When I initially heard about Repair California’s plans for a constitutional convention for California, I was skeptical: the backers were a business group, and our political process is sufficiently screwed up that a no-holds-barred convention with lots of special interests weighing in could screw things up even more than they already are. I was pleased by the town hall meeting today; the people there were talking sense and pointing out that California’s problems have been building for decades, and are not just the result of the recent downturn. To fix the problems in Sacramento, we need to do more than just repeal the 2/3 rule for passing a budget; we need to fix the system so we aren’t deadlocked between the “loony left” and “radical right” (as one speaker put it).

The plan is to keep the issues addressed by the convention limited (to avoid special interests getting a gravy train hardwired into the constitution), and to select delegates through a random process comparable to jury selection (with some different filters— not mandatory, and with more reasonable compensation) and provide them with access to experts, opportunities for feedback from their home communities, and plenty of time to deliberate with lots of visibility. They had Larry Stone (the Santa Clara County Assessor), Liz Kniss (the Santa Clara County Supervisor), and Richard S. Gordon (the San Mateo County Supervisor) speaking, as well as representatives from Courage Campaign and Common Cause, and the New America Foundation. (The latter group have a Reform California web site.)

I didn’t even have to bring up my favorite electoral reform causes; various speakers brought up clean elections, instant-runoff voting, and proportional representation. (I went to the mike to give people the URLs to the California Clean Money Campaign and Californians for Electoral Reform, since they weren’t in a high-tech setting where I could just tweet them to an overhead screen.

When I initially heard about Repair California’s plans for a constitutional convention for California, I was skeptical: the backers were a business group, and our political process is sufficiently screwed up that a no-holds-barred convention with lots of special interests weighing in could screw things up even more than they already are. I was pleased by the town hall meeting today; the people there were talking sense and pointing out that California’s problems have been building for decades, and are not just the result of the recent downturn. To fix the problems in Sacramento, we need to do more than just repeal the 2/3 rule for passing a budget; we need to fix the system so we aren’t deadlocked between the “loony left” and “radical right” (as one speaker put it).

The plan is to keep the issues addressed by the convention limited (to avoid special interests getting a gravy train hardwired into the constitution), and to select delegates through a random process comparable to jury selection (with some different filters— not mandatory, and with more reasonable compensation) and provide them with access to experts, opportunities for feedback from their home communities, and plenty of time to deliberate with lots of visibility. They had Larry Stone (the Santa Clara County Assessor), Liz Kniss (the Santa Clara County Supervisor), and Richard S. Gordon (the San Mateo County Supervisor) speaking, as well as representatives from Courage Campaign and Common Cause, and the New America Foundation. (The latter group have a Reform California web site.)

I didn’t even have to bring up my favorite electoral reform causes; various speakers brought up clean elections, instant-runoff voting, and proportional representation. (I went to the mike to give people the URLs to the California Clean Money Campaign and Californians for Electoral Reform, since they weren’t in a high-tech setting where I could just tweet them to an overhead screen.

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