Standing in the sun next door to the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other elected and organization leaders encouraged voters to approve a state proposal that will re-draw legislative districts.
Proposition 11 would create a 14-member independent citizens commission to redraw state legislative district lines based on strict non-partisan rules. Legislators drew current district lines in 2001, and many cut through neighborhoods and local communities, according to the Yes on Proposition 11 campaign.
The biggest problem with the legislature today is that there is "no urgency to solve any problems," Schwarzenegger said. Districts are organized so that there is no competition and the same politicians are re-elected time and again even though nothing gets done, he said.
"More than 70 percent of Californians wanted a new healthcare package, and the legislature didn't get it done this year," Schwarzenegger said. Politicians are more focused on getting re-elected than with helping their constituents, he added, instead of working on problems such as healthcare, water infrastructure and the budget.
Of the 314 seats up for change in the last state election, only one changed party hands. There is a 99-percent re-election rate in California legislative races.
"You had a better chance of losing an election in the supreme Soviet 60s than you do in California today," joked former State Controller Steve Westly.
Westly called the proposal a common sense, bi-partisan initiative that will create more competitive election districts and "bring democracy back to California again."
California did not have a budget for three months this year because of legislative disagreements and a general lack of cooperation, Westly said. State funded organizations such as schools and hospitals were held hostage as legislators argued over "ideological extremes."
"We should never again see a debacle like that in Sacramento," Westly said of the budget debate.
Opponents of the measure claim that it will actually increase the bureaucracy and lower accountability, because the 14-person commission would not be accountable to the voters and could actually increase the amount of money used in the redistricting process.