California Forward has worked diligently to advance political and fiscal reforms that will bolster democracy and improve the performance of government in our great but struggling state. Over the last year, we’ve had limited success working with the legislature to enact sensible reforms to the budget process and to empower community governments. Our experience has validated our premise – Californians outside the government must lead the charge, if we are to successfully modernize how we govern ourselves.
Yesterday’s LA Times reports that Nicolas Berggruen, an international businessman, has publically joined the struggle to fix California. Mr. Berggruen committed at least $20 million to a political campaign and is convening some of California’s intellectual stars to help think through the possible solutions.
At the table of the new Think Long Committee are former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Condoleezza Rice, former California Governor Gray Davis, former San Francisco Mayor and California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, developer and philanthropist Eli Broad, and CA Fwd’s own Bob Hertzberg and Antonia Hernandez.
Berggruen tells the LA Times he wants to promote common sense. “We need to be able to prioritize things that may not be popular in the short term but are really helpful in the long term and have an administrative branch that is competitive and meritocratic.”
CA Fwd has been working with the Berggruen Institute for several months to develop a common frame for assessing the state’s challenges and possible solutions. The willingness of some of the nation’s best thinkers – Californians all – to focus on these issues is strong signal that our civic leadership understands the severity of our governance challenges and the inability of elected officials to solve the problems from within the system.
We welcome the Think Long Committee to the growing chorus of individuals and organizations who will not give up on the California Dream – and who are willing to be part of citizen-driven reforms that are an essential precursor to quality public services and a vibrant economy.
CA Fwd agrees that it is important to have the sharpest and most experienced minds involved in this process. We also believe that all Californians, who are increasingly anxious about our future, need to be involved. That why we’re launching a significant statewide effort to connect tens-of-thousands of Californians and transform frustration and anxiety about our future into an effective movement for restoring the Golden State.
We firmly believe that as more Californians commit to the cause, the potential for enacting public interest reforms increases. With each new supporter the fire grows brighter.
James P. Mayer is the executive director of California Forward.