Calif. League To Sit Out Contentious Redistricting Plan

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The California Credit Union League is as active as any league when it comes to state politics, but it plans to stay out of what is shaping up to be a bruising battle over redistricting in the Golden State.

As is typical for California politics, the chasm between Republicans and Democrats on the issue is deep. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger favors a ballot proposition that would ask the state's voters to decide in November if a panel of three retired judges would be given the responsibility of drawing new districts. If the proposition passes, the panel would redraw the lines for the 2006 elections.

Democratic leaders in the California State Senate have labeled Gov. Schwarzenegger's plan an attempt to elect more Republicans. They recently introduced their own version of a redistricting plan-calling for a seven-member commission. Members of the commission would be appointed by the governor, legislative leaders, the state Judicial Council and the president of the University of California.

Republicans have said the Democrat's proposal gives lawmakers too much control over their own districts.

No Official Position

CCUL Senior Vice President Bob Arnould, who served in the Iowa state legislature from 1977 to 1994, told The Credit Union Journal the California CU League has no official position on the redistricting issue and does not plan to take one.

"The groups involved will pull down political capital and will inundate the public with political advertising in what was an off year," he predicted. "This is not a fight the credit unions are playing in. We've had a consistent policy of being involved in issues directly related to financial services, and some indirect issues such as elder financial abuse, but we will stay focused on those issues."

According to Arnould, Iowa is one of the few states that has an objective, non-partisan redistricting process. He said Iowa's redistricting committee does not even have the home addresses of the state's legislators when it begins the process.

Arnould said he voted for the proposed non-partisan redistricting committee soon after he took office in the late 1970s.

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