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Published: Sunday, 11/6/2005

Calif. governor promotes Ohio Issue 4

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS - Ohio's proposed constitutional amendment changing how congressional and legislative districts are redrawn is "a complicated formula" that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger does not entirely agree with, but he again urged voters yesterday to adopt it at the polls Tuesday.

The Republican "Governator," in the midst of a similar campaign in his own state that critics have dubbed a referendum on him, told reporters in a conference call that he will record automated telephone calls for voters here, urging them to take a step with California that he hopes will eventually be taken across the country.

"You in Ohio have a very complicated formula," he said. "I don't necessarily agree with the formula , but the perfect shouldn't be the enemy of the good. It's a good proposal. It takes power from the politicians, who only act in the interest of what is best for them [rather] than the interest of the people of the state."

Ohio's Issue 4 would strip elected officials of their authority to redraw congressional and state General Assembly districts and give that power to a new five-member, appointed board. The two most senior judges of opposite parties on the Ohio Courts of Appeal would select the first two members, and those members would then select the remaining three.

The board would accept and score proposed maps from outside interests with the creation of politically competitive districts being the primary goal for the first time.

Proposition 77, the California initiative pushed by Mr. Schwarzenegger, would create a panel of retired judges to draw new maps that would be submitted to voters for approval. In both cases, an immediate redrawing of districts would occur under the new rules.

"We don't try to make every district competitive, because you can't ," he said. "But the result is that you make them more competitive. Some of these districts [in California] are 200 miles long and a few hundred yards wide."

While Mr. Schwarzenegger has been taking hits from both sides of the aisle in California, where the congressional delegation and state legislature are dominated by Democrats, he said he has received no backlash from fellow Republicans here where the GOP dominates state government.

He also has not talked about Issue 4 with fellow Republican Gov. Bob Taft, whose recent misdemeanor ethics convictions have been center stage in the campaign against what supporters of the four proposed election-related amendments characterize as the dangers of one-party rule.

"I don't know his opposition," said Mr. Schwarzenegger. "I'm not as familiar with Ohio politics. I'm only involved because we have similar goals, taking redistricting out of politicians' hands. I endorse this concept, but at the same time I have no interest in getting involved in Ohio. I'm not going to tell them what to do."

John McClelland, spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party, said the party respects Mr. Schwarzenegger's opinion, but argued that Issue 4 is not Proposition 77.

"This is not a Democrat or Republican issue," he said. "It's a good-government issue. The problem with Issue 4 in Ohio is that it takes away the right of Ohio voters to choose the individuals who oversee the redistricting process, so instead there would be a new bureaucracy with unlimited spending power and no accountability to taxpayers.

"One of the fundamental differences between California's Proposition 77 and Ohio's Issue 4 is California voters have the final say," he said.

Polls show Mr. Schwarzenegger's Proposition 77 and other proposed reforms making it tougher for teachers to get tenure and to limit union campaign contributions lagging in California. In Ohio, early polls show less support for the redistricting plan than for other proposals to institute no-fault absentee voting and revise campaign contribution limits.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.



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