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Legislature's Practices Need Restructuring

May 23, 2003

Re "High-Stakes Amateur Hour," editorial, May 19: The problem with Sacramento isn't term limits; the problem is process. After 12 years, legislators have failed to realize that they must change the way they do business. The old ways don't fit the new reality. Each legislator should be held to a small number of bills introduced in a session. All bills introduced should be heard by no more than one committee for the sole purpose of offering amendments. All bills and proposed amendments should receive a vote in the full Assembly or state Senate within a fixed amount of time. Abstentions would not be allowed. No bill could be altered beyond the amendments proposed in committee. All budgets must be approved by June 1 or all payments to legislators would be forfeited until approved.

The problem in Sacramento is the convoluted, labyrinthine methods they use. These methods have developed over the years, much like a Rube Goldberg apparatus, but no one questions them. Many a private enterprise has had to reinvent itself in order to survive. Now it is the turn of the California Legislature. Keep the term limits and hold their feet to the fire until they do the job right.

David R. Gillespie

Bonita, Calif.

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Your editorial on term limits made no sense. Why would a freshman assemblyman succeed Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson (D-Culver City) as speaker with just a few months in public office unless he was especially talented? There's a certain mentality to the typical pol that doesn't necessarily translate into a conscientious legislator. The purpose of term limits is to attract qualified people from the general community and give them a fighting chance to be elected.

And, please, don't see racism lurking behind every door. San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown used all the political tricks at his disposal to build a political empire for himself. Brown, Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) -- they are all of the same stripe and wielding power that reaches far beyond their own constituencies.

Joyce B. Goetz

Westlake Village

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