Thursday, February 18, 2010

"Repair California" Flops

There was this group of concerned businessmen who decided that they have had just about enough of what is going on in California these days, and they were going to do something about it. They gathered beneath the banner of Repair California, and set out to put on the ballot a measure that would call for the first California Constitutional Convention in 130 years. And, if the delegates to this convention decided it was a right thing to do, they would rewrite the document that the government of this state is based upon. It was a bold move, and one done in hopes of harnessing the anger that many in California feel towards Sacramento these days.

So who was the leader of this movement demanding so drastic a reform of our broken state government? His name is Jim Wunderman. And here, in a letter to the San Francisco Chronicle, he published his mission statement:

California's state government is broken. This dysfunction has left our state unable to deal with the serious issues of our time in a good economy or a bad - whether it's the K-12 education system, broken budgeting, our rapidly disintegrating public higher-education system, overflowing prisons, traffic-choked regions, local governments hobbled by unfunded state mandates, or a host of other problems.

Now that is a pretty good start. A regular laundry list of easily identifiable woe. Kind of reads like your average day here on The Tattler. But how exactly did Mr. Wunderman propose to solve all of these things? Here Jim discussed what exactly he'd be going after to make things better again:

Repair California, a group of reformers and advocacy groups, has turned in ballot language to call the first California convention in more than 130 years. The measures would call a limited convention to reform four areas of the Constitution:
-- the budget process;
-- the election and initiative process;
-- the balance of power between state and local governments;
-- the effectiveness of government, and creating systems to improve it.

Again, reasonably good boilerplate, and I'm sure some of the more easily stimulated out there thought it was a good idea. But what exactly where these guys really after? Rewriting the state constitution is pretty serious business, and shouldn't be taken lightly. It just might be a pretty good idea to check out the folks that want to carry this notion out. Gauge their motives a little.

Late last October we decided to look into the man leading this charge. And in an article entitled "So Who Exactly Is This Jim Wunderman Guy?" we made a rather shocking discovery. It turns out that Jim was one of the big Sacramento players responsible for the passage of SB 375, also known as the "Destroy Small Cities Act." A major redeveloper out of San Francisco who understood exactly how such a law would benefit him and his industry, and went for it.

But maybe I've understated Jim's role in this SB 375 thing. He was more than just a major player. Outside of Governer Schatzi, and maybe Darrell Steinberg, he was the most major player of all. Certainly the most influential figure who was not an elected official. So influential that on the day SB 375 was signed into law by Arnold, he was singled out and cited for his great importance in the process. Here is how the majestic moment played out:

And then the last speaker before the actual signing itself stepped up. And since this was no ordinary figure in the SB 375 pantheon, he was introduced by the Adonis of the Alps himself.

Governor Schwarzenegger: "And our last speaker, Jim Wunderman, or Wonderman. I call it in German Wunderman. Nice to see you."

Jim Wunderman: "Just call me, Governor. Thank you. Thank you very much. Governor Schwarzenegger, I want to thank you. First there's a bill but I want to thank you ... "

When I was a kid my mom would have called that apple polishing. But my friends outside would have used a very different term.

So it turned out that our friend Jim Wunderman was actually responsible for the law that now threatens cities such as ours with massive state mandated redevelopment. Along with taking away our ability to control our local planning processes, plus the right to defend ourselves in court should we be sued by some developer looking to build things we don't want here. Which puts Wunderman's notion to reform "the balance of power between the state and local governments" into a whole new perspective. Obviously it wasn't giving us more power that he had in mind. I'm not sure Jim quite understood the difference between "repair" and doing even more damage.

So it was with happiness and a sense of considerable vindication that I read the following article in the SF Chronicle:

Cash woes hit bid to rewrite state Constitution: Backers of a campaign to overhaul California's Constitution have suspended their efforts because of a lack of money ... The campaign was working to put two measures on the November ballot to call for a constitutional convention as unrest about state government and the overall direction of California deepens among voters. However, money pledged to the campaign by businesses and others never came through, according to people backing the effort ... "I'm very sad we have to call it quits because of the financial situation," said Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, a business consortium that started the effort ... Despite support from a wide variety of good-government organizations, political leaders and others in the state, the campaign has raised only about $1 million and gathered 100,000 signatures. More than 1 million valid signatures would be needed to put the initiatives on the ballot.

You know, just when you're about to lose faith in the ability of people to see through all the Orwellian subterfuge, something like this happens and restores your faith in humanity. Somehow people saw through the attempts by some of the ultimate Sacramento insiders to portray themselves as angry outsiders ready to lead the people in an assault against Babylon on the Sacramento River. People really do figure things out some times.

Of course, now that Repair California has gone down in flames, the gentlemen behind this failed effort need to find something to blame for their debacle. After all, they have some very prestigious fannies badly in need of cover. So who is it that gets assigned the role of reform wrecker here? Would you believe Haiti?

Campaign officials said they would need at least $3.5 million for a successful signature-gathering effort, plus millions more for the actual campaign. They blamed the tough economy and people focusing charitable efforts on Haiti for the lack of donations to their effort.

But as far as the real villain, Repair California has now fingered a truly insidious bunch. You got it, petition signature gatherers. Here is how the Sacramento Business Journal describes it:

California constitutional convention backers allege blacklist attempts: California reform backers are planning to sue over alleged attempts by professional signature-gathering firms to blacklist them ... Repair California wants signature-gathering firms to "immediately cease the improper, unethical, and illegal boycott of the Constitutional Convention movement, and stop the threats, intimidation, and other dirty tricks that are interfering with California citizens' rights to collect signatures for the Convention campaign."

Now isn't that something? People weren't interested in signing their petitions, so now they want to sue the people who stood in front of places like Wal*Mart attempting to gather those signatures. How pouty of them.


  1. Thanks for exposing this, Tattler.
    This guy J.W. kinda reminds me of Joe Mosca and John Buchanan, two lobbyist scoundrels who portray themselves as our representatives, when in fact they represent Sacramento.

    CRAWFORD/WATTS and ALCORN for the people of Sierra Madre.
    Get out and vote, Sierra Madre, the home and lifestyle you save will be your own and future generations!

  2. I wonder if this Wunderman guy actually stood outside a store somewhere and tried to get signatures for these schemes of his. I doubt it. He'd rather demand that people give him millions of dollars or he'll take his bat and ball and go home.

  3. I saw that. Nice catch, Sir Eric

  4. You know what is reassuring in these troubled times?
    The fact we have MaryAnn MacGillivray, Don Watts, Kurt Zimmerman and John Crawford exposing all these shenanigans that the Sacramento supporters of development's minions, the Sierra Madre dirts, have perpetrated on this small community.
    I'm talking about you.....Joe Mosca, John Buchanan, Bart Doyle and friends!
    Come April 13th, Pat Alcorn will join MaryAnn, Don and John Crawford to assist in preserving this town!

    Former Mayor Kurt Zimmerman, we'll sure miss you, friend! Thank you for your incredible service to this community! Best wishes for you and your family!
    Don, MaryAnn, John C. and Pat will carry on your hard work. You know you can count on that.

  5. I am hoping Kurt will stay somewhat active in advising members of the City Council, our local leadership

  6. Larry Wilson had a column about these guys last September. There was a meeting of the local hottentots who were all quite impressed by the Repair California representative who came to chat with them. Attendees, besides Larry of course, included Bart Doyle, Meghan Loper of Majestic Realty, and David Huntoon from the BIA funded Rose Institute.

  7. Bad Karma?

    No surprise, what is a surprise is that Mosca and Buchanan weren't there with their "mentor" Bart Doyle.
    Was Karma Bell there with her co-worker at Titan, Bart?

  8. I'd think John and Joe were hoping to attend the Constitutional Convention as delegates. You know, so they could participate in "the process." Which, had it been carried out, would have stripped cities like ours of much of their remaining development powers, taken away the state voter initiative process, and concentrated all responsibility with the state legislature. Which would have been very convenient for the folks behind this effort as they already own that bunch.

  9. Yeah, you're right B.K.
    They would have, just like they always do with Sacramento scags, oops, I mean scams!

  10. I just can't wait to get up in the morning, make my coffee and see what's on the Tattler!
    What a great column today!!!!!!!!
    It just energizes one!

  11. Check out the 10/31 Tattler for more info about this.

  12. I knew had heard that name before, couldn't remember where, but I knew it wasn't good.

    Damn, he's worse than I thought.

    Check this out.

  13. It figures that when Larry Wilson writes, "Finding the right way to run this railroad", he is really describing a train wreck.

  14. If these guys had been able to pull this one off, they'd pretty much be running the state. We dodged a bullet.

  15. 10:56
    For the time we have dodged a bullet. Remember, these will be the same bunch that will be backing pro-development interests in cities up and down the state. There is so much money and power to be gained. They will not stop.

  16. I can't wait until Schwarzenegger is gone. These guys must have his private line on speed dial.

  17. I am going to draw hope from that terrible illustration of the bear in a straight jacket - remembering that one easy rip by those teeth and he's free.
    Maybe for us too.

  18. Many of us voted for and were quite fond of Ahnold back in the day and such is the case with Mosca and Buchanan. If only they had a stamp across their forehead that warned us about how quickly they turn on people who voted for them!! Maybe a mid term vote of confidence - vote 'em in but reserve the right to throw 'em out in two years if they do an about face!!!

  19. All 3 seemd to have fallen for the love songs of the development lobby. And all 3 like to use "green" talk to peddle things that are not green at all. Good point 11:48. The similarities are definitely there.

  20. More California mess:
    San Marino Unified is cutting 1/3 of it's teachers, and this after the San Marino residents have passed twp parcel taxes. From the PSN:

    "The district is the focal point of a community that likens itself to the small towns from 1950s television shows....The San Marino experience is based on the expectation of a world-class education," Caldwell said. "It's like Mayberry. The school district represents our ability to do that - to give this place that small-town feel."

    San Marino Unified is not alone. South Pasadena Unified School District will have a $5 million deficit by the 2011-12 school year, even after passing a parcel tax in 2009.

    Pasadena Unified School District is asking its residents to pass a parcel tax, while projecting a $23 million budget deficit for the 2010-11 school year.

  21. Sacramento keeps giving us less and less yet we remain one of the top taxed states in the country.

  22. Sir Eric, I hope this is true:
    "You know, just when you're about to lose faith in the ability of people to see through all the Orwellian subterfuge, something like this happens and restores your faith in humanity."
    And that it is not just another win for the apathy of the majority. If it is, it's still good that these guys got blocked, but just as they are looking for scapegoats, they will look for new "causes."

  23. measure V supporterFebruary 18, 2010 at 1:51 PM

    Cheer up 1:48. At least the business consortiums will realize it's no easy thing to get a movement to succeed. Just ask the locals who had to get Measure V signatures.

  24. San Marino likens itself to Mayberry?

  25. Bad guys gonna lose this one my friends!
    Stay tuned to the Tattler, the ONLY source of legitimate Sierra Madre news!

    The Tattler tells the truth, even if people don't want to hear it.

    In the long run, my friends, the TRUTH will set us all free!

    Thanks for being a stand up guy, strong and un-afraid, Sir Eric.

  26. Local, if San Marino is Mayberry, does that make us Petticoat Junction?

  27. Everybody wants to be Mayberry. I'm telling you, we made Andy and Opie cool again.

  28. 2:16, Andy & Opie, & Aunt B and Barney, have never not been cool.

  29. What about Goober? Yeah, you forgot all about him, didn't you.

  30. I thought he was better left unmentioned. Along with Gomer....

  31. I think I saw Otis walking out of Lucky Baldwin's a couple days ago.

  32. Just a Country CousinFebruary 18, 2010 at 3:24 PM

    How much more Mayberry can we get than when a hapless realtor shows up at the local cafe to write pie in the sky home loans over the internet while introducing himself as a city council candidate?

  33. I reckon we Sierra Madreans have Aunt "B" for our town Sheriff, and her infamous Deputy Barney Fife.

    What a joke....

  34. Truly the D.I.C.'s are nothing but a cast of characters out of a 1950s TV script about southern politics complete with the graft, corruption, good ole boy gladhanding, and the womenfolk in organdy ruffles on the church steps not saying spit if they had a mouthful. Where are Liz and Paul when we need 'em?

  35. I make the motion we strike the term Mayberry from the Sierra Madre lexicon. A second anyone?

  36. All in favor say "aye"!

  37. Aye & Amen to that.

  38. One has to wonder if Mr. Wunderman had any intention of getting the needed signatures or really trying to pass the proposal?

    I suspect Mr Wunderman, being the astute political player that he is, was really attempting to prevent others from passing similar legislation by being first to offer a proposal??

  39. Good call, gilman.
    Makes sense they would try this.


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