Wrong Solution To Term Limits

Let me make this clear–the Term Limits law passed in California is one of the worst initiatives that California voters have passed with the most unintended consequences since Proposition 13. For those who thought that Term Limits would produce more competition for legislative seats, redistricting has pretty much taken care of that ideal. Moreover, you have placed a huge governmental system and the eighth largest economy in the world (we’ve slipped recently) in the hands of rank amateurs. As soon as legislators learn how to actually govern, they are termed out.

This has forced an accelerated Peter Principle on California governance, because instead of doing away with career politicians, it creates a revolving door of mediocre ones, shuffling from office to office, because what they lack in expertise about government and their specific job, they gain in expertise on how to win political office. So it is actually the worst of all worlds–you have career politicians pushed into positions of higher office, rather than stuck in the lower level of the legislature where they can gain some expertise on how to craft legislation.

The other unintended consequence is that expertise in government is always a valued commodity. And if the elected legislators do not have that expertise, that void will be filled by unelected staff members and more problematically by unelected lobbyists. The power in Sacramento has been transferred from the elected members of the legislature to the powerful interests and lobbyists.

Term limits was one of those things that sounds good on paper to some who thought they could break the stranglehold of career politicians and probably as importantly then Speaker Willie Brown, but it is a disaster in practice. Unfortunately most people do not pay sufficient attention to the California legislature to realize that.

The dangers of the initiative system are that once done, it is near impossible to undo. That leads us to the latest attempt to undo the damage.

Past attempts to add terms have failed. Thus, the current attempt is a bit more innovative. Presently you can serve three-two year terms in the Assembly and two-four year terms in the Senate. That is a total of 14 years in the legislature. The current change will allow a total 12 years to be served in the legislature regardless of the house of the legislature you serve in. That way they can sell it to the public as a more stringent measure since it reduces the overall years a legislator can serve.

That makes sense, so you would serve up to six two years in the Assembly or three four year terms in the Senate or some combination thereof.

The advantage is of course, instead of having to serve only six years in the Assembly, you could serve 12 and have a much more experienced body.

The biggest beneficiary in this is of course Speaker of the Assembly Fabian Nunez. He’s not only the biggest beneficiary but also the individual pushing this legislation. And he has the California Teacher’s Association and the State Chamber of Commerce carrying the water for him on the legislation.

The proposal is also drafted in such a way that existing officeholders who have not used up all of the time allowed under the current term limits law, can serve out the extended time allowed until they bump up against the overall limit for the house.

What that means is that all of the people lining up to run for the 8th Assembly District and 5th Senate District, because Lois Wolk and Mike Machado are termed out respectively, may have to wait because Wolk would get six more years and Machado four more years–if they want it. That would throw everyone’s plans into flux.

And the legislators are pushing for the February Primary for the President only, so that the voters can pass this term limits law in February and then in June all of the incumbents can run for reelection without being termed out.

This all sounds good if you are an opponent of term limits. But if you look closely, it doesn’t solve the problem, it creates more problems.

This law would probably improve the situation in the Assembly. Members could run and hold an Assembly seat for 12 years. That is twice the length they can hold it now and that would stop the revolving door of legislators and Speakers.

However, it may make the situation even worse in the State Senate. Normally you have people who have spent time in the State Assembly, and who are experienced legislators moving over to the State Senate. But it may not work that way anymore. If you spend 12 years in the State Assembly, you would not be able to serve any time in the State Senate. Conceivably, you could have people moving from the State Assembly to the State Senate and only allowed to serve one term, creating a revolving door at the State Senate level. Furthermore, a large number of seats would probably be held by people with no legislative service at all.

Moreover, you still have the Peter Principle at work, where people who have served their now 12 years look toward another office to hold rather than gaining expertise in the office they currently hold. So they move from the state legislature to Constitutional Offices or possibly Congressional Offices.

This bill doesn’t seem to solve the problems, rather it seems designed to give Fabian Nunez another six years as Speaker of the Assembly.

This may end up being one term limits reform bill I will vote against.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Categories:

Elections

40 comments

  1. The clearest example of the damage to the legislative competence, done by term limits, was seen with the energy deregulation legislation. Our representatives were pitted against the energy industry who “licked their chops” when they sat down across the negotiating table from our reps. Many of those who voted on this deregulation had been on the job 6 months and had little understanding of what was going on.

  2. The clearest example of the damage to the legislative competence, done by term limits, was seen with the energy deregulation legislation. Our representatives were pitted against the energy industry who “licked their chops” when they sat down across the negotiating table from our reps. Many of those who voted on this deregulation had been on the job 6 months and had little understanding of what was going on.

  3. The clearest example of the damage to the legislative competence, done by term limits, was seen with the energy deregulation legislation. Our representatives were pitted against the energy industry who “licked their chops” when they sat down across the negotiating table from our reps. Many of those who voted on this deregulation had been on the job 6 months and had little understanding of what was going on.

  4. The clearest example of the damage to the legislative competence, done by term limits, was seen with the energy deregulation legislation. Our representatives were pitted against the energy industry who “licked their chops” when they sat down across the negotiating table from our reps. Many of those who voted on this deregulation had been on the job 6 months and had little understanding of what was going on.

  5. What purpose does the State Senate serve anyway? It’s practically a duplicate of the Assembly and makes citizen lobbying twice as hard. I would like to see California move from an 80-member Assembly and 40-member Senate to a single 120-member body. Nebraska has a unicameral legislature. It would simplify government while making it more representative of the people. It would also address some of the issues in your post. California has one of the worst ratios of population to size of legislative body. Even in absolute terms the size of these bodies is smaller than those in many small states.

  6. What purpose does the State Senate serve anyway? It’s practically a duplicate of the Assembly and makes citizen lobbying twice as hard. I would like to see California move from an 80-member Assembly and 40-member Senate to a single 120-member body. Nebraska has a unicameral legislature. It would simplify government while making it more representative of the people. It would also address some of the issues in your post. California has one of the worst ratios of population to size of legislative body. Even in absolute terms the size of these bodies is smaller than those in many small states.

  7. What purpose does the State Senate serve anyway? It’s practically a duplicate of the Assembly and makes citizen lobbying twice as hard. I would like to see California move from an 80-member Assembly and 40-member Senate to a single 120-member body. Nebraska has a unicameral legislature. It would simplify government while making it more representative of the people. It would also address some of the issues in your post. California has one of the worst ratios of population to size of legislative body. Even in absolute terms the size of these bodies is smaller than those in many small states.

  8. What purpose does the State Senate serve anyway? It’s practically a duplicate of the Assembly and makes citizen lobbying twice as hard. I would like to see California move from an 80-member Assembly and 40-member Senate to a single 120-member body. Nebraska has a unicameral legislature. It would simplify government while making it more representative of the people. It would also address some of the issues in your post. California has one of the worst ratios of population to size of legislative body. Even in absolute terms the size of these bodies is smaller than those in many small states.

  9. At least the issue will be raised above the din long enough to *perhaps* be debated. My personal preference – and I think middle ground here – would be to extend terms to 6 years in the Senate, 4 in the Assembly, retain the 12-year cap.

    I’m just about sick and tired of constant campaigns, and agree members need at least one term just to get up to speed.

  10. At least the issue will be raised above the din long enough to *perhaps* be debated. My personal preference – and I think middle ground here – would be to extend terms to 6 years in the Senate, 4 in the Assembly, retain the 12-year cap.

    I’m just about sick and tired of constant campaigns, and agree members need at least one term just to get up to speed.

  11. At least the issue will be raised above the din long enough to *perhaps* be debated. My personal preference – and I think middle ground here – would be to extend terms to 6 years in the Senate, 4 in the Assembly, retain the 12-year cap.

    I’m just about sick and tired of constant campaigns, and agree members need at least one term just to get up to speed.

  12. At least the issue will be raised above the din long enough to *perhaps* be debated. My personal preference – and I think middle ground here – would be to extend terms to 6 years in the Senate, 4 in the Assembly, retain the 12-year cap.

    I’m just about sick and tired of constant campaigns, and agree members need at least one term just to get up to speed.

  13. “Nebraska is also a state that is one-twentieth the size of California. I’m still a fan of checks and balances.”

    Does the State Senate really put a check on the Assembly? It has a few different duties, but as far as I can see, they almost always vote the same way as bodies. I just don’t see the check.

    I agree with Ann O’Nimus: a unicameral legislature with at least 120 members (I’d favor more) would be preferable to our current 80-40 set up. By having more, but smaller districts, the body would be more representative of the citizens, and the cost of running in any single district would be less.

    I didn’t vote for the current term limits law. It’s too restrictive. However, with single member districts, the re-elective power of incumbency is so strong (and more so with gerrymandering) that term limits make sense. I just think they should be longer: 16 years. That is long enough. And it would get rid of the Strom Thurmond-Robert Byrd-Teddy Kennedy-Ted Stevens type situations, where very crusty old men hold their seats and accrue personal fiefdoms over 40 or more years in their legislative bodies.

  14. “Nebraska is also a state that is one-twentieth the size of California. I’m still a fan of checks and balances.”

    Does the State Senate really put a check on the Assembly? It has a few different duties, but as far as I can see, they almost always vote the same way as bodies. I just don’t see the check.

    I agree with Ann O’Nimus: a unicameral legislature with at least 120 members (I’d favor more) would be preferable to our current 80-40 set up. By having more, but smaller districts, the body would be more representative of the citizens, and the cost of running in any single district would be less.

    I didn’t vote for the current term limits law. It’s too restrictive. However, with single member districts, the re-elective power of incumbency is so strong (and more so with gerrymandering) that term limits make sense. I just think they should be longer: 16 years. That is long enough. And it would get rid of the Strom Thurmond-Robert Byrd-Teddy Kennedy-Ted Stevens type situations, where very crusty old men hold their seats and accrue personal fiefdoms over 40 or more years in their legislative bodies.

  15. “Nebraska is also a state that is one-twentieth the size of California. I’m still a fan of checks and balances.”

    Does the State Senate really put a check on the Assembly? It has a few different duties, but as far as I can see, they almost always vote the same way as bodies. I just don’t see the check.

    I agree with Ann O’Nimus: a unicameral legislature with at least 120 members (I’d favor more) would be preferable to our current 80-40 set up. By having more, but smaller districts, the body would be more representative of the citizens, and the cost of running in any single district would be less.

    I didn’t vote for the current term limits law. It’s too restrictive. However, with single member districts, the re-elective power of incumbency is so strong (and more so with gerrymandering) that term limits make sense. I just think they should be longer: 16 years. That is long enough. And it would get rid of the Strom Thurmond-Robert Byrd-Teddy Kennedy-Ted Stevens type situations, where very crusty old men hold their seats and accrue personal fiefdoms over 40 or more years in their legislative bodies.

  16. “Nebraska is also a state that is one-twentieth the size of California. I’m still a fan of checks and balances.”

    Does the State Senate really put a check on the Assembly? It has a few different duties, but as far as I can see, they almost always vote the same way as bodies. I just don’t see the check.

    I agree with Ann O’Nimus: a unicameral legislature with at least 120 members (I’d favor more) would be preferable to our current 80-40 set up. By having more, but smaller districts, the body would be more representative of the citizens, and the cost of running in any single district would be less.

    I didn’t vote for the current term limits law. It’s too restrictive. However, with single member districts, the re-elective power of incumbency is so strong (and more so with gerrymandering) that term limits make sense. I just think they should be longer: 16 years. That is long enough. And it would get rid of the Strom Thurmond-Robert Byrd-Teddy Kennedy-Ted Stevens type situations, where very crusty old men hold their seats and accrue personal fiefdoms over 40 or more years in their legislative bodies.

  17. I disagree with this completely.

    Terms limits opened the legislature to women and people of color, whose numbers increased dramatically after the initiative passed. The 1990 legislature, pre-term limits, was disproportionately white and male, representing the state demographically as it existed in the 1970s, which was coincidentally, when a lot of them entered the legislature, thereafter rendered immune from competitive challenge by gerrymandered districts.

    I remember seeing photos of the first group of legislators being forced in the Chronicle, around 1994, I think, about 30 pictures, and there were about 3 or 4 that I thought that I would really miss, the rest were either fairly anonymous, or notoriously corrupt, like Dan Boatright.

    Terms limits therefore laid the groundwork for the creation of the coalition that elected Grey Davis in 1998 by bringing powerful women and Latinos into the legislature, preserved Democratic majorities in the legislature despite the recall of Davis and defeated Schwarzenegger’s initiatives in 2005 and forced him to turn to the left.

    I have lived in this region since 1972, and I can discern no marked decrease in the effectiveness of the legislature pre and post-term limits, except that issues related to women and Latinos now get much more attention that before it passed.

    After all, it was a pre-term limits legislature that failed to provide property tax relief leading to the placement of the Proposition 13 noose around the necks of local governments, one that shackles their ability to provide services to this day. By contrast, utility deregulation passed in 1996, when many of the members who had entered into the legislature prior to the passage of term limits still remained, and voted for it in overwhelming numbers (I think that there may have been less than 10 or 15 votes against it combined in both chambers).

    It is not hard to find people connected to the capital who hate term limits, interestingly enough, both labor unions and the chamber of commerce loved the old system where they could cultivate relationships with powerful legislators like Willie Brown, Leo McCarthy, Ken Maddy and others, rendering most of the others irrelevant. It wasn’t, in the end, very democratic, but it made life more predictable for the lobbyists and the institutions that they represented, and that’s what they would like to see return, that predictability.

    Fortunately, the public gets this one. The so-called political professionals, lobbyists and commentators (as well as politicians like Perata and Nunez) can push this one till they are blue in the face, and the bluer their faces turn, the more the public recognizes the self-interest.

    A lot of money is going to be spent, but, in the end, I suspect that this one will lose just like the one Burton pushed a few years ago.

    –Richard Estes

  18. I disagree with this completely.

    Terms limits opened the legislature to women and people of color, whose numbers increased dramatically after the initiative passed. The 1990 legislature, pre-term limits, was disproportionately white and male, representing the state demographically as it existed in the 1970s, which was coincidentally, when a lot of them entered the legislature, thereafter rendered immune from competitive challenge by gerrymandered districts.

    I remember seeing photos of the first group of legislators being forced in the Chronicle, around 1994, I think, about 30 pictures, and there were about 3 or 4 that I thought that I would really miss, the rest were either fairly anonymous, or notoriously corrupt, like Dan Boatright.

    Terms limits therefore laid the groundwork for the creation of the coalition that elected Grey Davis in 1998 by bringing powerful women and Latinos into the legislature, preserved Democratic majorities in the legislature despite the recall of Davis and defeated Schwarzenegger’s initiatives in 2005 and forced him to turn to the left.

    I have lived in this region since 1972, and I can discern no marked decrease in the effectiveness of the legislature pre and post-term limits, except that issues related to women and Latinos now get much more attention that before it passed.

    After all, it was a pre-term limits legislature that failed to provide property tax relief leading to the placement of the Proposition 13 noose around the necks of local governments, one that shackles their ability to provide services to this day. By contrast, utility deregulation passed in 1996, when many of the members who had entered into the legislature prior to the passage of term limits still remained, and voted for it in overwhelming numbers (I think that there may have been less than 10 or 15 votes against it combined in both chambers).

    It is not hard to find people connected to the capital who hate term limits, interestingly enough, both labor unions and the chamber of commerce loved the old system where they could cultivate relationships with powerful legislators like Willie Brown, Leo McCarthy, Ken Maddy and others, rendering most of the others irrelevant. It wasn’t, in the end, very democratic, but it made life more predictable for the lobbyists and the institutions that they represented, and that’s what they would like to see return, that predictability.

    Fortunately, the public gets this one. The so-called political professionals, lobbyists and commentators (as well as politicians like Perata and Nunez) can push this one till they are blue in the face, and the bluer their faces turn, the more the public recognizes the self-interest.

    A lot of money is going to be spent, but, in the end, I suspect that this one will lose just like the one Burton pushed a few years ago.

    –Richard Estes

  19. I disagree with this completely.

    Terms limits opened the legislature to women and people of color, whose numbers increased dramatically after the initiative passed. The 1990 legislature, pre-term limits, was disproportionately white and male, representing the state demographically as it existed in the 1970s, which was coincidentally, when a lot of them entered the legislature, thereafter rendered immune from competitive challenge by gerrymandered districts.

    I remember seeing photos of the first group of legislators being forced in the Chronicle, around 1994, I think, about 30 pictures, and there were about 3 or 4 that I thought that I would really miss, the rest were either fairly anonymous, or notoriously corrupt, like Dan Boatright.

    Terms limits therefore laid the groundwork for the creation of the coalition that elected Grey Davis in 1998 by bringing powerful women and Latinos into the legislature, preserved Democratic majorities in the legislature despite the recall of Davis and defeated Schwarzenegger’s initiatives in 2005 and forced him to turn to the left.

    I have lived in this region since 1972, and I can discern no marked decrease in the effectiveness of the legislature pre and post-term limits, except that issues related to women and Latinos now get much more attention that before it passed.

    After all, it was a pre-term limits legislature that failed to provide property tax relief leading to the placement of the Proposition 13 noose around the necks of local governments, one that shackles their ability to provide services to this day. By contrast, utility deregulation passed in 1996, when many of the members who had entered into the legislature prior to the passage of term limits still remained, and voted for it in overwhelming numbers (I think that there may have been less than 10 or 15 votes against it combined in both chambers).

    It is not hard to find people connected to the capital who hate term limits, interestingly enough, both labor unions and the chamber of commerce loved the old system where they could cultivate relationships with powerful legislators like Willie Brown, Leo McCarthy, Ken Maddy and others, rendering most of the others irrelevant. It wasn’t, in the end, very democratic, but it made life more predictable for the lobbyists and the institutions that they represented, and that’s what they would like to see return, that predictability.

    Fortunately, the public gets this one. The so-called political professionals, lobbyists and commentators (as well as politicians like Perata and Nunez) can push this one till they are blue in the face, and the bluer their faces turn, the more the public recognizes the self-interest.

    A lot of money is going to be spent, but, in the end, I suspect that this one will lose just like the one Burton pushed a few years ago.

    –Richard Estes

  20. I disagree with this completely.

    Terms limits opened the legislature to women and people of color, whose numbers increased dramatically after the initiative passed. The 1990 legislature, pre-term limits, was disproportionately white and male, representing the state demographically as it existed in the 1970s, which was coincidentally, when a lot of them entered the legislature, thereafter rendered immune from competitive challenge by gerrymandered districts.

    I remember seeing photos of the first group of legislators being forced in the Chronicle, around 1994, I think, about 30 pictures, and there were about 3 or 4 that I thought that I would really miss, the rest were either fairly anonymous, or notoriously corrupt, like Dan Boatright.

    Terms limits therefore laid the groundwork for the creation of the coalition that elected Grey Davis in 1998 by bringing powerful women and Latinos into the legislature, preserved Democratic majorities in the legislature despite the recall of Davis and defeated Schwarzenegger’s initiatives in 2005 and forced him to turn to the left.

    I have lived in this region since 1972, and I can discern no marked decrease in the effectiveness of the legislature pre and post-term limits, except that issues related to women and Latinos now get much more attention that before it passed.

    After all, it was a pre-term limits legislature that failed to provide property tax relief leading to the placement of the Proposition 13 noose around the necks of local governments, one that shackles their ability to provide services to this day. By contrast, utility deregulation passed in 1996, when many of the members who had entered into the legislature prior to the passage of term limits still remained, and voted for it in overwhelming numbers (I think that there may have been less than 10 or 15 votes against it combined in both chambers).

    It is not hard to find people connected to the capital who hate term limits, interestingly enough, both labor unions and the chamber of commerce loved the old system where they could cultivate relationships with powerful legislators like Willie Brown, Leo McCarthy, Ken Maddy and others, rendering most of the others irrelevant. It wasn’t, in the end, very democratic, but it made life more predictable for the lobbyists and the institutions that they represented, and that’s what they would like to see return, that predictability.

    Fortunately, the public gets this one. The so-called political professionals, lobbyists and commentators (as well as politicians like Perata and Nunez) can push this one till they are blue in the face, and the bluer their faces turn, the more the public recognizes the self-interest.

    A lot of money is going to be spent, but, in the end, I suspect that this one will lose just like the one Burton pushed a few years ago.

    –Richard Estes

  21. Terms limits opened the legislature to women and people of color, whose numbers increased dramatically after the initiative passed.”

    I don’t doubt this is true. However, even if true, it doesn’t mean the price was worth it over the long haul. The beneficial outcome you ascribe to term limits may well have happened without them, only over a decade or more of retirements due to age. In fact, I’m sure that would be the case, because those elections of females and non-whites reflect the rise of women politicians around the entire country and the demographic changes within California.

    Terms limits therefore laid the groundwork for the creation of the coalition that elected Grey Davis in 1998 by bringing powerful women and Latinos into the legislature, preserved Democratic majorities in the legislature despite the recall of Davis and defeated Schwarzenegger’s initiatives in 2005 and forced him to turn to the left.”

    What?

    A coalition did not elect Gray Davis. The people of California did. California is an overwhelmingly Democratic state. Their nominee for governor ought to win every time. The reason they haven’t has only been because the Democratic primary voters, on occassion, have nominated dogs.

    Preserved Democratic majorities in the legislature? Are you kidding? It was not term limits that did this — it was the overwhelmingly Democratic electorate. Your giving far, far too much credit for the effect of term limits. The people termed out were mostly Democrats. They were mostly replaced by Democrats. Insofar as the state is now more Democratic, that has to do with immigration and birth rates, not term limits.

    “I have lived in this region since 1972, and I can discern no marked decrease in the effectiveness of the legislature pre and post-term limits, except that issues related to women and Latinos now get much more attention that before it passed.”

    This is utter nonsense. Latinos get more attention because Latino voters have quintupled in the last 20 years.

    “After all, it was a pre-term limits legislature that failed to provide property tax relief leading to the placement of the Proposition 13 noose around the necks of local governments, one that shackles their ability to provide services to this day.”

    That is true. But so what? There is no evidence to suggest that a Democratic legislature of 2007 would have enacted property tax relief.

    “It is not hard to find people connected to the capital who hate term limits, interestingly enough, both labor unions and the chamber of commerce loved the old system where they could cultivate relationships with powerful legislators like Willie Brown, Leo McCarthy, Ken Maddy and others, rendering most of the others irrelevant.”

    Monied interests figure out how to rig the system to work for them, no matter what system is in place. It remains the case, nonetheless, that it is not helpful to throw out all popular politicians once they acquire some experience and knowledge on the job.

  22. Terms limits opened the legislature to women and people of color, whose numbers increased dramatically after the initiative passed.”

    I don’t doubt this is true. However, even if true, it doesn’t mean the price was worth it over the long haul. The beneficial outcome you ascribe to term limits may well have happened without them, only over a decade or more of retirements due to age. In fact, I’m sure that would be the case, because those elections of females and non-whites reflect the rise of women politicians around the entire country and the demographic changes within California.

    Terms limits therefore laid the groundwork for the creation of the coalition that elected Grey Davis in 1998 by bringing powerful women and Latinos into the legislature, preserved Democratic majorities in the legislature despite the recall of Davis and defeated Schwarzenegger’s initiatives in 2005 and forced him to turn to the left.”

    What?

    A coalition did not elect Gray Davis. The people of California did. California is an overwhelmingly Democratic state. Their nominee for governor ought to win every time. The reason they haven’t has only been because the Democratic primary voters, on occassion, have nominated dogs.

    Preserved Democratic majorities in the legislature? Are you kidding? It was not term limits that did this — it was the overwhelmingly Democratic electorate. Your giving far, far too much credit for the effect of term limits. The people termed out were mostly Democrats. They were mostly replaced by Democrats. Insofar as the state is now more Democratic, that has to do with immigration and birth rates, not term limits.

    “I have lived in this region since 1972, and I can discern no marked decrease in the effectiveness of the legislature pre and post-term limits, except that issues related to women and Latinos now get much more attention that before it passed.”

    This is utter nonsense. Latinos get more attention because Latino voters have quintupled in the last 20 years.

    “After all, it was a pre-term limits legislature that failed to provide property tax relief leading to the placement of the Proposition 13 noose around the necks of local governments, one that shackles their ability to provide services to this day.”

    That is true. But so what? There is no evidence to suggest that a Democratic legislature of 2007 would have enacted property tax relief.

    “It is not hard to find people connected to the capital who hate term limits, interestingly enough, both labor unions and the chamber of commerce loved the old system where they could cultivate relationships with powerful legislators like Willie Brown, Leo McCarthy, Ken Maddy and others, rendering most of the others irrelevant.”

    Monied interests figure out how to rig the system to work for them, no matter what system is in place. It remains the case, nonetheless, that it is not helpful to throw out all popular politicians once they acquire some experience and knowledge on the job.

  23. Terms limits opened the legislature to women and people of color, whose numbers increased dramatically after the initiative passed.”

    I don’t doubt this is true. However, even if true, it doesn’t mean the price was worth it over the long haul. The beneficial outcome you ascribe to term limits may well have happened without them, only over a decade or more of retirements due to age. In fact, I’m sure that would be the case, because those elections of females and non-whites reflect the rise of women politicians around the entire country and the demographic changes within California.

    Terms limits therefore laid the groundwork for the creation of the coalition that elected Grey Davis in 1998 by bringing powerful women and Latinos into the legislature, preserved Democratic majorities in the legislature despite the recall of Davis and defeated Schwarzenegger’s initiatives in 2005 and forced him to turn to the left.”

    What?

    A coalition did not elect Gray Davis. The people of California did. California is an overwhelmingly Democratic state. Their nominee for governor ought to win every time. The reason they haven’t has only been because the Democratic primary voters, on occassion, have nominated dogs.

    Preserved Democratic majorities in the legislature? Are you kidding? It was not term limits that did this — it was the overwhelmingly Democratic electorate. Your giving far, far too much credit for the effect of term limits. The people termed out were mostly Democrats. They were mostly replaced by Democrats. Insofar as the state is now more Democratic, that has to do with immigration and birth rates, not term limits.

    “I have lived in this region since 1972, and I can discern no marked decrease in the effectiveness of the legislature pre and post-term limits, except that issues related to women and Latinos now get much more attention that before it passed.”

    This is utter nonsense. Latinos get more attention because Latino voters have quintupled in the last 20 years.

    “After all, it was a pre-term limits legislature that failed to provide property tax relief leading to the placement of the Proposition 13 noose around the necks of local governments, one that shackles their ability to provide services to this day.”

    That is true. But so what? There is no evidence to suggest that a Democratic legislature of 2007 would have enacted property tax relief.

    “It is not hard to find people connected to the capital who hate term limits, interestingly enough, both labor unions and the chamber of commerce loved the old system where they could cultivate relationships with powerful legislators like Willie Brown, Leo McCarthy, Ken Maddy and others, rendering most of the others irrelevant.”

    Monied interests figure out how to rig the system to work for them, no matter what system is in place. It remains the case, nonetheless, that it is not helpful to throw out all popular politicians once they acquire some experience and knowledge on the job.

  24. Terms limits opened the legislature to women and people of color, whose numbers increased dramatically after the initiative passed.”

    I don’t doubt this is true. However, even if true, it doesn’t mean the price was worth it over the long haul. The beneficial outcome you ascribe to term limits may well have happened without them, only over a decade or more of retirements due to age. In fact, I’m sure that would be the case, because those elections of females and non-whites reflect the rise of women politicians around the entire country and the demographic changes within California.

    Terms limits therefore laid the groundwork for the creation of the coalition that elected Grey Davis in 1998 by bringing powerful women and Latinos into the legislature, preserved Democratic majorities in the legislature despite the recall of Davis and defeated Schwarzenegger’s initiatives in 2005 and forced him to turn to the left.”

    What?

    A coalition did not elect Gray Davis. The people of California did. California is an overwhelmingly Democratic state. Their nominee for governor ought to win every time. The reason they haven’t has only been because the Democratic primary voters, on occassion, have nominated dogs.

    Preserved Democratic majorities in the legislature? Are you kidding? It was not term limits that did this — it was the overwhelmingly Democratic electorate. Your giving far, far too much credit for the effect of term limits. The people termed out were mostly Democrats. They were mostly replaced by Democrats. Insofar as the state is now more Democratic, that has to do with immigration and birth rates, not term limits.

    “I have lived in this region since 1972, and I can discern no marked decrease in the effectiveness of the legislature pre and post-term limits, except that issues related to women and Latinos now get much more attention that before it passed.”

    This is utter nonsense. Latinos get more attention because Latino voters have quintupled in the last 20 years.

    “After all, it was a pre-term limits legislature that failed to provide property tax relief leading to the placement of the Proposition 13 noose around the necks of local governments, one that shackles their ability to provide services to this day.”

    That is true. But so what? There is no evidence to suggest that a Democratic legislature of 2007 would have enacted property tax relief.

    “It is not hard to find people connected to the capital who hate term limits, interestingly enough, both labor unions and the chamber of commerce loved the old system where they could cultivate relationships with powerful legislators like Willie Brown, Leo McCarthy, Ken Maddy and others, rendering most of the others irrelevant.”

    Monied interests figure out how to rig the system to work for them, no matter what system is in place. It remains the case, nonetheless, that it is not helpful to throw out all popular politicians once they acquire some experience and knowledge on the job.

  25. it seems to me that term limits has been an ineffective direction to attack entrenched incumbany and a tilted playing field. better to mandate a certain amount of free airtime for any qualified candidate, combined with public financing and restricted campaign finance amounts. but if nthe district just wants to send the same person to the assembly for a generation, then so be it.

    i’m not so sure that i’d like a unicameral system, but perhaps double or triple the # of assembly districts and then dedicate the senate to proportional representation, as a way to get minor party representation as well as a check against any superbly gerrymandered partisan assembly map.

    or if we were really radicl, we could have an assembly draft, where citizens got picked at random by social security # lottery to serve for 2 years, from all walks of life. sort of n thenian democracy, minus the togas, slaves and misogyny.

  26. it seems to me that term limits has been an ineffective direction to attack entrenched incumbany and a tilted playing field. better to mandate a certain amount of free airtime for any qualified candidate, combined with public financing and restricted campaign finance amounts. but if nthe district just wants to send the same person to the assembly for a generation, then so be it.

    i’m not so sure that i’d like a unicameral system, but perhaps double or triple the # of assembly districts and then dedicate the senate to proportional representation, as a way to get minor party representation as well as a check against any superbly gerrymandered partisan assembly map.

    or if we were really radicl, we could have an assembly draft, where citizens got picked at random by social security # lottery to serve for 2 years, from all walks of life. sort of n thenian democracy, minus the togas, slaves and misogyny.

  27. it seems to me that term limits has been an ineffective direction to attack entrenched incumbany and a tilted playing field. better to mandate a certain amount of free airtime for any qualified candidate, combined with public financing and restricted campaign finance amounts. but if nthe district just wants to send the same person to the assembly for a generation, then so be it.

    i’m not so sure that i’d like a unicameral system, but perhaps double or triple the # of assembly districts and then dedicate the senate to proportional representation, as a way to get minor party representation as well as a check against any superbly gerrymandered partisan assembly map.

    or if we were really radicl, we could have an assembly draft, where citizens got picked at random by social security # lottery to serve for 2 years, from all walks of life. sort of n thenian democracy, minus the togas, slaves and misogyny.

  28. it seems to me that term limits has been an ineffective direction to attack entrenched incumbany and a tilted playing field. better to mandate a certain amount of free airtime for any qualified candidate, combined with public financing and restricted campaign finance amounts. but if nthe district just wants to send the same person to the assembly for a generation, then so be it.

    i’m not so sure that i’d like a unicameral system, but perhaps double or triple the # of assembly districts and then dedicate the senate to proportional representation, as a way to get minor party representation as well as a check against any superbly gerrymandered partisan assembly map.

    or if we were really radicl, we could have an assembly draft, where citizens got picked at random by social security # lottery to serve for 2 years, from all walks of life. sort of n thenian democracy, minus the togas, slaves and misogyny.

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