FROM Tracy Westen
Center for Governmental Studies Closes For 28 years, the Center for Governmental Studies has been examining how public policy is made in California and how it can be made more democratic, with a small "d." Since the Watergate era, it's been one of the state's most successful, bipartisan institutions of political reform, advocating what former LA Times City Editor Bill Boyarsky calls, "the dying cause of cleaning up elections and taking them out of the hands of big contributors." The CGS board includes prominent Republicans and Democrats, and its money has come from philanthropic foundations. But Board President Steve Rountree says, "Foundations have given up hope of meaningful reform," and the Center is closing its doors.
Term Limits and Musical Chairs Term limits were enacted in 1990 to rid California of so-called "career politicians" and replace them with "citizen legislators," who would serve relatively briefly in elected positions and then return to their former lives in the private sector. A new report " Citizen Legislators or Political Musical Chairs ," from the Center for Governmental Studies, says it's had almost exactly the opposite affect.
Making Sense of California's Bewildering Ballot There's no question that Barack Obama is largely responsible for what's expected to be a record turnout all over the country. In California, same-sex marriage is also a big attraction. But what about all that other stuff? California voters are faced with dozens of choices—on the presidency, the congress, the state legislature, county and city offices--even judgeships. There are ballot measures to raise money, change government policies and cope with social issues. If you can't keep track of it all, you're not alone. How do you find out what you need to know, and what do you do if you can't?
Can the Initiative Process be Changed? In the June election, California voters will be confronted once again with dueling initiatives — two different measures dealing with the same subject in different ways. This time it’s the government taking of land by eminent domain. In the meantime, the confusion voters will undoubtedly face is a classic example of what we’re addressing today, which is the initiative process itself. When voters directly set policy as Prop 13 did with the property tax, they essentially become a fourth branch of government. But the measures they’re asked to decide are often extremely complex.
Trump fires FBI Director James Comey Vice President Mike Pence took the Administration's lead today in explaining why the President fired the Head of the FBI, saying, "The president made the right decision at the right time." Trump's action is being compared to the so-called "Saturday Night Massacre" that led to President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1973.
A New York Times op-ed on climate change sparks uproar The New York Times is embroiled in a public furor over a new columnist, who wrote that scientific uncertainty is reason for debate about climate change. Many conservatives are delighted. Is America's leading liberal newspaper fostering climate denial? This is the latest in our series, "The Emotional States of America."
Trump's Russia ties intensify with Comey firing Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe contradicted the Trump White House today, insisting the Bureau had not lost faith in former Director James Comey. He promised to notify the committee of any interference into investigation of the Trump campaign's contacts with Vladimir Putin's Russia. What do we know about those contacts… and how they relate to Trump's business interests and those of his family?
Trump's 'America First' goes missing abroad In the Middle East, President Trump is changing some policies of the Obama Administration—and reversing his own campaign attacks on Islam as a religion that "hates us." We hear about his visit to Saudi Arabia and what's at stake for the rest of his foreign excursion.