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Propositions and a Potluck Tasty Morsels of Democracy
November 1, 2012 - By Flavia Potenza
Ahhh,Topanga. Here is one way of taking the onus off our civic duties.
Pairing a Topanga potluck with the onerous task of figuring out yet another set of political initiatives, made this years effort more party than pain for a group of 21 Topangans who gathered at the home of Becca Barkin and Ron Sharrin on a recent Friday to discuss and make sense out of this years 11 propositions.
Some wondered why we were legislating at the ballot box. Others worried about what happens to a proposition, many of them flawed, once it passes. But everyone was taking their right to vote seriously as they tucked into the victuals before attending to their task.
Each participant was asked ahead of time to choose a Pro or Con position on a single initiative and to come prepared to present and defend it, regardless of their preference.
The arguments were based on research from a number of sources, most obvious among them, the Legislative Analysis in the Official Voter Information Guide (lao.ca.gov/laoapp/ ballot_source/Propositions.aspx), the League of Women Voters and the Los Angeles Times propositions coverage.
Among the websites people accessed were California Common Cause a non-profit, non-partisan citizens lobby organization (commoncause.org); the Courage Campaign (couragecampaign.org); and Wikipedia.
Trying to keep discussion to 15 minutes each was a challenge but at the end of three hours, all the propositions had been addressed and everyone felt they had greater insight for making their decisions. To paraphrase an old adage: Many hands and heads make light work, especially with a full stomach and a glass of wine.
One interesting fact that came out of the discussion was the number of amendments to the California Constitution (500 since its revision in 1879) compared to the U.S. Constitution (27). Californias constitution has been described as the perfect example of what a constitution ought not to be. (Wikipedia.org).
That all said, the Messenger is going out on a limb to recommend Yes or No votes on the 11 Propositions and three County Measures with the disclaimer that we are not political analysts, just citizens interested in how we are governed. Please refer to "Propositions Demystified" (we hope) for discussion and recommendations on the propositions.