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CA Governance Reform Fail – Part Deux?

March 1, 2010

The SacBee has a post up on Capitol Alert saying that California Forward, a non-profit organization backed by major California-centric foundations, will likely board up their reform efforts by the end of the week barring the emergence of a few deep-pocketed “angel” donors. For those who follow these things, that plea may sound eerily familiar: Repair California issued a similar SOS last month.

In a recent article, John Diaz of the Chronicle Editorial Page lamented the ubiquity and necessity of money in California politics – how it seemed that nothing happened politically without big-money backing, be it corporations or ultra-wealthy individuals – and the California Forward’s impending demise only confirms his cynicism. However, there’s more too this. Barack Obama’s campaign proved that it’s possible to raise a lot of money through small donations. Granted, the rhetoric about small money fueling the campaign was probably overblown but California Forward and Repair California both did almost nothing to raise money in small amounts before lifting their white flags halfway in hopes of goading a Steve Bing into backing their respective campaigns. It’s like running the ball (or kneeling it?) for three downs and then lofting a Hall Mary when you need at least a touchdown to win. Not inspiring, and not nearly ambitious enough to get anything done.

Thankfully, we don’t have to give up all hope for reform just yet. Earlier today, California Majority Rule sent out an e-mail asking for – get this – donations, saying that any amount would help. The CA Majority Rule campaign, led by UC Berkeley Professor of Linguistics George Lakoff, is hoping to pass a 14-word initiative that would restore majority rule to budget and revenue decisions in the California Legislature. They’re much further from the political establishment than CA Forward or Repair CA and thus also much further from the money the establishment controls. However, at least they aren’t afraid to ask their non-billionaire supporters for some support, as Al Franken would call it.

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