Constitutional convention backers claim organized groups blocking them

'Entire democracy demeaned'--Bay Area Council president

A Bay Area-based group organizing a statewide effort to call a Constitutional Convention is alleging that it is being stymied in its efforts to gather signatures for two ballot measures in November.

Repair California officials said their attorneys have sent letters to five signature gathering firms alleging that the companies are engaging in "dirty tricks" and colluding in an illegal boycott of the movement.

Letters were sent to Kimball Petition Management, American Petition Consultants, National Petition Management, Masterton & Wright and Progressive Campaigns, according to Repair California Campaign Director John Grubb.

The owner of Masterton & Wright strongly denied the claim. Representatives of the other four companies were not immediately available for comment.

Repair California, begun by officials from the Bay Area Council, a coalition of business leaders, is seeking to call a Constitutional Convention to reform California's budget, election and initiative processes.

The group is trying to put two measures on the 2010 ballot calling for the convention, which would be held the following year.

"Our entire democracy is demeaned when the question of calling a Convention is denied a fair fight on the field of ideas before the voters," Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman said in a statement.

Repair California alleges that the five signature gathering firms are violating state and federal antitrust laws and the constitutional rights of the movement's organizers and supporters.

The group also alleges that some who are circulating petitions are being threatened and intimidated, and that some people acting on behalf of signature gathering firms may be throwing valid signatures away.

"Here lies the dark underbelly of California's political control," Grubb said.

Grubb suggested that interest groups in Sacramento that contribute to the signature gathering firms, and the firms themselves, may see the Constitutional Convention movement as a threat.

Repair California would prefer to resolve the situation without legal action, Grubb said.

"The best solution would be for them to confirm that they are no longer going to engage in these activities," he said.

Ken Masterton, the owner of the Bolinas-based Masterton & Wright, said he had not yet received the letter but was "incensed" at the allegations, which he called "completely and utterly false."

"I challenge them to provide one shred of evidence to back up that claim," Masterton said, adding that there had been no collusion or any other involvement in opposing signatures on his part.

"They have engaged in despicable behavior," Masterton said of the allegations, "and I'm disappointed, obviously, to be dragged into it."

Masterton said Repair California had previously contacted him to be a consultant for their proposed "new model" for signature gathering campaigns.

Masterton declined, but "I gave those guys free advice on how to proceed," he said.

Masterton said he only works for initiatives that he "would personally vote for" and further claimed that Repair California "ignored reality" by starting their campaign late.

Grubb said his group has so far collected about 100,000 of the 1.4 million signatures required for a deadline at the end of April to place both measures on the ballot, but was "very confident that we will get there."

Ari Burack, Bay City News


Like this comment
Posted by ConcernedResident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2010 at 10:53 am

Californians should be extremely wary of any constitutional conventions. They can easily turn into a free-for-all, run by one political group to make all kinds of changes. They may well intend to remove or restrict the citizen initiative process, override Proposition 13, override Proposition 8, override other citizen approved constitutional amendments, remove or restrict the ability of citizens to amend their own constitution as a protection against a court system that is gone astray, change the 60% budget approval requirement, and all kinds of other destructive things. Do not sign these propositions.

Like this comment
Posted by Unless
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2010 at 11:38 am

Unless, of course, you agree with them.

Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Californian
a resident of Danville
on Feb 12, 2010 at 9:51 am

Our state has become the laughing stock of the country. Our geremandered districts have produced a disfunctional legislature impervious to change that continues to outspend the state's resources. If we don't want to end up looking like Greece (financially) we need to put our house in order. That begins with providing the legislature with the ability to enhance revenue but only when it is paid for by cuts in spending. The voters need to elect responsible representatives but the state should not be run by the voters. "Of the people and by the people" should not be taken too literally. Let's change the framework.

Like this comment
Posted by What Do the People Know
a resident of Ponderosa
on Feb 12, 2010 at 9:33 pm

The people should not be allowed to vote on issues except those issues their representatives say they can. Their representatives are smarter and cooler, and just plain know what is best for all the citizens of California. Most people would be far better off if their government took more control over their lives, the raising of their children, the management of their finances, their health care decisions, and their religious practices and beliefs.

Like this comment
Posted by Kelly
a resident of Canyon Meadows
on Feb 13, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Lipstick on a pig is still a pig.More tax and spend from the liberal legislature and union fat cats: California Corruption Convention to Amend the California Constitution under the false pretense of returning money (power) to the states. This is just the sneaky way to steal the required 2/3rds vote from hard working, Californians.

Who is behind an amendment to the California Constitution to remove Proposition 13, the required 2/3rds vote protection to raise home owner/property taxes and remove our protections? I'll tell you, California City Governments including Pleasantons Mayor, Jennifer Hostermann, and Education Union fat cats in the name of "Never letting a good crisis go to waste." they will create more crisis by spending and regulating California to death and then tell you they have the solution!!

California needs an overhaul but it's not by amendment to our California Constitution Please go to Web Link and donate to Howard Jarvis Tax Payers Association they are always fighting for us against greedy tax and spend legislation and union fat cats. HJTA has been dedicated for decades to protecting Proposition 13 and promoting tax payers rights!

Another thing we should be asking our city government, liberal legislators and greedy unions, why would they do this to current and future property owners in this state? WE CAN BARELY AFFORD MORTGAGES in California as it is... Why would you want to kill our prosperity or dreams from future and current California homeowners by stealing Prop 13 2/3rds vote protection from us, from our families, our children? Wake up California! Removing this protection with an ammendment to the constitution only serves to the Union fat cats and local government coiffures, read between the lines!

For our next generation of immigrants and young families working hard for the dream of owning homes and property in California, this message is for you: By signing this petition you are allowing legislature and Government to steal the dream of owning a home or property from you by allowing an amendment will only result in raising taxes on property that will put you out of house and home! This is a protection for we the people of California, don't sign away your dreams or your childrens future dreams.

Like this comment
Posted by Hands off
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2010 at 10:30 pm

It's all a front for lifting our only citizen protection...the 2/3 requirement. It's easy to spot those greedy 'on the ...a political pimp, a greedy special interest, a public employee, a legislator, a 2nd or 3rd generation welfare receipient, a minority who wants to use the assorted special minority priviledges, etc. etc. etc.

Like this comment
Posted by Yo Kelly
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2010 at 10:47 pm

--Government to steal the dream of owning a home or property from you by allowing an amendment will only result in raising taxes on property that will put you out of house and home!

Yo Kelly the government wants everyone to own a home. That is the whole problem! No money down, interest only, negative amortization, FHA, Fannie, Freddie -- That is how we got in to this mess! Too many people own homes that had no business buying a home in the first place.

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