TONIGHT: town hall to discuss a California constitutional convention

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By Rebecca Bowe

A lot has happened since we first reported on a campaign spearheaded by the Bay Area Council to hold a California constitutional convention.

We watched the state-budget drama unfold, a tearjerker with a surprise ending delivered by knife-wielding Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. (In the sequel, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg files a lawsuit against Schwarzenegger for cutting an additional $489 million in health, welfare and other programs through line-item vetoes, a move the lawmaker claims was beyond the governor’s constitutional authority.)

And in the meantime, the Bay Area Council has attracted lots of attention for its call to revamp the system, campaigning under the banner Repair California. The Bay Area business group has even started traveling around the state hosting town-hall meetings to rally support for a constitutional convention.

And tonight, it’s San Francisco’s turn to share ideas on how to fix California. (How about splitting it in pieces?)

The Council represents big business in the Bay Area, but their idea is backed by organizations across the political spectrum including the League of Women Voters, The Courage Campaign, The New America Foundation, The William C. Velasquez institute and others. Here’s a pitch the campaign has used to argue that there’s a need to open up the state constitution and make some fundamental changes:

Californians are angry! We believe California’s system of government is fundamentally broken. Our prisons overflow, our water system teeters on collapse, our once proud schools are criminally poor, our financing system is bankrupt, our democracy produces ideologically-extreme legislators that can pass neither budget nor reforms, and we have no recourse in the system to right these wrongs. It's time to get involved.

If you want to get involved, here’s the skinny on tonight's Constitutional Convention Town Hall, which the Council sent to us in a media advisory:

Who: Repair California – with co-hosts Full Circle Fund & the Bay Area Council

What: SAN FRANCISCO TOWN HALL ON THE
CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

When: 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Where: PG&E Auditorium
77 Beale Street
San Francisco, CA 94105

California is broken, but the people can fix it. Join us at a special community event discussing the opportunities around a California Constitutional Convention. Featuring a panel [of] cross-sector leaders, this event will be San Francisco's first major opportunity to learn more and ask questions about this powerful method to reform the golden state's tarnished politics. Come and learn more about the process that could profoundly affect California for generations to come.

Agenda

6:00 Networking Reception
6:30 Opening Remarks - Amy Lesnick, Full Circle Fund
6:35 The State of Education in California: Why Change is Needed - Jeff Camp, Full Circle Fund
6:50 The Solution: A Constitutional Convention - Jim Wunderman, Bay Area Council
7:05 The Legal Aspects of the Constitutional Convention - Andrew Giacomini, Hanson Bridgett
7:15 Engaging Citizens in the Process - Steven Hill, New America Foundation
7:25 Q&A with Audience