It is nice to have friends in high places, especially if you’re an initiative sponsor.
But why does Gov. Jerry Brown get faster service than other initiative sponsors do from Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris?
It happened again this weekend. Late Friday, the California Supreme Court stepped in to save a compromise ballot initiative that Brown supports on sentencing reform. The initiative had previously been stopped in its tracks by a Sacramento judge because Brown had made major amendments, and outside a period for public comment. If that judge’s ruling stands, Brown might have to re-file the initiative, starting all over, and so his initiative might not make the November 2016 ballot.
That sort of thing happens all the time in California direct democracy. But not to Brown, who has friends. The state Supreme Court kept things alive by staying that lower court decision. And then, within minutes, Harris gave the measure a title and summary.
This wasn’t the first time Harris had expedited a Brown initiative. In 2012, Brown and unions combined competing tax increase initiatives into a single initiative late in the process. Harris stepped in and expedited the review and titling of the initiative there.
Is this an outrage? No. I’m glad to see speedy government response, though it would be nice if you saw that speed with other initiative sponsors. Is there anyway other initiative sponsors could buy the Jerry Brown Initiative Concierge Service, with moneys going to the general fund?
Harris should be careful. There is the whiff of nasty plebiscitary politics when a powerful state official makes the initiative process his or her own. Of course, governors and politicians have to use the initiative in this state; since so much has been done by initiative, undoing almost anything requires ballot measures. But they shouldn’t be treated any differently in the process than any citizen would be.