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.
In Janesville, WI, Middle America meets the new American dream Janesville, Wisconsin is the hometown of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. But he couldn't prevent the closing of the General Motors factory after 100 years. We hear what's happened to what once was a model of American middle-class unity.
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.
Nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula slowly coming to a head North Korea did not conduct a nuclear test this weekend, but it did show apparent progress in developing a missile that that could strike the United States. The Trump Administration says it has lost its "strategic patience." We hear what that might -- or might not -- mean for North Korea, China and the prospects for diplomacy.