Eliminating the gerrymandering of representative districts is no easy matter, but the guy who initiated the recall movement in California, Ted Costa, is spearheading a (state) constitutional amendment that will attempt to mitigate the more egregious instances.

"People are hurting in California, not just because of Gray Davis, but because of the partisan gerrymandering and lack of leadership at the top," said Rep. Devin Nunes, the California Republican who's heading up the effort with Mr. Costa.

The proposal would allow state legislators to submit redistricting maps for review by a court or nonpartisan panel. The panel would be required to choose the plan that keeps cities, counties and communities together with the fewest fragments.

Critics complained that the 2000 redistricting process saw the approval of a map where communities were splintered in the name of protecting incumbents. Only one of the state's 53 congressional seats was seriously contested in the 2002 election, according to the 2004 Almanac of American Politics.

"Right now, we have a bipartisan gerrymander in California," said Mr. Costa, chief executive officer of the People's Advocate, the Sacramento-based conservative anti-tax group founded by the late Paul Gann.

"Under our plan, both parties, instead of being all lovey-dovey, will have a chance to put their platforms before the voters, and you'll have a real election with real issues," he said.

I don't know how keen I am on having retired judges involved in districting, but I don't have an immediately better alternative. The results of such a plan certainly couldn't be worse than the partisan hack job most states end up with under current methods, and if the measure is successful in California it may spread elsewhere.

Note: Republicans hold a majority of state legislature seats now -- for the first time in decades -- so my objection to gerrymandering isn't based on my loathing for the Democrats who dominate California's Assembly and Senate.



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