California Con-Con a Non-Non Starter
So much for the people’s revolt in California – at least, in this election cycle.
Word out of Sacramento is the initiative effort to launch a state constitutional convention is on hold due to a pair of culprits: lack of money to gather signatures to qualify for the ballot; and a reluctance, on the part of the signature-gathering industry, to get involved in the cause — lest it offend the powers-that-be in the state capital.
At last report, the reform group Repair California had raised $522,000 — about one-sixth of what it needs to do a legitimate signature-gathering effort. And the group’s collected only 140,000 signatures.
Why the lack of cash?
Give to the con-con and you risk offending incumbent lawmakers and entrenched special interests — basically anyone and everyone who makes out like a bandit under the current system.
All of which shows the problem with trying to launch non-partisan reform efforts in California. So, once again, I’m going to ride a favorite hobby-horse: the need for a group of deep-pocketed Californians to form a political venture fund, to allow nonpartisan groups like Repair California to put their ideas in motion.
My idea: take three Republicans, three Democrats and three independents. Have each contribute $1 million to the fund for an election cycle. Then, like a v.c. firm, have wannabe initiative efforts come forward and make their best pitch for start-up money.
Because of the makeup of the fund, a strongly partisan effort would have a hard time getting seed money. More times than not, the independent members would be the swing vote, just like in a California statewide election.
Granted, there are problems with this scenario — beginning with finding 9 Californians who are willing to fund ideas that offend the political establishment. So retired executives and term-limited, ex-politicians would be of particular value.
Paging Governor Schwarzenegger . . .