As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Old-Time California Power Grab

This is pretty much exactly what I've been saying about the term limits measure, by the co-editor of the California Target Book:

What to do? Call a special election to be held in February 2008, ostensibly so California can have an early presidential primary, and place the term-limits measure on that ballot. Because the initiative would take effect immediately if it passed, Nuñez and Perata could file for extended terms in March, which is the deadline to compete in the regular June primary. They would certainly be renominated in their safe districts and go on to election in November.

The rollout of the initiative could not have been clumsier. Neither Nuñez nor Perata are official sponsors of the term-limits measure, and in its first version, the author, Democratic attorney Roberta Johansen, forgot to provide additional legislative years for Perata. Because Perata will have served 10 years in the Senate by the time of the 2008 election, the proposed 12-year limit had to be rewritten to give him 14 years in the body.

Another problem is that some other termed-out senators already have served their 12 years. The measure includes a special exception that would allow them to stay in office as long as 18, 20 and, in one case, 26 years.

What began as a sound public policy idea - shortening term limits from a maximum of 14 in two houses to 12 in a single chamber - has become a Cinderella farce, with legislators scheming to save themselves before the stroke of midnight. The public rejected a similar term-limits extension in 2002, so the proposed measure seems even less likely to pass the political smell test.

They torpedoed reform by making it look too much like a job-protection scheme.  This will be the prime mode of attack for opponents of this reform, and it can't help but be effective.

Read the whole thing for the mess that will be competing redistricting reform plans on the Feb. 2008 ballot, and Schwarzenegger's complete lack of leadership on any of these plans so the stink of them doesn't rub off on him.  What a disaster.

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