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Governing Via the Ballot Box

April 23, 2005

Re "A Really Bad Idea ... ," editorial, April 18: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's attempt to gain absolute power over the budget should be a wake-up call for all Californians who have grown placid with the thought that we have a trusted hero at the helm.

The governor is a businessman with clearly outlined and expressed political ambitions of higher office (the White House) who understands the very basic principle that he who controls the flow of money in government makes the rules.

Californians need to forget the trusted movie persona and look at the man for what he has become, a Republican Trojan horse who will do everything he can within the time he's governor to deliver this state to the Republican Party.

We're being slowly sold out by someone we trusted. We need to draw a line in the Hollywood Walk of Fame and refuse to give him any more power.

Carlos A. Khantzis

Woodland Hills


In your well-reasoned editorial, you point out many of the faults of the governor's specific ballot initiatives as well as some faults of the initiative process in general.

Ballot measures have brought us many poorly written laws that are not subject to improvement by the Legislature.

There are merits to the concept of the direct form of democracy that is the ballot initiative. The original intent was to empower the people to enact laws when they felt their representatives had failed them. It was certainly never intended for use by the executive branch (and deep-pocket special interests) to use as an end run around the Legislature.

California should do as other states have and outlaw the practice of paying a bounty for signatures.

If it required an involved electorate that actually cared enough about the issue to gather the required signatures, it would at least provide a degree of integrity and restore the initiative process to the spirit in which it was intended.

Richard Salzman

Los Angeles


Wake up, California! Gov. Schwarzenegger and big business are attempting to steal our republican form of government. First, the governor has always made it plain he intends to have things his own way, and if the Legislature and courts don't agree, he will just use initiatives to go over their heads.

Second, he has always made it plain that it is business he intends to serve. He seems to be the only person in the world who believes business is not a special interest.

Now the governor is pushing the deceptively named "Live Within Our Means Act," written by the presidents of the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Business Roundtable.

Such initiatives are not "government by the people." As The Times points out in its April 18 editorial, dangerous schemes to shift unilateral power to the governor are buried in the 14 pages of legalese of this hugely complicated initiative. Thus the vote will depend not on the merits but on who can buy the most airtime with the best sound bites.

Ira Spiro

Los Angeles


Although we are represented by numerous elected public officials, we are now being faced by a large and still-growing set of potential initiatives scheduled for a special election, possibly in November. They are written in self-serving terms by the initiatives authors, and the descriptions will be, as always, fuzzy at best and, more important, misleading and confusing.

This format of government by initiative is an obvious attempt to circumvent the primary mission of our elected officials: to represent the public's will and establish our laws in the Legislature. But to accomplish this, ordinary citizens, instead of just special interests, need to be able to express their opinions to their elected officials.

Six letters to my councilman about local concerns have yet failed to gain an appropriate response. This problem, however, is one that can be solved -- in the privacy of the voting booth.

Jerry Earle

Los Angeles

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