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Stateside with Rosalea: Eureka!


Stateside with Rosalea: Eureka!

By Rosalea Barker

Eureka!

Great news, Californians! There is a way you can put the Bush-anointed 48 hours to good use, AND support the troops by giving them a vibrant democracy to come back home to.

Assemblywoman Loni Hancock is sponsoring a bill in the California legislature that will enable "home rule" for general law cities, and it would help if other representatives in the California Assembly

would co-sponsor the bill. Please note: this is not one of those times for you to send off an e-mail to a legislator in a rush of e-thusiasm.

I mention the 48 hours only because they are anxious ones and a good cure for anxiety is to do something positive. (I will put a list of URLs at the end for you to access for more information, before you decide if it's something you want to do, and suggestions on what to write.)

I came to learn about this from a mailing list I am on for a group called Californians for Electoral Reform, a multi-partisan organization (its officers include Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green and independent voters) actively involved in shifting US politics from being almost totally sewn up by interest groups within the two major parties to a more inclusive democracy.

One of the keys to doing this, they believe, is by using alternatives to the winner-take-all system of voting. And the place to start doing this is your own home town, so that people can see it in action and judge whether the outcome is an improved democracy. Of course, local elections are nominally non-partisan, but candidates are usually endorsed by some party or another, and in any case many of the alternative voting systems aren't dependent on party politics being in place.

The reason a bill is required in the California legislature is that there are two types of incorporation for cities here - general law cities and charter cities. Charter cities are more free to change the way in which their councils or boards of supervisors are elected, but general law cities are constrained by state law.

To see the bill, go to http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/bilinfo.html and put in the number 1039.

You can locate your Assemblymember by going to http://www.assembly.ca.gov/defaulttext.asp and clicking on "Find my District". (If it gives you more than one, you can call their district offices to find out which one is yours.)

You can find a list of chartered cities at http://www.fairvoteca.org/campaign/chartercountycity.htm If your city isn't listed, then it's a general law city.

Below are the actions for democracy that you can take if you live in

1) a general law city, or 2) a chartered city.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: 1. Contact your local Assemblymember and ask her or him to become a sponsor of AB 1039.

The best approach is to write a letter. Next best is to make a phone call. Third best is to send email.

Your letter can be short. It be as simple as:

The Hon. ___________ State Capitol Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear ____________

I am writing to ask you to become a co-author of AB 1039 on Municipal Election Voting Methods. It is a "home rule" bill that will allow general law cities the same freedom that charter law cities have to choose their own method for electing their local government.

Please let me know if you will co-author this bill.

Sincerely,

If you don't get a response within a week, follow up with a phone

call. (You can call their district office if you don't want to call their Sacramento office.) ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

2. If you live in a general law city yourself, ask your city council to pass a resolution expressing support for AB 1039. (See above for

how to find out which type of city you live in.)

Such a resolution can be as simple as:

Whereas, the City of is a general law city, and is restricted

in its choice of voting methods by the laws of the State of

California; and

Whereas, chartered cities have the freedom to choose their own voting method; and

Whereas, AB 1039 (Hancock) is a "home rule" bill that would would give to general law cities the same freedom of choice in voting method as

do chartered cities;

Therefore, Be It Resolved That the City of supports and

endorses AB 1039; and

Be It Further Resolved That the City of asks its Assembly representative(s) the Hon. [and etc.] to co-sponsor AB 1039; and

Be It Further Resolved That the City of will send a copy of

this resolution to its Assembly representative(s), the author of AB

1039, and the Assembly Committee on Elections, Reapportionment, and Constitutional Amendments.

(Whether or not your City Council passes the above resolution, find out if any of the Councilmembers are interested in the bill. If so, ask them to send an individual letter of support to their Assemblymember.) :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

IF ALL THE ABOVE seems a lot beyond what you are willing to do, that's OK! Just staying informed about the options is a great way to move towards restoring this nation's credibility as a true democracy.

A great place to start being informed is by going to the Californians for Electoral Reform website at http://www.fairvoteca.org/

Please let them know of any progress you make!

(And please pass this on to others.)


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