California Politics: The Fault Lines of Power, Wealth, and Diversity


Edgar Kaskla

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    To my family: Linda, Taavi, Priit, and Aivar

    Tables, Figures, and Map


    California is a state of immigrants. Among them my parents, who came to California as refugees after the Soviet Union occupied Estonia toward the end of World War II. My story, however, is somewhat different in that although I am Estonian by nationality and come from an immigrant family I was born in California and therefore also qualify as a native Californian. Writing this book comes from the experience of growing up in Southern California and trying to make sense of what has been happening to this state in the past thirty to forty years.

    What has happened? Growth, growth, and more growth, pushed by a unified understanding on the part of virtually all economic and political leaders that “we” need growth and that the more development “we” get, the better off “we” will be. I grew up in Burbank and remember a time when there were still some farms in the San Fernando Valley, where Burbank is located. They were scruffy farms at that point, to be sure, but they still had orange and lemon trees; they grew corn; and it was not out of the ordinary to see chickens, goats, and horses. The last of those farms disappeared about the time that I was an undergraduate student at UCLA. By the time I moved thirty miles south to go to graduate school at the University of California, Irvine, I saw the last remnants of Orange County's agricultural past also get plowed under. The orange and avocado groves disappeared, then the bean fields started to go, and finally the last strawberry fields that were still wedged between subdivisions were bulldozed and turned into tightly packed homes, big-box stores, and mini-malls. Between 1980 and the turn of the millennium, California added about ten million people to its population. But growth, it is repeated, is good.

    Seeing these changes—the unbearable traffic, the strains that all these people place on resources like water, the sheer difficulty of figuring out just where to put everybody—led me to start thinking critically about the logic of growth and to question who really benefits from this unforgiving march of progress. Who are the “we” who benefit from growth? The answer can be found in California's own rich history, a history that has been dominated by an economic, political, and cultural elite from its very earliest days. Property owners and business leaders have transformed California, but it is not a transformation that has benefited all of us. Quite the contrary. Economic power has used political and cultural power to create a power elite in California that has been remarkably proficient at generating profit and wealth for the few, while the rest of society is left to deal with the so-called externalities that growth inevitably produces. What's a few extra cars on the road, and who cares that after it rains the ocean water is so laced with bacteria that the surfers risk getting sick? These are small prices to pay to be able to live in paradise. So “we” hold onto that image, while the reality all around us continues to change and becomes more dystopian than utopian.

    California politics is about the power elite. Unlike textbooks that insist that democracy matters and that the system might be flawed but ultimately can be fixed, this book takes the approach that the state's political structure has to be analyzed as a system by and for the rich. It is a plutocracy, supported by a political system that has been hopelessly—at least in its present configuration—bought off by the ruling economic class through the injection of enormous amounts of money into the campaign process, reinforced later by millions of dollars spent on lobbying by corporations and a select few organizations that want something for themselves, not for “us.”

    In this text students do learn about the state's political history and its institutions—how its parties work, how the legislature operates, what powers its governors have, how its budget is formulated—but this information does not obscure the many ways that those institutions and the people that run them hinder, rather than facilitate, basic democratic practices and goals. In a nutshell, this is not a book that seeks a so-called balanced approach to understanding California politics. There is no balance and fairness when the power elite decide what is to be done and the public, in turn, is left to react to decisions already made. Moreover, the power elite's hold on power is getting stronger, as evidenced by the growing gap between the rich and poor in this state. For immigrants coming today, California is not a place of hope. There are no hills full of gold; this is just another place for survival.

    Structure of the Book

    Elite politics and the limits placed on democracy are not just part of California politics but are rooted in all of American politics. That is the main argument presented in the Introduction and chapters 1 and 2. There is inherent contradiction between a capitalist economic system, where inequalities are an inevitable outcome of competition, and a democratic political system, where the concept of equality is stressed in terms of one's right to vote, the principle of representation, and the idea of people's equality before the law. The contradiction has been resolved through a power elite structure that gives the appearance of democratic representation while allowing the power elite to stay in charge. In the American West, land itself has been a valuable resource for the power elite, and the development of land has been facilitated through the operation of what are called growth machines, which are examined in detail in chapter 2. In chapter 3 California's history is analyzed through the lens of elite politics. California's development has been organized through elite interests that have used these growth machines to increase wealth—and cheap immigrant labor to keep costs down and profits up.

    The actual institutional structures of California politics are the focus of chapters 4 through 8. We look at party organizations, campaigning, and the central role that money plays in the electoral process in chapter 4. Then, in chapter 5, we look at the legislature, how bills become law, and how interest groups are able to steer the legislative process using money. Chapter 6 deals with the role of the governor in California. Although the governor has substantial formal powers, the governor's role as a symbolic leader is even more significant. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been able to capitalize on his heroic film image to frame himself as an outsider and reformer when, in reality, his politics have strengthened the status quo and, hence, the interests of the establishment power elite. In chapter 7 I explain and critique the justice system, looking at the legal process and courts that are divided into two unequal parts: one system for the wealthy and another for the rest of us. This division reinforces inequality as a fundamental part of California—not to mention U.S.—politics. Local governments and how fear of taxes has been used to encourage still more urban development as local governments seek new revenue streams through the so-called fiscalization of land use are the subjects of chapter 8. When land use needs to be revitalized, redevelopment agencies serve as an arm of growth machines to funnel public money to private development interests.

    The fear of taxation has created a kind of permanent economic crisis in California, the theme of chapter 9. Fearful that the governor and legislature will carelessly spend taxpayer dollars, voters have approved a series of ballot measures that have placed tight restraints on how money is to be spent and how it is to be collected via taxes. The problem, however, is not with runaway spending but with a federal government that is forcing state governments either to fund social programs with the help of state revenues or to get rid of “welfare” altogether. Since 2003 the governor's budgeting has relied on a new trick to pay for running these programs without creating new taxes: borrow the money and assume that things will sort themselves out over time. It might work, but it also leaves the state vulnerable to greater budgeting crises in the future, when those loans become due. Finally, chapter 10 focuses on the long-term outlook for the state, which includes the possibility that global warming might dramatically and suddenly change Californians’ way of life completely.

    Key Features

    This is not a text for memorizing what each public official must do and how many legislators there are in the state assembly. (There are eighty, if you must know right now.) It does offer these basics, but, more important, the book goes another step in developing students’ critical thinking skills. If democracy is ever going to become truly democratic, students need to be able to understand what real criticism entails. The pedagogical features used here are designed to help students acquire some new terminology and think critically about what they're learning. Key terms that are specific to this discussion appear in boldface type throughout the chapters, and the book features a glossary that further defines them. At the end of each chapter, readers will find a section called “Taking Stock” that encapsulates that chapter's analysis. These sections highlight the main themes of each chapter, integrating the parts of the story into a thematic whole. Discussion questions at the end of each chapter are intended to spark debate. Students will find a comprehensive list of research tools at the end of the book in an appendix called “For Further Research.” These tools include books, articles, essays, online databases, blogs, and other kinds of scholarship and commentary, organized by type.

    For faculty, I also offer a testbank of short and long essay-style questions that can be used for generating midterm or final exams, quizzes, or even study guides. Again, the emphasis is on presenting questions that encourage conceptual understanding rather than on requiring students to memorize facts.


    Developing a critical approach that does not follow the standard textbook template involves some trepidation. But all the people at CQ Press have been incredibly supportive, helpful, and just plain nice! Thanks to Charisse Kiino for initially persuading me to draw up a prospectus for this little idea I had, and thanks to Elise Frasier and Talia Greenberg for their great editing help at CQ Press and to freelance copy editor Joanne S. Ainsworth. I'd also like to thank my reviewers, including Robert Benedetti, University of the Pacific; Michael Deaver, Sierra College; and Nicholas Dungey, California State University, Northridge, for their useful advice.

    Aitäh (that's “thanks” in Estonian) to my family—Linda, Taavi, Priit, and Aivar—for putting up with me during my bouts of obsessive reading and writing. Thanks to my colleagues at California State University, Long Beach, for giving me an academic home. Finally, words can't express how grateful I am to all the students past and present at Cal State, Long Beach, who have given me energy and fired me up every time I walked into the classroom. They will see the footprints of a lot of different lectures and many different courses in this book. It's not just about California, and my students know that.

    California Politics

  • For Further Research

    Books and Articles
    California Politics and Social History
    Arax, Mark, and RickWartzman. The King of California. New York: Public Affairs, 2003.
    Baldassare, Mark. California in the New Millennium. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.
    Banham, Reyner. Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies. New York: Harper and Row, 1971.
    Blitz, Michael, and LouiseKrasniewicz. Why Arnold Matters: The Rise of a Cultural Icon. New York: Basic Books, 2004.
    Brechin, Gray. Imperial San Francisco. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.
    Chacón, JustinAkers, and MikeDavis. No One Is Illegal. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2006.
    Chan, Sucheng, and SpencerOlin. Major Problems in California History. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
    Davis, Mike. City of Quartz. New York: Verso, 1991.
    Davis, Mike. Dead Cities. New York: New Press, 2002.
    Davis, Mike. Ecology of Fear. New York: Vintage, 1998.
    Davis, Mike, KellyMayhew, and JimMiller. Under the Perfect Sun. New York: New Press, 2003.
    Deverell, William, and TomSitton, eds. California Progressivism Revisited. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.
    Didion, Joan. Where I Was From. New York: Knopf, 2003.
    Gerston, LarryN., and TerryChristensen. Recall California's Political Earthquake. Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe, 2004.
    Henderson, George. California and the Fictions of Capital. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998.
    Hundley, Norris, Jr.The Great Thirst. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.
    Indiana, Gary. Schwarzenegger Syndrome: Politics and Celebrity in the Age of Contempt. New York: New Press, 2005.
    Isenberg, AndrewC.Mining California. New York: Hill and Wang, 2001.
    Kahrl, William. Water and Power. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982.
    May, KirseGranat. Golden State, Golden Youth. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002.
    McWilliams, Carey. California: The Great Exception. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. First published 1949.
    Mitchell, Don. The Lie of the Land. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.
    Mowry, GeorgeE.The California Progressives. New York: Quadrangle, 1976. First published 1951.
    Orsi, Richard. Sunset Limited. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.
    Parson, Don. Making a Better World. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 2005.
    Pincetl, StephanieS.Transforming California. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.
    Rawls, JamesJ., and WaltonBean. California: An Interpretive History. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002.
    Schrag, Peter. California: America's High-Stakes Experiment. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.
    Starr, Kevin. Americans and the California Dream. New York: Oxford University Press, 1973.
    Starr, Kevin. California: A History. New York: Modern Library, 2005.
    Starr, KevinCoast of Dreams. New York: Knopf, 2004.
    Starr, Kevin. The Dream Endures. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
    Starr, Kevin. Embattled Dreams. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
    Starr, Kevin. Endangered Dreams. New York, Oxford University Press, 1996.
    Starr, Kevin. Inventing the Dream. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.
    Starr, Kevin. Material Dreams. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.
    Stewart, Dean, and JeannineGendar, eds. Fool's Paradise: A Carey McWilliams Reader. Berkeley: Santa Clara University/Heyday Books, 2001.
    Walker, RichardA.The Conquest of Bread. New York: New Press, 2004.
    American Politics and Social History
    Boggs, Carl. The End of Politics. New York: Guilford, 2000.
    Bonner, William, and AddisonWiggin. Empire of Debt. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2006.
    Chomsky, Noam. Profit over People. New York: Seven Stories Press, 1999.
    Collins, Chuck, with FeliceYeskel. Economic Apartheid in America.
    rev. ed.
    New York: New Press, 2005.
    Domhoff, G.William. Who Rules America?
    5th ed.
    New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005.
    Duncan, Richard. The Dollar Crisis. Singapore: Wiley, 2005.
    Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. New York: Holt, 2002.
    Kivel, Paul. You Call This a Democracy?New York: Apex, 2004.
    Limerick, PatriciaNelson. The Legacy of Conquest. New York: Norton, 1987.
    McChesney, Robert. The Problem of the Media: U.S. Communication Politics in the Twenty-First Century. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2004.
    McGerr, Michael. A Fierce Discontent. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
    Mills, C.Wright. The Power Elite. New York: Oxford University Press, 1956.
    Parenti, Michael. Democracy for the Few.
    7th ed.
    New York: Wadsworth, 2001.
    Perelman, Michael. Railroading Economics. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2006.
    Phillips, Kevin. Wealth and Democracy. New York: Broadway Books, 2002.
    Pollin, Robert. Contours of Descent. New York: Verso, 2005.
    Reisner, Marc. Cadillac Desert. New York: Penguin, 1987.
    Schumpeter, JosephA.Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. New York: Harper Perennial, 1976.
    Slotkin, Richard. Gunfighter Nation. New York: Atheneum, 1992.
    Turner, FrederickJackson. The Frontier in American History. New York: Holt, 1926. First published 1921.
    White, Richard. “It's Your Misfortune and None of My Own”: A New History of the American West. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991.
    Wolff, EdwardN.Top Heavy.
    Updated ed.
    New York: New Press, 2002.
    Worster, Donald. Rivers of Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.
    Social (criticism and Theory
    Baudrillard, Jean. The Perfect Crime. New York: Verso, 1996.
    Davis, Mike. Planet of Slums. New York: Verso, 2006.
    Deleuze, Gilles, and FelixGuattari. Anti-Oedipus. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1983.
    Easton, David. A Framework for Political Analysis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979. First published 1965.
    Foucault, Michel. Power/Knowledge. New York: Pantheon, 1980.
    Giroux, HenryA.Stormy Weather. Boulder: Paradigm, 2006.
    Hoogvelt, Ankie. Globalization and the Postcolonial World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.
    Kunstler, JamesHoward. The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes. New York: Grove Press, 2005.
    Lasswell, Harold. Who Gets What, When, How. New York: P. Smith, 1950. First published 1936.
    Logan, John, and HarveyMolotch. Urban Fortunes. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.
    Marcuse, Herbert. One-Dimensional Man. Boston: Beacon Press, 1964.
    Online Resources
    For California Government
    California Budget Project: An independent organization focusing on economic and policy analysis and targeting the well-being of low- and middle-income Californians.
    California Courts: The Web site for the judicial branch of California with data and other information related to the judiciary.
    Department of Finance: Web site for the chief fiscal policy adviser to the governor.
    Fair Political Practices Commission: The Web site for the commission, a bipartisan, independent group that administers and enforces California's campaign finance and lobbying rules.
    Legislative Analyst's Office: The home page of the nonpartisan agency that advises and oversees fiscal and other policy for the state. The LAO is meant to be the “eyes and ears” of the legislature, and the Web site contains historical and current data on the budget.
    Legislative Counsel's Official California Legislative Information: The official Web site for information on California's legislature, including information about current bills, members, and a roster of daily events.
    Public Policy Institute of California: Extensive collection of original research related to all aspects of California politics and economy.
    Secretary of State: Provides information on elections past, present, and future, including filing data pertaining to campaign contributions in state elections.
    The State of California Web site: The gateway to online resources dealing with all three branches of government.
    Political Commentary, Issue Advocacy, and Opinion
    Arnold Watch: The site's own description sums it up best:
    “Watching the hidden hand of special interests in the Schwarzenegger Administration.” Some of it is pretty funny, too.
    California Political Daily: Daily summary of important California news and commentary.
    California Redevelopment Association: The Web site for a professional organization representing redevelopment agencies in California. Redevelopment from the viewpoint of those who do it.
    Calitics: Daily blog with a decidedly progressive, left-wing perspective with excellent links to other useful California-related media sites.
    CQPolitics: Postings of political news, focused primarily on California representatives in Congress. CQPolitics has postings for other states, too. Grist: Environmental News and Commentary: A nonprofit resource for environmental journalism that is self-described as “gloom and doom with a sense of humor.”
    Rough and Tumble: Daily summary of news articles and commentary related to California politics.
    They Rule: An Internet site with searchable data showing how corporations are actually interlocked through their boards of directors. The names are not always entirely updated, but the picture of interlocks remains clear just the same: this is the power elite.
    Data Resources
    Center for Responsive Politics: Tracks money in politics at both federal and state levels, including data broken down by industries and interest groups; also provides an accounting of money in PACs and 527s.
    Data Place: A data repository sponsored by the Fannie Mae Foundation with good state and local data and excellent maps and graphs.
    National Conference of State Legislatures: A clearinghouse for data and information on state legislatures.
    National Institute on Money in State Politics: A variety of searchable databases investigating the role of money in state politics.
    UC Data: http://ucdata.berkeleyedu:7101/. University of California at Berkeley's principal archive of computerized social science and health statistics information, including a wealth of data on California (Field Poll Press releases and other demographic data).
    U.S. Census Bureau: Census data and information from the U.S. decennial and other censuses. See especially the Statistical Abstracts for state-related information.


    astroturf lobby groups. Lobbying groups that appear to be real grassroots community political movements but in fact are organized and funded by larger, often corporate interest groups. (Chapter 5.)

    author system. A system by which a bill in the legislature is cared for by its author, who shepherds it through the process. This is one of the procedural differences between how the California legislature and the U.S. Congress works. (Chapter 5.)

    bracero system. A program created during World War II by the federal government that brought contracted temporary farmworkers from Mexico to work California fields. The system ended in 1962. (Chapter 3.)

    California Land Act (1851). An act that required proof of ownership of the rancho properties. Used as a means of taking control of property away from the californios once California became a state. (Chapter 3.)

    californio. A member of the landed class that rose to prominence while California was still under Mexican rule prior to statehood. Although californios themselves were often of mixed ethnic or racial background, they claimed a Europeanized ethnic superiority to the indigenous native populations around them. (Chapter 3.)

    central place theory. A theory in the field of geography that argues for a logical distribution of market centers based on size and market opportunities. (Chapter 1.)

    charter cities. A type of governmental organization for cities that gives them greater flexibility and a semblance of home rule not afforded under general law. (Chapter 8.)

    charter counties. Counties that are allowed to organize under their own rules and thus have, in principle, more flexibility and control over how they govern. (Chapter 8.)

    citizen politicians. Politicians who try to finance their own way into political office by spending enormous amounts of personal wealth to bypass the traditional route of working their way up the party organizational ladder and moving from “lower” elected positions to more prominent statewide positions. (Chapter 4.)

    contract lobbying. Lobbying done on a temporary, contractual basis, to argue any position that the client needs. Contract lobbying firms, in effect, offer “hired guns” to lobby. (Chapter 5.)

    Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal is divided into six districts and hears appeals from superior courts. Panels of three justices hear cases in which the two sides present oral arguments and file briefs. Courts of appeal may remand the case, order a new trial, or dismiss the charges. (Chapter 7.)

    deterritorialization. A term coined by the philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, since used by others as well. Using Freudian terminology, they argue that capitalism creates a “schizophrenic accumulation of energy or charge” that runs through the entirety of the socioeconomic system, because capital and the goods that it produces may flow freely across geographical space but people—workers in the system—are still territorially bound and their movements limited by a political system of states, borders, passports, and work permits. Capitalism is deterritorialized but people are not. (Chapter 10.)

    edge cities. Developments that have taken place in areas seemingly too far from traditional central business districts but that have been made possible by new commuting patterns. Edge cities provide all the amenities of the central business district so that people may not have to commute to the central city. Rather, they stay in the edge city or commute within the suburban edge. (Chapter 3.)

    elite politics. Rule by the wealthy and influential, regardless of how “democratic” a system may seem to be; a plutocracy: rule by and for the rich. (Introduction.)

    fiscalization of land use. The process by which economic growth is promoted by encouraging the (often subsidized) transfer of land to private interests in order to get tax revenues that increased due to reassessments of property based on changes in ownership and land use. (Chapter 3.)

    general law cities. A type of city that is organized under state law, usually following a council-manager form with an elected city council and an appointed city manager who manages the day-to-day operations of city government. (Chapter 8.)

    general law counties. A type of county that consists of an elected (but nonpartisan) five-member board of supervisors serving four-year terms, plus a series of other elected county officials, including the sheriff, district attorney, tax collector, coroner, county clerk, and others. (Chapter 8.)

    gerrymandering. Districts clearly drawn with the intent of pressing partisan

    advantage at the expense of other considerations. Usually a pejorative term used to describe reapportionment or redistricting. (Chapter 4.)

    great exception. As Carey McWilliams notes, California became the great exception, because everything that capitalism required had to come in from outside sources, bypassing settlement of the rest of the West and making California ready immediately for statehood. (Chapter 1.)

    growth coalitions. Those in the community who support the idea of development as put forth by the growth machines. (Chapter 1.)

    growth machines. Made up of those who control the land and its resources (often corporations or wealthy entrepreneurs), supported by local governments and a host of bureaucracies that bring together both private and public interests at local, state, and national levels and push for the constant development and redevelopment of land as a means of promoting economic growth. Growth machines follow a logic of growth that says that all economic expansion is, by definition, good and therefore must be supported. (Introduction.)

    hard money contributions. Money directly contributed by individuals and organizations that is regulated primarily under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971. (Chapter 4.)

    initiative. Measures to be approved or rejected by voters, such as new laws or constitutional amendments, placed on the ballot by citizens who have collected a sufficient number of signatures. In California, the legislature may later amend the initiative, but amendments are also subject to voter approval unless designated otherwise. The initiative is pure direct democracy, for it allows voters to make law when elected officials are unwilling or unable to take action. (Chapter 4.)

    interlocks. A political and economic system wherein the same people sit on many different boards of directors at the same time such that everybody in the power elite works together to make sure that the same corporate logic can be maintained across the privatized system. (Chapter 2.)

    internment camps. Camps to which Japanese Americans were sent by executive order during World War II. (Chapter 3.)

    labor movement. The struggle for workers’ rights, which were fought for by unions without significant political support. Those in the labor movement relied on public protest and street demonstration because they lacked other venues to be heard. The power elite relied on police action and use of force to suppress the labor movement in California, especially during the 1910s through the 1930s. (Chapter 3.)

    Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO).

    A nonpartisan bureau within California's government that has the task (among other budgetary responsibilities) of reviewing the governor's budget and flagging portions for further review by the legislature. (Chapter 9.)

    Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO). A commission formed to oversee the incorporation of cities. (Chapter 9.)

    long emergency. The hypothesis that the world is headed toward a time of crisis brought on by the end of an oil-based economy, environmental collapse brought on by global warming, and a total disintegration of the global economic system. (Chapter 10.)

    Malpractice Injury and Compensation Reform Act (MICRA). Passed in 1975, limits pain and suffering damages

    to $250,000 and places limits on lawyers’ fees. (Chapter 7.)

    May Revise. Part of the budget review process in which the governor's office issues the latest numbers of how much money is coming in and how much is going out; this update may require parts of the budget to be reworked. (Chapter 9.)

    military-industrial complex. An economic relationship describing the close connection between industries dedicated to the making of armaments (and other military hardware) and the political decision-making process that supports these industries. President Dwight Eisenhower warned of the growing power of the military-industrial complex in 1961, but its power has largely expanded since, despite Eisenhower's apprehension. (Chapter 3.)

    nonpartisan independent bureaus.

    Politically independent bureaus that support the work of the legislature. (Chapter 5.)

    party affiliation. Citizens’ identification with a particular political party. (Chapter 4.)

    plural executive system. A system whereby statewide executive officeholders are elected separately by the voters rather than being appointed by the governor. The system is intended to increase the accountability of officials and dilute executive power. (Chapter 6.)

    Political Reform Act. Passed in 1974, an attempt to regulate campaign financing. The act established rules for public disclosure of all donors and campaign expenditures. (Chapter 4.)

    power elite. C. Wright Mills's conceptualization of the American political system dominated by an economic ruling class but supported by political and cultural leaders who reinforce a system in which power is concentrated in the hands of the few; see elite politics.

    private government. The decision-making process within the corporate world that stands outside public accountability. (Chapter 2.)

    professional legislature. The California legislature was professionalized in 1966, when legislating was made a full-time job that carried a full-time salary. (Chapter 5.)

    Progressive movement. A political movement begun during the Progressive era that ran from about 1910 to 1930, directed primarily toward breaking the power of the railroad trusts by calling for political reforms, including the introduction of primary elections, nonpartisan offices, and avenues for direct democracy. (Chapter 3.)

    Proposition 4 (1979). Mandated that budget increases be proportional to rises in the consumer price index (CPI). In 1990 Proposition 111 relaxed the requirement, acknowledging that the cost of living in California was higher than the national average, so the California CPI was to be used instead. (Chapter 9.)

    Proposition 6 (1982). More or less eliminated the state inheritance tax, even though only the very wealthiest families were actually subject to its effects. (Chapter 9.)

    Proposition 13 (1978). An initiative passed by California voters in 1978, fixing the property tax at 1 percent of the assessed value and limiting increases in the property tax to no more than 2 percent per year. Properties are not reassessed until the property is developed or changes hands. Proposition 13 took property tax collection away from local governments and put it under state authority. Although limited to property tax assessments, the antitax message delivered by Proposition 13 has had a lasting effect on all aspects of California's budget process. (Chapter 8.)

    Proposition 34 (2000). Establishes hard limits on contributions to individual campaigns as well as to political action committees (PACs) in California. (Chapter 4.)

    Proposition 64 (2004). Initiative that did away with the possibility of class action suits brought against companies engaged in unfair business practices. (Chapter 7.)

    Proposition 98 (1988). Required that 40 percent of the state's budget taken from the general fund be allocated to K-12 education plus the community college system. The 2004–2005 budget, however, took advantage of a provision in the proposition that allowed for temporary suspension of this measure in the event of emergency. (Chapter 9.)

    Proposition 218 (1996). A measure that requires voter approval for all local tax increases. (Chapter 9.)

    racial profiling. A type of policing that is based upon typification (racial type, or “profile”) rather than on the actual behavior of an individual; one's race or ethnicity becomes a determinant in raising suspicion. (Chapter 7.)

    rancho system. Large land grants given to a handful of settlers who then dominated California's early economic and political development. (Chapter 3.)

    reapportionment. The drawing of new boundaries for congressional and state legislative districts, usually following a decennial census; also referred to as redistricting or, in a more negative sense, gerrymandering. (Chapter 4.)

    recall. A mechanism of direct democracy that allows citizens to collect signatures sufficient to allow a vote on the ouster of an incumbent politician prior to the next regularly scheduled election. (Chapter 4.)

    redevelopment agencies. Local government agencies with considerable power over making planning decisions in urban areas and subject to almost no direct oversight. (Chapter 8.)

    referendum. A form of direct democracy that allows the electorate to either accept or reject a law passed by the legislature. There are two types of referenda. A compulsory referendum is placed on the ballot when the legislature approves constitutional amendments or the issuance of most bonds. A petition referendum can be thought of as a recall of a law already passed by the legislature. (Chapter 4.)

    soft money. Campaign contributions that are not regulated and may be made in unlimited amounts. Until changes to federal law placed some new restrictions on soft money contributions, the national parties benefited most from such contributions. Today, soft money is donated primarily to political action committees and 527s, which are only partially regulated. (Chapter 4.)

    superior courts.See trial courts.

    Supreme Court. California's highest court, consisting of seven members, presided over by the chief justice and six associates. (Chapter 7.)

    term limits. The limitation of the length of time an elected official may serve. State senators are limited to two

    four-year terms, assembly members to three two-year terms. (Chapter 5.)

    Three Strikes law. A law passed in 1994 that mandated a minimum sentence of twenty-five years to life for a third felony conviction. (Chapter 7.)

    trial courts. In California, the superior courts where nearly all legal cases are first heard. These courts handle both criminal felonies and misdemeanors (including minor crimes and most traffic cases), small claims, family law (divorce and custody cases), and civil suits. (Chapter 7.)

    Victims Bill of Rights. A bill passed in 1982 that created more mandatory sentencing, especially for crimes committed with guns. (Chapter 7.)

    warehousing of prisoners. A corrections system dedicated to locking up prisoners for extended periods of time instead of attempting to rehabilitate them. This has led to overcrowding of the prison system, despite construction and expansion of prisons in California. (Chapter 7.)

    weak party system. One of the characteristics of California's legislature going back to the Progressive era that means that committee chairs are not necessarily assigned through seniority (which goes to the ranking majority member) and that some committees may be chaired by minority members. (Chapter 5.)

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