Most every election the past five years I've used this bully pulpit to focus on a state proposition or two.
Not to brag, but the results have been encouraging.
California voters stripped lawmakers of the ability to gerrymander their districts, adopted open primaries, sensibly modified term limits and fended off a power grab by PG&E.
You might want to focus this time on Proposition 31. It's an ambitious attempt to curb lobbyist influence in Sacramento, minimize end-of-session legislative lunacy prevailing every August and give local decision-makers the authority -- and funding -- to meet local needs.
Wait, there's more.
The proposition would bring more transparency to the Capitol by requiring the state budget to be public for at least three days before it's voted on. The budget would switch to a two-year cycle and new expenditures of more than $25 million would require identified funding sources. Finally, state programs would be reviewed regularly for effectiveness.
Like I said, it's ambitious. There's so much going on in every direction, you could call it the Winchester Mystery House of Propositions -- and not be wrong.
But it deserves support because it forces the Legislature to be more responsible with our money and their time. It will change business as usual.
Juan Arambula of Fresno served six years in the Assembly. He was first elected as a Democrat, but was punished by party leaders for looking out for constituents instead of special interests. He left the Legislature as an Independent and is working to pass Prop. 31.
As Arambula tells it, the Capitol has three parts: the Governor's Office, the Legislature and special interests. Come every August, the special interests leverage lawmaker yearnings for headlines and campaign contributions into last-minute bills approved without public scrutiny.
"There were times literally when the bills were hot off the press because you could put your finger to them and they were still warm to the touch," says Arambula, who represented the 31st District from 2004 to 2010.
"It's a mockery of the system and increasingly people are dissatisfied with how business gets done. This proposition, I hope, has some potential to restore public confidence."
The proposition is the product of California Forward, a centrist group whose members include former Assembly Speaker Robert M. Hertzberg, Automobile Club of Southern California CEO Thomas V. McKernan and former California Supreme Court Associate Justice Cruz Reynoso.
Billionaire Nicolas Berggruen of Florida has contributed more than $1.5 million in support of the proposition. Two years ago, he pledged $20 million toward government reforms proposed by a think tank, the Think Long Committee for California.
"California's worth saving, to put it bluntly," Berggruen told the Los Angeles Times last year. "California has a great history, will have a great history."
The proposition is attracting major donations from Valley residents, as well. According to the Secretary of State website, Fred Ruiz, co-founder of Ruiz Foods in Dinuba, has given $50,000. Bill Smitt-camp of Wawona Frozen Foods in Clovis and developer John Brelsford of Fresno have tossed in $10,000 each. Pete Weber of Fresno, the "Yes on Proposition 31" campaign co-chairman and a California Forward member, has donated $25,000.
Opponents say that the proposition is either too sprawling or won't fix what ails California. And then there is the state Democratic Party, which doesn't want anything to do with reform.
The Sacramento Bee's Dan Walters wrote that "Proposition 31 is akin to giving someone with a flesh-eating infection an aspirin to relieve the pain momentarily when the patient truly needs radical surgery or powerful drugs to stop the infection."
Joe Mathews, another respected Capitol watcher, says that the state needs a constitutional overhaul instead of more reform by the ballot box.
"We already have so many rules restricting what can be done, and they haven't made government any better," Mathews says. "Now here are more rules."
I agree, but reform won't happen in one dramatic swoop. It has to be gained a bit or two at a time -- just as the voters have been doing.
The columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6632, firstname.lastname@example.org
or @fresnomac on Twitter. Listen his talk show daily at 4p.m. on KYNO (AM 940).