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OPINION
August 29, 2011
A hundred years ago, Californians were campaigning mightily over a question put to them by progressive Republican lawmakers, who had recently taken charge in Sacramento with the help of organized labor: Do you want to adopt direct democracy and give yourselves the power to recall officeholders and put initiatives and referendums on the ballot? The idea was to cut through a system that had all the trappings of democracy but had in fact been corrupted and managed by the Southern Pacific Railroad and a handful of political bosses.
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OPINION
February 4, 2014
Re "Schnur makes his pitch," Column, Feb. 3 If Dan Schnur gets elected secretary of state as an independent, it might be the most consequential political earthquake in California since Gov. Hiram Johnson in 1911 gave us the three pillars of direct democracy: initiative, recall and referendum. Howard P. Cohen North Hills ALSO: Letters: Snepp vs. Snowden Letters: Do something on water. Now. Letters: The price of playing pro sports
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OPINION
November 17, 2005
CALIFORNIA VOTERS MAY have rejected all eight measures on the Nov. 8 special election ballot, but that was not a snub of the state's famed -- or infamous -- tool of direct democracy, the initiative process. Many were suffering voter fatigue from too many elections. Many were turned off by the obscene amounts of money spent on the election. And, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger acknowledged, the voters want the governor and Legislature to do their jobs, not to run constantly to them for decisions.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 16, 2012 | George Skelton, Capitol Journal
California's century-old ballot initiative system is cherished and cockeyed. What began as political reform — giving citizens the power of direct democracy — has become a tool of special interests and a plaything for nut jobs. Voters tend to become confused, gullible and even more cynical. So here are a couple of suggestions, neither of them new. But their time has come. —Strip the state attorney general of the power to summarize ballot measures for voters.
OPINION
October 1, 2006
Re "Why we vote," editorial, Sept. 25 In this editorial, The Times states that only 33% of registered voters voted. The solution to that problem is simple: Issue 100% absentee ballots. HOWARD NIEDERMAN San Clemente Quoting from the editorial: "Californians love direct democracy -- and they couldn't care less about it." Really? Every politically interested Californian I know dislikes -- even disdains -- our direct democracy system. Are you sure this "Californians love direct democracy" thing isn't a myth, possibly a constituent part of California exceptionalism ideology?
OPINION
June 15, 2005 | John G. Matsusaka, John G. Matsusaka is a USC professor, at the Marshall School of Business and the law school. He is also president of the Initiative & Referendum Institute at USC.
Between now and the November special election, we will hear a lot from politicos about what the election means for the future of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Democrats who control the Legislature and their powerful union backers. But beneath the drama there is a bigger story to watch about the future of democracy in this nation. The eight probable initiatives on the ballot are the crest of a swelling wave of direct democracy.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 31, 1993 | BILL BOYARSKY
We're approaching the day when you'll be able to vote in your living room. This is one of the benefits--and dangers--of the coming era of two-way television, when information speeds back and forth on the computer superhighway. In that very high-tech age, your television set will no longer just bring entertainment and news. The TV will also be a computer you will use for banking, home shopping, calling up movies, databases and video games--and for having a real voice in your government.
OPINION
July 27, 2003 | Leon E. Panetta
California is known for setting precedents for the rest of the nation. In the past, we've taken great pride in setting the standard for higher education, a strong and diverse economy, environmental protection and opportunity for all. But today, California is setting a very different kind of precedent -- how not to govern a state.
OPINION
October 10, 2011
In politics and government, California is a state divided, not so much between Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, or business and labor as between political partisans and reformers. The partisans see politics as a struggle for power, and their goal is to acquire it, exercise it and protect it on behalf of policies they believe are fair and just. To reformers, power without rules is inherently corrupt. Their goal is to refine the rules of the game, believing that out of fairness and evenhanded enforcement will come policies that reflect the will of the people.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 27, 2011 | By Michael J. Mishak, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Sacramento -- Democrats in the Legislature are trying to make it harder for Californians to pass their own laws at the ballot box, saying the state's century-old initiative process has been hijacked by the special interests it was created to fight and has perpetuated Sacramento's financial woes. In the waning weeks of this year's lawmaking session, legislators will push bills to raise filing fees, place new restrictions on signature gatherers and compel greater public disclosure of campaign contributors.
OPINION
October 24, 2011
Californians tend to feel the same way about their initiative system as they do about Congress or the Legislature: They blame the collective body for a host of ills, but they like their own representatives just fine. Likewise, voters frequently express impatience with the onslaught of election-day measures, but they will vigorously protect their right to sign a petition or vote for a particular measure they believe is crucial. So how can California simultaneously wrest back some control over the initiative process and keep intact what has become virtually a birthright: the people's power to adopt laws and constitutional amendments at the voting booth?
OPINION
October 10, 2011
In politics and government, California is a state divided, not so much between Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, or business and labor as between political partisans and reformers. The partisans see politics as a struggle for power, and their goal is to acquire it, exercise it and protect it on behalf of policies they believe are fair and just. To reformers, power without rules is inherently corrupt. Their goal is to refine the rules of the game, believing that out of fairness and evenhanded enforcement will come policies that reflect the will of the people.
OPINION
August 29, 2011
A hundred years ago, Californians were campaigning mightily over a question put to them by progressive Republican lawmakers, who had recently taken charge in Sacramento with the help of organized labor: Do you want to adopt direct democracy and give yourselves the power to recall officeholders and put initiatives and referendums on the ballot? The idea was to cut through a system that had all the trappings of democracy but had in fact been corrupted and managed by the Southern Pacific Railroad and a handful of political bosses.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 27, 2011 | By Michael J. Mishak, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Sacramento -- Democrats in the Legislature are trying to make it harder for Californians to pass their own laws at the ballot box, saying the state's century-old initiative process has been hijacked by the special interests it was created to fight and has perpetuated Sacramento's financial woes. In the waning weeks of this year's lawmaking session, legislators will push bills to raise filing fees, place new restrictions on signature gatherers and compel greater public disclosure of campaign contributors.
OPINION
July 16, 2011
Though it is rare, the occasional American presidential election goes to the loser of the popular vote, an outcome that undermines basic notions of fairness and democracy and is an artifact of the nation's ancient electoral system. Advocates of a popular vote system have persuaded both houses of the California Legislature to adopt a measure that would lend California's support to that idea. Gov. Jerry Brown should sign it. In drafting the U.S. Constitution, the framers created a two-tiered system for electing presidents.
OPINION
April 27, 2011 | Tim Rutten
It's sometimes sobering to see your situation through the discerning eyes of another. That's certainly the case with the Economist's appraisal of politics' critical contribution to California's never-ending budget crisis. The facts cited by the magazine's Andreas Kluth are well known to even casual students of state government, but the context and perspective are bracing — and suggest both a short- and long-term way out of the morass. The former ought to begin with Gov. Jerry Brown walking away from his campaign promise to submit any tax increase to a popular vote.
OPINION
February 4, 2014
Re "Schnur makes his pitch," Column, Feb. 3 If Dan Schnur gets elected secretary of state as an independent, it might be the most consequential political earthquake in California since Gov. Hiram Johnson in 1911 gave us the three pillars of direct democracy: initiative, recall and referendum. Howard P. Cohen North Hills ALSO: Letters: Snepp vs. Snowden Letters: Do something on water. Now. Letters: The price of playing pro sports
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 27, 2009 | By Eric Bailey
With heated contests looming for U.S. Senate, governor and other statewide posts, 2010 stands to be a blockbuster year in California politics. The state could also see a bumper crop of ballot measures. In recent weeks, nearly 90 proposed initiatives have been in the pipeline, elbowing to become the latest entrants in the state's century-old tradition of direct democracy. Gay-rights activists, abortion foes, marijuana proponents and government-reform advocates are getting into the act of citizen lawmaking.
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