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Friday, November 27, 2009

So You Say You Want a Constitution. But Are You Ready to Double Down?

Posted By on Fri, Nov 27, 2009 at 10:59 AM

We here at The Snitch have followed the long-running murmurs about a future state constitutional convention with interest. After all, in a state as saturated with moneyed interests and crippled by partisan hackery as California, just what rough beast might be born from a thorough redesign of our methods of governance?

click to enlarge What new institutions of government will this get me?
  • What new institutions of government will this get me?
​This week the San Francisco Chronicle reported on a new study from the National Institute on Money in State Politics, which found that a small group of California gaming tribes are the largest special-interest donors to political campaigns in the U.S. Chron political reporter Carla Marinucci quoted Cal State Sacramento politics professor Barbara O'Connor predicting that the tribes are sure to flex their muscle in the 2010 statewide elections, including the governor's race and votes on measures calling for state constitutional reforms.

This raises an obvious question: What influence could the tribes and the country's other top donors -- among them the Service Employees International Union, National Education Association, and National Association of Realtors -- potentially wield over the new shape of California state government if the constitutional convention comes to pass? Is it not possible that such a convention could produce an entirely novel set of principles concerning government's role and individual rights? Here are a few guesses at what these principles might be.

  • Corrupt pols can no longer touch the money. You have to pay them in chips.
  • Legislators willing to cross the aisle in cases of partisan gridlock get a free pancake breakfast. (While we're at it, why not provide free cocktails, casino-style, to elected leaders -- and reporters -- during floor debate.)
  • In addition to long summer vacations, invincibility from firing, or professional evaluations, and Rolls Royce pension plans, public-school teachers will now get special placards allowing them to park in handicapped spaces.
  • Tom Ammiano opens at the capitol for Wayne Newton at least twice a month.
  • What happens in Sacramento stays in Sacramento. (Alas, if only it were so.)

Photo   |   AMagill

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Peter Jamison


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