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Campaign launched to create constitutional convention

Original post made on May 20, 2009

The Bay Area Council, a collection of business leaders, joined a coalition of partners in Sacramento today to launch a campaign to create a voter-authorized constitutional convention in California.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, May 20, 2009, 9:09 PM

Comments (34)

Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on May 20, 2009 at 9:37 pm

This is long overdue for fixing our dysfunctional system of government which has an expensive republican form (elected legislature) which does little to nothing and is continuously undermined by the direct democracy portion of our constitution.

That's why our legislature provides no solutions to anything but simply puts out propositions for voters when the going gets tough. Witness the 1A through 1F debacle. The governor and the legislature are just like the special interest groups who load up the ballot with numerous propositions.

In California, you don't go to the polls to elect officials so much as you are expected to vote for propositions put before you by special interest groups.

So, this constitutional convention can help eliminate our current dysfunctionality by returning responsibility and accountability to our elected legislature.

Posted by Irene, a resident of Del Prado
on May 20, 2009 at 9:58 pm

So we want the Bay Area Council and group of business leaders funded by special interest business leaders to lead the charge in rewriting our constitution? Sounds like a very bad idea and I am against it.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Downtown
on May 20, 2009 at 10:00 pm


By chance would you have some affliation with the bay area council?

Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on May 20, 2009 at 10:20 pm


None whatsoever! Are you employed in government (taxpayer supported salary)?


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 20, 2009 at 11:54 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I'm no fan either of California's direct democracy system, but California's citizens do value it. I think if we adopt a direct democracy system, we should be looking at the seemingly successful Switzerland model. They place more emphasis on referenda and make it difficult to have initiatives. That may stave off the way special interest groups have hijacked California's initiative process, return responsibility to make law to the Legislature, and give Californians a more effective tool for holding the Legislature accountable than just electing representatives (currently it's more difficult to referend in California than put an initiative on the ballot). There needs to be consideration of proper checks and balances with the other three branches of government when adding in direct democracy.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 20, 2009 at 11:56 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

And if they repeal Prop 13 and cause our property taxes to become amongst the highest in the nation, then they need to lower all other taxes to compensate, starting with the sales tax.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Downtown
on May 21, 2009 at 5:52 am


I used to be a member of the Bay Area Council so I can speak from experience and it is all about business not the taxpayers.

Posted by Very Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2009 at 6:54 am

Be very careful - messing with Prop 13 is the wrong approach. Tax and spend politicians see Prop 13 as the Pinnacle of Pain. They would like nothing better than to be able to raise everyone's property taxes by any amount they deem necessary – just look at what's happening to our sales tax, the highest in the nation, with every sign of going higher. BHO may be using repeal of Prop 13 as leverage to providing CA with federal funds - resist any such overreach!

Posted by Bob, a resident of Downtown
on May 21, 2009 at 6:56 am

Just for ducks take you current home value and multiply it by about 1.3% and that is what the new amount of property taxes you would be paying.

Posted by Very Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2009 at 7:09 am

Building on what Bob said, understand that the 1.3% rate goes up, anytime in the future, since the 2/3 majority vote to raise taxes goes away. So 1.3% now, 1.6% later, then 3%, then...

Like the frog in the pot of water we go.

Posted by Terry, a resident of Highland Oaks
on May 21, 2009 at 10:40 am

Would this convention just be changing one set of problems for another group of problems. As long as the lawmakers can be at the Power and Perks Trough, they will simply get FAT. I do not trust the Elected Officials to do the best thing for the people. The only thing that (Elected Officials) they agree on is working to get RE-ELECTED.

Sacramento Officials would love to delete Prop 13. They love to spend other peoples money. Sacramento can start helping the budget mess by reducing their salaries and perks !!

Posted by Had Enough, a resident of Country Fair
on May 21, 2009 at 1:25 pm

At one time, I belonged to the Bay Area Council. I agree with Stacey.

Posted by bob, a resident of Downtown
on May 21, 2009 at 1:29 pm

I think we should do completely away with the legislature and utilize a true democracy and anything that would either require tax increases or reductions be put in front of all the people to vote on.

Posted by Very Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Stacey's idea is not likely. There is absolutely no way our tax and spend legislators would agree to reducing sales tax. I for one could never trust them in a quid pro quo (w/elimination of Prop 13). Prop 13 should not be touched. It has given us predictable 2% per year increases in property taxes for the past 30 years.

Posted by Very Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Direct democracy is the closest thing to anarchy -- it just doesn't work on this scale. We have too many uninformed voters and too many voters that have bought into the entitlement culture (often the same voters). We want everything "yesterday" -- we thrive on instant gratification.

Posted by Einstein, a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on May 21, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Einstein is a registered user.

The repeal of 13 would either require the California voters to vote to change the constitution (not likely) or if California would file for bankrupcy. Could you imagine the negative impact on property values? As well as foreclosures?

Posted by unclehomerr.., a resident of Downtown
on May 21, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Let's keep it simple.. they want us distracted!

California doesn't have an income problem.. it has a spending problem. STOP IT!!

[from Las Vegas.. home tonight.]

Posted by jay, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2009 at 6:01 pm

If you look at the results of proposition 13, it has not hurt the state. Enough houses get sold in California and the house is reassessed. The only thing that I see that could help is having proposition 13 not apply to commercial property. Commercial properties turn over much less since they get different tenants. You have companies like PG&E that have property forever and they pay so little.

Proposition 13 has actually saved most cities and counties. Cities and counties rely quite a bit on property tax revenue. Without proposition 13, assessments would have gone up significantly when we had the housing boom, cities and counties would have spent the money, and with the economy tanking now, revenue would completely dry up; killing off cities. Proposition 13 allows for property taxes to go up smoother since there is a cap in the increase each year; unless the parcel changes hands. The problems cities have right now are nothing compared to what would have happened without proposition 13.

Without prop 13, the cities and counties would be more like the state in terms of riding up on a good economy and tanking on a bad economy.

I am so tired of politicians blaming our problems on proposition 13. Unclehomerr is 100% correct, we have a spending problem; not an income problem. This is what Arnold said when he ran for governor but once he got in there, he increased spending even more. Our politicians are addicted to OPM (other people's money). I fear that bankruptcy is the only way out since our politicians just don't get it and the public employee unions have too much of a hold on the politicians. Proposition 13 is just a smokescreen for the real problems.

Posted by Pablo, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on May 21, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Is it possible to have a special referendum to recall all our elected officials? Not joking and dead serious!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Very Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2009 at 8:33 pm

Einstein, please double check your point about state bankruptcy voiding Prop 13. How could that be, or did I mis-read your thread?

Posted by Einstein, a resident of Mohr Park
on May 21, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Very concerned,

I was referencing George Will's column and I should have referenced it so my mistake. The bottom line is that if we were to seek federal assistance then Will asserts that the feds would insist upon repeal of prop 13 as a condition of receiving the loan in addition to elimininating the 2/3 vote requirement on budget and tax increases. Please reference what happened with the "controlled bankrupcy" of Chrysler where the unsecured creditors, UAW and Gov't ended up owning 55% and 35% respectifully of Chryslers value the secured lenders ended up with basically nothing because of Obama intervention. The bottom line is that the federal government can make the rules as they see fit and Arnie will just go along as long as he does not look bad and can claim some level of acclaim.

Posted by jay, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2009 at 8:51 pm

I don't see how a bankruptcy judge can modify something the people voted on. A bankruptcy judge could invalidate contracts but not the vote of the people.

Not sure if people knew that Assemblyman Torrico (who represents part of Pleasanton) is working with other legislators to pass a bill that will not allow bankruptcy judges to modify employee contracts/benefits. He knows that bankruptcy is coming for many cities and wants to protect all the employee unions (the cause of our problems). This guy is scary and should be voted out on this issue alone.

Posted by Einstein, a resident of Mohr Park
on May 21, 2009 at 8:56 pm

Very concerned, I guess my point is that it is imperative that we resolve our own problems without asking for help as you get what you ask for and I am saying we should ask for nothing from them as we will never be the same again. Just my feelings as a passioned lover of California and what is was and can be again.

Posted by Einstein, a resident of Mohr Park
on May 21, 2009 at 9:00 pm


I have met Torrico and when he was running the first time I met with John Dutra who supported him but came away underwelmed by the meeting with Torrico. Nice guy but incompetent and a politican. We should vote all guys out like him. By the way, Dutra was and is a good man.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 21, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Jay brings up a thought about Prop 13 that I've seen written elsewhere, repealing Prop 13 for business properties. It is an interesting idea to me. Most property tax burden is on residential homeowners because we're the ones who buy and sell more frequently than business properties. The only drawback to repealing Prop 13 on business properties is that it could be viewed as yet another toxic-to-business taxation.

Posted by Very Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2009 at 9:22 pm

I too fear the path we are taking. I fear this move for a state constitutional convention is designed to change the 2/3 majority to change tax law to 50% +1 vote, or 55%. Once this is done, Prop 13 can be overridden. There are enough uninformed/ill informed voters in this state that this could happen, and happen quickly, which is the M.O. of our President. Prop 13 is the Third Rail that The Far Left wants to gut.
Stacey, I agree, repealing Prop 13 for businesses will have a negative impact. Plus, just the point of repealing ANY part of Prop 13 is the beginning of the end that measure.

Posted by Einstein, a resident of Mohr Park
on May 21, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Stacey, applying a repeal of prop 13 to business would be problematic and would cause the few companies who have been around for quite some time to fold. As an example, NUMMI in Fremont. GM purchased 280 acres in 1961. As part of the joint venture with Toyota in 1984 was given as part of the incorporation at a value of about 75,000,000 and property taxes were assessed on that value. Estimated value of the property now without improvements is now about 300,000,000 so NUMMI is currently barely hanging on so take a look at what that increase in property tax would do for the employment of the 5700 employees who work there.........not good. A flat tax of 6% would generate a tremendous amount of revenue in addition to fiscal reform and big time cost cutting in Sacramento.

Posted by jay, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Our biggest crisis in California is government pensions and retirement benefits.

I say, all government employees should be part of social security, just like me and a majority of the taxpayers. They can have 401(k)s just like me. As an aside, if the government says they can manage a pension better than the social security system, then all California residents should be allowed to be part of the same pension system as the government employees.

We also need to get rid of post-retirement benefits. We don't get them in the private sector and they should not get them. If Medicare is good for the taxpayers, it is good enough for the government employees.

We have too many social programs in California and we cannot afford them all. Maybe we say a certain percentage of the tax goes to social services but each taxpayer decides which programs they want to fund as indicated on their tax return. Social programs would be funded using the previous years revenue so they know what their budgets will be.

Get rid of entitlement of government jobs. The government workers work for the taxpayers. The government workers should be at-will, like us. When we need services, we hire the people. If the people later decide we do not want them, or we cannot afford them, they will be let go. Sorry that it sounds harsh but that is how it works in the free economy.

Any bill that has an increase of spending for any reason has to also have attached to the bill where there will be a decrease of spending to pay for this. We cannot keep adding things. If something now is important, we have to make a decision on priorities and where the money will come from.

Sorry for my rants but I had to vent.

Posted by Very Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2009 at 10:08 pm


A Golden Post!

Also, no government union workers should ever be allowed to strike. If they do, terminate 'em. Make it law by way of our proposition process.

Now, off to bed for me!!

Posted by Nelson, a resident of another community
on May 21, 2009 at 11:36 pm

A Constitutional Convention is a tricky thing, but I think it is what is needed to wright this ship. The legislators are just given total control to gut whatever they want and keep what they like. We the people have to approve what they ultimately come up with via a vote.
The really scary thing is, as was mentioned in an earlier post, we have a lot of STUPID people that are allowed to vote is this state. people that vote on their feelings rather than on fact and critical thinking. And so many of them are easily mislead with out-and-out lies. Remember the phone tax in LA?
If we were to "ditch" every constitutional ammendment we have right now, the only one that comes to mind that I would lament losing is PROP 13.
The last constitutional convention this state held was back in the late 1878, isn't it time to reboot this states operating platform?

Posted by Nelson, a resident of another community
on May 21, 2009 at 11:40 pm

JAY....I give you a standing ovation...Well said and I don't see any issue with your logic. NO ONE that is being paid with taxpayer money should have a better situation that the average individual who is being taxed to pay for their situation.

Posted by Nelson, a resident of another community
on May 21, 2009 at 11:43 pm

VERY CONCERNED...Do you remember what Reagan did when the airtraffic controllers stuck (struck, striked, had struck? you know what I mean). They were harming the economy and he gave them a choice go back to work or lose your job...most of them lost their jobs.

Posted by Kelly, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2010 at 9:40 am

This is nothing more than a scam to do away with Prop 13. California Leftist Mayors and Unions are in bed with this big time. Former L.A. County Supervisor Edmund Edelman " says. "We lost control of doing the things that we should be able to do as elected officials. We should be able to tax, and if we tax too much, the voters can vote us out of office!" That is their goal, to raise taxes on people and business.

Posted by Dana, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 7:04 pm

JAY, May '09 comment is SO right. .Wish he'd send in LETTER to all local and area papers. Most of these costly, destructive issues/programs were brought to us by lousy legislatures.....we can't let them 'pick' people to determine our fate.
Public employee excesses, i.e. retirements & medical; long OVER-lapping list of benefits to those who don't (won't) provide for themselves...many "working the system". In a convention would we remove this government full of corrupt, misguided "entitlements" at
many levels.
See, we couldn't even trust local electeds with PULIC UNION contracts. We need a genuinely unbiased panel to 'contract' an outside (unconnected) body to settle contracts. Would need to be alert to outside 'groups' that would 'get bought' they are now, that caves to the greed of receipients. Today the elected 'legislature' is BOUGHT BY the public "expert" panel would soon emerge & be bought off to continue the excesses. Once the trust of electeds is corrupted....everywhere it seems, will there EVER be any CHANCE for integrity again. I don't see any FIXES in a 'convention' of crooked special interest groups. Don't forget all the (cough, cough) corrupt NON-profits, that are frequently just 'fronts' for special interest group abuses...a wolf, a weed, the "free lunch" crowd at schools...that's a big one today. Once the scam is set up for 'free lunch' it guarantees "free rides" on everything from then a reasonably comfortable life with very little OUTPUT. But ELECTEDS WRITE additional creative give-aways. The totality of "entitlements" often put those non-producers better off at the end of the year, than the middle-class suckers who work all day, to have their earnings stolen thru obscene taxes. Look at you utility bills and your increased bills that 'provide for' those with arbitrary the UNDERGROUND CASH society ..who slither thru, repeaping rewards from overlapping 'benefits'. WHY do we pay 'social entitlements', plus utitily reductions, etc. Has anybody evey totaled all the possibilities. HMMMM, why is it we would tell our kids to go study and become a middle-class, tax-PAYING engineer ?? only to have weak electeds give it away to 'voting-blocs' who are given more.

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