Representative government ain’t what it used to be

Sen. Ted Gaines He's out of here

Sen. Ted Gaines
He’s out of here

You would think the people who represent us in Congress and the state legislature would be able to find a nice place to live in the sprawling geographic regions they represent.

But that apparently is a problem. State Sen. Ted Gaines, whose district includes Truckee, has gained permission from the state Senate to move from Rocklin to Roseville, outside his district. (That puts him closer to Sacramento if he gets elected Insurance Commissioner in November.)

Sen. Jim Nielsen Gerber or Woodland?

Sen. Jim Nielsen
Gerber or Woodland?

Our other state Senator, Jim Nielsen, claims he lives in Gerber (Tehama County), but apparently also spends a lot of time in Woodland, which is outside his district. Nielsen says he lives in Woodlood when he’s conducting business at the Capitol or the parts of his district that are near Sacramento.

Then there’s one of our congressmen, Rep. Tom McClintock, a long-time resident of southern California who discovered our little corner of paradise when he got termed out of the state legislature.

But at least McClintock has the law on his side. Federal law requires only that congressional candidates live in the state they represent, not the district.

California is a little more demanding–when the state legislature chooses to enforce the law. Legislative candidates must be eligible voters in the district they seek to represent for a year before an election and must be residents of California for three years.

Nielsen has been cleared in several investigations, but two of his Republican colleagues have been sued by opposing candidates for allegedly violating the residency rule. Neither suit was successful.

In theory these violations are the province of our 58 district attorneys, but they’re not always eager to go after potential scofflaws. After the Sacramento Bee “outed” a Democratic Assemblyman in Sacramento, the DA tossed the case to the office of the Secretary of State, which decided not to prosecute after conducting an investigation it won’t discuss.

But state Sen. Rod Wright was convicted of lying about where he lives, and has taken a leave of absence from the Senate while he awaits sentencing. “I don’t know if it will make them more honest,” Jack Pitney, a professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College, told the Bee. “But it will make them more careful, which isn’t exactly the same thing.”

But why should they care if the legislature won’t enforce its own rules and DAs won’t prosecute? At least we know where Rep. Doug LaMalfa and state Assemblyman Brian Dahle live, right?

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13 Responses to Representative government ain’t what it used to be

  1. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a problem if our majority party would stop redrawing the district lines….

    • Every party in power when it comes time to reapportion redraws district to benefit its members. (The term “gerrymander” was inspired by Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry, whose redistricting map in 1812 included a district that looked like a salamander.)

      When the Democrats redistricted California in 2000 and 2010, they made the Republicans an offer they couldn’t refuse: Don’t make waves and we’ll guarantee the districts you already control.

      Every candidate knows the boundaries of his district when he decides to run. If he gets elected, he can at least live in the district.

    • Joe Koyote says:

      And just who would draw the lines, the minority? The net result of that in California would be for republicans to have greater representation than their numbers deserve. The reason CA is Democratically controlled is because that is how the people voted. We live in a society that is governed by majority rule. Too bad for minority opinions, but that is the situation whether you like it or not. If republicans ran people who weren’t so out of touch with the people they are supposed to represent they might win more elections. It’s that simple.

  2. Todd Juvinall says:

    Sorry but the latest gerrymander was done by the citizens committee put in place by the voters. Unfortunately it stated the committee would be drawn by the (I think) the State Controller. Well he was a democrat and the process was hijacked by the dems and we now have a super majority of those creatures running the place.

  3. stevefrisch says:

    Redistricting: happens every 10 years by state constitutional requirement. Last time it was more open, less partisan, less influenced by outside interests and created more rational boundaries than ever in California history because it was done by a citizens commission decided by lottery.

    • Todd Juvinall says:

      No it was the worst actually. It made the left the permanent boss here (which I see suits you just fine) and was a travesty. I attended the hearing in Auburn which was to get people’s input. They screwed all those people there. Not one member of the panel north of Woodland on the commission. They moved the lines so well that they gave one party a super majority even though the registration would not allow it. It was a joke.

    • Are you calling me a liberal? Jeff Pelline thinks I’m a knuckle-dragging conservative.

      I think I’ve found the sweet spot.

  4. Todd Juvinall says:

    I was not calling you a liberal GB I was calling TheFrisch.

  5. Todd Juvinall says:

    We are a plurality elected state. There is a 20% or more indie vote which is not represented here. So the benefactors are the democrats. If the state was accurately drawn there would be a very different makeup in the legislature and the Congress.

  6. stevefrisch says:

    Ah, the beat goes on. California’s redistricting commission is getting national attention for finally breaking the bad of special interest politics running redistricting. The commissions activities have been reviewed by no less that 4 separate scholarly institutions to see if it may be a model for national implementation. But many who cannot stand the fact that demographics are not on their side in the next 30 years can’t stand it, largely because it is clean and fair.

    • Todd Juvinall says:

      The process was highjacked by partisan democrats and the proof ot that is in the numbers in the Legislature and Congress. The Sac Bee is not a good source for the veracity of the process. Maybe they should have interviewed the state’s that redistricted elsewhere. Our process is a joke.

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