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'Initiative Tangle'

June 05, 1988

I agree with your editorial that the initiative process in California is out of control.

I waded through the hefty pamphlet that Secretary of State March Fong Eu's office prepared describing the 12 measures on Tuesday's ballot. I read the legislative analyses, the arguments for, the arguments against and their rebuttals, an exhausting task. Yet having done so, I still can't predict with certainty the impact of some of these propositions.

Without doubt many Californians share my perplexity. And that's just those of us who have bothered to bone up on these measures.

So we are about to pass a slew of laws by holding an election in which half those eligible will not vote and those who do will largely be underinformed. It is a recipe for bad laws and the track record of the initiative process bears this out.

Except in cases where there is clearly widespread public interest, passing laws should be left to the Legislature. As flawed as that body may be, it is in a much better position to judge the merits of some of these obscure proposals than the public.

If we really want direct democracy, we should hold a state meeting in the Imperial Valley and decide these issues by a show of hands. It would be only a slightly more absurd method of lawmaking than we now employ through the initiative process.


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