Commentary: Reformers hit familiar snag in California

Let's count the most appealing aspects of California state government. There are so many.

There is the perennial budget crisis, the antics of some lawmakers and the sway of the moneyed interests, not to mention the fundraising frenzies, the perpetual campaigns and the initiative wars.

Our state government is damaged, and it must be fixed if California is to thrive. That makes all the more troubling the apparent failure of two efforts that held out some promise of some change for the better.

A group called Repair California, backing initiatives calling for a California constitutional convention, has given up placing its measures on the 2010 general election ballot. A second group, California Forward, advocated a more modest overhaul of the state budget system. That, too, is on life-support.

People involved were well-intentioned and seemingly well-grounded in their understanding of California politics. Certainly, with institutions such as the Bay Area Council and individuals such as former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg involved, there was no lack of statewide campaign experience.

With each passing day, however, chances diminish that either group will be able to raise enough money to gather the millions of signatures needed to place the measures on the November ballot. That doesn't mean that either is dead.

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