Murder By Map 09/20/01
As Fred Keeley's 'colleagues' cut him (and us) out of a big deal, Bruce McPherson votes his party.
Thursday, September 20, 2001
Earlier this month, Sen. Bruce McPherson (D-Santa Cruz) put his name on a full-page ad that cried "Save the Central Coast," joining Assemblyman Fred Keeley (D-Boulder Creek) and former Central Coast congressman Leon Panetta in urging Santa Cruz and Monterey County residents to lobby against proposed new state Senate district boundaries.
Then, on Sept. 12, McPherson voted to go along with the scheme to split the coast into three Senate districts.
"McPherson joined me and Leon Panetta in taking out a full-page ad denouncing this plan," Keeley says. "I was very disappointed in Senator McPherson''s vote in favor of this plan."
The ad, which ran in the Monterey County Herald and the Santa Cruz Sentinel, says the Senate''s new map "almost certainly guarantees that no one from Santa Cruz or Monterey counties will be elected to represent our communities."
McPherson did not return phone calls for this article.
If all goes according to plan, the governor next month will approve the new Senate boundaries, which will fragment the region for the benefit of incumbent senators. Monterey County--and Keeley, who is favored to take the 15th District Senate seat when McPherson leaves--could get cut out of the picture.
"All of my attention this year was spent trying to wrestle the energy monster to the ground," says Keeley. "My back was turned and I was doing the job I was sent to Sacramento to do. While I was busy doing my job, other people were busy doing a job on the Central Coast."
He doesn''t name names, but he''s talking about Senate President Pro Tem John Burton and Senate Republican Leader James Brulte. Sacramento sources say the two struck a deal to maintain the current Democrat-to-Republican balance of power in the Senate.
Senate leaders admit the new districts are an attempt to protect Democratic incumbents, create a Democratic stronghold in the 12th District to give Assemblyman Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced) a better chance of winning a Senate seat, and pacify Senate Republicans by protecting the 14 seats they now hold.
Burton''s office gave a canned response. "One of the goals was to protect the Democratic majority in the senate," says spokesman Dave Sebeck.
"There was a major attempt to protect Democratic incumbents--we''re in a Republican-held district right now--and it just left us out," says John Laird, a Santa Cruz Democrat and former mayor who has announced he will run for Keeley''s Assembly seat when Keeley is termed out of office.
"Fred Keeley has just been heroic on statewide issues...it''s a tragedy that he''s disadvantaged toward a Senate seat."
Under the new map, Keeley''s Boulder Creek home falls in the 11th District, meaning he would either run for Senate in an area which includes the San Francisco Peninsula and Silicon Valley, or relocate to the 15th District, stretching from Saratoga to Santa Maria--a move that Keeley says he hasn''t entirely ruled out. Even if he were to move inside the new 15th District, however, he wouldn''t enjoy the same rising-star status he currently does among Central Coast Democrats, and voter-registration numbers in the district favor a Republican for the Senate seat.
Monterey County Democratic Central Committee members have said they will boycott the state Democratic Convention and will withhold funds to the statewide party if the governor signs the new Senate districts into law. And 23 of the 24 Santa Cruz County Democratic Central Committee members have vowed to resign from the committee if the Senate districts get the governor''s stamp of approval.
Meanwhile, Keeley has retained well-known voting rights attorney Joaquin Avila to fight the Senate districts. In a five-page letter to the governor, Keeley says the new map isn''t likely to withstand legal challenges, and urges the Gov. Davis to veto the plan--although Keeley and other state officials say it''s doubtful he will.
Currently, the 15th Senate District includes all of Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties. On Sept. 13, the State Assembly voted 58-10 to support a new Senate district map that splits Monterey County in half. The Senate''s new 15th District takes in all of San Luis Obispo County, the southern half of Santa Cruz County, part of Santa Clara County and the northern quarter of Santa Barbara County.
The new maps split the Salinas Valley from the rest of the 15th District and shuffles it into District 12, which includes San Benito and Merced counties, and most of Stanislaus County.
the Weekly Tally$6.05 Average entry-level hourly wage for security guards (including night watch guards and airport security personnel) in Monterey County in 2000.
--Source: Employment Development Department of California