From: Kim Alexander
Subject: Hola Amigos! Guess who's back in Sac...
Date: Monday, January 5, 1998

Hi Folks!

I'm back in Sac, back to work with CVF after my five-week adventure in Mexico. I hope everyone had a happy and festive holiday season and that 1998 will be a great year for all of us!

I will soon be writing up some thoughts about my experience in Mexico -- which was wonderful, relaxing, enriching and, most of all, FUN! -- and hope to post my comments and some photos on my personal web site. Stay tuned.....

Today is the first day that the California Legislature is back in session. Another important first in is also the first day of the Unabomber trial, which is underway at the federal courthouse just down the street from the State Capitol. Yes, folks, we have our own live media circus underway here in Sactown -- I hope the throngs of reporters stationed at "Camp Ted" are managing to survive the cold weather and fog!

This edition of CVF-NEWS features news bits about recent court decisions, CVF's recent grant awards, and some important upcoming television events.

* * * Governor's State of the State to air Jan. 7 * * *

Governor Pete Wilson will deliver his annual State of the State this Wednesday, January 7th, and for those who want to tune in, the California Channel will be carrying live coverage of the event beginning at 5 p.m. Check with your local cable company or visit the California Channel's web site at to find out if you get the California Channel in your area.

* * * Smart Voter to be featured on PBS' Internet Cafe * * *

The Smart Voter guide, a voter education experiment that CVF helped create, will be featured on PBS' Internet Cafe this coming week (airing times vary from station to station). The program will feature interviews with representatives from the League of Women Voters in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, who were also partners in the original project, which was developed by Smart Valley, Inc.

Some of you may recall this innovative service, which was based on a concept I developed after the 1994 election. The Smart Voter guide uses a copy of the county elections database and allows a voter to create a personalized ballot on the web by entering their street address, city and zip code. Smart Voter searches the database with this information, and delivers back to the voter a customized menu of information about candidates and measures that will appear on that voter's ballot. It is a very advanced application of technology in democracy, and CVF is proud to be a part of this important pioneering experiment. I am also very happy
that the League of Women Voters has committed to continue and expand the Smart Voter service, and hope everyone will tune in to the Internet Cafe this week to find out more about this cutting-edge civic service. You can also find out more about Smart Voter at

* * * Court decisions impact California elections * * *

Two very important court decisions were made recently that will have a huge impact on future elections in California. In December, the "en banc" panel of eleven judges convened by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overwhelmingly ruled 9-2 that California's legislative term limits are CONSTITUTIONAL. You may recall that a three-judge panel had earlier invalidated California's legislative term limits on the grounds that the voters weren't adequately informed about the lifetime ban. In convening the en banc panel the 9th Circuit in effect threw out that earlier decision, drafted by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, and overturned an earlier decision by District Judge Claudia Wilken, who had ruled that the lifetime
ban in California's legislative terms limits was unconstitutional.

All of these federal court decisions are the result of a lawsuit filed by former State Assemblyman Tom Bates, along with several other California politicians, who asked the courts to invalidate Proposition 140, a California initiative passed by the voters back in 1990. Bates & Co. also went to the California Supreme Court, which upheld the term limits law. Now that the U.S. 9th Circuit has ruled term limits constitutional as well, the only remaining course of court action for term limits opponents is to ask the United States Supreme Court to overturn the 9th Circuit's ruling. This may or may not happen, and some court watchers think that
given the en banc panel's overwhelming support for the constitutionality of term limits it's doubtful the US Supreme Court will take the case.

I'm no court expert, but we do know one thing for sure: Term limits is the law of the land for the 1998 California elections. This latest decision has touched off the anticipated scramble of political musical chairs, as termed-out state lawmakers aim to run for new positions.

California's open primary initiative, Proposition 198, has also been upheld, which means Golden State voters will be able to vote for any candidate of any party in the June primary, regardless of the voter's party affiliation. The open primary and implementation of term limits will make for an interesting, if not downright fascinating election year in California. Like term limits, the open primary law is still subject to appeal, but not before the 1998 election, which means the open primary will be operating in California this June.

Meanwhile, we are still awaiting a decision from federal judge Lawrence Karlton on the Proposition 208 case. If that measure is upheld, California law will continue to severely restrict campaign fundraising practices, following the passage of Proposition 208 in the November 1996 election.

* * * Recent grants to CVF * * *

I am very happy to announce that CVF is the recipient of several recent grant awards! The Rockefeller Family Fund of New York has awarded the California Voter Foundation $30,000 in general support toward our 1998 election program. Another $20,000 in support has also been awarded by the Piper Fund based in Amherst, Massachusetts. The Pew Center for Civic Journalism has awarded CVF $15,000 in funding toward our collaborative efforts with California news organizations to improve disclosure of campaign finance data in the 1998 election. A BIG thanks goes to all of our new and continuing funders whose support makes CVF's voter education efforts possible.

1998 is going to be a very important year for CVF, and I will be sure to keep CVF-NEWS subscribers apprised of the programs and resources CVF plans to provide this year. I also welcome your comments, ideas and suggestions and look forward to working together to make the 1998 election a successful and meaningful one for California voters.

-- Kim Alexander, Executive Director, California Voter Foundation


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this page authored by Kim Alexander,

first published 1/5/98

last updated 1/13/98

© 1998, California Voter Foundation