| The Bay Area Council has been promoting an effort to convene a constitutional convention, through legislation or through initiative. Their most recent draft of the language has been spreading around, and suffice it to say there are some problems:
The main group advocating for an overhaul of California's constitution is circulating draft initiative language that would bar a constitutional convention from changing the property tax portions of Proposition 13.
The 2,000 word draft document has been distributed to numerous stakeholders and experts by the Bay Area Council, a San Francisco-based business group that has been outspoken in calling for an overhaul of the state's governing document.
A spokesman for the group, John Grubb, said the document is still going through a revision process. But he does not expect the language about Prop. 13 and property taxes to change. (CapWeekly 6/22/09)
If we are to truly reform California, then let's cut the bullshit. There should be no sacred cows. We need to build a system of governance built truly from the ground up, or it becomes unclear whether the project is worth doing at all. If we are going to have poison pills from our current constitution built in from Day 1, what hope do we really have of building a workable system?
The BAC's reasoning is pretty traditional stuff really, they are worried of Howard Jarvis' ghost and a few "senior groups." If these supposed senior groups were really looking out for seniors, they would join the California Alliance for Retired Americans in calling for a fair and just budget that provides for services for the elderly, not a system that merely traffics in truism in how seniors are terrified of losing their homes.
The fact is Prop 13 was never about seniors losing their homes, it was merely a powerful political ploy to lower the taxes of corporations. And that is precisely what it has done. Howard Jarvis himself was before the Prop 13 extravaganza, just another apartment owners' group attack dog. Prop 13 was really pure genius on the apartment and commercial property owners' part. They get to use shell games and transfer their properties in whatever way they want, and never have to reassess their property. It's a pretty slick little system, and it is why most their is a growing movement to fix prop 13. In fact, San Francisco's assessor-recorder, Phil Ting, is pushing a Close the Loophole effort to split the commercial and residential property tax rolls.
But the Bay Area Council really can't be treated as some savior group. It's not some creature of the grassroots, it is merely an organization of large bay are companies. And that they want to preserve Prop 13, shouldn't really be all that shocking. But if progressives are going to work on this effort, we must work to ensure that all options really on the table. Cut the third rail fears and just work from the ground up. Otherwise, it might just be more wise to pursue other avenues to reform.