With the state in almost perpetual crisis, the prospect of California’s first Constitutional Convention in more than 130 years will be the topic of lively discussion at a public informational forum, Friday evening July 17th, at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, 1310 11th Street at Santa Monica Boulevard.
The forum will address questions like “What are some of the structural and systemic problems California faces” “How could a constitutional convention come about?’ ’what topics would a convention address and what reforms might result?” “Who would be a delegate and how would they be chosen?” and of course, “Is a convention worth considering in the first place?”
Doors open at 6:15, with a video by Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters at 6:30 on ’why a Constitutional Convention’. Santa Monica College Trustee Nancy Greenstein opens the program at 7 p.m., followed by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica), Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies, Steve Hill and Mark Paul of the New America Foundation, Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, Santa Monica City Councilmember Pam O’Connor and Jim Wunderman, president and chief executive of the Bay Area Council, a group of 75 CEOs whose August 2008 opinion piece in the San Francisco Chronicle about dysfunction in California’s government helped launch the constitutional convention movement.
The opinion piece ultimately led to the formation of Repair California, an organization formed to promote the need for a state constitutional convention. Since early spring, they’ve held and continue to hold a series of town halls and forums across the state, to get input into two related ballot initiatives and submit them to the state Attorney General by September 25th. Thus far, four main categories for potential reform have come forward – governance, elections, budget, and fiscal relationship between the state and schools/cities/counties/colleges/universities.
The next step will involve gathering signatures for both measures. Those will be turned in on approximately April 16, 2010. The two measures will then go to the people in the general election in November of 2010. The first measure gives the people the right to call a Constitutional Convention, and the second measure will call a Convention and set the process, including the scope and how delegates would be chosen.
If the voters approve both ballot measures, the Convention would be held in 2011, and their suggested reforms will be placed on the ballot in November of 2012, again for the approval of the voters.
The forum is co-sponsored by Repair California and Santa Monica College and will be co-moderated by Greenstein and former Santa Monica Mayor Michael Feinstein. For more information, go to www.repaircalifornia.org/santamonica.