Forging a path to a stronger state

150 150 Armando Botello II

In recent days several news outlets have focused on the work of California Forward and our efforts to fix state government. While much of this may be in response to CA Fwd’s blog posting entitled A Path Forward outlining a workout plan for the state, much of it is attributed to CA Fwd’s work since 2008 in bringing the government closer to the people, now a key tenet of Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal.

Here is a rundown of recent stories mentioning and/or about CA Fwd:

William & Flora Hewlett Foundation Newsletter – Moving California Forward (1/10) “ Now on the centennial anniversary of Johnson’s reforms, a bipartisan organization of civic leaders from across California is set to begin a statewide outreach to its citizens in hopes of rekindling that spirit of renewal. Interestingly enough, some of the changes that Johnson pushed through in 1911—the initiative process, for one—are among the tools of government now being considered for reform. These civic leaders are partnering with a nonprofit organization known as California Forward, which began in 2008 as a project of the Commonwealth Club of California, and other civic groups to attempt to untangle gridlock in the state’s institutions.”

Fresno Bee – David Mas Masumoto: Personal Politics (1/9) “The new governor has already gone public and become the bearer of bad and more bad news. The public is part of this battle. Ironically, because it is so bad we finally will have a direct say in the outcome. Governance reform is no longer for the politically elite. The choices before us are threefold: raise taxes, reduce services, and/or continue a broken governance system. All of these will be brought to the public in one form or another — a special election in addition to politicians testing the political winds even more than ever. New players have joined the landscape: California Forward and Think Long Committee — armed with at least 50 million, these groups aim to move the debate on governance reform issues.”

Los Angeles Times – Editorial: You say you want a devolution (1/9) “In recent years, policymakers have begun talking about “realignment” — returning the power to make taxing and spending decisions to cities, counties, schools and other agencies. The idea, in its broadest terms, has some merit. Problem-solving would devolve to more local, nonpartisan and less-term-limited elected officials and away from Sacramento’s partisan lawmakers, many with attention spans too short to consider much more than what office to seek next (and with whose contributions) after they are termed out. Such realignment has long been a central plank in the platforms of reform groups such as California Forward.”

San Francisco Chronicle – Nicolas Berggruen: ‘California is worth saving’  (1/9) “(Nicolas) Berggruen’s “Think Long Committee for California” includes a cast of heavyweights from both parties, including former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Condoleezza Rice, former Assembly Speakers Robert Hertzberg and Willie Brown, Clinton economic adviser Laura Tyson, philanthropist and real estate tycoon Eli Broad and Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his predecessor, Gray Davis, participated in the group’s initial meeting at Google headquarters in October. The committee is supposed to deliver a recommended package of reforms this summer, with the intention of putting those that require voter approval on the ballot in 2012. Berggruen has touched all the right bases to develop a proposal that could be taken seriously in public-policy circles. He has enlisted two former state finance directors as advisers and has been working closely with the Public Policy Institute of California and the reform group California Forward. He has surrounded himself with seasoned wonks who are clear-eyed about the magnitude of the challenge.

Sacramento Bee – Jon Fleischman: Latest reform endeavor lacks teeth on taxes (1/9) “In the article by billionaire Nicolas Berggruen and Nathan Gardels, they address the need for structural reform for California to bring “good governance” to our state. They announced the formation of a new political endeavor called the Think Long Committee for California, which they describe as “a high-powered group of eminent citizens with broad experience in public affairs, labor and business” – and they have seeded this group with a $20 million donation. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this kind of endeavor – groups like the New Majority and California Forward have also talked of the need for reforms and been supported by well-heeled, wealthy donors.”

Bakersfield Californian – Lois Henry: Counties to state: Get out of the way  (1/8) “California needs a major overhaul of how we do business, according to government reform group California Forward. And I couldn’t agree more. “The money has to flow, along with the discretion of how to spend it, directly to the counties,” said Jim Mayer, executive director of California Forward. “The state should provide guidelines of the expected outcomes of programs. Local governments then have to be held accountable to those goals by voters.” Mayer is hopeful Brown understands the need for dramatic change based on his stint as the mayor of Oakland.”

Armando Botello II is a communications associate at California Forward. 


Armando Botello II

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