years, you have publicly stated that you support redistricting reform and you helped Senator Lowenthal pass his redistricting bills out of the Senate in 2006 and 2007. Given your public commitment to redistricting reform and your discussions with us in past years, we are surprised to learn that you have decided to oppose our initiative without first talking with us and giving us the opportunity to address any of your concerns.

This letter is a formal request for a meeting with you and any members of your staff that you would like to invite. In anticipation of the meeting, there is some important information about the initiative we want to make sure you have.

First, the California Voters FIRST initiative will finally create an open and fair redistricting system that gives voters a real voice and will help break the policy gridlock in Sacramento. As you know, our current system has failed to accomplish this. For example, 99 percent of incumbents were re-elected in the last general election in the districts they had drawn for themselves, and 100 percent of incumbents were re-elected in the election before that. California Voters FIRST will put voters before politics by creating a diverse and knowledgeable independent commission to draw district lines based on clearly-ranked criteria. These criteria require that the lines be drawn based on the Voting Rights Act and the protection of cities, neighborhoods and communities of interest. We hope that you will meet with us to discuss how these criteria will better protect minority communities and local jurisdictions than the current politicized redistricting process does.

Our first consideration in drafting this measure was that the will of California voters be respected and protected for decades to come – which this initiative will do. The California Voters FIRST redistricting initiative will finally create a transparent and public redistricting process that specifically addresses the need to respect the will of California voters by focusing on protecting the rights of communities of interest.

Our campaign is built on a strong, bipartisan foundation made up of groups of people and organizations who believe we must change the current political system in California for the good of the state, not for the good of any particular special interest. Our campaign is led by AARP, California Common Cause, and the League of Women Voters of California. It also enjoys the support of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, California Democratic Council and dozens of local Democratic Clubs.

There exists a small group of political operatives (both Democrat and Republican) who benefit from backroom deals to draw legislative maps to ensure the reelection of incumbents. Clearly there is no way those operatives are going to give up that kind of power willingly. This is a campaign about challenging the status quo and not allowing entrenched political forces to keep playing the same games they have played for decades.

Finally, we appreciate the interest you’ve taken in redistricting and your support for reform in previous years. Before you take a position on our initiative, we ask that you give us the courtesy of meeting with us to better understand the specifics of our proposal and how it will help Californians. We think you will find our measure to be exactly what the people of this state want – the opportunity to put themselves back in charge through a fair redistricting process that allows the voters to pick their representatives and hold them accountable for producing results.

Janis R. Hirohama
President
League of Women Voters of California

Kathay Feng
Executive Director
California Common Cause

Jeannine English
President
California State AARP
-30-

Paid for by California Voters First, Business Leaders, Governor Schwarzenegger & Public Interest Groups Committed to Redistricting Reform. Major Funding by Governor Schwarzenegger's California Dream Team Committee and Michael Bloomberg.



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