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State of affairs

August 23, 2008

Re "Why Monterey would be a cool capital," Aug. 17

Joe Mathews, while being humorous, makes a serious case for any kind of bold change that would lead to better bipartisan cooperation within the California Legislature. Historically, however, well-meaning prescriptions for these ills have only managed to make the Legislature more dysfunctional, not less. That's because severe polarization in a legislature is only a symptom. The real problem is alienation between politicians and voters.

Mathews is right that it's time for a bold change. But moving the Capitol, like many of the actual steps taken over the years, would treat only the symptom. Here are some moves that are not radical but would treat the root cause: open primaries, independently drawn districts, no term limits and fewer statewide ballot initiatives.

Government works better when citizens take ownership of it. As long as we view legislators as "them" and take measures to strip their power at the same time that we elect and pay them, we have only ourselves to blame.

Marc Micheli

Riverside

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