"Concern should drive us into action, not into a depression." -- Karen Horney

Russ Feingold on the Path to Campaign Finance Reform

Public Campaign, by BillMoyers.com Staff, 3/16/13

"Our agenda is to make it clear to people that we can overturn this [Citizens United] decision. But in the meantime, we can pass disclosure laws. You know, eight to one, the same Court in Citizens United said of course there should be disclosure . . . So getting that through Congress, passing disclosure at the state level, as in California. They’re very close to it."  Full story

Hawaii House Passes Fair Elections Legislation

Public Campaign, by Adam Smith, 3/5/13

"Candidates would be freed from the non-stop chase for campaign cash and accountable solely to their constituents that elected them instead of big money donors. Candidates who don't have access to big money donors or party insiders would be able to run competitive campaigns for office."  Full story

Bay Area races increase scrutiny of ranked-choice voting

Los Angeles Times, by Lee Romney, 11/20/10

Results of this month's Oakland mayor's race and two San Francisco contests have heightened scrutiny of the ranked choice system. Although some question its fairness, all agree it will transform the nature of campaigning and avoids run-off elections.   Full story

Instant runoff voting

Huffington Post, by Rob Richie, 9/14/10

Australia's elections show how IRV voters can back third parties without forfeiting their preference between the major parties -- a value made more relevant by controversies over efforts in the United States to split opposition votes through "faux" third party candidacies.  Full story

Republican Lawmaker Extracts Open Primary Out of Budget Accord

Contra Costa Times, by Steven Harmon, 2/19/09

In exchange for the decisive vote he offered early Thursday morning in the state's harrowing budget drama, Sen. Abel Maldonado extracted an arcane piece of government reform that is likely headed for a rough ballot battle.  Full story

Now's the Time to Think of Ideas for a New State Government System

San Jose Mercury News, by Micah Weinberg , 2/4/09

"Deep in the doldrums of California's economic woes, with state government unable to pass a budget, Bay Area business leaders have proposed a constitutional convention..."   Full story

Billionaires Put Their Agendas to a Vote

Los Angeles Times, by Evan Halper, 11/1/08

Never before has such a large assortment of the extremely wealthy placed their pet projects on the statewide ballot. Five of the dozen statewide measures facing voters in this election have billionaire sponsors.  Full story

Local Government Agencies Spend Taxpayer Money on Pre-Election Outreach Campaigns

Los Angeles Times, by David Zahniser, 10/25/08

Eight agencies in Southern California are using taxpayer money to stage outreach campaigns about measures that would benefit them. The practice, at times highly sophisticated, is drawing complaints from taxpayer advocates and "clean government" groups, who say public agencies are improperly using public funds to extract more money from voters.   Full story

Supreme Court Strikes Down "Millionaire's Amendment"

New York Times, by Adam Liptak, 6/27/08

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a law that would allow candidates to raise more money from private supporters when they face rich candidates who pay for their own political campaigns.   Full story

California Ethics Panel Urges New Rules to Better Identify Campaign Donors

Los Angeles Times, by Patrick McGreevy, 5/21/08

Money spent in California elections outside voter-approved contribution limits is giving special interests undue influence, requiring new rules that better identify who is behind such efforts, the state's ethics agency said Tuesday.   Full story

California Ethics Agency Expands Disclosure on Politicians' expenses

Los Angeles Times, by Patrick McGreevy, 5/20/08

California politicians will no longer be allowed to use campaign contributions to pay for golf, lavish hotels and expensive meals while traveling in the state unless they disclose who was along and what purpose it served to help them do their job, under rules adopted Monday by the state's ethics watchdog agency.  Full story

Political Practices Fines Drop in Leader's First Year

Los Angeles Times, by Patrick McGreevy, 2/27/08

The state Fair Political Practices Commission is facing a proposed 10% budget cut and has cut fines and prosecutions for campaign finance violators due to limited resources.  "It's a concern that there are fewer penalties for cheating or breaking the rules," said Trent Lange, president of the California Clean Money Campaign.  Full story

PUC Member's Donation Request Raises Questions

Los Angeles Times, by Jordan Rau and Evan Halper, 2/20/08

Public Utilities Commissioner Timothy A. Simon solicited donations from companies he regulates to help pay for a nonprofit conference hosted last month by one of his political patrons.  The PUC then voted changes worth $176 million to the companies in some cases.  Full story

Stricter Rules on Political Gifts Considered

Los Angeles Times, by Paul Pringle, 1/25/08

California's political watchdog agency is drafting tougher disclosure rules for gifts accepted by elected officials and could ban many of them altogether for statewide office-holders.  Full story

Nunez Sweetens Deal for Unions

Los Angeles Times, by Michael Rothfeld and Jordan Rau, 12/20/07

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez added several provisions to the legislation sweetening the deal for union members, including millions of dollars for better benefits and worker training.  The changes came soon after the unions donated more than $1 million combined to an initiative sponsored by Nu?ez that would extend numerous lawmakers' terms, including his own.   Full story

Wining, Dining -- And a Memo to Back it Up?

Los Angeles Times, by Nancy Vogel and Patrick McGreevy, 12/4/07

Politicians may soon be forbidden to travel the world, dine lavishly or buy gifts with campaign funds without proving publicly that those activities had a political or government purpose, and without disclosing, in many cases, who received the largesse.   Full story

Disclosure of Ballot Campaign Donors Sought

Los Angeles Times, by Patrick McGreevy, 11/29/07

Backers of two campaigns to change California law are crying foul over donations to their opponents made through nonprofit groups that can hide the origin of the money to ballot measures.  The watchdog group California Common Cause has asked the state Fair Political Practices Commission to consider new regulations.   Full story

Editorial: Charity Laundering

Sacramento Bee, Editorial, 9/12/07

"FPPC Chairman Ross Johnson's intervention recently prompted Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, to pull a bad bill from the governor's desk...  Senate Bill 381 was an attempt to limit disclosure of how politicians solicit money from businesses and unions to benefit certain charities and other organizations -- including ones that are part of the elected leaders' political machines..."  Full story

State Ban On Political Pay To Spouses

Los Angeles Times, by Patrick McGreevy, 8/27/07

"A California congressman who recently won House approval of a bill that would prevent federal legislators from placing spouses on their campaign payrolls has joined advocates for clean government in calling for the state to also prohibit the controversial practice."
  Full story

Nanny State, Redux

San Diego Union-Tribune, Editorial, 6/22/07

"Forgive them, for sometimes they just don't know what the heck they're doing.   That can be the only logical explanation for how Assembly Bill 1430, which would impose a whole new layer of state interference in local affairs, passed quietly through the lower house in Sacramento last month with nary a voice in opposition..."  Full story

Campaign Reform Reversal?

Los Angeles Times, Editorial, 6/19/07

"VOTERS KEEP demanding campaign reform. Cynical lawmakers keep pretending to give it to them, but instead enact phony programs that block change... That cycle is now repeating in Sacramento, this time with political parties trying to undo successful local campaign contribution limits and disclosure rules..."
  Full story

Channels of Influence

Capitol Weekly, by Ned Wigglesworth, 4/12/07

"It bears mentioning that this massive stream of cash is donated quite deliberately... In other words, they give because they get ? or at least think they get. And with the political brainpower and know-how of the California consultant crowd, I'm inclined to believe them. These are Kissingers, not Rasputins..."  Full story

Rethink Public Financing... Later

Los Angeles Times, Editorial, 3/5/07

Seemingly resigned to this break with three decades of tradition, campaign reformers are seeking swift congressional action on a more generous system of public financing for the 2012 presidential election. But the reformers, led by Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.), the co-sponsor of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, may be drawing the wrong lesson from the increasing irrelevance of public financing.
  Full story

Proposed Initiative Would Ease Term Limits

Los Angeles Times, by Nancy Vogel, 2/16/07

Special interests with close ties to lawmakers launched a ballot initiative Thursday that would allow current legislators to stay in office up to six years longer than term limits now permit.  Full story

The Way Forward for Political Reform

San Francisco Chronicle, by Steven Hill, 12/19/06

"...  new opinion poll finds that California voters overwhelmingly support improvements in the election process, but there's a catch -- it depends on who is proposing them..  Turn the details over to a California Citizens' Assembly, and let average citizens decide what political reform is best for California."  Full story

For Redistricting, 10th Time May Be a Charm

Los Angeles Times, by Tony Quinn, 12/17/06

"... Significantly, the 10th reapportionment reform plan involves no reach for political advantage. Schwarzenegger has endorsed a proposal developed by a nonpartisan group under the auspices of the Voices of Reform project sponsored by the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco..."  Full story

Legislators Throw In Towel on Key Issues

Los Angeles Times, by Nancy Vogel and Jordan Rau, 8/16/06

Delivering an election-year disappointment to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, legislative leaders gave up on two perennially contentious issues Tuesday: changing how voting districts are drawn and extending the time a lawmaker is allowed to serve in the Senate or Assembly.  Full story

Bush's Bumbling Won't Benefit State's Democrats

Los Angeles Times, by George Skelton, 8/14/06

"An independent redistricting, it's theorized, would result in more competitive general elections. Outcomes would become more reflective of public mood swings. Now, elections are decided mostly by the map drawers..."  Full story

Term Limits Add Up to Brain Drain in Capitol

Los Angeles Times, by Jordan Rau, 7/23/06

One of the repercussions of term limits has been an exodus of experienced legislative staff to California's lobbying corps, known in Sacramento as the Third House.  The result: greater clout for special interests.  Full story

Arizona Ballot Could Become Lottery Ticket

New York Times, by Randal C. Archibold, 7/16/06

An Arizona proposal to award $1 million in every general election to one lucky resident, chosen by lottery, simply for voting — no matter for whom — has qualified for Arizona's November ballot.  The local chapter of We Are America, a group seeking to register Latinos to vote, plans to promote the initiative in its voter education and registration drives.  Full story

We Were Wrong About Term Limits

Los Angeles Times, by Rob Stutzman, 7/3/06

"...  have always been a loyal conservative supporter of term limits... But after 16 years of working in California politics, I've changed my mind. We were wrong. Term limits haven't delivered what we hoped for. They have, in fact, harmed the public interest..."  Full story

Technology Sharpens the Incumbents' Edge

Washington Post, by Jim VandeHei and Charles Babington, 6/7/06

"A major reason fewer incumbents lose is we have perfected the use of information technology," said Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). "As incumbents, we have unlimited access to the most up-to-date technology in the world" free of charge, he said.  Full story

States Join Forces Against Electoral College

Los Angeles Times, Editorial, 6/5/06

"A PROPOSED EXPERIMENT with majority rule has generated plenty of naysayers who apparently think that some nations are simply too immature to let people directly choose their own leaders. But we say the United States is ready for real democracy..."  Full story

Measure Aims To Reward Voters

Arizona Republic, by Robbie Sherwood, 5/21/06

Backers of the Voter Reward Initiative, which would give one randomly drawn voter a $1 million lottery prize after each statewide election, say they have gathered enough signatures to place the unusual measure on the November ballot.   Full story

Candidates For Judge Come Out Swinging

Marin Independent Journal, by Nancy Isles Nation, 5/14/06

Meneken, ostensibly speaking about wealthy judges with fat stock portfolios, called for the use of clean money and campaign reform. "A judge controls so much," he said. "If we had clean money for judges, each person would have the same amount of money."   Full story

Electoral College Dropouts

Los Angeles Times, by Jonathan Chait, 4/9/06

"... Abandoning the electoral college is a unique challenge... the Campaign for the National Popular Vote, has proposed an ingenious solution... The campaign proposes to secure legislation — state by state — to allocate votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the popular vote..."   Full story

Politicians Bid to Alter State Initiative Process

Oakland Tribune, by Steve Geissinger, 3/24/06

Secretary of State Bruce McPherson and lawmakers, backed by the League of Women Voters, pitched a bipartisan package of initiative revamp bills that would even let the Legislature just adopt a proposition, avoiding a nasty, costly campaign.   Full story

Drop Out of the College

New York Times, Editorial, 3/14/06

"The Electoral College is an antidemocratic relic... But National Popular Vote, which includes several former members of Congress, is offering an ingenious solution that would not require a constitutional amendment..."   Full story

The Campaign Trail

Slate, by James Sample, 3/6/06

"Should an elected judge, who accepts large campaign donations, sit on a case that directly affects the financial or business interests of the donors and their associates? Put as an ethical question, the answer would seem to be obvious: No." This article lays out a strong case for public funding of judicial election campaigns.  Full story

Count'em

New Yorker, by Hendrik Hertzberg, 3/6/06

The promoters of the Campaign for a National Popular Vote have come up with a strategy of ensuring the winner of popular presidential vote also won the electoral college vote.  One by one, individual states would pledge themselves to an interstate compact under which they would agree to award their electoral votes to the nationwide winner of the popular vote.   Full story

Congress Ethics Office Rejected

Los Angeles Times, by Mary Curtius and Richard Simon, 3/3/06

A key Senate committee Thursday rejected a proposal to create a new agency to oversee congressional ethics, dealing a major blow to efforts to give outsiders at least some authority to police lawmakers' conduct.  Full story

We Vote For a Fairer Way to Decide National Elections

Chicago Sun-Times, Editorial, 3/1/06

"... A bipartisan commission, whose members include former Rep. John Anderson (R-Ill.) and former Sen. Birch Bayh (D-Ind.), has proposed an idea to retain the Electoral College while still ensuring it reflects the will of the majority of voters... It's time to make the change with this innovative plan."  Full story

States Offer Grim Look at Curbing Corruption

Los Angeles Times, by Mary Curtius, 2/28/06

Many states made rule changes regarding ethics and lobbying guidelines that the House and Senate are now contemplating. But even those that imposed the toughest restrictions and oversight continue to grapple with problems of corruption and how to keep it in check.
  Full story

County Weighs Limits on Lobbying

Los Angeles Times, by Jack Leonard, 2/28/06

Los Angeles County supervisors are set to vote today to tighten their lobbying rules, but the proposal has not impressed political watchdog groups.  Along with a one-year moratorium on lobbying former county agencies, the proposed rule would ban any kind of lobbying on matters in which the official had personal and substantial involvement while working for the county.   Full story

Supreme Court to Vote on Election-Law Cases

Los Angeles Times, by David G. Savage, 2/26/06

The Supreme Court will take up states' rights in a pair of election-law cases to be heard this week that could have a big impact on the future of American politics.  Vermont hopes to restore small-town democracy by greatly limiting the role of money in politics.  Full story

Dan Walters: UC Study Demonstrates How New Districts Can Be Competitive

Sacramento Bee, by Dan Walters, 2/8/06

An exhaustive new study of California redistricting by the University of California's Institute of Governmental Studies concludes that plans drawn without regard to partisan impact would create a substantial number of competitive districts, i.e. those that could conceivably be won by either party.  Full story

Lawmakers Promote 'Citizens Assembly' for California

San Francisco Chronicle, by Lynda Gledhill, 1/27/06

A bipartisan pair of maverick lawmakers is proposing a "citizens assembly" that would have the power to draft radical changes to the state's electoral process and the Legislature.   Full story

If Governor's Looking for a Cause, Not a Cop-Out, Here's an Idea

Sacramento Bee, by Dan Walters, 1/3/06

Two state legislators - one a Democrat, the other a Republican - are undertaking an out-of-the-box effort to change the state's political dialogue via a "Citizen's Assembly."  Schwarzenegger should make the Canciamilla-Richman proposal his new crusade.  Full story

Plan Would Put Reform in Citizens' Hands

Los Angeles Times, by Dan Morain, 12/26/05

Under a new proposal by Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla (D-Pittsburg) and Assemblyman Keith Richman (R-Northridge), voters chosen at random would form a "citizens' assembly" — no politicos allowed — to study California's political system and suggest improvements. Their ideas would pass muster, or not, with all voters at the ballot box.   Full story

Rell Exults After Vote

Hartford Courant, by Mark Pazniokas, 12/2/05

Gov. M. Jodi Rell celebrated the passage of far-reaching campaign finance reforms Thursday, even though fellow Republicans largely abandoned her on the issue and a court challenge is possible.   Full story

Anti-Union Activists Hope to Create Son of Prop. 75

Los Angeles Times, by George Skelton, 11/21/05

"The so-called paycheck protection initiative galvanized public employee unions into an all-out war against the governor and his reforms... Now, the nurturer of Prop. 75, longtime anti-tax activist Lewis Uhler, is planning to create another version of the monster for the November 2006 ballot..."  Full story

A Better Direct Democracy

Los Angeles Times, Editorial, 11/17/05

"... Californians remain staunchly in favor of retaining the initiative process as a means of going around Sacramento, when necessary, to enact new laws or constitutional amendments. But opinion polls also show that voters aren't happy with many aspects of the initiative process..."  Full story

In Canada, Regular Folks Are Put to Work on Reforms

San Jose Mercury News, by Steven Hill, 11/17/05

"One of the solutions may lie across the border in Canada. It's called a Citizens' Assembly, and it was on display last year in the province of British Columbia. The government there turned over to the people the task of basic political reform, and by doing so took the partisanship out of the process, something California badly needs..."  Full story

Revisiting Redistricting

Los Angeles Times, Editorial, 11/12/05

"In the last three days, the governor and the Democratic leaders of both the state Senate and Assembly all pledged to change the way congressional and legislative districts are drawn in California, taking the job away from lawmakers and turning it over to an independent commission.  Quick: Make them sign a blood oath and lock this deal in concrete..."  Full story

A New Political Landscape

Los Angeles Times, Editorial, 10/23/05

"The greatest political swindle of the last 50 years in California has been the conspiracy between Democrats and Republicans to protect their own hides by redrawing the state's legislative and congressional districts...  Proposition 77 will restore some reason and moderation to the political process."  Full story

A Proposition to End All Propositions

Los Angeles Times, by Bill Mundell, 10/9/05

"... Of all the measures on the Nov. 8 ballot, Proposition 77 — under which a panel of retired judges rather than lawmakers would draw legislative and congressional boundaries — is the most fundamental and critically needed piece of reform..."   Full story

Modest Change Seen Under Prop. 77

Los Angeles Times, by Nancy Vogel, 9/27/05

Redistricting would create some closer races, a study says, but a power shift is thought unlikely.  Full story

Governor's Political Vows Not All Kept

Contra Costa Times, by Kate Folmar, 9/19/05

Two years ago, gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger laid out a "sweeping political reform" agenda to restore public trust in Sacramento. It included a fund-raising blackout during budget season, redrawing political boundaries and a vow to veto bills that hadn't been fully vetted in the Legislature.  Most of his pledges stand as unfinished promises.  Full story

Carter-Baker Panel to Call for Voting Fixes

Washington Post, by Dan Balz, 9/19/05

Warning that public confidence in the nation's election system is flagging, a commission headed by former president Jimmy Carter and former secretary of state James A. Baker III today will call for significant changes in how Americans vote, including photo IDs for all voters, verifiable paper trails for electronic voting machines and impartial administration of elections.  Full story

Prop. 75 Could Weaken Clout of Unions

Los Angeles Times, by Jordan Rau, 8/14/05

California's public employee unions, which have formed the core resistance to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's agenda this year, could lose much of their political potency through a measure on the Nov. 8 special election ballot.  Full story

Bulking Up On Ethics

Los Angeles Times, Editorial, 7/25/05

"Given a transgression the size of Schwarzenegger's, state law needs to be changed to flatly bar the governor and the seven other statewide officeholders from earning outside income while in office..."  Full story

Gov.'s Remap Bid Ruled Invalid

Los Angeles Times, by Nancy Vogel, 7/22/05

Delivering a substantial blow to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's "year of reform" agenda, a judge Thursday struck from the special election ballot an initiative that would have wrested away the Legislature's power to draw political districts.  Full story

2 Drug Giants Donate $12m

Fresno Bee, by Clea Benson, 6/27/05

In an indication of just how expensive November's special election could get, two drug companies wrote checks totaling more than $12 million earlier this month to a ballot-initiative campaign fund.   Full story

Secret Donors Behind Union-Dues Initiative

San Francisco Chronicle, by Christian Berthelsen, 5/3/05

A voter initiative aimed at weakening the political clout of public employee unions is moving toward the ballot, even as the identities of the measure's financial backers remain virtually unknown.   Full story

10 Steps to Better Elections

Sierra Magazine, by Steven Hill, 5/1/05

"When elections are unfair, the environment loses. While polls show that large majorities of the American public favor strong environmental protections, those aspirations are routinely frustrated by a flawed voting system..."  Full story

Gov. Relents on Sped-Up Remapping

Los Angeles Times, by Robert Salladay and Jordan Rau, 4/28/05

Retreating from another proposal for swift change in California government, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday dropped his demand that the state's legislative and congressional districts be redrawn by next year.  Full story

Limit Elections Chief

Contra Costa Times, Editorial, 4/22/05

"[Senator Bowen's] proposal would prohibit the secretary of state or candidates for that office from: holding any office in a political organization; endorsing or opposing any candidate for office; soliciting funds from a political organization or candidates; contributing more than $500 a year to a single political party, political organization or nonjudicial candidate with an aggregate cap of $1,000..."  Full story

National Guidelines Needed to Ensure Fair House Districts

San Jose Mercury News, by John B. Anderson and Rob Richie, 4/10/05

"Just when you thought it couldn't get worse, Democrats and Republicans escalate their bitter partisan warfare. The latest example is re-redistricting...  For nationally fair elections, we need nationwide standards. Without such standards, states can unilaterally and unfairly alter the makeup of Congress..."  Full story

Officials Fail To Track Lobbying, Report Says

Washington Post, by Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, 4/8/05

Lobbying expenditures in Washington have at least doubled in the past six years, the center reported. Last year, corporations, labor unions and interest groups spent more than $3 billion trying to influence the federal government, up from $1.6 billion in 1998.  Full story

Industry of Influence Nets Almost $13 Billion

Center for Public Integrity, by Alex Knott, 4/7/05

Special interests and the lobbyists they employ have reported spending, since 1998, a total of almost $13 billion to influence Congress, the White House and more than 200 federal agencies. They've hired a couple thousand former government officials to influence federal policy on everything from abortion and adoption to taxation and welfare.  Full story

A Good Proposal That Won't Do Much

San Jose Mercury News, Editorial, 3/31/05

"On Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal to take away the power to draw political districts from politicians and give it to some neutral panel, the widespread verdict is:  A.) Good idea.  B.) Not going to transform the Legislature..."   Full story

Slow Down and Strike a Deal

Los Angeles Times, by Tony Quinn, 3/27/05

"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desire to put retired judges in charge of legislative redistricting and have them immediately redraw the lines is commendable... Still, he should wait. Majority Democrats say they are willing to give up their gerrymandering ways if the governor abandons his initiative quest for a mid-decade redistricting. Schwarzenegger should take the deal, for two reasons..."  Full story

Foes of Gov.'s Initiatives to Fight Fire With Fire

Los Angeles Times, by Jordan Rau, 3/24/05

Gov. Schwarzenegger's plans to hold a special election for his agenda for change has encouraged his opponents to circulate a large number of initiatives opposing it.  There are 53 initiatives in circulation and 18 awaiting review by the state attorney general's office.  Full story

It's Time to Take the Initiative on Limiting These Costly Special Elections

Los Angeles Times, by George Skelton, 3/24/05

"If anything needs to be reformed in California, it's the initiative system. It's out of control, running amok... The current problem is that there's political anarchy in the streets, a shootout between special interests like we've never seen, at least in modern times..."  Full story

Senator Seeks Law Halting Partisan Acts by Secretary of State

Oakland Tribune, by Ian Hoffman, 3/22/05

The chairwoman of the state Senate's elections committee wants a prohibition on partisan activities by the California secretary of state and a ban on contributions to candidates for that post by suppliers of voting equipment.   Full story

Other View: Voting Regulation Must be Vital to Secretary of State

Sacramento Bee, by Steven Hill, 3/17/05

"California is about to hire a new secretary of state.  ... As secretary of state, Bruce McPherson should press forward with an agenda that safeguards the security and integrity of our elections... Confidence in our elections is a fundamental cornerstone of our democracy."  Full story

Gov.'s Performance in Role of 'Reformer' Seems a Little Strained

Los Angeles Times, by George Skelton, 3/14/05

" If Schwarzenegger really wants to reform government, he should start with the tool — or toy — he's now obsessed with using: the initiative process...  The initiative has become an instrument for special interests to protect themselves against the people's elected representatives..."  Full story

How the State Lost Its Swing

Los Angeles Times, Editorial, 3/14/05

"Good-government groups and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have joined forces to take the districting power away from the Legislature and governor (who now can approve or veto a districting plan) and give it to an independent commission. The Los Angeles Times strongly supports this effort..."  Full story

Other View: Commission Would Ease Politicking

Sacramento Bee, by R. Michael Alvarez and Thad E. Hall, 2/23/05

"The solution: Take the politics - and the partisanship - out of the secretary of state's office and the redistricting process. Turn over the administration of California's election practices to an independent state Electoral Commission..."  Full story

Schwarzenegger vs. Gerrymander

New York Times, by Steven Hill, 2/19/05

"A nonpartisan redistricting commission may make a few more legislative seats more competitive. And it certainly would have the salutary effect of changing the public perception that incumbents have a hand in rigging their own district lines. But such tinkering is not likely to change much else..."  Full story

GOP Fears a Redistricting Backfire

Los Angeles Times, by Peter Nicholas, 2/8/05

Worried about losing clout in Congress, influential Republicans in Washington are telling Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that he should drop his effort to redraw congressional voting districts in time for next year's elections and limit his focus to reshaping the state Legislature.  Full story

Loosening Term Limits: Key Lies in Honest Remapping

Los Angeles Times, by George Skelton, 1/13/05

"The current draconian term limits — six years in the Assembly, eight in the Senate — have weakened the Legislature by curtailing the development of strong leaders and policy experts, leaving lawmakers more vulnerable to special interests..."   Full story

Group to Aid Gov.'s Push for Reforms

Los Angeles Times, by Peter Nicholas, 1/12/05

A coalition of business and taxpayer groups friendly to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is preparing to raise tens of millions of dollars that can be used to push for initiatives the governor appears set to champion in a special election campaign.  Full story

Money and Influence Flow Through a Ballot Measure Loophole

Los Angeles Times, by Richard L. Hasen, 1/4/05

"For all these reasons, the Legislature should act to supersede the FPPC regulations and impose fair and reasonable limits on contributions to candidate-controlled ballot measure committees. Each candidate-controlled ballot measure committee should have the same limit. And elected officials should be able to control only one committee per ballot measure..."   Full story

Serving the Pols, Not the People

Los Angeles Times, Editorial, 11/10/04

"If Californians needed evidence that the congressional and legislative redistrictings after the 2000 census were political travesties, this election was it. These districts weren't drawn to provide Californians with fair representation but to serve the political parties. It's no surprise that they were drawn by the legislators themselves..."  Full story

Look at the Initiatives Money Can Buy

Los Angeles Times, by Michael Hiltzik, 11/10/04

"Consider the following figure: $198.7 million. That's how much was spent by wealthy donors to sway voters on 13 contested statewide propositions on Tuesday's ballot...  Why pretend that any significant share of this sum came from little people standing up for their own interests?..."  Full story

The Legislature, Abridged

Los Angeles Times, Editorial, 10/20/04

"Ted Costa... has started a petition for an initiative to prohibit the Legislature from meeting more than 90 days every two years, less than all but two other states... California's Legislature would lose much of its clout and be unable to properly oversee state programs. By contrast, the governor and lobbyists would still be at work full time..."  Full story

Governor Endorses Open Primary Measure

Los Angeles Times, by Nancy Vogel, 10/19/04

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed a ballot measure to drastically alter how Californians pick candidates for the Legislature, Congress and statewide office.  Under Proposition 62, voters could cast ballots for any candidate in a primary and the top two vote-getters would face each other in the general election, regardless of party.  He also said he would ask lawmakers to put a measure on the ballot to take redistricting away from politicians.  Full story

False Ads: There Oughtta Be A Law! Or -- Maybe Not.

FactCheck.org, by Brooks Jackson, 10/17/04

Here's a fact that may surprise you: candidates have a legal right to lie to voters just about as much as they want.  The Ohio Elections Commission is a seven-member, bipartisan board that takes its job seriously, but has little teeth.  Full story

For Voters, Choice Is As Easy As 1, 2, 3

Washington Post, by Kimberly Edds, 10/12/04

When voters here go to the polls in November to select their top choice for a seat on the city's Board of Supervisors, they also get to pick their second choice -- and even their third.  Full story

Prop. 64 Foes Still Behind in Cash Race

Los Angeles Times, by Marc Lifsher, 10/7/04

Opponents of Proposition 64, the ballot initiative aimed at curbing lawsuits against businesses, finally are raising some money. But they're still not close to matching the spending of their corporate foes.  The anti-Prop 64 coalition has raised $513,500 in contributions, dwarfed by the $13 million amassed from large corporations and small businesses.  Full story

Gerrymandering Takes the Drama Out of California's Election Season

Los Angeles Times, by George Skelton, 9/20/04

"Legislators — Democrats and Republicans alike — redrew legislative and congressional districts in 2001 to protect incumbents and the party then holding each seat. Their aim was to lock in the status quo...  Perhaps 12 seats in the Assembly and three in the Senate are now in play..."  Full story

Racetracks Sue Over Gov.'s Indian Casino Deals

Los Angeles Times, by Dan Morain, 9/17/04

Both sides of the Proposition 68 fight have raised nearly $70 million as they wage what could turn out to be the costliest initiative battle in state history.  The most expensive initiative fight in California involved Proposition 5, a 1998 measure aimed at legalizing Indian casinos. That campaign cost nearly $100 million.  Full story

Schwarzenegger's Power Grab

Los Angeles Times, by Jody Freeman, 8/9/04

Reform proposal would hand many key decisions to the governor's appointees.  Full story

A Return to Sacramento's Bad Old Days

Los Angeles Times, by Bill Boyarsky, 8/3/04

"Modern-day campaign contributions are every bit as corrupting as the $100 bills pushed across Rees' desk half a century ago. What's more, term limits have badly weakened legislative power and competence.  But if Schwarzenegger were to succeed at returning the Legislature to its part-time status, matters would get even worse..."  Full story

Tribe Antes Up for Gambling Initiative

Los Angeles Times, by Dan Morain, 7/24/04

An Indian tribe that owns one of the most successful casinos in California has donated $10 million to the campaign for a November ballot initiative that would wrest control of Indian gambling expansion from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Full story

Initiative Seeks Curbs on Consumer Lawsuits

Los Angeles Times, by Evan Halper and Marc Lifsher, 7/6/04

Dozens of companies have already collected $7 million to promote an initiative making it more difficult to sue businesses by weakening California's 70-year-old consumer protection law.  With hefty contributions pouring in, the measure is shaping up to be among the most costly ballot fights in recent memory.
  Full story

The Vexations Of Voting Machines

Time Magazine, by Viveca Novak, 4/26/04

Critics of e-voting have two complaints. One is that it's not possible to do a true recount with the systems because they produce nothing tangible when a vote is cast; a recount means pressing a button and coming up with the same results.   Full story

The Cost of Cut-Rate Democracy

Los Angeles Times, by Pat Morrison, 3/30/04

Column touching on why Clean Money for initiatives is needed:  "Next Tuesday is election day in Inglewood. Between now and then, Wal-Mart will be filling Inglewood's mailboxes with even more homey-looking, expensively produced political ads about the more and better shopping and dining that can be yours..."  Full story

End the Endless Campaigns

Los Angeles Times, Editorial, 3/3/04

"... the wretched March primary for state and local offices that leaves Californians with an eight-month general election campaign. It may be bearable for a presidential race, but for state and local offices it's absurd... Return the state primary to June, the month it was held from World War II days to 1996."  Full story

Chads Out, but Controversy Remains

Los Angeles Times, by Allison Hoffman, 3/2/04

As Californians go to the polls today, those casting ballots in 14 counties, home to 43% of the state's 15.1 million registered voters, will use electronic machines — part of a massive national experiment in new technology that pits the hope of fewer errors against the fear of election-night computer hacking.  Full story

How Much Easier Can It Be?

Los Angeles Times, Editorial, 2/10/04

"With another important vote coming up next month, more would-be voters should take advantage of the state's easy registration process. Those who want to register now should go to the secretary of state's website at http://www.ss.ca.gov for information on how to do it..."  Full story

Online, Political and Influential

Washington Post, by Brian Faler, 2/8/04

A new survey suggests that visitors who frequent candidate webs sites, online political discussion groups and campaign blogs tend to be white, well-educated and, disproportionately, opinion leaders in their social circles.  Full story

Casting a Vote for Change in State's Presidential Primary

Los Angeles Times, by George Skelton, 1/26/04

"[California's] "early" primary won't be early enough to mean much nationally — but way too early for a sane state primary.  The solution is to split the primary — one presidential, one state. Like most early states do. Move up California's presidential primary to one week after New Hampshire's. Return the state primary to June."  Full story

Fixing Elections

New York Times, Editorial, 1/18/04

"The morning after the 2000 election, Americans woke up to a disturbing realization: our electoral system was too flawed to say with certainty who had won. Three years later, things may actually be worse...  Voting Technology...  Voter Participation...  Competitive Elections..."   Full story

Machines Too Can Lie

Los Angeles Times, Editorial, 12/12/03

"Voters' rights cannot be guaranteed merely by installing jazzy machines with shiny new buttons. One doesn't have to be a conspiracy theorist to recognize that the gadgets — as well as the people who build, program and operate them — need vigorous oversight."  Full story

Time to Draw the Line

New York Times, Editorial, 12/10/03

"The Supreme Court hears arguments today in a Congressional redistricting case that could have a significant impact on the state of our democracy. The case, a challenge of district lines in Pennsylvania, raises the question of whether Congressional districts can ever be drawn in such a politically partisan way that they are unconstitutional. The court should reaffirm that they can be."   Full story

The Dean Connection

New York Times, by Samantha M. Shapiro, 12/5/03

Article about the amazing grassroots and internet technology behind the Dean campaign, which is often as much a way to meet people as to elect Dean. ''The revolution,'' as Dean's director of Internet organizing calls it, has three phases; the first is Howard Dean himself, the second is Meetup.com and the third is the software that Rosen, Johnson and Brooks work with: Get Local, DeanLink, DeanSpace. ''DeanSpace,'' Teachout says, ''is the revolution.''   Full story

A Ruling for Democratic Principles

New York Times, Editorial, 12/3/03

"The Colorado Supreme Court took a stand for electoral fairness this week when it struck down a partisan redrawing of the state's Congressional district lines. It held that districts should be drawn once after the census, not whenever a party sees a chance to pick up seats..."   Full story

Recall Media Coverage Unequal, Study Finds

UCLA Daily Bruin, by Adam Foxman, 10/16/03

The center for Policy Analysis for California Education released a report earlier this week that found Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger received the lion's share of media coverage in the nine-week recall election, during which his support among voters more than doubled.   Full story

What's next? Redistricting

San Jose Mercury News, by Ann E. Marimow, 10/15/03

Emboldened by the success of his recall initiative, anti-tax crusader Ted Costa said Tuesday he plans a ballot measure to break incumbents' grip on California's Legislature and congressional delegation.  Arnold Schwarzenegger campaigned to remove reapportionment from the whim of the Legislature and put it into the hands of a panel of retired judges.  Full story

Recall News Focused Primarily On Schwarzenegger's Campaign

UC Berkeley News, by Kathleen Maclay, 10/13/03

California's Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger benefited from lopsided media attention during the pivotal first weeks of his campaign, according to a study by a policy research center at the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University.  The study examined more than 1,500 news stories written by staff writers for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News.   Full story

No on Propositions 53 and 54

Los Angeles Times, Editorial, 9/29/03

Here are The Times' recommendations on the two other issues on the recall ballot.  Proposition 53. NO.  Proposition 54. NO.   Full story

Disclosure Request Is Denied

Los Angeles Times, by Rebecca Trounson, 9/20/03

A Superior Court judge on Friday denied state regulators' request for a preliminary injunction to compel backers of Proposition 54 to disclose names of their donors before the state recall election.  "The voters are the ones who lost out," FPPC Commission Chairwoman Randolph said outside the courtroom.  "They're the ones who need to know who's funding major ballot measures and they should be able to have that information before the election."   Full story

Cal State Panel Opposes Proposition 54

Los Angeles Times, by Times Wire Reports, 9/17/03

A key committee of California State University's board of trustees voted Tuesday to oppose Proposition 54, a state ballot initiative that would bar state agencies from collecting many types of racial or ethnic data.  Full story

An Act of Courage

Los Angeles Times, by Erwin Chemerinsky, 9/16/03

"In 1964, the Supreme Court declared that '[t]he right to vote freely for the candidate of one's choice is of the essence of a democratic society, and any restriction on that right strikes at the heart of representative government.'  On Monday, the 9th Circuit, in an act of courage, followed that lead and the law, properly ordering a delay in the election until voting machines are in place that will equally count every ballot."  Full story

Political Bias Drives Justices' Delay of Recall

Los Angeles Times, by Richard Riordan, 9/16/03

The 9th Circuit argued that this state's election rules did not matter because of the risk that certain votes may not be counted.... The goal of making sure every vote counts — even when the voter does not follow the instructions — is laudable.... It is, however, ultimately unattainable."   Full story

No on Race Data Ban

Los Angeles Times, Editorial, 9/15/03

"Proposition 54 seeks to amend the California Constitution to prohibit the state and other public bodies — including local governments, colleges and universities — from classifying individuals and collecting information on them by race, ethnicity, color or national origin. In an ideal world, this might be a good thing. But in practical terms, this ballot initiative would undermine equal education, public health and civil rights protections."  Full story

Environment Factors Into Proposition 54

Los Angeles Daily News, by Clifford Rechtschaffen, 9/9/03

Ward Connerly's latest initiative is not about redwood trees or oil spills on our seashores. So, why have California's top 20 environmental organizations come out in opposition to Proposition 54 on the Oct. 7 recall ballot?   Full story

A Fastidiously Fair Forum for Candidates

Los Angeles Times, by James Rainey, 9/5/03

The California Channel has taped half-hour interviews with all candidates for governor on an equal basis and broadcast it by 157 cable operators that serve 5.4 million homes.  "These interviews are designed to take the money, the glitzy ads and all of the hype out of the arena," says interviewer John Hancock, "and to literally focus on the candidates and their positions."   Full story

Colorblind America Is Still an Illusion

Los Angeles Times, by J.P. Gownder, 9/1/03

Colin Powell is not black. Nor is Halle Berry. Tiger Woods, with an Asian mother and mixed-race African American father, isn't black either.  At least, this is the reductionist assumption underlying Proposition 54, the so-called Racial Privacy Initiative, on the Oct. 7 ballot. The initiative would prohibit any government agency in California from collecting data on race, ethnicity, color or national origin.  Full story

Seeds of an Uprising

Los Angeles Times, Editorial, 8/24/03

"The changes needed to make state government functional again are not that numerous.... Repealing or loosening term limits.... Turning legislative redistricting over to the state Supreme Court or a special commission.... Plug the loopholes that encourage corrupt relationships in which politicians shake down contributors and pay them back with favors at the citizenry's expense...."  Full story

Techies, Politics Now Click

Los Angeles Times, by Joseph Menn, 8/11/03

Online organizations such as MoveOn.org and DigitalConsumer.org show the power of the internet as catalysts for grass-roots action and as effective political forces.  "You wish these things would be taken care of by other people," said MoveOn co-founder Wes Boyd. "But it turns out that if we don't play, if we don't work to make a difference, no one's going to do it. We just discovered that we couldn't look away anymore."   Full story

Racial Initiative Ignites Medical Worries

San Francisco Chronicle, by Ulysses Torassa, 8/11/03

Researchers are sounding alarms over the potential health effects of Proposition 54 -- the initiative to ban state government from collecting racial or ethnic data -- fearing it will jeopardize efforts to pinpoint cancer hot spots, keep tabs on disease outbreaks and fashion effective health messages.   Full story

Who Made Tom DeLay King?

Seattle Post Intelligencer, by Jan Jarboe Russell, 8/1/03

"A friend asked the other day, "Who the heck made Tom DeLay king?  It's a good question, one that all Americans ought to be asking themselves now that DeLay is using obscene amounts of money as well as his position as House majority leader to win more seats in Congress next year for the right wing of the Republican Party."   Full story

Colorblind Versus Blindfolded

Los Angeles Times, by James Q. Wilson, 7/31/03

"[Ward Connerly's] Racial Privacy Initiative, slated to be voted on in October, would prohibit any government agency in California from collecting data on race, ethnicity, color or national origin...  I think this initiative is wrong and should be voted down... the initiative would aid those who want to continue to obsess about race because, no longer privy to the facts, we would invent them."  Full story

Is Wearing Two Hats Wrongheaded?

Los Angeles Times, by Dario Frommer and Lois Wolk, 7/30/03

"The problem of political consultants — who actually run election campaigns for legislators — lobbying for other clients is among the most insidious we face.... Political consultants should not be profiting by lobbying the very lawmakers they helped elect."  Full story

2 Bills Target Capitol Consultant-Lobbyist

Los Angeles Times, by Nancy Vogel, 7/17/03

Two lawmakers introduced bills Wednesday to restrict political consultant and lobbyist Richie Ross, comparing him to Artie Samish, a legendary lobbyist of two generations ago who once bragged, "That's my Legislature."   Full story

Racial Data Measure Attacked

Los Angeles Times, by Carl Ingram, 7/16/03

Gov. Gray Davis on Tuesday announced his opposition to a proposition on the March ballot that would prohibit government agencies and schools in California from collecting most kinds of racial and ethnic information.   Full story

S.F. might use old voting system

San Francisco Chronicle, by John Wildermuth, 7/16/03

If San Francisco can't get its new "instant runoff" voting system approved by the state in time for the November election, the city could be forced to hold a December runoff election, as it has in the past, the city attorney said Tuesday.   Full story

Instant Runoff May Depend on Hand Counting

San Francisco Chronicle, by John Wildermuth, 6/11/03

An emergency plan to count the ballots by hand in San Francisco's November election may be the only way the city will be able to meet voters' demand for an instant runoff tally.   Full story

Davis Taking Recall Seriously

San Jose Mercury News, by Mark Gladstone and Ann E. Marimow, 5/29/03

California, the land of movie sequels and second chances, is moving toward a remake of last November's election -- with a new nail-biting twist.  The Republican drive to recall Gov. Gray Davis, which once seemed impossibly far-fetched, has suddenly turned into an all-out campaign.   Full story

 


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