The respected Pew Research Center several hours ago revealed that Americans from all walks of life are beset with distrust for government at all levels, plummeting from 73 percent who said they trusted government in the Eisenhower era, to only 22 percent who say so today.

This week's Exhibit One, illustrating why L.A. residents are expressing disgust with Los Angeles City Hall, the California State Legislature, Schwarzenegger and Congress, is U.S. Representative Howard Berman of Valley Village.

Berman is fighting to bring back the California legislure's ability to gerrymander. In short, Berman is trying to make sure candidates can continue to pick and choose their voters, by drawing strange shapes on a map and calling that a “voting district.”  

Here's how Berman's gerrymandering scam, currently banned under state law Proposition 11, works:

First, a bunch of California state legislators with terrible, terrible approval ratings from the public go behind closed doors with a group of computer experts. They carefully separate as many Democratic voters as possible into bizarrely shaped “voting districts,” while at the same time using the same computer program to draw around, and carefully separate, as many Republicans as possible into their own “voting districts.”

These computer-drawn and completely meaningless “voting district” lines cross right over city lines, cut apart cohesive communities, jaunt up and down mountainsides, even go through California rivers.

Then, once the California state legislators have separated out voters based on whether they are Dems or GOP, the two big parties — the Dems and GOP — both choose handpicked candidates to run in these badly distorted districts. 

Then, voila! There is no real contest on Election Day. The carefully corralled voters in these fake “voting districts” elect whomever they are spoonfed by either the GOP or the Dems. The results are known months before Election Day because it's all rigged and there is no actual contest.

California voters said NO to this rigging of elections by approving Proposition 11. California voters decided they wanted real voting districts that represent real communities of interest and respect city limits and that stop at mountain ranges and so on.

Despite intense efforts by leading politicians to persuade them otherwise, California voters said “let the voting district lines get drawn by a panel of citizens, not by politicians.” That is the new state law.

Berman's November ballot measure — his group calls itself “FAIR” — would wipe out that brand-new California law. And look who is lavishing FAIR with a $2 million loan to stamp out the citizen panel: billionaire Haim Saban, a guy with friends in high places who is once again out to protect the status quo.

Thanks to Paul Hatfield at Village to Village blog, here are the names of just a few of the California and Los Angeles politicians putting very big money into overturning the new California law and bringing back gerrymandering by the state legislature:

Karen Bass $50,000;  

Alex Padilla $15,000; 

Linda Sanchez


Nancy Pelosi $10,000;

Mike Honda $10,000;

Diane Watson $10,000;

Howard Berman $10,000;

Judy Chu


LA Weekly