On January 17th the Leadership California Institute held a viewing of the PBS Election Special “Race 2012” that examined the role of race in the presidential campaign. While it’s now common knowledge that race played a critical role in determining President Obama’s re-election and Mitt Romney’s defeat, the bigger question is, what does a racially […]
Governor Brown stepped into one heckuva political firestorm with his proposal to eliminate redevelopment in California. Days before being sworn in, the Governor’s office floated a trial balloon to check the temperature of local city council members and mayors on taking their communities job creating money to solve the states ongoing financial mess.
He found their temperature boiling.
The Governors office made a tactical error on two fronts: first he pushed cities to obligate redevelopment monies immediately – which effectively took them off the table for the state to grab and balance his budget, but second and even more importantly he may have alienated the most important constituency he needs to get the state back on track as well as the cornerstone of his budget fix done – mayors and council members.
Everyone agrees California’s system of governance is broken. To reform it, we need to take power away from our ineffective state government and move it to the local level where there’s more accountability for local voters and taxpayers. A key first step in this process is stopping the ongoing State raids of local taxpayer funds.
Toward that end, a broad coalition of local elected leaders, business leaders, public safety officials, taxpayer advocates and others just began collecting signatures to qualify the “Local Taxpayer, Public Safety and Transportation Protection Act of 2010” for the November 2010 ballot. This measure will prevent the State from borrowing, raiding or otherwise redirecting local government funds. It also protects existing gas taxes we pay at the pump which go to transportation improvements.
As Californians anxiously watch our state government convulse with the difficulties of righting its financial ship, a new discussion of reform has sprung anew in the most unfortunate of places — the legislature itself.
When the legislature starts talking about reforming itself, that’s usually a sign of great concern, and for good reason. Few broken systems have ever been capable of self reform – Soviet Russia comes to mind!
That’s not to say it can’t be done — but it is to say it shouldn’t engender anyone’s confidence that it will. One might even question whether the effort is anything more than political theater.
Outside groups are calling for Constitutional conventions and significant systemic reforms are being bandied about as rational discourse for the first time in a century. And lawmakers, both current and former, are hell bent on making sure it doesn’t happen.
Still, the unintended consequences of a constitutional convention could be calamitous, say legislative leaders, and I have to admit — they may be right.