Unforgettable Protest at State Capitol Building by Neighborhood Legislature

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On Wednesday, 121 cutouts (one for each Assemblyperson, Senator, and Governor) were lined up outside the Capitol building, decorated with the logos of those corporations and special interests that paid to put them there.

San Diego entrepreneur John Cox went to the California State Capitol in Sacramento on Wednesday, August 26th, along with 121 life-size cutouts representing California’s elected legislators - 40 State Senators and 80 Assembly members, along with the Governor. The cutouts showed the 120 legislators and the Governor covered in the logos of the special interests and businesses who have funded their political campaigns.

Mr. Cox is launching a campaign to restructure California’s legislature and the process for electing it. The logo-covered cutouts were designed to illustrate how much money is funneled into political campaigns. Each politician needs the money to buy the TV, radio, mail, and internet ads that are critical to modern election campaigning.

They need enormous campaigns – and the sponsor dollars that pay for them – because they represent large districts. A California State Senator represents almost 1 million people, and an Assembly member almost half a million. That is much larger by far than the electoral districts in any other state.

Mr. Cox's new initiative is proposing a new governing structure. In the newly designed legislature, State Senators would represent only 10,000 people and Assembly members just 5,000. That is only a couple of thousand households – a neighborhood. They would do their jobs utilizing modern technology that gives voters direct access to their representatives through social media and digital communications, and enables the representatives themselves to caucus and collaborate over the Internet. This would create thousands of districts so the initiative creates Working Committees the same size as the current legislature, who would be sent to Sacramento to hold hearings, write legislation and do the work of creating consensus, all before the finished product is sent for ratification to all the local representatives. Once ratified in an up or down vote over the Internet, successful legislation would go to the Governor for signature.

“The Neighborhood Legislature will restructure California’s 19th century political system, and leap directly to the 21st century, using 21st century technology,” said Mr. Cox. “Starting now, we are launching our campaign to make California great again, by taking big money out of electoral politics. In the small districts of the Neighborhood Legislature, big election campaigns would not only be irrelevant, they would be rejected. Candidates will interact with their constituents directly – in door-to-door campaigns, church halls, and town hall meetings, as well as on social media. The 30 second TV ad will be replaced by discussion on each candidate’s Facebook page.”

The Neighborhood Legislature Reform Act is a California ballot proposition aimed at the 2016 election. The organization behind it, Rescue California Foundation, has been refining the idea over the past several years, with research among California voters and studies and symposia at several UC system universities. The Neighborhood Legislature Reform Act intends to collect sufficient valid signatures to make it to the ballot in 2016, and will be collecting them over the October 2015 - February 2016 time frame.

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Russell York
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