The Salt Lake Tribune has details here.
In 2006, California voters adopted Prop 83, an initiative that put severe restrictions on where sex offenders can live. (Not within 2,000 feet of schools, parks and other areas where children gather). Now the LA Times reports that the state's Sex Offender Management Board says there's no evidence that Prop 83 has reduced crime. There's also not enough available, suitable housing for those who comply with the law. The state is spending $25 million a year to find housing for about 800 folks--a tiny fraction of those affected by the law.
In California's blockbuster democracy, it's now commonplace for politicians to establish their own political committee to raise money for and spend money on ballot measures (as opposed to the committees they use for their own election campaigns). This tactic, most aggressively advanced by Gov. Schwarzenegger, makes sense in an era when most issues of significance end up on the ballot.
But some believe that ballot measure committees, which may accept a contribution of any limit, are a way around the legal limits on how much one can give a politician. And several politicians have used the ballot measure funds for political spending that had nothing to do with an initiative or referendum.
On Thursday, the state's Fair Political Practices Commission made a stab at limiting the power of ballot measure committees that are controlled by politicians. Such committees will no have to show that they are devoted to a particular ballot measure. What does this mean? Even more such committees, as politicians open multiple accounts to comply with the regulation. So who's the winner in this scenario? Election lawyers.
The New York Times looks in on the campaign for an English-only ballot initiative in Nashville. The coalition against the measure is a broad one.
One lesson from earlier efforts at English-only. States and cities that have passed such measures have found them awfully difficult to enforce, as courts overturn such initiatives and politicians ignore them. That seems likely to happen in Nashville, where the mayor and much of the civic leadership opposes the English-only initiative.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Congressman Devin Nunes, a Republican from the Central Valley, describes California as an economic basket case and outlines, by my count, five ballot initiatives that he believes are needed to fix the state. Why should anyone care? Because Nunes, while little known to most Californians, is one of California's more thoughtful Republican politicians, and he has the ability to raise money to pursue at least a couple of these ideas at the ballot.
The Los Angeles Times praises a bizarre initiative, filed late last month, that would remove the entire legislature (and, in some cases, automatically remove the governor from office) if lawmakers don't pass a budget on time. In the event of a late budget, the governor and the lawmakers would not only be kicked out of office but they would be barred from returning to elected office for two years. There are all kinds of practical problems, but the Times seems to like the blast at the legislature. It's a symptom of the extreme frustration -- and powerlessness -- Californians are feeling as they watch their governor and legislature fiddle as the state runs out of cash.
It's a sign of the anger out there that this initiative is not the first time the notion of firing the whole legislature has come up. There's been persistent conversation among conservatives in California about coming up with some way to dissolve the legislature. But nothing's been filed, and my sources have been unwilling to go on the record.
Remember the big post-election protests by the No on 8 side after the victory of Prop 8, the California initiative to ban same-sex marriage? They were followed by efforts on the Internet to harass individual donors to Prop 8. There were boycotts of the businesses of Prop 8 supporters and attempts to cost Prop 8 supporters their jobs. These tactics represented a strategic blunder by supporters of marriage equality.
The protests are over now, but the damage continues. Don't agree? Consider this federal lawsuit (the complaint is here) filed by same-sex marriage opponents -- that is, backers of Prop 8. They are challenging the constitutionality of California's rules requiring the disclosure of full names and addresses of those who donate to ballot initiatives. The claim? That the disclosures allow opponents to harass donors and thus put their safety at risk.
The lawsuit is more political than legal -- the legal theory is novel and thus unlikely to gain much traction. But the Prop 8 supporters know that the over-the-top post-election tactics of Prop 8 have become a political vulnerability for same-sex marriage supporters. The lawsuit will keep those tactics in the news.
It has become obvious that Gov. Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders of both parties simply won't be able to reach a compromise that comes anywhere close to closing California's rapidly growing budget deficit, now estimated at some $40 billion over two years. The state government is running low on cash. Within weeks, it may have to start paying people in IOUs.
Democrats simply won't agree to enough cuts. Republicans won't agree to tax increases, and they can block that because of the state's requirement for a two-thirds vote. The Democrats' convoluted (if politically smart) attempt to do an end run around two thirds and raise taxes by majority vote isn't going anywhere; even if it's revived and signed into law, it's all but certain to get struck down in the courts or overturned by referendum. The governor you ask? Schwarzenegger has little credibility with lawmakers of either party. When it comes to big deals, he simply can't close.
The Courage Campaign, a progressive web site and organization in California, is inviting supporters of same-sex marriage to attend the first "Camp Courage" in Los Angeles later this month. What kind of camp is this? It's a camp for training people to organize to repeal Prop 8 and secure marriage equality for gay couples. It may sound a bit strange, but it's exactly the sort of planning and organizing that same-sex marriage supporters need to be doing. The camp concept appears to be modeled on the so-called "Camp Obamas," the weekend training sessions that the Obama conducted to turn volunteers into organizers.
The blog Calitics pushes back on my earlier contention that the appointment of Leon Panetta as CIA director is a blow to reform in California. (George Skelton made the same argument in his Los Angeles Times column today). Progressives don't like his centrist -- or Broderist (that's an adjective that uses the Washington Post centrist columnist David Broder's name) -- approach to reform, though they like Panetta. Some Democrats in California still hold it against Panetta that he began his work in politics four decades ago as a Republican.