Dafydd: 77 Shenanigans
Hello, folks, it’s me again.
Welcome back, Dafydd.
Did you miss me?
Um… who were you, again?
Ahem. Those of you following the endless kerfuffle over Proposition 77, the on-off-on again ballot measure to take redistricting out of the hands of the pols and plop it into the mits of a gaggle of “Special Masters” (I’m abruptly reminded of the Felix the Cat villain the Master Cylinder, and his sidekick Rock Bottom) will be interested in this newest twist.
Daniel Weintraub posted the following on his excellent Bee-blog California Insider:
Prop. 77 chicken scratch
This amazing document, posted on the Secretary of State’s web site, has become the subject of a legal dissing match between Attorney General Bill Lockyer and supporters of Proposition 77.
Lockyer’s lawyers and spokesman have claimed that the document, which is almost illegible through a series of edits and proofreading remarks scrawled all over it [having written and edited many documents, I had absolutely no difficulty reading it — DaH], is a copy of the initiative circulated by proponents of Prop. 77 to gather signatures for their measure. He’s now citing the mess as another reason why he refuses to write a new title and summary for the version of the initiative that was circulated to voters.
Ted Costa, the chief sponsor of the measure, says the document is not what he circulated. He says he is not sure where the document came from but he insists his group circulated a clean, typewritten copy of its initiative, albeit a slightly different version than the one submitted to Lockyer for review. [Once again calling myself as a witness, I actually read and signed the original petition when it was circulated at my local Ralphs supermarket… and I can guarantee it was a clean, typewritten copy with no holographic edits… because if it had any, I would never have signed it. — DaH]
Anyway, it’s worth taking a peek at the document to see what they are fighting over.
UPDATE: An alert reader (aren’t they all?) points out that all of the initiative meaures have at least a few chicken scratches on them. Indeed, these appear to be marks from the legislative counsel’s office. Some are printing instructions, like spacing for paragraphs, while others are small changes in code sections and other legal matters. Beyond that, the Prop. 77 version also includes handwritten changes that reflect the now famous differences in the versions submitted to the AG and circulated to the voters. It’s still a mystery though, as to who wrote those changes in. Costa says it wasn’t him.
What nobody seems to have figured out yet is that the document with the so-called “chicken scratches,”which comes from the California Secretary of State’s website, is in fact exactly the same as the document posted on the website of Attorney General Bill Lockyer… that is, the printed portion of it is identical to the AG’s version.
But the holographic edits — what Weintraub calls the “chicken scratches” — actually would, when implemented, make this document instead identical to the version available on the website of Ted Costa’s group, Fair Districts Now, which both sides stipulate is the version that was circulated as a petition. (Well, nearly identical; some trivial corrections on the Secretary of State’s version do not appear on either of the other two versions.)
That is, the Secretary of State’s document is actually a set of instructions for turning the Attorney General’s version into the version actually circulated by Fair Disctricts Now.
Let’s pause to ponder that a moment. The hand-edited version contains a few corrections that are not implemented on either “official” version, as I said: for example, in several places, written-out numbers like “twenty-four” are crossed out, and the equivalent numeric version (“24”) is handwritten; also, in several places where a code section is referred to as, e.g., “subdivision (c) (1),” it is hand-corrected to “paragraph (1) of subdivision (c).” But other than these trivialities, all of the differences appear to be covered by the holographic corrections on this document.
On the first page of the Secretary of State’s document is a brief handwritten note, which appears to me — I am not a trained handwriting expert — to be in the same handwriting as the later corrections (for example, the lowercase o in “Prop 77” has an identifiable angle in the two-o’clock position also found in the edits). The note says “Prop 77” at the top of the first page, with “#1072 Jeff to SOS 7-1,” followed by a set of initials; I can only identify the first letter of the initials… it’s a J (for Jeff, I assume — big help). The second letter could be a D or an O.
The three possibilities are: (1) somebody at Fair Districts Now read the AG’s version, realized it differed from the circulated version, and made corrections for the Secretary of State to implement; (2) somebody at the Secretary of State’s office had both documents, noticed the discrepencies, and made the corrections, routing the hand-edited document to his boss; or (3) somebody in Bill Lockyer’s office spotted the differences and wrote corrections, so that the Secretary of State’s office would be able to correct the text.
But in any event, the critical point is that, according to the date handwritten on the edited document, these corrections were in the Secretary of State’s office a full week before the Attorney General filed suit, on July 8th, to remove Prop 77 from the ballot because the version he had did not match the version that was circulated for signatures.
The Secretary of State had all the necessary corrections in hand to turn the AG’s version into the circulated version a week before the AG filed his lawsuit and nearly three weeks before Judge Gail Ohanesian agreed, on July 21st, to remove the measure from the ballot. Did Lockyer mention at trial that they already had the corrections before he even filed suit? Clearly, somebody took the trouble to go through the two versions line by line and write the corrections that would be necessary to make the AG’s version identical to the circulated version… so why did that somebody not simply make those corrections himself, thus averting the AG’s lawsuit and keeping Prop. 77 on the ballot for voters to decide?
But perhaps I just answered my own question.