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Draper’s Lizzie Borden Act & Sacramento
Dennis Wyatt

I do not support breaking up California. It is a simplistic solution that has enough legal land mines to make an atomic bomb blast seem minuscule in comparison.

I obviously would not have voted in favor of Tim Draper’s latest Lizzie Borden act on California to split the state in three.

The measure qualified for the ballot with the prerequisite signatures but the State Supreme Court put the brakes on it appearing on the statewide ballot given significant questions were raised about its validity by the environmental group known as the Planning and Conservation League.

California’s high court said it will consider a challenge to the measure’s validity and noted there was inadequate time for it to take place before ballot materials are printed and distributed. Justices wrote in a unanimous decision that, “we conclude that the potential harm in permitting the measure to remain on the ballot outweighs the potential harm in delaying the proposition to a future election.”

Given my position you’d think I’d be lauding the court’s move. I don’t.

The Planning and Conservation League argued that the legislature or a state constitutional convention are the only ways a move to split California into smaller states could be considered and not through the initiative process.

It mirrors the conclusion the non-partisan legislative analyst’s office made earlier this year on the proposition to split the state in three.

Draper — a successful venture capitalist — spent $5.2 million out of his pocket to craft the measure and secure the necessary signatures. 

The high state court’s milk toast decision gave Draper fertile fodder to sew even more seeds of discontent. Draper noted “the whole point of the initiative process was to be set up as a protection from a government that was no longer representing its people — now that protection has been corrupted. Whether you agree or not with this initiative, this is not the way democracies are supposed to work.” Touché. It does make the system look rigged. And it is because — drum roll — the government appears to be asleep as the wheel when it comes to representing the “state” interests of the people.

There appears to be an extremely clear path of how a major change in California’s government structure is reserved to a state constitutional convention or the legislature which means the court could probably have spent a few more hours and killed the measure outright.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra and not the Planning and Conservation League should have been the one to try and kill the measure. And Becerra should have moved to do so the second the Secretary of State gave clearance for Draper to circulate the “California Chain Saw Act of 2018.”

But instead of minding California Becerra is busy on a daily basis filing lawsuits against the Trump Administration, churning out “resistance” press releases and traveling to pose for photos with other state attorney generals to show their solidarity against Trump. It didn’t help that the California legislature funded extra money for the Attorney General’s Office to sue the Trump Administration even before Trump took the oath of office.

Do not read this as a defense of Trump by any means. Sacramento and not Washington, D.C., has a bigger impact on our lives just like local government has compared to Sacramento.

At the same time one would expect the state to sue the federal government over issues.

Perhaps if Becerra and the majority of the Sacramento power structure wasn’t making opposing Trump at every turn their top priority, they would have paid more attention to the legal ramifications of all initiatives submitted and act accordingly when a proposition clearly careens outside of the framework of the state constitution.

And by Becerra conceding his constitution role in the matter to the Planning and Conservation League it only plants the seeds of more distrust. It also adds fuel to conspiracy theories.

Among them some will obviously evolve around why the Planning and Conservation League — an organization that fits the mold of a special interest — “really” wanted the measure off the ballot.

Did they fear it would pass? But the Greek chorus won’t be repeating the company line that passage would create costly confusion that would be an expensive much ado about nothing given the ballot initiative is not the legally correct route to pursue such a solution. What they will use is “the fact” they feared it would pass.

Such a line of thinking only re-enforces the perception Sacramento only represents special interests and not the people per se.

Of course had the measure been allowed to be on the Nov. 6 ballot and it passed and then the measure killed voter resentment would have made the 1883 Krakatoa volcanic explosion look like a light rain drizzle in comparison.

As Sacramento plays federal government adopting border policies and such, it ignores problems in California.

In doing so it re-enforces animosity and makes the state less governable which brings us back to Draper’s main point of his various efforts to slice and dice the state whether it was six ways a few years or three ways as outlined in his current proposal.

This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209.249.3519.