Blockbuster Democracy

Gay Marriage Supporters Suggest Thanksgiving Is the Time for 'Frank Conversations' With Older Relatives

How do you change the minds of people who oppose same-sex marriage?

Frank conversation, says the Courage Campaign, a 700,000-member progressive network in California. And what better time to engage in such conversation than over Thanksgiving weekend, when gay marriage supporters see older relatives? (The older you are, the more likely you are to oppose same-sex marriage). More details are here.




Tucson Considering Self-Funding Requirement for Initiatives

The city council in Tucson, Arizona, is debating a charter amendment that would require city ballot initiatives mandating new spending to identify a funding source. Arizona already has a similar rule for statewide initiatives; a self-funding mandate for initiatives has been discussed -- but has gotten little traction -- in California. Details via the Arizona Star.

More Than Half of San Bernardino Sigs in Adams Recall Were Invalid

Some petition circulators in San Bernardino County have some explaining to do.

A memo from the California Secretary of State's office shows what happened in the failed effort to qualify a recall vote against Assemblyman Anthony Adams. The district in question includes parts of Los Angeles County and San Bernardino County. The recall supporters turned in more than 58,000 signatures (when 35,000 would qualify the measure), so numbers weren't the problem. Validity was.

In LA, the signature gathering went OK. 13,794 signatures were submitted, and, after the random sampling of 500 signatures, a projected 9,021 were estimated as valid.

But in San Bernardino, where 44,590 signatures were submitted, fewer than half of those in the random sample were found to be valid. Extrapolating, only 15,558 of the SB sigs were projected to be valid. And thus the recall failed.


Adams Recall Effort Fails to Qualify

Conservatives who backed the recall California Republican Assemblyman Anthony Adams, for voting for temporary tax increases as part of the February 2009 budget deal, failed to collect enough valid signatures to qualify for a vote, the Secretary of State says.

The recall's backers had claimed they had many more than the 35,000 or so signatures needed to qualify. But the Secretary of State's count found they had fewer than 24,000.

It's unclear whether the signature claims were exaggerated or whether an unusually low validity rate is responsible for the failure.

This is a huge political victory for Republican moderates in California -- and a blow to conservatives, who hoped that a recall of Adams would prevent other GOP legislators from voting for future budget compromises.


Perata to Steal Meathead's Lunch Money?

Here's how bad ballot box budgeting has become in California.

In 1998, the director (and Meathead from "All in the Family") Rob Reiner sponsored a successful ballot initiative to impose a 50-cent a pack tax to fund early childhood programs. In effect, Reiner created his own program with his own funding source, walled off from the rest of the budget by the only-in-California rule that laws and programs established by initiative may only be changed by another vote of the people.

Back in May, lawmakers asked voters to repurpose some of that money to the state's budget deficit. Voters refused, forcing cuts in more basic health programs.

Now comes former state senate president pro tem Don Perata with an initiative to fund cancer research. Perata's eight years in the senate, including four as leader, weren't apparently enough time for him to get that done. Where is he getting money--Reiner's cigarette tax money. Josh Richman has the details here.

This sets up another California initiative war: the cancer research advocates vs. early childhood advocates. And don't bother asking the legislature to be involved. As with so much of the budget, they have nothing to do with it.


Pro and Con on California Auto Insurance Initiative

You may have read about the controversy. An aide (now former aide) to California Attorney General Jerry Brown was taping reporters. (My take on the taping is here).

The interview that disclosed the taping was about the title and summary that Brown gave a ballot initiative sponsored by an insurance company. Today, the site Calbuzz, which focuses on the California governor's race, has a useful pro-and-con debate on the measure.


Utah Political Reform Initiatives Miss One Deadline

Today is the deadline for sponsors of two initiatives in Utah -- one to impose new rules on legislative ethics, the other to create an independent redistricting commission -- to turn in enough signatures to force the legislature to act on their ideas. But backers tell the Deseret News they don't have enough sigs to do that.

That's not the end of the initiatives, however. Sponsors of each initiative have until April 15 of next year to produce enough signatures to qualify the measures for the November 2010 ballot.

Licensing Circulators in Ohio?

Jennifer Garrison, a state representative in Ohio, has introduced legislation that, to fight fraud in signature gathering, would force petition firms to be licensed. Some details are here, via the Marietta Register.

Elias: Just Say No to Petition Circulators

Independent columnist Tom Elias surveys the various reform measures circulating for signatures and suggests that voters should refuse to sign everything.

Gay Rights at the Ballot

A University of Kansas professor, Don Haider-Markel, has compiled this list, a full accounting of ballot measures involving gay rights that goes back to 1972. The record is not good for those who support gay rights.