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Posts Tagged ‘Howard Jarvis’



Looming Battle: ‘Extending’ vs. ‘Increasing’ Taxes

Monday, January 17th, 2011

As we suggested Friday, one of the reasons the Howard Jarvis fetishists, union bashers and gold standard crackpots are threatening to strangle any Republican legislator who helps Gov. Jerry Brown get an extension of income, sales and vehicle taxes onto the June ballot is likely their fear that California voters just might agree to extend those taxes rather than cut further into schools, parks, prisons, public safety and health care.

And it turns out they have good reason to be afraid: a survey done by pollster Jim Moore for the California Issues Forum has found that “to avoid 20-25% deeper state budget cuts” 58% of California voters – including nearly four in 10 Republicans – would indeed support extending those taxes. And that’s after they’re spelled out as a 1-cent increase in the state sales tax, a 1% increase in state income taxes, a 1% increase in the vehicle license fee.

According to Moore’s survey of 1,000 likely voters, 74% of Democrats, 57% of independents and 37% of Republicans would support the tax extensions. (The survey asked about a four-year extension, but it’s likely that asking about a five-year extension as Brown is seeking would have made little difference.)

Interestingly, only 36% of voters – 30% of Democrats, 47% of Republicans and 21% of independents – were even aware that $8 billion in temporary tax increases were enacted in 2009. Nearly two thirds of the voters – 64% — did not know that taxes had been raised.

Even after they were told about those increases, only 14% of voters said they’d been hurt by them a great deal, while 29% said they were hurt somewhat and 44% said they were hurt very little. Another 13% had no opinion.

The underlying problem for Brown, the Democrats and others who want to solve the state’s $28 billion budget deficit with a mix of taxes and cuts, however, is this: 65% of California voters do not trust state government to spend tax money wisely. That includes 82% of Republicans, 74% of independents and even 49% of the Democrats.

On average, voters think about half the money spent by state government – 48% — is wasted. And six in 10 voters – 72% of Republicans, 65% if independents and 51% of Democrats – think the state’s budget problems result from poor planning, while only 16% blame the national economic recession.

Unless voters are convinced that Sacramento has a plan to spend money more wisely, this fundamental concern is likely to kill any chance of extending those tax increases. Brown’s straight-forward, no-bullshit, tough-love talk about the budget — particularly his proposal to shift billions in tax money and programs from the state to local government — is exactly what voters need to hear if there’s any hope of getting them to go along with extending the 2009 tax increases.

Voters – despite what some liberal pie-in-the-sky dreamers imagine – oppose “increasing taxes to help balance the state budget” 59-37%. But they support “temporarily increasing taxes to help balance the budget” by 53-44%.  Which is why the battle over maintaining  the 2009 tax increases will be a fight about how the issue is framed: as a tax increase (as the Jarvis hardliners will argue) and as a temporary extension (as the Silver Fox et. al. will contend).

Mostly, this will be a battle for the center of the political spectrum – the Democratic and Republican swing voters and the independents – who do not always support the Democratic or Republican candidate or argument.

Moore, the only pollster we know who creates a demographic of swing voters, has found that the Democratic base comprises 38% of the voters while the Republican base accounts for 28%. That leaves 19% as Democratic swing voters and 15% as Republican swing voters.

How does this affect political messaging and outcomes? Consider this question Moore asked: “Republicans often criticize Democrats for being too willing to raise taxes and unwilling to cut spending for ineffective government programs. In your opinion, is this a valid criticism of Democrats?

Overall, 58% of likely votes said it’s a valid criticism and 37% said it was not. But how does that break down? Among Democratic base voters 62% said it is not a valid criticism versus 33% who agreed it is. But 54% of Democratic swing voters, 74% of Republican swing voters and 90% of the Republican base accepted that criticism of Democrats.

By the same token, Moore also asked: “Democrats often criticize Republicans for giving tax breaks to big business and being intolerant of others’ political views. In your opinion, is this a valid criticism of Republicans?”

By 64-33% voters agree with that critique, including 83% of the Democratic base, 83% of the Democratic swing voters, 50% of the Republican swing voters but just 29% of the Republican base voters.

Or consider that by 57-43%, voters say they’d prefer “less government and lower taxes” over “slightly higher taxes for better government services.”  That formula is a winner among 87% of the Republican base voters, 77% of the Republican swing voters and 51% of the Democratic swing voters. Only Democratic base voters would prefer higher taxes and better government services by 70-30%

But when the issue is framed as “less government and lower taxes” versus “better value for the taxes you currently pay,” voters prefer better value by 72-18% That includes 91% of the Democratic base, 78% of the Democratic swing voters and 52% of the Republican swing voters. Only Republican base voters prefer lower taxes and less government and only by 53-47%.

So there you have the battle lines: One side will argue that Brown’s plan isn’t a plan at all and that it will raise taxes to keep bloated government in Sacramento. The other side will argue that Brown and the Legislature have a plan and that they’re seeking a temporary extension of current taxes in order to streamline government in Sacramento.

It’s all about whose message is more compelling and believable, whose is better framed and delivered. But first, Brown and the Legislature must come to terms on budget cuts and a plan to extricate California from the mess left behind by former Govs. Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Unless they can do that, the only choice will be further budget cuts.

JMM Research surveyed 1,000 likely California voters by land line and cell phone Nov. 17-Dec. 4. The expected margin of error for the survey is +/- 2.9% at the 95% confidence level.

Shady Sam’s Sham Oil Stance Meets Mariachi Meg

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Sam Blakeslee, the San Luis oilman Californians just can’t trust, is trying to steal a victory in a state senate special election next week by posing as a moderate Republican environmentalist who loves sea otters even more than snowy plovers.

The blunt truth of the matter, however, may be found in 1) the lavish oil industry contributions shoveled into committees that have forked out more than $1 million to back Blakeslee’s play in the 15th State Senate district and 2)  the photograph posted at the top of this story, which shows exactly where the San Luis Obispo GOP assemblyman stood on offshore oil drilling in California – before that whole Gulf of Mexico thing made it really, really unfashionable.

The ex-Republican assembly leader is locked in a fierce battle with former Democratic assemblyman John Laird for the seat representing a vast, coastal district that was held until recently by Lite Governor Abel Maldonado. It’s up for grabs in a special next Tuesday that Governor Schwarzmuscle carefully scheduled to benefit Blakeslee.

Laird just now is getting his brains beat in on TV, as BP, Chevron and other oil companies have rushed to finance pro-Blakeslee independent expenditure committees that are paying for a barrage of ads portraying the Democrat as a crazed socialist considerably to the left of Hugo Chavez.

As we predicted a year ago hardliner Blakeslee now is falsely positioning himself as a pro-green centrist, in an effort to capture a majority vote in the June 22 primary, which would make a scheduled August run-off unnecessary.

“I have been an environmental Republican throughout my service,” Blakeslee told Paul Rogers of the Mercury News. “I’ve never wavered on my protection of the coast.”

Excuse us while we build a tower big enough to hold our laughter.

In claiming he’s against offshore oil, Blakeslee tries to hide behind the skirts of a group of Santa Barbara environmentalists, who pitched the controversial Tranquillon Ridge offshore project, just off the coast of the southern end of the 15th SD, as a way to trade new drilling now for less in the future (for those who’ve been hanging out on Uranus for the last year, our primer on T-Ridge is here).

In truth, Blakeslee’s history on the issue is strongly at odds with the greens who originally co-sponsored the plan with the Houston-based oil company PXP; his record shows a drill-baby-drill determination to ram through the offshore project via a series of backdoor legislative schemes intended to overrun the opposition of the State Lands Commission, which rejected T-Ridge and which, oh yeah, for decades happens to have had sole jurisdiction over state oil leases.

After the lands commission turned down the project in 2009 – saying its promise to end future drilling was unenforceable because the power to do so ultimately resided with the scandal-ridden federal Minerals  Management Service, Blakeslee plotted with fellow knuckledragger assemblyman Chuck DeVore of Orange County to end run the commission, a move that the enviros who originally backed the proposal categorically opposed.

First, the dynamic duo tried to pass AB23*, a DeVore bill that was gutted in the Senate and amended to approve PXP’s T-Ridge project by creating a special exemption and removing it from the jurisdiction of the lands commission.

On July 24, 2009, the measure was heatedly debated in the Assembly and defeated with only 30 of the house’s 80 members supporting the drilling plan.

Within hours, however, the official record of that vote was expunged, in what appeared to be a Blakeslee maneuver to remove his fingerprints from the pro-drilling bill. Despite the insistence of Blakeslee flacks  that he had nothing to do with erasing the vote, the reliable Anthony York of Capitol Weekly shortly after the deal went down cited sources who traced the move to the then-Republican Assembly leader.

For those still pondering the mystery of that expunged vote, Calbuzz is pleased to provide an historic photo of it, which clearly shows Blakeslee among the small minority of those who backed the special interest legislation to expand drilling off the coast.

Two months later, Blakeslee was back at it, this time gutting one of his own bills in an effort have his way on behalf of the oil industry, which would have liked nothing more than to use T-Ridge as a foot in the door to overcome California’s four decade opposition to any new leases authorizing more drilling in state water.

It’s instructive that when Laird kicked off the 15th SD special election campaign by whacking Blakeslee on offshore drilling,  the Republican a) began trying to finesse the issue by touting his purported environmental credentials and b) changed the subject, unloading a barrage of ads assailing Laird as a menace to society on fiscal issues.

Among other crimes, it seems, Laird accepted pay raises that, um, Blakeslee also took (Jon Coupal, the doctrinaire Howard Jarvis acolyte who’s plugging Blakeslee in the IE ads, might want to check out some of Sam’s squishier statements on tax increases here and here).

Then again, if Shady Sam is willing to masquerade his environmental record to get elected, why should anyone be surprised that he’d gussy  himself up on other issues as well?

eMeg proves she has no shame: Guess who’s nowhere to be found on Meg Whitman’s new website Latinos for Meg or in her new Spanish language TV commercials? Former Gov. Pete Wilson, her campaign chairman and iconic diablo among Hispanics in California.

Gone is the “tough-as-nails” Meg Whitman who sternly warned “No amnesty. No exceptions” as she vowed to send the National Guard to the border, crack down on sanctuary cities and generally lower the boom on illegal immigrants.

As Calbuzz predicted a couple of weeks ago: Whitman, now desperate to capture Latino voters she didn’t give a rat’s ass about in the Republican primary, suddenly is all about jobs and opportunity, sunshine and inclusiveness. Oh puhleeeese. What a fraud.

The only uncertainty, as we noted before: “…we don’t know whether, by spending untold sums on campaign propaganda, Whitman will be able to obliterate the collective memory voters might otherwise have of her lurch to the right.”

Oh, and Meg dropped another $20 million into her war chest this week, bringing her personal “investment” to $91 million.

Now, Mariachi Meg is emphasizing that she was never for Proposition 187 (although its chief advocate is her campaign chairman) and she opposes Arizona’s check-their-status law. Maybe – after spending serious money to make the point that she opposes amnesty – she’ll go back to arguing for a guest worker program where people “stand at the back of the line and pay a fine.”

So far no one is up on TV countering Whitman’s hypocritical drive to round up Latino voters. But the Democratic Governor’s Association did create a 90-second video in Spanish called “Send Pete Packing.”

As Tenoch Flores, on behalf of the California Democratic Party,  argued:

“Apparently Meg Whitman forgot that we live in the age of ‘the internets’ – ironic for someone who touts her eBay experience. She sincerely believes a Spanish language advertising buy is going to gloss over the fact that together with her mentor Pete Wilson, and her rival Steve Poizner, she engaged in the greatest Republican Party anti-immigrant hate-fest this side of the California-Arizona border.”

The CDP also reprised Meg’s “Tough as Nails” radio ad and even offered up a Spanish translation. Said Flores:

“Latino voters in California haven’t forgotten about Pete Wilson’s anti-immigrant crusade, and that was over ten years ago. They certainly won’t forget that Whitman used them as foil to get herself through the GOP primary less than a month ago.”

Unless Whitman’s beyond standard quantum limit spending can wipe away all memory.

* In an earlier version of this post we had a typo that labeled AB23 as AB32 — a super mix-up since AB32 is the famous climate-change bill.

Why Conservatives Should Be Against Term Limits

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

By Bob Naylorbobnaylor
Special to Calbuzz

First, a confession. I served in the California Legislature for eight years. I am a Barry Goldwater/Ronald Reagan Republican. I termed myself out by running for higher office (and losing). I voted for term limits.

As Pete Wilson likes to say, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” Turns out, it’s a very bad idea. What made it seem like a good idea?

1. “Citizen legislators, not career politicians.”

That is the slogan from the website of U.S. Term Limits, where I searched in vain for any other philosophical justification.

There are some sad cases of career politicians  — especially when they cling to office too long, like Senator Robert Byrd, or the California equivalent, the late Senator Ralph Dills, who was first elected in 1939 and served continuously (except for a few years on the bench) into the ’90s, when he was termed out of office. His last campaign slogan was:   “Too old to quit.”

But for every old hack forced out by term limits, there are at least as many people who are superbly competent, bright and balanced with profound institutional and policy knowledge.

Examples include the late Senator Ken Maddy, moderate Democratic Senator Bob Presley, Senator Jim Brulte, and I would argue, Speaker Willie Brown, at whom the term limits initiative was aimed (Brown was at his best getting difficult budgets through for Republican governors).

Furthermore, “citizen legislators” are few and far between. Most new legislators have served for years in local office or are well connected as union organizers or are staff members to the incumbents or other influential officeholders. Some are independently wealthy. There aren‛t many “Mr. or Ms. Smiths” going to Sacramento.

2. Overcoming the artificial advantage of gerrymandering.

We don’t need term limits to do that because we have Prop 11 (redistricting commission), right? But Prop 11 will not likely make a big difference. Eighty per cent or more of all districts will still be safe seats, because our body politic is geographically polarized — red counties and blue counties, hardly any purple counties.

3. Incumbent advantage.

I used to argue that elections are never really competitive because incumbents raise lots of money, have a big name ID advantage, typically have safe districts whether gerrymandered or not and get a handsome salary while they are campaigning. Challengers rarely have a chance.

But what has happened under term limits? Because the stakes are so high, the existing incumbent or the local political party establishment recruits the successor and forces competition to drop out. There are fewer competitive primaries than there are complete blowouts, often no primary at all.

So term limits have not produced competitive elections or many citizen legislators, but the reason conservatives should oppose term limits has more to do with their negative impacts.

They have made our politics even more polarized. In place of people who are secure and long-serving enough to say no to their “anchor tenant” backers when the good of the state demands it, we now have people who are worried about their next primary election when they try to move up after one or two more terms. From their first day in office, they typically tow the line of the unions, or the trial lawyers, or the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association who dominate the low-turnout partisan primaries.

When the Legislature is polarized, the majority ideology is in total control. And in California, that means the left. The art of finding enough middle ground to do what is necessary to meet a crisis, whether it be attacking the budget problems, the water crisis, or infrastructure decay, is almost a historic relic.

It is also a simple fact that two to four years in office are just not enough time to master the political complexities of a 120 member bicameral Legislature, let alone attain the policy expertise that has marked the great legislators. First term chairs of major policy committees, sometimes bringing in their own all-new staff, can rarely match the skill of a Bill Lockyer as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, or Quentin Kopp as chair of Transportation. There are exceptional performers, of course, but they overcome huge, and generally harmful barriers artificially imposed by the cheap slogans of the term limits movement.

On balance, the Legislature as an institution for policy-making has nearly broken down. Ask anyone who has been around the Capitol for a long time.

As a conservative, I favor returning to the model of the Founding Fathers. The original constitutional qualifications for office are being a citizen, a resident and of age. There are plenty of other checks and balances without adding term limits. In California, we have added the recall and the referendum to restrain legislative abuse.

If a legislator has mastered the political art well enough to deserve another term, the people of that district should have the right to grant it.

Bob Naylor served in the California Assembly from 1978 -86, as Assembly Republican Leader from 1982 -84 and as California Republican Party Chairman from 1987 -89. He is a partner at Nielsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Mueller and Naylor.

Why Constitutional Convo Must Consider Prop 13

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Mark_Paul280x350By Mark Paul
Special to Calbuzz

In the life of every would-be California reformer, there inevitably comes the gut-check moment. You give your best rap about the ungovernability of the state — the unbalanced budgets, the legislature gridlocked by supermajority voting requirements, the dysfunctional state-local relationship, the schools and cities run more for the benefit of their unionized employees than the public.

And then a reporter sidles up to you and asks, “So, are you talking about changing Prop 13?”

If politics is your only measure, the answer is obvious. Prop 13 is the best brand in the state. To the homeowners who make up the core of the state’s electorate, the phrase “Prop 13” means one thing, and one thing only: low and certain property taxes. If you had a choice, the phrase would never pass your lips.

But if your goal is to make California governable again by restoring fiscal sanity and political accountability, there’s no way to avoid Prop 13. The 1978 Jarvis-Gann measure is not just a property tax limitation. It’s the hack that rewrote California’s operating system in ways that make it unworkable and unloved across the political spectrum.

A case in point: A few years back, Tom McClintock, the former legislator who’s taken his lance to Congress to tilt at bigger windmills, stopped by the Sacramento Bee and launched into a soliloquy describing how power had flowed away from cities, counties, and school districts, which know their own needs and people best, to distant Sacramento and the state Capitol. After a couple moments, I interrupted. “Senator, I think we’re prepared to stipulate that Proposition 13 was a bad idea.”

We all laughed, but everyone understood it wasn’t a joke. By slashing local property tax revenues, putting up higher barriers for local passage of taxes and bonds, and giving the Legislature the responsibility to divvy up remaining property tax dollars, Prop 13 was the great centralizer. It forced the state to take a primary responsibility for funding services formerly controlled closer to home.

As a result, the big decisions about things like schools get made in Sacramento and on the statewide ballot, not at the school board. It has made government opaque, inflexible, and unaccountable. By separating the responsibility for taxing and spending, it has opened the way for public employee unions––teachers, cops, firefighters––to dominate local politics and drive up their pay and pensions.

Another case in point: The current Commission on the 21st Century Economy, which is looking at how to modernize California’s tax system and reduce the swings in revenue. It’s been comical to watch the commission try to avoid the obvious: that a lot of the volatility in California’s tax system is a result of having deeply cut relative stable property taxes (both through Prop 13 and the slashing of the vehicle license fee), leaving it more dependent on sales and income taxes that swing with the business cycle.

If it were prepared to treat Prop 13 as just another policy, and not a religious icon, the commission might be considering relying more on property taxes, particularly on land, while reducing taxes on work and investment, the kind of pro-growth option upon which both liberal and conservative economists would agree.

Prop 13 wasn’t the product of great deliberation or foresight. James Madison and the boys didn’t draft it after weeks of high-minded discussion about checks and balances. It was ginned up by cagey old Howard Jarvis to put before voters a measure so simple — 1 percent rate, 2 percent annual cap on assessment increases — that it would pass where more complex property tax measures had failed.

Were it not for the inaction three decades ago of a feckless governor and a divided Legislature stymied by supermajority vote requirements, California might easily have found a way, as other states did, to protect homeowners against inflation-driven property tax bills without making state government unworkable. Voters didn’t approve Prop 13 because they thought it was a good idea to shift power to Sacramento; they approved it because it was the first chance they had to protect themselves and their investment in their homes.

No one wants to remove those protections. But there’s no way to make the big reforms California needs — getting rid of two-third rules, restoring accountability, shifting power out of Sacramento and back to communities — without jettisoning Prop 13’s excess baggage.

Mark Paul, senior scholar and deputy director of the California program at the New America Foundation, was formerly deputy editorial page editor of the Sacramento Bee and deputy treasurer of California under Phil Angelides.

How California Became Ungovernable

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

brokengovernmentA few hours after California voters approved his Proposition 13 tax-cut measure on June 6, 1978, a bibulous and exultant Howard Jarvis dropped his pants for the benefit of a few reporters gathered in his suite at the L.A. Biltmore.

A reporter had asked Jarvis why he was limping, so his ostensible reason was to show a large, ugly bruise, which he’d suffered in a fall a few days before, on his ample, boxer-clad behind.

The surprise gesture, however, also afforded the earthy and profane Jarvis a chance to display his contempt for the press and, by extension, the political class that had mocked him and opposed his cherished measure.

Thirty years later, the ghost of Jarvis and his legacy initiative still aim antipathy, scorn and disdain at California’s government and its leaders.

Proposition 13 was the first, and most far-reaching, in a cascade of political decisions over the last three decades that have shaped the thoroughly dysfunctional structure of governance in the state.

Simply put, California today is ungovernable.

As state and local officials struggle to weather a fiscal crisis that threatens to drive California into insolvency, they wield power with the damaged machinery of a patchwork government system that lacks accountability, encourages stalemate and drifts but cannot be steered.

In this system, elected leaders carry responsibility, but not authority, for far-reaching policies about public revenues and resources. That’s not governance — it’s reactive management of a deeply flawed status quo.

Here is a look at six key factors that have made California impossible to govern.

Proposition 13: The fiscal effect of Proposition 13 itself is only part of the damage the initiative did to California. Even worse have been the methods Capitol politicians devised to try to lessen the measure’s financial impact.

After Proposition 13 passed, then-Gov. Jerry Brown and the Democrat-dominated Legislature realigned — “tangled” would be more accurate — the relationship between state and local governments by effectively shifting control of remaining property tax revenue to Sacramento.

In a crisis atmosphere, they radically transformed California’s political landscape, taking power and responsibility for health, welfare, schools and other local services away from city councils, boards of supervisors and school boards, thereby establishing today’s chaotic maze of overlapping jurisdiction, which defies efforts at accountability.

Budget initiatives: Proposition 13 also ushered in an era of ballot-box budgeting, as fiscal initiatives became a favored special-interest tool to take control of public fund expenditures.

A series of post-13 initiatives — including measures creating the lottery, financing public schools by mathematical formula and earmarking revenues for special programs, from mental health to medical care — established an exquisitely complex state budget calculus that has hamstrung the rational operations of government.

Gerrymandering: The once-a-decade process of redrawing political maps based on the census has created an increasingly partisan and polarized Capitol atmosphere.

Reapportionment has become essentially an incumbent protection effort, as lawmakers craft districts for themselves that are either safely Democratic or safely Republican. In this way, the crucial contests are party primaries, not the general elections. Because primaries draw the most partisan voters, the most conservative Republicans and the most liberal Democrats tend to win the nominations that guarantee election in November.

The dynamic locks in ideological polarization in Sacramento, where lawmakers have little motivation to compromise.

Term limits: Despite the claims of backers, the 1990 term-limits initiative did not get rid of career politicians — it simply changed the arc of their careers. Instead of spending decades in the same Assembly or Senate district seat, legislators now begin to position themselves for the next office — or job as a lobbyist — as soon as they arrive in Sacramento.

The up-or-out system rewards short-term, self-interested political thinking more than long-term policymaking in the public interest. Term limits also make lobbyists, not the Legislature, the repository of Capitol policy expertise; that lobbyists are happen to be useful in raising campaign cash adds an overlay of soft corruption to the process.

Boom or bust taxation: Since Proposition 13, state government has become increasingly dependent on volatile sources of revenue — the sales, corporation and progressive personal income taxes — that generate annual shifts in tax collections corresponding closely to the business cycle.

When economic times are good, as during the dot-com and housing bubbles, money pours in and there’s little political incentive — in fact, term limits creates a perverse disincentive — for long-term financial planning.

When revenues contract, the Capitol has rarely made real spending reductions, preferring to wait for the next boom.

The two-thirds vote: California is one of only three states requiring a two-thirds legislative vote to pass a budget, one of 16 requiring a two-thirds vote to raise taxes — and the only state to require both.

The budget requirement has been in the Constitution since the New Deal; the tax restriction began with Proposition 13. In the polarized atmosphere of Sacramento, the two-thirds rules effectively hand a veto to the minority party. Under these conditions, stalemate and deadlock on key fiscal issues have become the political norm.

So what can be done about the dysfunction? In the next few weeks, a blue-ribbon commission is set to recommend sweeping changes in the tax system to stabilize revenue collections. Voters last fall approved Proposition 11, which takes away the Legislature’s power to draw its their own districts in favor of an independent commission.

Next year, as they elect a new governor, Californians also will vote on a system of “open primary” elections aimed at aiding moderates, and they also will probably decide on one or more initiatives to dump the two-thirds budget vote requirement.

California Forward, a bipartisan good government group financed by major foundations, is crafting proposals to conform government systems and processes to modern management methods. And the business-oriented Bay Area Council is pushing initiatives for a state constitutional convention, the first since 1879, to wipe the slate clean and build a new, rational structure for state government.

“The seriousness of the problem has reached a crescendo,” said Jim Wunderman, CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The public is making a statement, loud and clear, that they expect action.”

– By Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine

This piece appeared today, as well, in the Los Angeles Times.