August 9, 2005

Calif. court deals Schwarzenegger another setback

By Adam Tanner

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A California appeals court on
Tuesday upheld the casting aside of one of three ballot
measures that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger backs for a
special election in November.

The Republican governor favors Proposition 77, a voter
initiative to change the way the state draws its political map
by taking the responsibility out of the hands of the
Democratic-controlled legislature.

Last month a California Superior Court judge tossed out the
measure because the text that voters signed to put the
redistricting measure on the ballot differed in 17 places from
the language submitted to state officials.

Backers of the measure asked the California Court of Appeal
for the Third Appellate District to reconsider the ruling. But
in a 2-1 decision, they lost a second round of the legal battle
that could go to the California Supreme Court.

"The petitioners could easily have avoided or discovered
and corrected the problem of different versions before the
circulation of the petitions," Judge Coleman Blease wrote.
"They and their counsel knew of the problem in May of 2005 but
chose not to make any public disclosure."

"Their failure to make a public disclosure has tainted ...
the ballot pamphlet review process."

The ruling is the latest in a series of setbacks the
Republican governor has suffered this year following his rise
to power in an unprecedented 2003 recall election that tossed
his Democratic predecessor out of office.

Schwarzenegger had hoped to regain the initiative with the
special election in November. But critics say his remaining
proposals on teacher pay and on the state budget do not justify
the high cost of holding the special vote.

"The court today ignored the will of nearly one million
Californians who signed petitions demanding redistricting
reform," the governor said in a statement, adding he hoped the
case would be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Proposition 77 would give the responsibility for
redistricting to a panel of retired judges.

(Additional reporting by Jenny O'Mara in Sacramento)