TUESDAY | Aug. 12, 2008





Coming up
at the Chamber

View all upcoming events on our Web calendar.

FRI | Aug. 15
Breakfast with Union Pacific Chairman Jim Young
Open to Board and Silver Level Members and Above
more info

WED | Aug. 20
Energy, Water & Environment Committee Meeting
more info

THU | Aug. 21
Education & Workforce Development Committee Meeting
more info

TUE | Aug. 26
Referral Network
Grow Your Business
more info

The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business in L.A. County. Founded in 1888, the Chamber promotes a prosperous economy and quality of life in the Los Angeles region. For more information, visit

350 S. Bixel St.
Los Angeles, CA 90017
213.580.7500 tel
213.580.7511 fax


It’s Tuesday, Aug. 12 and California is the only state in the union without a budget. Legislators will give you plenty of reasons why the fault lies with members of the other political party, but their finger pointing will not solve the problem. What will help solve the problem is Proposition 11— making members of the Legislature more accountable to the general public through legislative redistricting reform.

This November, Californians will vote on a smorgasbord of state and local ballot initiatives— at least 16 here in Los Angeles. But only one— Proposition 11, the Chamber-sponsored California Voters FIRST Act— would positively reform our state’s broken political system

This summer’s unending budget standoff is another example of the significant (and destructive) political divide between the political parties in our state.  This divide isn’t a natural reflection of California’s political diversity since most Californians identify themselves as centrists. Instead, it’s the result of gerrymandered districts that clearly favor either Republicans or Democrats and encourage elected officials to cling to their political base rather than look for middle ground.

Proposition 11 is a once-in-a-decade opportunity for Californians to end the inherent conflict of interest that permits state lawmakers to choose their voters rather than the other way around. Much of the current gridlock was artificially created when legislators redrew their political boundaries in 2001 to eliminate nearly all competition between parties and candidates.

The two parties cut a deal to draw state assembly and state senate districts to clearly favor a Republican or Democratic candidate and in so doing created a political map that resembles an advanced jigsaw puzzle. In reality, elections are decided during the primary election by a small number of committed party voters. As a result, candidates have no incentive to move toward the middle either before or after the primary election. And when they set up shop in Sacramento, the same holds true.

This November, there are only two competitive general election battles between parties out of 100 state races— only two percent. Out of 459 separate races going back to earlier this decade, only four seats have changed party hands— less than one percent.

There is little political incentive to reach across the aisle and find common ground with colleagues on the other side. There is even less incentive for moderate candidates in either party to run for office since the process is jury-rigged to benefit incumbents and hard-line party members. And there is virtually no incentive for the average voter to participate in the process.

Proposition 11 will assign the task for redrawing legislative district boundaries after each census to a 14-member citizens commission whose first responsibility will be to the Voters Rights Act, not incumbents or political parties. Proposition 11 is not the only step that California needs to take in addressing the annual budget stalemate, but it is an important first step.

Out of all the initiatives on the Nov. 4 ballot, California’s voters have only one opportunity to flex their political muscle to take back their power as both voters and constituents. Proposition 11— the California Voters First Act is that opportunity.

And that’s The Business Perspective. 

Gary L. Toebben
President & CEO
Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

The Business Perspective is a weekly opinion piece by Gary Toebben, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, produced with the input of Samuel Garrison, Vice President of Public Policy.


by Gary Toebben, President & CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

L.A. Business

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Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, 350 S. Bixel St., Los Angeles, CA 90017
213.580.7500 | fax: 213.580.7511 | info@lachamber.com | www.lachamber.com

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