Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pushing for redistricting reform -- in California. With the mayor also trying to change term limits back home, some critics see a contradiction. From the New York Times :
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg visited California on Wednesday to stump for a measure that would prevent legislators there from redrawing their district maps, a practice that he contends is a self-serving way for lawmakers to keep themselves in office.
Back in New York City, where Mr. Bloomberg is stumping for a measure that would allow him to keep his job as mayor for a third term, some saw a touch of irony.
"This is pure hypocrisy, plain and simple," said Councilwoman Letitia James of Brooklyn, who opposes Mr. Bloomberg's plan to revise New York City's term limits law so it would allow 12 years in office instead of 8.
This strikes me as a very odd criticism. You can't be in favor of non-partisan redistricting and against term limits? Sure, term limits and non-partisan redistricting both hurt incumbents, but isn't it possible that someone would judge each issue on standards other than their effect on incumbents?
What's more interesting to me is that Bloomberg still styles himself as a national reformer, even though his presidential ambitions never went anywhere and even though he's trying to serve another term in New York City. Not many mayors travel 3,000 miles to campaign for ballot measures.
By the way, now seems like a good time to add the California redistricting vote to Governing's ballot measure guide. Here's what I added:
Issue: Prop. 11, an initiative that takes the power to redraw legislative districts out of the hands of state legislators and creates a bipartisan commission to handle the task.
Analysis: After a prolonged budget stalemate earlier this year, pretty much everyone agrees that California government is a mess. That would seem to work in Prop. 11's favor. The measure creates a check on the power of the (very unpopular) legislature and, supporters argue, would lead to a more moderate legislature. The dynamics seemed quite similar in 2005, however, when a redistricting reform measure was walloped in California. There are differences with this year's proposal. For one, unlike the 2005 initiative, it doesn't include congressional redistricting. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and most conservative groups favor the measure, while Democrats and unions oppose it.
GOVERNING Politics is the place for news and analysis on campaigns and elections. If there's a ballot measure in California, a legislative election in Alabama, a mayoral election in Anchorage or a governor's race in Rhode Island, GOVERNING Politics probably is writing about it. We love everything about state and local politics, from polls and campaign ads to policy debates and demographic trends.