Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
Professor T

Professor T (UK)

Start watching
SoCal Update

SoCal Update

Start watching
Us

Us

Start watching
The Latino Experience

The Latino Experience

Start watching
Key Art of "Summer of Rockets" featuring Keeley Hawes and Toby Stephens.

Summer of Rockets

Start watching
Line of Separation Key Art.

Line of Separation

Start watching
Artbound

Artbound

Start watching
Death in Paradise Series 10

Death in Paradise

Start watching
millionaire still

KCET Must See Movies

Start watching
Independent Lens

Independent Lens

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Earth Focus

Earth Focus

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

Fixing California's Constitutional Crisis Won't Be Easy

Support Provided By
Filtered photo of a copy of the California Constitution. | Photo/Editing: Zach Behrens/KCET
Filtered photo of a copy of the California Constitution. | Photo/Editing: Zach Behrens/KCET

Because I've worked for state and municipal agencies and been a member of local administrative boards, I've signed my share of "under the penalty of perjury" oaths and sworn that I will uphold the constitution of the State of California.

Wondering what "upholding" might mean as a practical matter, I paged through a copy of the state constitution once. I came away knowing that I should be prepared -- but I'm not sure how -- to defend the state constitution's limit on the number of rounds in a boxing match.

Assembly Member Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), in a recent Los Angeles Times editorial, offered an even better example of what's wrong with the state constitution, which "contains arcane rules such as what kind of trammel net you can use while rock fishing in Santa Barbara. Really. It's in Article XB, Section 4, passed by Proposition 132 in 1990."

Gatto would like to make the state constitution more rational by making it harder to amend. His point is that special interests with limitless cash, allied to the California's "initiative industry" of paid signature reapers, can get almost anything into the constitution under the current, 50-percent-plus-one-vote rule.

Gatto would require a "super majority" of 55 percent to make constitutional changes.

The editorial board of The Los Angeles Times would rationalize the initiative process by changing how initiatives are treated by the Legislature and enforcing greater transparency in the process.

Under Senate Bill 1253, the Legislature would be required to conduct hearings on constitutional initiatives as soon as their proponents had gathered 25 percent of the necessary signatures. The initiative's drafters would be allowed to rewrite ambiguous or contradictory language during the remainder of the signature gathering.

In addition, SB 1253 would require the attorney general to write ballot summaries in plain English and order the secretary of state to provide an understandable explanation of the initiative's intended effect in the sample ballot.

More importantly, voters would finally get information about major donors to the initiative.

Gatto and the Times have diagnosed the problem, but their medicine is unlikely to be taken. California's constitution is in crisis, but too much depends on the current initiative process which, in turn, depends on the cynical manipulation of the voters' distrust of the government they are being asked to perfect.

Support Provided By
Read More
A light structure similar to scaffolds were used in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

How the Gleeful Aesthetic of L.A.’s 1984 Olympics Unified a Sprawling City

In 1984, Los Angeles exuded Olympic psychedelia, a gleeful '80s aesthetic which underlined the complementary power of sport, culture and art. It would also revitalize a bedraggled Olympic movement.
The City of Huntington Park sign in front of City Hall hosts a welcome message for residents passing by.

Hefty Contracts for Campaign Contributors in Huntington Park

An examination of public records from 2018 and 2020 confirmed that several companies contracted by the city of Huntington Park donated gifts and campaign contributions to council members during that time. The investigation raises questions about whether council members are truly looking out for the best interests of the public when creating policies and making decisions.
0722021_Lancaster_PU_Sized_10.jpg

Thieves Are Stealing California’s Scarce Water. Where’s It Going? Illegal Marijuana Farms

As drought grips most of California, water thefts have increased to record levels. Thieves tap into hydrants, pump water from rivers and break into remote water stations and tanks.