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Fixing the state's government

October 16, 2008

Re "Prop. 11 foes waging Orwellian campaign," Column, Oct. 9

George Skelton suggests that the only intellectually honest reason to vote against Proposition 11 is if one wants the Democrats to "totally control the Legislature," but he does not say why that is a bad thing.

A more important reason for voting against this poorly structured proposition is that the cure is worse than the disease.

Proposition 11 proposes an "independent commission" selected by a Rube Goldberg process that bans the most politically knowledgeable individuals and then uses merit-based criteria, random chance and political maneuvering to narrow the pool, with maybe a bit of affirmative action thrown in.

The group selected must operate under rules that require extra-majoritarian votes and in the end permit two of the 14 members to block passage. It requires that apportionment take into account hazily defined neighborhoods and "communities of interest" and puts forth "geographic compactness" as a democratic principle.

This process simply will not work, and apportionment will end up with the courts as it did in 1991. Why not just start there and save the state a lot of time and money?

Vince Buck

Fullerton

The writer is a professor emeritus of political science at Cal State Fullerton.

Re "Prop. 11 aims to redo remap," Oct. 14

Proposition 11 is just one step needed to fix California's broken government.

Creating competitive districts without extending or eliminating term limits will make legislators from those districts more beholden to the special interests that fund their campaigns. Vulnerable and not well known, Assembly members with little experience will become the puppets of the big-money political machines to get reelected.

Although term limits sounded like a good idea to many people, we now know they created an inexperienced and ineffective Legislature with little power and even less public support.

Supporters of Proposition 11 should get behind the effort to reform legislative term limits. Then let's tackle the structural problems that make our state budget unworkable.

Jeff Harris

San Francisco

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