FROM: Kim Alexander
DATE: May 10, 1999
RE: CVF News Headlines

Hi Folks,

There has been a lot of exciting news on the political front in California recently and this edition of CVF-NEWS provides some highlights. If you really want to stay on top of California political headlines, I recommend you make Jack Kavanagh's Rough & Tumble web site, at part of your daily Web diet :)


* CA's open primary modified to address parties' concerns
* Will partisanship sink California's 150's birthday party?
* Californians found to be cynical, disinterested, and tired of partisanship
* On the brighter side....Californians are happy to be Californians
* How do they REALLY count votes in the California Assembly?

* * * CA's Open Primary Modified to Address Parties' Concerns * * *

Last week Governor Gray Davis signed SB 100/Burton, a bill addressing the Democratic and Republican parties' objections to national convention delegates being selected by non-party members due to California's new open primary system. The May 10th edition of the Contra Costa Times features an excellent column by political editor Dan Borenstein about the new law. He writes:

"Even though California voters have approved the open primary and even though they have said they want it to apply to the presidential election, your vote in the March 2000 primary will matter only if you don't cross party lines.

"That's the effect of a compromise bill signed by Gov. Gray Davis. The legislation heads off a threat, which came loudest from the Republican Party, of picking convention delegates at party caucuses that would have cut voters out of the process.

"Instead, the votes cast on March 7 will be counted twice. The first count will include the open primary crossover voters and independents. The second tally will give each party a count that includes only its members.

"Both major parties say they will use the second count for allocation of delegates to their national convention, where the presidential nominees are actually selected. Thus, independents and voters who cross over will have no effect on the selection of presidential primary candidates..."

To read the full story, visit:

* * * Will partisanship sink California's 150th birthday party? * * *

On September 9, 2000, California will celebrate its 150th anniversary of statehood, and in anticipation of this event, legislation was enacted back in 1994 to establish a Sesquicentennial Commission and Foundation. In 1996, The foundation and commission formed under the auspices of the California State Library and began planning special events to commemorate the anniversary of the Gold Rush and California statehood. Unfortunately, by late 1997, people started complaining about the commission and foundation's lack of assistance for local celebratory projects.

Early last year, Secretary of State Bill Jones volunteered to take over the foundation and commission and try to steer things back on track. His efforts are now being criticized in a new report published by Assembly Democrats. Some are speculating that this criticism is arising out of partisanship and the fact that Jones is now the state's highest-ranking Republican elected official and a potential 2002 gubernatorial candidate.

If all this is true, it will surely break this fifth-generation California girl's heart! I for one have been eagerly awaiting the Sesquicentennial and have been hoping it will provide a chance for the people of California to develop a stronger (any?) relationship with our state. The Sesquicentennial Foundation may have gotten off to a bad start, but we need our politicians to fix the problem rather than look for someone to blame and miss the opportunity to celebrate California's birthday.

An Assembly budget subcommittee will take the matter up at a hearing at the State Capitol on Tuesday, May 11. For the full scoop, take a look at the May 10th San Francisco Chronicle story by Greg Lucas:

To learn more about the Sesquicentennial, visit:

* * * Californians found to be cynical, disinterested, and tired of partisanship * * *

I guess I'm not the only one fed up with partisanship in the golden state. According to a recent Field Poll, Californians are growing more cynical about politics, less interested in public affairs, and more wearisome of partisanship. Some highlights of the April 1999 survey include:

* The proportion of people in this state who follow what's going on in government and public affairs most of the time has declined sharply over the past 16 years, from 50 percent in 1983 to 40 percent today.

* Californians have become more cynical of the intentions of politicians over the past 16 years, with 41 percent believing politicians are generally out for themselves, and 31 percent believing they are generally looking out for the public good.

* 81 percent of Californians think there are important differences between the Republican and Democratic parties, but 76 percent also believe the political system is too partisan.

* * * On the brighter side....Californians are happy to be Californians * * *

Another recent Field Poll has found that the number of Californians who like living in this state is on the rise, after taking a fall during the recession of the early '90's. A March 1999 survey found that 52 percent of Californians believe California is one of the best places to live, up from a low of just 30 percent in 1992. The Field Poll's survey of residents' satisfaction with living in California has been taken since 1967, when a whopping 73 percent of the state's residents said California is one of the best places to live. The percentage peaked in 1985, at 78 percent, then started falling. The survey also found that Californians living in the Central Valley, Los Angeles County, Riverside, and San Bernardino tended to be less positive about living in California than those living in the Central Coast and San Diego areas (hmmm...better climate, less pollution, grand vistas...wonder why?)

For more info about these and other Field Polls, visit:

* * * How do they REALLY count votes in the California Assembly? * * *

Anyone who's tried to keep track of an Assembly floor vote knows that the final roll call can change for unknown reasons. Yet another San Francisco Chronicle story by Greg Lucas explains just how the process in the Assembly really works, and how it differs from the Senate. Lucas' column is nothing short of enlightening, and is a must read for anyone interested in holding Assembly members accountable for their votes.

That's all the news for now. I hope everyone has a great week and is enjoying the lovely spring weather!