Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

TO:

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS

FROM: CITY MANAGER

DATE: MARCH 16, 2004

SUBJECT: REQUEST TO SUPPORT EFFORTS BY THE CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY BIPARTISAN GROUP

RECOMMENDATION

Consider authorizing the Mayor to send a letter in support of the California State Assembly bipartisan group.

BACKGROUND

Partisan politics has dominated the decision-making process in Sacramento for the past decade to the detriment of the State as a whole. This negative political environment has created gridlock in resolving the State’s severe fiscal crisis and in turn has jeopardized the financial solvency of local governments.

Partisanship may be attributed to term limits for legislators, heavy-handed party leadership, and redistricting. With only a limited number of years in office, terms limits make it very difficult for elected officials to develop long-term legislative strategies and relationships with other legislators to forge bipartisan compromises. Though some of the new members arrive as non-partisans, they are often forced to go along with their party’s agenda or face disfavor and become irrelevant and ineffective lawmakers. Strategic redistricting ensures safe electoral districts for Democrats and Republicans, so members with extreme party views are generally elected over moderate candidates.

Spurred by the standoff of the two parties during the State’s fiscal woes in 2003, Assemblymen Joseph Canciamilla, a Democrat from Pittsburg, and Keith Richman, a Republican from Northridge, created an informal bipartisan work group dedicated to open consideration of common sense solutions to California’s problems regardless of party affiliation.

DISCUSSION

Mayor Pro Tempore Larry Clark requested this item be placed on the agenda for City Council’s consideration in support of the California Assembly bipartisan group.

Led by Assemblymen Joseph Canciamilla (D) and Keith Richman (R), the bipartisan group is an informal working group with no written platform, objectives or membership list. Although not an inclusive list, the following Assembly members have reportedly joined the bipartisan group: Patricia Bates (R), John Benoit (R), Patty Berg (D), Lou Correa (D), Lynn Daucher (R), Manny Diaz (D), John Dutra (D), Tom Harman (R), Shirley Horton (R), Abel Maldonado (R), John Laird (D), Carol Liu (D), Alan Lowenthal (D), Gloria Negrete-McLeod (D), Lois Wolk (D), and the Woman’s Caucus.

Assemblymen Canciamilla and Richman presented the only bipartisan budget proposal for fiscal year 2003-2004, which consisted of spending cuts across all programs, including education, health, social services, corrections, local government and transportation as well as tax increases. Although their proposal was ultimately defeated, Assemblymen Canciamilla and Richman displayed extraordinary political courage and will to set aside party differences, look beyond their own political careers and address the State’s fiscal problems in a cooperative effort.

According to Assemblyman Canciamilla’s staff, the bipartisan group is stronger than ever and has gained more credibility and stature. In addition to fiscal reforms, some future work items may include reforming term limits, redistricting and reapportionment process and open primaries.

Should City Council wish to support the concept of bipartisanship among State legislators, Council may authorize sending a letter of support to Assemblymen Canciamilla and Richman. To staff’s knowledge, the City of Bellflower is the only city to date that has taken an official position in support of the bipartisan group. California Contract Cities also officially supports the bipartisan group, but the League of California Cities has not taken an official position.

FISCAL IMPACT

None associated with this report.

PREPARED BY

Gina Park

Assistant to the City Manager

APPROVED BY

Les Evans

City Manager

Attachment:

  1. Draft Letter
  2. Canciamilla Legislative Reform Plan

Date

Assemblyman Joseph Canciamilla

Assembly District 11

State Capitol

P.O. Box 942849

Sacramento Ca 94249-0011

Assemblyman Keith Richman

Assembly District 38

State Capitol Room 5128
Sacramento, CA 94249-0038

On March 16, 2004, the City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes unanimously expressed its strong support of the Assembly Bipartisan Group’s commitment to cooperatively consider and offer common-sense solutions to California’s problems.

Partisan politics has dominated the decision-making process in Sacramento for the past decade to the detriment of the State as a whole. Critical public policy issues such as affordable housing, transportation infrastructure, energy, workers compensation, etc. have become secondary priorities to party politics. The negative political environment cannot continue; the State’s severe fiscal crisis is jeopardizing the financial solvency of local governments.

Governor Schwarzenegger’s call for bipartisanship is encouraging and we hope the message becomes clear throughout the State Legislature. We agree that meaningful debate and consensus across party lines are necessary for the development of innovative solutions.

On behalf of the residents of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, we commend you for your political courage and will to breakaway from traditional political party views and lead the informal Bipartisan Group.

Sincerely,

Peter C. Gardiner

Mayor