REFORM CALIFORNIA GOVERNMENT
Letter from Daniel B. Jeffs, Founder
Published in the Los Angeles Times - December 9, 2003
Re: "Governor's Agenda to Go to Ballot"
Front Page - December 7, 2003
The October 7, 2003 recall of former governor Gray Davis, the election of populist Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the repeal of the vehicle tax increase and the repeal of the driver's license law, under threats of ballot measures (in progress), is making it painfully clear to elected officials and politicians that California's voters are fed up with years of gross mismanagement.
Even now, as the inept Legislature refuses get its act together to deal with the enormous budget deficit, Governor Schwarzenegger intends to turn to the initiative process to get it done. However, as evidenced by past performance, government by crisis simply won't work.
To ensure the enactment of necessary reforms in state government, the Governor and voters should consider carefully constructed ballot initiatives that would restructure taxes back to local government control, and require super-majority voter approval for all matters of taxation and major public policy.
[Only then, would voters be able to make their elected representatives make the right decisions. And that's what is needed throughout the country, including federal government.] ...edited
Re: Editorial: "DIRECT DEMOCRACY"
"State's initiative process needs reform"
San Diego Union-Tribune
December 8, 2003
REFORM VOTING PROCESS AND CALIFORNIA GOVERNMENT
The press have offered valid reasons to reform California's direct democracy initiative process. However, simply doubling voter signature standards to qualify initiatives and referendums for the ballot would only serve to widen the gap between real voter initiatives and selfish interest proponents with power and money.
Instead of chipping away at peripheral problems, 21st century technology should be used to establish secure voting networks connected to voter's homes, wherein all elections would be conducted, ballot measures could be qualified with higher standards -- without the undue influence of moneyed interests -- and wherein voters would be able to communicate with each other and their elected representatives.
Surely, it is worthy of serious consideration, not only to reform the initiative process, but to reform California elections, politics and government as necessary. Maybe voters should launch a constitutional initiative to establish direct democracy that really works, by electing nonpartisan professional government managers instead of professional politicians. Indeed, maybe the federal Constitution ought to be amended establishing direct democracy for America.
On October 7, 2003, Democrat Governor Gray Davis was the first governor to be recalled from office in California's history, and only the second governor to be recalled in the United States.
Despite the unconscionable politics of Governor Gray Davis, legal challenges by the ACLU and other selfish interests, and the journalistic fraud of the Los Angeles Times -- including the Times' manipulated polls and the 11th hour assault against leading recall candidate Arnold Schwarzenneger -- California voters rejected personal attacks and partisan politics as usual, and proved that democracy is still alive in California.
The numbers tell the story:
The vote count on October 8, 2003, with 99% of the precincts reporting, revealed that Governor Davis was recalled by 55% of the vote (4.2 million votes). There were 3.4 million votes cast against the recall, which is the same number of votes that re-elected Davis in 2002, with 47% of the vote, in a race against weak conservative Republican challenger, Bill Simon. To win re-election and retain his personal power at any cost, Davis intruded in the 2002 Republican primary election and spent $10 million on attack ads to eliminate his strongest challenger, former Los Angles mayor and moderate Republican, Richard Riordan.
Recall candidate, moderate Republican, Arnold Schwarzenneger was elected governor with 48% of the vote (3.6 million votes). Democrat Lt. Governor, Cruz Bustamante received 32 % of the vote (2.4 million votes). Considering the fact that conservative Republican recall candidate, Tom McClintock received 13 % of the vote (1 million votes) -- taken together -- it means that 4.6 million, or 61% of those who voted were a mix of moderate Democrats, moderate Republicans, conservative Republicans and independents, which is a clear mandate -- by the collective good judgement and common sense of nearly two-thirds of voters -- for change in California government.
CHANGE THE RULES
October 12, 2003
During the recall of California Governor Gray Davis, he said that it was undemocratic to overturn his 2002 re-election. The mantra was quickly taken up by the media and career politicians throughout the country. Then they attacked the recall process in California by saying that the recall was wrong and the process should either be made more difficult or simply eliminated. The voters proved them wrong. But the electorate has more work to do.
Clearly, the recall rules need to be changed. However, rather than weaken the process, it should be strengthened to restrict the person being recalled from taking any official action during the recall, other than emergencies, particularly if the official being recalled is the governor. The same rule should apply to any outgoing governor after a general election.
Moreover, the California Constitution needs to be amended to maintain more control over the Legislature's intentional last minute, overwhelming, stack of special interest and pork-filled bills that can hardly be properly scrutinized by the governor or taxpayers, and which automatically become law if the governor doesn't sign or veto them. Davis already signed 884 bills into law before the deadline, and it's unknown how much more damage is going to be done.
Surely, the activities of the Legislature and the Governor should be limited during the months leading up to an election or budget deadline. The California Legislature is just as responsible for the energy crisis and the enormous budget deficit as Governor Davis. As Lt. Governor Bustamante admitted -- referring to California government -- during the major recall candidate debate, "We spent too much." Therefore, like Davis, the violators in the Assembly and Senate should be strongly considered for recall.
WATCH DOGS OR ATTACK DOGS?
October 9, 2003
If there was ever any doubt about how the condescending media and political elite feel about what they consider the electorate rabble out here in America, it was thoroughly dispelled by serial anti-democracy news reports, punishing editorials and commentary, and the television talking heads, professional party pundits and career politicians who lined-up against the voter recall of California Governor Davis. What's even more disturbing is the fact that those who are supposed to be our watchdogs, have turned on us as attack dogs.
Clearly, the sovereignty of the people has been so marginalized by the powerful few who exercise control over government and society on a daily basis, when voters happen to exercise their franchise and constitutional rights in any significant way, the power-elite have political fits. Demeaning the electorate for making any decisions about their government, disapproved of by the establishment, amounts to little more than perpetuating the elitist stuff of those who believe that the people are too ignorant and unsophisticated to govern themselves -- even though 5th century BC Athenians built one of the greatest civilizations in history with the first democracy, which was direct democracy.
Fear mongering about mob rule and tyranny of the majority is simply nonsense. If anything, the tyranny of the few has done the damage to our society. The Founders' concern about too much democracy could not have envisioned how government empire builders and the courts would transform what was supposed to be a republic of citizen representative democracy into monolithic federal and state governments replete with activist courts, burgeoning bureaucracies and elected officials, seduced by a corrupted system of personal power, who hold their political careers above the best interests of the people.
That's why we simple folk in California stopped government's abuse of destructive taxation with Proposition 13 in 1978. And that's why we the people, consisting of Republican, Democrat and independent voters, threw an inept, power-hungry governor out of office -- biting, kicking, whining and scratching -- to cut our losses.
If the Founders were alive today, they would undoubtedly follow Thomas Jefferson's dream of a more pure democracy, simply because we have evolved into a better-informed, more sophisticated, high technology society. Indeed, what we need now is more democracy, not less. We need secure voting networks connected to voter's homes. We need well-compensated, nonpartisan, professional government managers instead of partisan career politicians. We need to conduct all elections and communications with our elected government managers, and between ourselves, over the voting networks. Truthfully informed voters would decide all matters of taxation and public policy. Our managers would handle the details of no more government than we need. There would be no need for campaign financing, and no room for lobbyists, special interests or influence peddling. And the managers would be confirmed annually. If they are doing their job, they stay. If not, they go.
Of course, nonpartisan direct representative democracy with voting networks would take a constitutional amendment, which would be up to us to make happen. California is the best place to start.
Daniel B. Jeffs, founder
The Direct Democracy Center