A CHANCE FOR REFORM STATE GOVERNMENT MAY BE RIPE FOR A `REVOLUTION'.Byline: Rick Orlov Staff Writer
The last time Californians got this fed up with their state government, Hiram Johnson Hiram Warren Johnson (September 2, 1866 – August 6, 1945) was a leading American progressive and later isolationist politician from California; he served as Governor from 1911 to 1917, and as a United States Senator from 1917 to 1945. rode a wave public discontent to the governor's mansion MANSION. This term is synonymous with house. (q.v.) 1 Chit. Pr. 167; 2 T. R. 502; 1 Tho. Co. Litt. 215, n. 35; 9 B. & C. 681; S. C. 17 E. C. L. R. 472, and the cases there cited; Com. Dig. Justices, P 5; 3 Serg. & Rawle, 199. , reined in the special interests and created a progressive constitution allowing initiatives and recalls.
Now, nearly a century later, the energy crisis, the budget crisis, political gridlock Gridlock
A government, business or institution's inability to function at a normal level due either to complex or conflicting procedures within the administrative framework or to impending change in the business. and the recall campaign against Gov. Gray Davis have the public once again and encouraged reformers to find opportunity in chaos.
``Ideally, you would like to have discussion over government reform during up times,'' said Fred Silva
Fred Silva of the Public Policy Institute of California Public Policy Institute of California is an independent, nonpartisan, non-profit research institution. Based in San Francisco, California, United States, the institute was established in 1994 with a $70 million endowment from William Reddington Hewlett. . ``But that just doesn't seem to happen.''
That's why former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg and others think the time is ripe for real change in how state government works.
``What we need is a revolution in state government and I've never seen people angrier,'' said Hertzberg, who was termed out of office but retains an active interest in pushing reforms.
``People really are mad as hell and don't want to take it anymore,'' he said.
Davis has become the target of that anger and will be subject on Oct. 7 of the first recall election of a governor in the state's history.
Hertzberg and others insist he has become a victim of the times and a state government run amok Amok (ā`mŏk), in the Bible, post-Exilic Jewish family. .
``The truth of the matter is that state government is too big, is doing too much and should be letting local government do a lot of these programs,'' Hertzberg said.
``There is no reason for all this money to go to the state and then be sent back to local government. Just keep it there in the first place and then you won't need as large a state bureaucracy,'' he said.
Hertzberg has been working with others to develop structural reforms of the state - from how it raises and spends money to how it governs - for several years and is looking to develop a specific plan to submit to voters in the near future.
``I think we have to do it as quickly as we can to capitalize on Cap´i`tal`ize on`
v. t. 1. To turn (an opportunity) to one's advantage; to take advantage of (a situation); to profit from; as, to capitalize on an opponent's mistakes s>. public anger,'' Hertzberg said. ``If we wait four, five or six years, that's a lifetime in California politics and the momentum will be gone.''
California long has been the test lab for democracy, dating back to the days of Johnson and reformers when the initiative, referendum and recall procedures were written into the state constitution in response to the influence of railroads rail·road
1. A road composed of parallel steel rails supported by ties and providing a track for locomotive-drawn trains or other wheeled vehicles.
Yet, despite the political threats to nearly every governor, it was not until Davis that a recall petition drive succeeded.
Hertzberg said he wants to see a number of changes put before voters to try to make the state more competitive and, in his view, more governable gov·ern
v. gov·erned, gov·ern·ing, gov·erns
1. To make and administer the public policy and affairs of; exercise sovereign authority in.
At the heart of his proposals are changing how government finances itself.
``Property tax money should remain in local governments' hands and not be shipped to the state,'' Hertzberg said. ``All we're doing is counting the same money twice. Keeping that money alone will immediately shrink shrink Vox populi noun A psychiatrist the state budget.
``All that adds to the problem that state government is just too big. It isn't able to be efficient and it can't compete with smaller governments,'' he said.
When he was Assembly speaker, Hertzberg formed a committee to study how government services could be provided at a regional level and he is looking to see some of those proposals refined and submitted to voters as he works to generate political support among different groups.
Nick Bollman of the California Center for Regional Leadership, who worked on that study for Hertzberg, said he also is convinced a major part of the problem is how government funds itself and spends money.
``A lot of regions should be dealing collectively with problems like transportation or housing,'' Bollman said. ``I'm not advocating regional government, but a cooperation among cities to deal with common issues.''
And as Bollman looks at the problems besetting be·set·ting
Constantly troubling or attacking.
adjective chronic the state now, he sees it as ``a terrible opportunity.''
``The system is so broken at this point and the public's disgust and yearning for something new is so strong is that people might be willing to look at some of the reforms we have been talking about for years.''
One area Bollman would like to see changed immediately is term limits - giving members of the state Senate and Assembly one more term in each office to provide some more continuity and knowledge of government.
Under term limits, members of the Assembly serve a maximum of six years and senators are in office for eight years.
``The problem is that just as people become aware of what's needed, they are gone,'' Bollman said.
It also is reflected in the budget process, he said.
``It's completely broken,'' Bollman said. ``The fact we need a super-majority vote of two-thirds is a formula for gridlock, which is what we've had.
``And there is an impulse impulse, in mechanics: see momentum.
The integral of a force over an interval of time. For a force F , the impulse J over the interval from t0 to t1 for Democrats and Republicans to only look at either spending or reducing taxes without having to be accountable for the impact. They are gone after a few years and don't have the process or capacity to provide real oversight
Oversight may refer to:
Bollman said he also would like to see changes in the initiative process to make it more difficult to place matters before voters.
``It was designed to be a tool where angry voters could rise up and demand change, but it's no longer that,'' Bollman said. ``Instead, it's become a case where special interest groups can raise a lot of money and qualify something for the ballot and spend their money to manipulate voters.''
Bob Stern of the Center for Governmental Studies said the ease with which the recall of Davis qualified also demands more study.
``Nobody has really looked at it because we've never had a situation like this before,'' Stern said. ``What's disturbing is that someone who gets 15 (percent) or 20 percent of the vote could replace a governor who is supported by 40 (percent) per 45 percent of the voters.''
Stern said he would like to see a runoff Runoff
The procedure of printing the end-of-day prices for every stock on an exchange onto ticker tape.
If the "tape is late" then it can take a long time to print off all the closing prices. system in place where the top two vote-getters would face voters.
Fred Silva of the Public Policy Institute of California said he believes a lot of the problems facing the state - and Davis - now could have been avoided with a change in how the state prepares and adopts its budget.
Silva sil·va also syl·va
n. pl. sil·vas or sil·vae
1. The trees or forests of a region.
2. A written work on the trees or forests of a region. said he believes the state should go to a two-year budgeting cycle coinciding with the terms of elected officials.
``Given the size of the California economy, having an annual test of the budget is foolish,'' Silva said. ``This year is a perfect example of the problems. If you had a two-year budget with midyear mid·year
1. The middle of the calendar or academic year.
a. An examination given in the middle of a school year.
b. midyears A series of such examinations. balancing, you would be able to have a more consistent approach to spending.''
Also, Silva said he believes California needs to take a look at the number of people it elects to various posts.
``Obviously, you need elected officials, but do we need all the ones we have now?'' Silva asked. ``I think we should look at those that perform ministerial Done under the direction of a supervisor; not involving discretion or policymaking.
Ministerial describes an act or a function that conforms to an instruction or a prescribed procedure. It connotes obedience. functions and have those appointed by the governor.''
Among the offices Silva said should be looked at are the superintendent of public instruction, insurance commissioner and a possible combining of some functions carried out by the state controller and treasurer.
``Right now, it affects a voter's ability to find out who's responsible,'' Silva said. ``We think it's goofy Goofy
bumbling, awkward dog; originally named Dippy Dawg. [Comics: “Mickey Mouse” in Horn, 492]
See : Awkwardness that we elect people to jobs that should be appointed by the governor.''
Like others, Silva said he hopes - but does not expect - the recall election debate to include fundamental reform issues.
``Even as we're talking about this now, I'm afraid we'll still be just talking about it next January or February and the governor - whoever it is - will be talking about being billions of dollars out of balance,'' Silva said.
``It's kind of like the guy who doesn't fix his roof when its not raining. When it does rain, it's too late.''
Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich Michael Dennis Antonovich (born 1939 in Los Angeles, California) is a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors representing the Fifth District, which covers northern Los Angeles County, the Antelope, Santa Clarita, Pasadena, and parts of the San Fernando and San , who served in the Assembly, said he thinks the problem can be resolved by undoing the work of former Speaker Jesse M. Unruh, who made the Legislature a full-time job.
``I think we need to go back to making it a part-time Legislature,'' Antonovich said. ``That would go a long way in reducing the size of state government.''
Rick Orlov, (213) 978-0390