Proposition 93

Term Limits Initiative

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ARGUMENT IN OPPOSITION, by Linda Sutton, Truth Now Productions:
Term Limits on Feb. 6, 2008 CA ballot---
a position paper presented to the
Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles, Endorsement Committee
and endorsed unanimously by the membership attending the 12-8-07 meeting

NOTE: This paper was written BEFORE I read the ballot summaries and represents an independent assessment. We find ourselves to be with some strange bedfellows on this side of the proposition, but, be that as it may, this is what we think.

Proposition 93 on the upcoming February ballot is a deceptive attempt by incumbent career politicians to circumvent the will of the California voters.

93 would apply ONLY to California state legislators in the Assembly and State Senate. It does NOT apply to federal positions. The Supreme Court has already ruled and said that the U.S. Constitution cannot be altered by state law.

Recent polling shows that about two-thirds of the state's voters (all parties) want the terms of their elected officials to be limited. They VOTED FOR LIMITS twice already. But, they may be fooled by the short paragraph description of 93 on the ballot that seems to say that the term will be REDUCED from 14 to 12. Backers of this measure had done polling which concluded Californians, given this deceptive language, will buy it. PDLA should NOT.

If this proposition passes, the real winners will be Speaker of the Assembly Fabian Nunez and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata. They conveniently built in a "transition period" that will ensure both of them continued employment in their present cushy positions BEYOND their allotted time set to end this year under the present term limits law. This nifty little loophole will actually benefit 60% of the incumbent Senators who would be able to serve 18 combined years.

Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee explains: "What that means, in effect, is that they are asking voters not only to give them longer careers in the Legislature, but a guarantee that they'd still be in office in 2011 and thus in position to control redistricting after the 2010 census…."

Background. Proposition 140, the current term limits law, was passed in 1990 following the federal corruption investigations leading to felony convictions of sitting legislators in the late 1980's. The final straw possibly was when Assembly Speaker Willie Brown negotiated a deal to allow immunity from litigation in civil lawsuits for the tobacco industry. His lavish and flamboyant lifestyle provided by the corporate lobbyists added fuel to the public outrage, and Proposition 140 passed easily although it was outspent significantly by opponents. (Willie's princely ways seem to be on an instant replay as our present Speaker Nunez indulges himself with excessively luxurious expenditures--LA Times articles)

Next, the politicians' first attempt at revision in 2002. Voters soundly defeated Prop 45 by 57.7% to 42.3%, although the prevailing side was outspent 10 to 1. Of course, the language was much more straightforward than the present proposition with all of its seemingly reasonable "logic."

The Center for Governmental Studies (CGS) just released "Termed Out: Reforming California’s Legislative Term Limits." It says that the main benefit of term limits has been an opening up of the process, so that there has been greater opportunity for new candidates to run for office. This HAS happened and has directly benefited both women as well as Latino office-seekers. It was one of the reasons FOR term limits in 1990. Another potential benefit stated is the lessening of corruption among new legislators. This too was one of the original reasons, but it does not necessarily follow and hasn't been proven.

On the negative side is that the newly elected representatives don't have enough time to "build leadership skills or gain expertise in making public policy." Their argument that only lobbyists have skills when legislators are lacking is not really substantiated. One needs only look to termed-out Assemblywoman Fran Pavley to see how much one new legislator can accomplish within her allotted time. Of course, she came to office fully prepared and educated. We need to ask ourselves how much on-the-job training taxpayers are willing to give legislators with a slow learning curve. Aren't these the very people who SHOULD be OUT?

On the other hand, many very talented progressives are now sitting on the sidelines after being termed out. This is definitely the downside of the term limits.

While the idea of 12 years instead of 14 could be appealing, it needs to come without the extra baggage of a sweetheart deal for those incumbents who are promoting it. Preferably, it could be re-introduced AFTER CLEAN MONEY laws are enacted.

The corruption that was the primary reason for enactment of the term limits in the first place is alive and well as the corporations continue to pour money into the coffers of incumbents of both parties. The progressive agenda will forever be blocked as long as the interests of corporations hold sway over those of the people.

And which politicians have stood in the way of Clean Money, this more important reform? And which politicians have stood in the way of single payer health care? And which politicians have refused to allow any elected assembly representatives to re-introduce impeachment into the state legislature?

Nunez and Perata.

Do we really want them to have more time in their present positions? I don't think so. Let's give newbies a chance to come in with innovative ideas and possibly a breath of fresh air and democracy. NO ON PROP 93.

"Give peace a chance."

Last edited by Scott Flodin on Dec. 15, 2007

Other pages referencing Proposition 93: Dick Ackerman, Don Perata, Brandon Powers, Kevin Spillane, Darrell Steinberg,

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