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California farming. (Photo: CA Dept. of Conservation)

How the People Can Fix California

Creating water abundance instead of water rationing is just one example

By Edward Ring, May 31, 2021 2:08 am

The deadline to file citizens initiatives for the November 2022 state ballot is this August, and not nearly enough has been done so far. Active measures submitted to the California Attorney General include the highly necessary proposition to “prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude,” along with one to “require earth sustainability training in public schools.” Because apparently we’re still coping with slavery in California, and our public schools are not already inculcating sufficient climate change panic.

Other active measures carry more substance, for example, affecting child custody cases, gambling, and medical negligence lawsuits. But even these, while important, are nibbling around the edges of policy. They will affect the lives of some people, and that may be good or bad, but everyday life in California will not change.

Meanwhile, in a state that once offered hope and opportunity to everyone, most Californians now struggle to survive. The privileged classes – seniors in homes they bought two generations ago, tech workers who learned to code, and the upper strata of public sector employees – exist to serve the elites, a generous handful of billionaires and centi-millionaires. For everyone else, life is tougher every year.

For every essential – homes, rent, tuition, gasoline, electricity – Californians pay the highest prices in America. Californians endure the most hostile business climate in America, and pay the highest taxes. The public schools are failing, crime is soaring, electricity is unreliable, water is rationed, and the mismanaged forests are burning like hell. And all of this can be fixed.

How the People Can Fix California

There is one option available to Californians that can bypass the state legislature, and that is via state ballot initiatives. The legal fees necessary to draft a ballot initiative vary depending on the complexity of the measure, but often run under $10,000. The fee charged by the California Attorney General is $2,000. That’s all it takes to get a state ballot initiative cleared for circulation.

If professional signature gatherers have to be hired, which is typically the case, the cost to gather signatures from voters onto petitions to qualify an initiative to appear on the state ballot is likely to cost over $5.0 million. But that cost must be weighed against the transformative potential of an initiative if it is approved by voters. California permits not only laws, but constitutional amendments to be changed via the initiative process. When you change the California constitution, you change fundamental rules. You not only enact new laws, but you can supersede existing laws that have done harm.

As conditions worsen in California, the arguments against ballot initiatives are increasingly unconvincing. Yes, a campaign to win voter approval of a ballot initiative in a general election can run in the tens of millions. But every two years, 20 senate seats and all 80 assembly seats are up for grabs in the state legislature. And every election cycle, the winning and losing campaigns dump millions into each of the races for these 100 contested seats.

Why bother? The machine is going to stay in control, whether it controls a mega majority in both houses of the state legislature, which it currently does, or a mere supermajority.

And then there are the higher offices. Who can forget Meg Whitman’s hapless 2010 campaign for governor, where she blew through a reported $178 million?

The money is out there. Whitman, along with Steyer, Zuckerberg, Hastings, and dozens of other wealthy Californians have made that abundantly clear. So at a cost of $12,000 apiece, put some options on the table in the form of ballot initiatives. Give the big dogs a bone to carry. They can’t pick it up if you don’t put it out there. Don’t worry about the bad guys emulating this strategy. They don’t have to. They own the machine.

If Meg Whitman had wanted to truly change California, for $178 million she could have sponsored an entire slate of initiative constitutional amendments. If the voters had liked what they were being offered, we would be living in a different and better state today.

New Volunteer Armies Defray Millions in Campaign Costs

Something that proponents of initiatives for November 2022 have available that was not present even two years ago is an awakened, bipartisan army of volunteers who mobilized to qualify the Newsom recall for a special election.

There are now hundreds of trained volunteer managers spread across the state, and thousands of trained volunteer signature gatherers. Their learning curve was steep on the recall, but by the end they had the hardware – booths, tables, signs, petitions, and a thorough understanding of the process. A little known fact is that in the final month before the signature gathering deadline, these volunteers had ramped up to a statewide production of over 100,000 signed recall petitions per week.

This prospect, the ability for trained, motivated volunteers to gather signed initiative petitions at a rate of up to a half-million per month, is a game changer. Skeptics have to consider the fact that the technology available, social media, emails, and websites for communicating and organizing, including the ability for any registered voter to download and print a petition, is only getting more powerful. And now, millions of Californians are aware of how to use this technology. More important, more than ever, they are motivated to use it.

The ability to conceive of ballot initiatives, do the legal research, and file them for title and summary, is a task that even small grassroots organizations can afford. The ability to get them on the ballot can be coordinated by multiple armies of signature gathering volunteers if they merely follow two rules, (1) don’t promote more than one ballot initiative on any particular issue, and (2) use identical petition forms and chose one firm to do the preliminary signature verification and manage the deliveries of signed petitions to the 58 county registrars.

Everything else is negotiable. Various grassroots groups competing for donors and volunteers is bound to be a fractious and challenging process. But as long as they aren’t circulating competing petitions, or trying to juggle two different petition processing firms, everything else can be worked out.

Imagine if Meg Whitman had used her considerable resources to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would repeal water rationing, and authorize a water infrastructure bond that would not leave implementation to the California Water Commission, but would instead limit their authority to actually funding specific, named projects: the Sites Reservoir, the Temperance Flat Reservoir, more desalination plants and water recycling plants on the Southern California coast, repair the Friant-Kern canal, and while we’re at it, detox the Salton Sea and turn the Los Angeles River back into a river.

Californians can and will realize that ballot initiatives can improve their lives. Creating water abundance instead of water rationing is just one example. What about a ballot initiative that would require the state to again sell logging rights to commercial timber companies and fast track the permitting process for new lumber mills, and do it in 12 months or less? Suddenly there is revenue to the state, free maintenance of the fire breaks and power line corridors, good union jobs, lower prices for lumber, and fewer fires as the forests are thinned back to healthy densities. What’s not to like, unless you’re a Sierra Club litigator who has gotten filthy rich destroying what once worked so well?

At present, the only transformative initiative that appears to be headed for submittal to the California Attorney General in time for 2022 is a school choice proposition. That’s a commendable effort, guaranteed to put the teachers union into a fight for their lives. But what about something to fix California’s mismanaged water supply and mismanaged forests? What about an initiative to stop in its tracks the burgeoning “anti-racist” racist industry that’s destroying the character of our youth and crippling the competitiveness of our industries? Ward Connerly of the American Civil Rights Institute is working on that, but more people need to offer him their support.

The possibilities are endless and inspiring. What about another try by the proponents of the failed Prop. 20, which would have allowed Californians to take back control of their streets? What about a thoughtfully crafted reform of California’s homeless policies, which to-date have merely poured billions into the pockets of corrupt bureaucrats, powerful “nonprofits,” and construction developers, while making the problem worse?

We are running out of time. Why aren’t establishment Republicans, trade associations, and grassroots leaders working together, right now, to put together a slate of initiatives for November 2022? The filing deadline, late August of this year, is nearly upon us. How many ways will voters have a chance to fix California, before they have to wait another two years?

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14 thoughts on “How the People Can Fix California

  1. Yes, yes, YES, A THOUSAND TIMES YES!!!

    And this website could and SHOULD be the spine of this book of awesomeness for conservative and sane California voters!!!

    We can rally around Mr. Ring, Mr. McClintock, Mr. Moorlach, Mr. Hansen and all the other great conservative writers that contribute to this site!!!

    Mobilize and build upon the momentum that has been started against Gavin the Greaseball, and put these commonsense initiatives into play, if for no other reason than to demonstrate to the rest of the Union that we are MAD AS HELL AND NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANY MORE!!!

    The CAGOP is WORTHLESS, as the only communication I’ve received from Mr. Patterson are pleas for money, and only since the grassroots recall efforts started taking shape…. Pathetic!!!

    “Why AREN’T (emphasis added) establishment Republicans, trade associations, and grassroots leaders working together, right now, to put together a slate of initiatives for November 2022? ”
    Probably because they’re as bad as the DEMOCRATS, only interested in feeding their OWN special interests and getting rich in the process, while rank and file California residents suffer in silence, or secretly plan their escape to Idaho, Tennessee , Texas or any number of other, more sanely run states that aren’t owned by the unions, the green communists and Dominion Voting systems installed by Democrap County Clerks and other nefarious operators….

    Let’s make this the Memorial Day where the grassroots revolution in California got up off the mat and said “We’re not gonna take it, any more!!!” (Sung to the Twisted Sister song from the 80’s)

    Let’s do this, and take up Mr. Ring’s challenge!!!

    1. Yes, yes, YES, A THOUSAND TIMES YES!!!

      And this website could and SHOULD be the spine of this book of awesomeness for conservative and sane California voters!!!

      We can rally around Mr. Ring, Mr. McClintock, Mr. Moorlach, Mr. Hansen and all the other great conservative writers that contribute to this site!!!

      Mobilize and build upon the momentum that has been started against Gavin the Greaseball, and put these commonsense initiatives into play, if for no other reason than to demonstrate to the rest of the Union that we are MAD AS HELL AND NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANY MORE!!!

      The CAGOP is WORTHLESS, as the only communication I’ve received from Ms. Patterson are pleas for money, and only since the grassroots recall efforts started taking shape…. Pathetic!!!

      “Why AREN’T (emphasis added) establishment Republicans, trade associations, and grassroots leaders working together, right now, to put together a slate of initiatives for November 2022? ”
      Probably because they’re as bad as the DEMOCRATS, only interested in feeding their OWN special interests and getting rich in the process, while rank and file California residents suffer in silence, or secretly plan their escape to Idaho, Tennessee , Texas or any number of other, more sanely run states that aren’t owned by the unions, the green communists and Dominion Voting systems installed by Democrap County Clerks and other nefarious operators….

      Let’s make this the Memorial Day where the grassroots revolution in California got up off the mat and said “We’re not gonna take it, any more!!!” (Sung to the Twisted Sister song from the 80’s)

      Let’s do this, and take up Mr. Ring’s challenge!!!

  2. Peasants
    Noose is spraying the misinformed with redistributed goodness far more powerful than these inspirational articles and a chubby bear getting caresses from a political retread……
    So wear your mask, bbq your fake meat and organic veggies and gas up later for the Tuesday commute…..you are soft, really really soft….

  3. I would not poo poo the slavery and earth sustainability props. I have little doubt they are trojan horses for some really evil stuff the Demoncrats have planned. The devil is in the details as it is said. How about you dig a little deeper and see what is really going on with props like these?

  4. “Los Angeles River back into a river” I was born and raised in Whittier, DOB 1954, and the LA River has been little more than seasonal run off and flood control to my knowledge. I was really confused by Mayor Tony V’s desire to turn it into a River-walk. Have I missed something about the LA River?

    1. Hrwolfe: Good question. The references to the LA River and the Salton Sea are just examples of some projects that probably would be worthy of inclusion, as long as the vast majority of the funds go to projects to actually increase the water supply. But beyond the ecological and aesthetic value, there is a practical benefit to restoring some of the flood basins along the LA River. It would allow runoff, when it does come, to more efficiently percolate into the aquifers. The Los Angeles basin has huge aquifers that are an essential part of their water storage assets.

  5. Wow, a very powerful op-ed Mr. Ring.
    I believe Mr. Ric Grenell is actively working toward what you are proposing.
    We need to defeat the media narrative that a conservative viewpoint is antiquated and unwanted in the state of California. This may be considered a blue state but the classic liberal could join forces with conservatives and independents to stop the progressive train wreck. It does begin with water infrastructure. Water is life.

  6. It’s a good point, but I don’t have much faith in any ballot initiative, even a CA constitutional amendment, creating any real change. Many initiatives have been voted in or out and the supermajority Dems just do what they want. No one holds them accountable. The CA Republican Party has agreed for Caitlin Jenner to run as a Republican against Newsom instead of backing strong conservative candidates. We don’t need another Arnold; we need a conservative who articulate and sell conservative policies that will benefit people.

  7. Don’t wait for the CA Rep Party. It will do nothing.

    Take the initiative on initiatives. Convene a meeting, in person or online, with key leaders who might be willing to do something, including the Recall Gavin Newsom team. Pick your top three initiatives and go from there.

    #1 is election integrity, both in importance and something that will motivate grass roots signature gatherers.

  8. green communist?
    Dominion voting system?
    Sure signs that you’re a conspiracy theorists looney.

  9. “What about a ballot initiative that would require the state to again sell logging rights to commercial timber companies and fast track the permitting process for new lumber mills, and do it in 12 months or less?”

    The state doesn’t ‘sell logging rights’. All they can do is attempt to streamline the THP (timber harvest plan) process and make it less onerous and less expensive than it currently is. And unlike Oregon and Washington, California doesn’t own much productive timberland, unless you include state parks and state forests, which are under control of the university system. These assets are negligible in the grand scheme of the economy, even if you could get the left to actually participate in active forest management. But in reality, they’d rather see it burn than see one stick hauled out on the back of a Black Carbon spewing log truck.

    And as far as new sawmills are concerned, no capital investment firm or timber company in their right mind will spend millions on building a mill in California without a guarantee of a long term supply of stumpage, which was exactly the promise that was made to the Ketchikan Pulp Company by FedGuv. It was a guarantee of a 50 year supply of timber to build the mill, supply the jobs and create the infrastructure of the city of Ketchikan. After 40 years the feds reneged on their promise and the mill closed. FedGuv lied. Big surprise.

    Your heart is in the right place, Mr. Ring. But the government controlled by Democrats isn’t. They prefer scorched Earth to private sector jobs and a humming economy.

    1. Excellent suggestion @ Ted!
      I hope the congressmen and staffers that are here in California to listen to middle California will read your post!

      I just returned from the Northwest and yes they have not let the ecoterrorists decimate their lumber industry. It can be done responsibly and was been done responsibly.

  10. I would like to add that our corrupt Sec of State obfuscates the ballot titles so as to turn a yes into a no. That is why we are stuck with the bag law – less than 1 million voted and we are all stuck with an expensive disposal headache.

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