Mercury News

Two California governance reform groups have combined forces and resurrected a budget accountability initiative using what every successful ballot measure needs: Cash.

With matching $3 million pledges, billionaire Nicolas Berggruen and his California Think Long Committee is joining forces with California Forward, a government reform organization led by former Contra Costa Supervisor Sunne Wright McPeak and former Democratic Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg.

The Think Long Committee last week announced it would postpone its reform initiative until 2014.

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A Palo Alto firefighters union ballot initiative that seeks to maintain staffing levels and prevent station closures remains on track to go before voters in November if moved along by city council members at their Monday meeting.

The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters last week validated 6,009 signatures ”” 563 more than needed ”” that the firefighters union collected to qualify the initiative for the ballot, said Palo Alto City Clerk Donna Grider.


Three California lawmakers want to give the Legislature a chance to reshape ballot initiatives before they’re acted on by voters, a process that supporters say could result in fewer but better proposals reaching the ballot. “Nobody can write a perfect initiative; nobody can write a perfect law,” said Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies, a Los Angeles think tank. “If the Legislature can work something out with (initiative) proponents, it will be a better-drafted measure.”

A group of Walnut Creek residents are embarking on yet another signature-gathering campaign, this one to get an initiative on the ballot that could affect downtown development for decades ”” giving residents a direct vote on development. Its adoption would ease downtown parking and traffic problems, supporters say.

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The Belmont council member who proposed a ballot measure to prevent development at city parks said Wednesday she intends to collect signatures for the initiative next year after city leaders refused to place it on the November ballot.

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Californians could legally possess up to one ounce of pot and cities could sell and tax the drug under an initiative marijuana advocates want to place on the state’s 2010 ballot. The Control, Regulate and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 is being pushed by pot activists who sense a positive shift in public sentiment toward the federally banned substance. A recent Field Poll found that 56 percent of California voters supported legalizing marijuana for recreational use and taxing its proceeds.

Voters reject school parcel tax

Wed, Jun 3 2009 — Source: Mercury News

In the midst of a deep economic recession, voters rejected Tuesday a parcel tax measure that would have helped the Redwood City School District weather cuts in state funding.

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A last-minute maneuver to revive part of an indoor smoking bill succeeded on Monday, the final day of the 2009 Nevada legislature. The plan to roll back a voter-approved smoking ban so that tobacco trade conventions are exempted was amended into AB309, which deals with the crime of stalking. The change was approved by the Assembly and the Senate after many rounds of negotiations. The measure now goes to Gov. Jim Gibbons for final approval.

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San Francisco Assessor Phil Ting has started an effort to revise a provision of Proposition 13 that deals with tax assessments for commercial property.

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With time running out, a group backed by the Culinary Workers Union is again asking the Nevada Supreme Court to order two anti-redevelopment measures to be placed on the June 2 municipal ballot.

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