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.
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?