Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hispanic business group supports Prop 20, opposes Prop 27

Yes on Prop. 20/No on Prop. 27 Will Give Latinos a Stronger Voice
By María Luisa Vela (Special to The Perez Factor)

Publisher’s Note:  Maria Luisa Vela is President of the Los Angeles Metro Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

On November 2, Latinos in California will have a clear choice:  Protect and extend voter-approved redistricting reforms that ensure their fair and effective representation in election districts, or return to the days when Sacramento politicians drew districts behind closed doors, sometimes splitting Latino communities apart to dilute their voices.

A yes vote on Proposition 20 will extend voter-approved redistricting reforms to include members of Congress, so that the independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, not legislators, will draw California’s congressional districts in addition to drawing the state’s legislative districts.  

Proposition 20 will allow Latinos to hold politicians accountable, and to vote politicians out of office when they don’t address the needs and interests of the community they were elected to represent.

Unfortunately, politicians who don’t want to be held accountable have sponsored Proposition 27, a measure that will thwart congressional redistricting reform, gut the Citizens Redistricting Commission that voters approved just two years ago, and return California to the days when politicians drew their own safe districts, virtually guaranteeing reelection for themselves and their friends even when they didn’t do their jobs.

Historically, Latinos and other minorities have had very little say in how election districts are drawn.  As a result, their communities have often been divided up and fractured, and their vote diluted.  After the 2001 California statewide redistricting, at least two California districts were challenged for purposely shutting out Latino voters in order to limit their influence, but that does not have to be the case any longer.  Under Proposition 20, the Citizens Redistricting Commission must comply with the Voting Rights Act, which expressly protects minorities against unfair voting and election schemes, and protects communities of interest by ensuring they remain intact so politicians can no longer carve out Latinos to diminish their voice and their power.

Proposition 20 will ensure an open and transparent congressional redistricting process.  It will put an end to the days when politicians met behind closed doors and entered into backroom deals like the one in which a southern California congressman and his brother, a redistricting consultant, carved a reported 170,000 Latinos out of his district so he could ensure his reelection.  In contrast, the Citizens Redistricting must hold public meetings, all information brought before the commission is part of the public record and district maps must be posted for public inspection before they are approved.

Yes on 20 and no on 27 will return power to all California voters and hold politicians accountable.  For Latinos, it is also an opportunity to protect the integrity of their communities and ensure their interests are equally represented.

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