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Political Reform Campaign Taking Steps to Move ‘California Forward’

Organizers stop in Santa Barbara to discuss a proposed initiative for the state’s 2012 ballot

Organizers of a campaign to put a political reform initiative on the 2012 state ballot met with Tri-County leaders in Santa Barbara on Wednesday to seek comments on how to fix what they called California’s broken government.

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California Forward campaign organizer Fred Keeley speaks to the crowd. (Ray Estrada / Noozhawk photo)

“The tools of government are broken (and) terribly outdated,” former California Assemblyman Fred Keeley told about 50 community leaders at the Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center. “Progressive” leaders 100 years ago saw a need to reform the way California was run and put a series of measures into effect, and the same effort is needed today, he said.

“We need to retool government,” Keeley said. “How do we modernize these tools?”

He pointed to the state’s mounting fiscal problems, overcrowded prisons and crippling partisanship as key reasons reforms are needed.

Keeley and Virginia Hamilton, chief of the state’s Office of Workforce Policy, are organizers of the campaign, called California Forward. Hamilton said the group has been holding meetings similar to Wednesday’s event around the state for the past two years.

Keeley and Hamilton said the proposed ballot initiative will have four key elements: improving government performance, moving government closer to the people, investing in the future, and promoting a “viable, inclusive and responsible democracy.”

“There will be 60 million people in California by the year 2050,” Hamilton said, adding that the estimate underscores the need for reform that will allow lawmakers to better control spending and pass a balanced budget on time. More often than not in recent years, lawmakers have missed the July 1 spending plan deadline, as they will again this year, she said.

Campaign organizer Virginia Hamilton says
Campaign organizer Virginia Hamilton says “there will be 60 million people in California by the year 2050.” (Ray Estrada / Noozhawk photo)

“We’re not trying to put our thumb on policy,” said Keeley, an expert on California politics and environmental issues who also is treasurer of Santa Cruz County and an instructor at San Jose State University.

Hamilton has 25 years of experience in work force, welfare-to-work, economic development and other public policy areas. She has worked as the executive director of the California Workforce Association, a nonprofit that develops public policy strategies and builds capacity to address workforce issues.

Click here for more information about California Forward.

Noozhawk contributor Ray Estrada can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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