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November 4th, 2009 by Bill Peters
Town Hall Meeting tonight at Dana Middle School 6 to 8 p.m. to discuss possible changes
The Arcadia City Council and the Arcadia Unified School District’s Board of Education will co-host a Town Hall meeting tonight to learn from an advocate for a California Constitutional Convention just what the proposal might entail.
The two bodies have banded together to invite Matt Regan, Government Relations for the Bay Area Council, a business group in Northern California; and affiliated with Repair California—a political advocacy group that has turned in ballot language to call the first Constitutional Convention in California in more than 130 years—to speak on the current structure of state government and its affects on local government and to suggest changes.
The Town Hall Meeting is tonight, Thursday, Nov. 5 in the Multipurpose Room at Dana Middle School, 1401 S. First Ave., Arcadia, starting at 6 p.m.
Regan, who is the driving force behind Repair California’s efforts, will be speaker and facilitator. He is expected to offer solutions to the concerns of clearly disappointed local officials who believe that in spite of their diligence to maintain the excellence of city services and the school’s education programs the relationship between state and local governments has broken down.
In the joint letter released in October the two elected bodies say that "it is apparent that California’s system of government is fundamentally flawed." The Council and the Board have invited Regan to speak to what might be involved in calling for a Constitutional Convention.
Repair California, the group behind the effort to call for a Constitutional Convention, and spurred on by the business council headquartered in the Bay Area, will sponsor a Convention-calling initiative which is to appear on the Nov. 2010 ballot.
Two propositions would appear, one to amend the current requirement that both houses of the legislature call for a convention with a two-thirds majority and to propose a Convention in 2011; the other proposition would then approve the calling of the convention and set rules for selecting delegates to the convention and limit issues which could be heard.
Any changes to the constitution would then be put before the voting public for approval on the statewide ballot in 2012. An oddity of a sort is that the group will use the initiative system in order to change it. They say, "…our initiative system has been hijacked, [and] the only way to reform our state is through a Constitutional Convention."—by way of citizen initiative.
Under Regan’s leadership, the Bay Area Council, a business group with all major California businesses represented as members, supports a method by which representatives to a Constitutional Convention would be chosen. Regan’s idea is to randomly select citizens. Other important issues to be determined under Regan’s proposal include issues to be covered by a constitutional convention. Controlling subjects to be discussed will be paramount.
The California Constitution currently allows a convention to be called only by a two-thirds vote of both houses of the state legislature. Regan dismisses the legislative system in place as dysfunctional and believes that the Assembly and the Senate could hardly be expected to agree on calling for something as controversial as a constitutional convention. Therefore, the initiatives will be put before the electorate to decide the will of the people. Voter approval would be needed for any Constitutional revision.
The Arcadia elected officials, in their letter, offer the Town Hall Meeting as "a great opportunity to bring Arcadians together to reflect on and discuss the current structure of state government and how it affects us locally."
Repair California hopes to overthrow the legislature’s authority to call a Constitutional Convention and replace it with what Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council called "a citizen’s constitutional convention."
This important subject will be presented Thursday, Nov. 5 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at a Town Hall Meeting at Dana Middle School, 1401 S. First Ave., Arcadia. The event is co-hosted by the Arcadia City Council and the Arcadia Unified School District Board of Education.