Part of the Bay Area News Group

Another constitutional convention town hall

By Josh Richman
Thursday, December 3rd, 2009 at 9:33 am in Alameda County, ballot measures, constitutional reform.

Alameda County Supervisors Nate Miley and Scott Haggerty are partnering with the Bay Area Council, Repair California and the Alameda County Citizens for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities to convene the county’s third Constitutional Convention Town Hall from 6 to 9 p.m. this Monday, Dec. 7 in the Dublin council chambers, 100 Civic Plaza in Dublin.

The event will include panel discussions on what a California Constitutional convention’s goals should be and what it’ll take to call such a convention, as well as opportunities for public testimony and a question-and-answer session.

Repair California – a coalition set up by the Bay Area Council to push for a convention – has submitted to the state Attorney General’s office two proposed ballot measures for the November 2010 election: One would amend the constitution to let voters, rather than the Legislature, call a convention, and the other would actually call it.

If these measures make it onto the ballot and are approved by voters, the convention would be held in 2011 and whatever reforms it proposes would require voter approval in 2012. The convention would be specifically prohibited from proposing tax increases or from considering changes to social issues such as marriage, abortion, gambling, affirmative action, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, immigration, or the death penalty.

Monday’s meeting’s organizers say similar meetings in Alameda County and across California, as well as Web-based conversations, seem to show that Californians want changes in governance, including the structure of the Legislature and executive branch; in elections, including the initiative process, campaign finance and term limits; in the budget, including the two-thirds legislative vote, the budget’s term and balancing, and mandated spending; and in revenue distribution, including the relationship between state and local governments.

Attendance is free, and registration starts at 5:15 p.m. I’ve been to one of these already, in September in Oakland – it was extremely well-attended, and thoughtful, but like all things political, it’s easy to get bogged down in partisan rancor. I see that notice of Monday’s meeting has already gone out on the Meetup list of the SF Bay 912 Project, a group of Glenn Beck-inspired, tea-partying conservatives. “Let’s NOT let the LIBS outnumber us and set the agenda — I know it’s a weeknight and everyone has other things to do but try to be there,” the group’s organizer urged.

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