In 1990, California voters passed term limits on their legislators. As in other states, California politicians have been trying to get rid of them ever since.
But in California, their attempts are grander because the prize is bigger: California has the highest-paid legislature and being a legislator is a full-time, year-round job. Plus, it is a large, wealthy state with out-sized special interests that spend freely to achieve their goals and share their largess with the politicians that serve them. The system is tailor-made for ambitious political careerists, except for those pesky term limits!
In the first attempt to kill term limits in 2002, the ballot measure was pretty straight-forward and the voters squashed it. The politicians and lobbyists learned their lesson – voters love term limits! -- and in 2008 came up with a deceptive ballot measure and spent $18 million to promote it. But the voters saw through the ruse and squashed it again.
Now, on the June 2012 ballot, politicians are back with an initiative so deceptive that many – I fear most – Californians will vote YES, believing that the initiative actually strengthens California term limits. It doesn’t.
The scam lies in the ballot title:
LIMITS ON LEGISLATORS' TERMS IN OFFICE. INITIATIVE
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Reduces total amount of time a person may serve in the state legislature from 14 years to 12 years. Allows 12 years' service in one house. Applies only to legislators first elected after measure is passed. Fiscal Impact: No direct fiscal effect on state or local governments.
Clearly, Proposition 28 is designed to trick voters into thinking it strengthens terms limits when it does the exact opposite. We have to get the word out quick!
Here’s what you need to know about this scam initiative:
1) Proposition 28 allows politicians to be in the California State Assembly for 12 years -- not the 6-year maximum permitted under current law. That means members of the state assembly will actually have THEIR TIME IN OFFICE DOUBLED -- NOT REDUCED!
2) Proposition 28 also allows politicians to be in the California State Senate for 12 years - not the 8-year maximum permitted under current law. That means members of the State Senate will actually have THEIR TIME IN OFFICE INCREASED BY 50% -- NOT REDUCED.
3) Sure, the overall service in the legislature might be, ahem, ‘reduced’ for a handful of house-jumping politicians by two years, about 8% historically by our count. But so what? Jumping from one house to the other is not automatic like running for one’s own seat. The politician has to win a competitive open seat election in a differently configured district, often against another term-limited politician. This is exactly what the politicians are desperately trying to avoid. With this amendment, over 80% of politicians will have their terms lengthened, not shortened. That is exactly what the politicians are after.
4) Proposition 28's top backer is corrupt developer Ed Roski Jr. who sought a special exemption from environmental regulations by the legislature -- at the exact same time he was paying to qualify this initiative -- so that he could make millions by building a sports stadium. See the full story here.
5) In 2008, one reason the anti-term limits initiative failed because the terms limits were weakened for current incumbents, which voters correctly saw as a egregious conflict of interest. In this scam initiative, politicians claim the new, weaker limits apply only to newly elected legislators. This is perhaps the most insidious aspect of the scam. It would create two classes of legislators with different term limits. They know this will not stand up in court. We can expect an immediate challenge by incumbents and the incumbent politicians expect to win in the court what they can't win honestly at the ballot box, weaker term limits.
Friends, this is an elaborate and insidious scam. Please send a link to this article as well as the official anti-Prop28 site www.28no.org to every Californian you know. Post it to Facebook, Twitter, everywhere.
The politicians can’t win if the people get the truth in time. It is up to us to see they do.