The California Legislature is not in session.
On to today’s headlines:
Candidates and voters who belong to the Green, Libertarian and Peace and Freedom political parties are holding a news conference today to announce a new lawsuit challenging Proposition 14.
They don’t like last year’s initiative that created a new election system in which the top two vote-getters advance to a general election – regardless of party affiliation. The minor parties argue that the new system puts them at a disadvantage.
They’ll announce details of their suit today at 11 a.m. in front of the Secretary of State’s office at 1500 11th St.
California’s political dysfunction has evolved from a theory first advanced by a few jaundiced observers a generation ago – including yours truly – to a widely embraced axiom that has spawned endless journalistic, academic and civic discourse.
While there’s broad agreement on symptoms of California’s malaise, such as chronic budget deficits, there’s wide disagreement on its causes and what might be done to correct it.
Reformers divide roughly into two camps: Those who believe that tweaking political processes incrementally can make government work again, and those who contend there’s a more fundamental disconnect that can be cured only by creating a new structure attuned to 21st-century reality.
In a push to expand across California without interference, Wal-Mart is increasingly taking advantage of the state’s initiative system to threaten elected officials with costly special elections and to avoid environmental lawsuits.
The Arkansas-based retailer has hired paid signature gatherers to circulate petitions to build new superstores or repeal local restrictions on big-box stores. Once 15 percent of eligible voters sign the petitions, state election law puts cash-strapped cities in a bind: City councils must either approve the Wal-Mart-drafted measure without changes or put it to a special election.
As local officials grapple with whether to spend tens of thousands or even millions of taxpayer dollars on such an election, Wal-Mart urges cities to approve the petition outright rather than send it to voters.
Lisa Gesik hesitates to log into her Facebook account nowadays because of unwanted “friend” requests, not from long-ago classmates but from the ex-husband now in prison for kidnapping her and her daughter.
Neither Gesik nor prison officials can prove her ex-husband is sending her the messages, which feature photos of him wearing his prison blues and dark sunglasses, arms crossed as he poses in front of a prison gate. It doesn’t matter if he’s sending them or someone else is — the Newport, Ore., woman is afraid and, as the days tick down to his January release, is considering going into hiding with her 12-year-old daughter.
“It’s just being victimized all over again,” she said.
Across the U.S. and beyond, inmates are using social networks and the growing numbers of smartphones smuggled into prisons and jails to harass their victims or accusers and intimidate witnesses. California corrections officials who monitor social networking sites said they have found many instances in which inmates taunted victims or made unwanted sexual advances.
Enjoy your morning!