Politics and FAIRness

Republicans’ ploy to overturn or delay new district maps

As I was leaving Safeway the other day, a signature-gatherer beckoned: Would I sign a petition “to make voting districts more fair?”

Only that wasn’t what the petition was about. Not even close.

“This is the Republican Party’s attempt to overthrow the citizens’ commission’s legislative redistricting plan because they don’t like its look,” I said.

The signature-gatherer grinned. “Yeah, I know,” he said sheepishly. “I wouldn’t sign it either.”

A group called FAIR, for Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting, is the GOP front for the initiative. It makes several arguments against the independent commission’s plan, but its real motive is concern that Democrats will win a two-thirds majority in the state Senate and thus be able to end the minority Republicans’ veto power on tax bills.

The initiative will likely be on the June 2012 ballot, but it’s just as likely to fail. Californians are confident the independent citizens’ commission did a good job. But when the measure qualifies, it will delay use of the new districts until at least the 2014 election cycle. If that happens, and in the meantime, the Supreme Court will be compelled to appoint special masters to adjust the boundary lines. Who knows what that will produce?

Speaking of Republicans: I’ve taken quite a few shots at our congressman, Wally Herger, and our assemblyman, Dan Logue, over the years. So it’s only fair that I laud them when they do good work.

A Herger-authored bill, HR 674, the “3% Withholding Repeal and Job Creation Act,” has passed both houses of Congress with bipartisan support and strong backing from President Obama. The bill repeals legislation that would have required government agencies at all levels to withhold 3 percent of their payments to vendors for goods and services. It was a bad bill and deserved to be repealed.

Assemblyman Logue recently received an award from the California State Rural Health Association honoring his authorship of AB 415, the Telehealth Advancement Act of 2011. Telehealth technology holds tremendous promise for the delivery of health care in rural areas, and Logue’s bill took several steps to smooth the way for its increased use. The bill passed both houses of the Legislature without a single nay vote.

It’s encouraging to see our representatives doing constructive, bipartisan work.

A looming test of loyalty: It’s starting to look like the Niners and the Packers will both end up in the NFC playoffs and maybe even go head-to-head. What will Chico’s 49ers fans do then? What will I do?

I’ve been a more-or-less faithful 49er fan since the days of Y.A. Tittle and Leo Nomellini—more faithful when they won and less so when they lost, which they often did of late. When the Niners were floundering, it was easy to root for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

Now that S.F. is winning again, who do I root for? Talk about existential angst.

Robert Speer is editor of the CN&R.