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Bay Area Council commits $2 million to reform initiatives

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Wednesday, October 14th, 2009 at 4:58 pm in constitutional reform.

Repair California, a coalition preparing two Constitutional Convention initiatives for the November 2010 ballot, will receive $2 million from its chief sponsor, the Bay Area Council.

Steven Hill, a coalition member and director of the political reform program at the New America Foundation, made the announcement a few minutes ago at a constitutional reform convention in Sacramento. It represents about half of what the group estimates it will need to run a successful initiative campaign.

Hill also outlined some of of the details of the planned initiatives, which he said will be filed with the state in the next 10 days.

The first initiative authorizes the voters to call a Constitutional Convention, an act restricted under current law to the Legislature. The second measure convenes a convention limited to the review of governance issues. Its recommended reforms would come back to voters in subsequent elections.

The measure assigns the management of the convention to the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

But one of the most discussed components of the draft measure has been how to select the delegates.

The final language is still in what Hill called the “tweaking” stage but he said the coalition is strongly leaning toward a hybrid selection of 435 delegates to a Constitutional Convention. A portion of the members would be appointed by the state’s 58 county boards of supervisors. The balance would be randomly, scientifically selected citizens from throughout the state.”

“It’s like Willie Wonka getting the golden ticket,” Hill told the group. “Everyone is going to want to participate … I wouldn’t be surprised if reality TV shows crop up around the delegates. ”

The convention would cost $1.50 per Californian or about $55 million, Hill also said.

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  • 4Antioch

    So the 58 (not 53) county board of supervisors would be selecting delegates, but what about the 480 cities which are independent from the counties?

    From the sounds of it, the 480 cities would be effectively left out of the process. I could not support a ConCon without the cities at the table.

  • Lisa Vorderbrueggen

    Thanks for catching my error, 4Antioch. (I was thinking congressional districts.)

    Hill told the audience that they settled on the boards of supervisors as a manageable method of obtaining a representative delegation. They definitely did not want to have the members appointed by legislators.

  • Don McCormack

    Dear Lisa:
    A few quibbles about your article on Double Dip, Oct. 14.
    While I don’t agree with all the Times writes, the pension problem is legitimate and changes are needed.
    Concerns:
    • Article a little murky about what constitutes double dipping. Like their private counterparts, many public employees retire, then work per diem, usually part time. In many, perhaps almost all, cases this pay does not add to their pensions.
    • CC County and Vallejo “declared their intent to seek cuts.” Don’t know about Vallejo but county government has cut benefits for future employees.
    • “Reforms.” It is an opinion term, fine for the editorial page, inappropriate for news articles. Even with good intentions, many “reforms” turn out the opposite. Better word: changes.
    • Balance. This has nothing to do with your article but with the Times campaign to change public pensions. Again legitimate — there are abuses — but the Times ignores or by comparison infrequently mentions abuses in the private sector, especially the Bush tax cuts, executive pay, the failings of the SEC, the manipulations of lenders, Realtors and banks, and so on. Many of these abuses benefitted the people at the top.
    Lacking balance, the Times campaign skirts close to ranting against the public sector and, uncritically, glorifying the private. Ironically, the better the job the paper does on pension abuses, the more slanted or hobby horsey it sometimes appears. The solution is not to back off on the pension problems but to address the other problems.

    Cordially, Don McCormack

  • Ralph Hoffmann, Guest Columnist

    I agree that the 408 Cities, not the 58 County Boards of Supervisors, should be appointing delegates.
    By the way, Lisa, do you happen to know any County Sheriffs, or County DA’s who are retiring, who have double dipped and spiked their pensions thanks to their BOS?

  • Common Tater

    I don’t have a problem with the county BOS’s selecting a portion of the delegates. After all, every California city is in a California county and I really don’t foresee that county BOS’s will totally ignore the selection of representatives from cities. To do so would be folly.

  • http://deleted EdiBirsan

    As not all counties are of equal population I wonder how they would be apportioned?

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