Brown Only Democrat Left Standing … Really?
by Paul Hogarth‚ Nov. 16‚ 2009
Seven months ago, California had four Democrats running for Governor. Now, we only have one – who has yet to formally declare. John Garamendi’s ego dropped out to run for Congress in the wrong district (which he won anyway), Antonio Villaraigosa stepped out to focus on his day job as Mayor of Los Angeles, and Gavin Newsom appears to have withdrawn from both the Governor’s race and his day job. Unless someone jumps in (or back into) the race, June 2010 will be the coronation of Jerry Brown – a 72-year-old ex-Governor who quit the Democratic Party 11 years ago, and whose record after quietly re-joining has been a nightmare for progressives. Faced with only Republican opponents next year, Brown is moving further to the right – and will be pressured to do so down the road. Even though the Golden State, where the G.O.P. is in deep trouble, deserves a lot better than that.
As Beyond Chron has written on a number of occasions this year, California has led the progressive charge on the national level – but our state is in dire need of that kind of energy to fix Sacramento. And yet, progressives have failed to recruit a candidate of their own to be California’s next Barack Obama – leaving Jerry Brown as the only viable Democratic candidate to lead the largest state in the union.
Now, with no other Democratic alternative for Governor, progressives are left with two choices: (a) recruit a candidate to face nearly insurmountable odds to defeat Brown, or (b) organize on issues to the point that Jerry somehow feels compelled to respond. The former isn’t likely to happen, because the only Democrats with the stature to run a viable campaign are in Congress – and who would want to risk a safe seat when your party is in power in Washington? The latter is practically our only choice, and it remains to be seen how much Brown will bend in to public pressure. If 2010 is a wake-up call to California progressives that we need to focus more on state issues, it may be a good thing long-term.
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Here’s a great piece from the LA Times in 2003. Sure, keeping property taxes low can help businesses but the disparity in the market place is staggering!
Firms’ Prop. 13 Savings Are Coveted
SACRAMENTO — It’s no wonder Disneyland’s owners call their amusement park the “happiest place on Earth.” For much of its land, Disney pays only a nickel per square foot in property taxes.
In Hollywood, Capitol Records pays a dime per square foot in taxes on the land beneath its famous tower, which resembles a stack of records on a hi-fi. In downtown Los Angeles, owners of the Wells Fargo Center pay about $1.77 a square foot.
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Why California Needs A Constitutional Convention
Then there’s our failed experiment with direct democracy, which brought about many of the constrictions under which current government now labors, such as the crazy 2/3 requirements, which allow the majority to say that the minority blocks their wishes while allowing the minority to claim that they have no power because they’re in the minority.
What do I think a Constitutional convention needs to include?
• ending the 2/3 requirements and restoring democracy to the fiscal process over the tyranny of the minority, and returning decisions for spending and taxation to elected representatives
• two-year budget cycles and performance-based budgeting to try and engender a long-term approach
• indirect democracy, where the legislature can either work out the item on the ballot with proponents and pass it through their chamber, or amend items that reach the ballot. In addition, we need a higher barrier for Constitutional amendments and changes to the process of signature gathering.
• any ballot-box budgeting must include a dedicated funding source – “paygo for initiatives”
• smaller legislative districts, either by expanding the Assembly or moving to a unicameral legislature with 150 or more members.
• elimination of the current term limits, the tighest in the nation, with more of a happy medium
• instant runoff voting for state legislative vacancies to speed the process of filling them
• local government gets the local resources they collect without them routing through Sacramento
Those are a few of the things I’d like to see addressed, and I’m sure people have additional ones. The crisis we currently have in California presents an opportunity for new thinking about government and how to manage the largest state in the union and one of the largest economies in the world. Despite the doom and gloom, California retains its vibrancy, its diversity, its abundance. Only the structure under with it governs itself has failed, and that failure has seeped into everyday life. Lifting that structure will be like lifting a heavy weight off the backs of the citizenry. We can lead a path to a better future.
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California Budget Woes to Persist
The budget mess is already taking center stage in the race to succeed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who must leave office after the November 2010 election because of term limits. “It’s the issue that transcends all other issues,” San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, a Democratic candidate, said in an interview Thursday. “You can’t talk about issues in health care, education and infrastructure improvement until you focus on the issue of these structural imbalances in the budget.” Mr. Newsom blasted the spending plan for taking $4.7 billion from local governments, saying the governor should have been open to new taxes on tobacco and oil extraction instead.
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Posted in 2/3 rule, California Budget Crisis, California Governor Race 2010, Gavin Newsom, Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman, Prop 13, Reform, Steve Poizner
Tagged 2/3 rule, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Budget Fiasco, California Governor Race 2010, California Politics, Democratic Party, Gavin Newsom, Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman, Steve Poizner