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California constitutional overhaul airs in Auburn

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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With the belief that California government is broken and needs to be fixed, a spokesman for a powerful Bay Area business organization told Auburn-area leaders Monday that the state’s constitution needs a rewrite. Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, said the demand is growing for the Legislature to call a new state constitutional convention – something that last occurred in 1878-79. Wunderman cited political polarization, no deadlines on handling issues like healthcare, education and prisons, and budget deficits as key reasons for redrafting the constitution. Wunderman’s visit was hosted by the Sierra Business Council, which has more than 700 members in the Sierra. He said that since the idea of the convention was broached by his group earlier this year, he’s found that support of a long-term process to create greater fiscal discipline and encourage budget reform has growing support. The former deputy mayor of San Francisco, Wunderman said he’s spoken to groups in Los Angeles, Orange County and Sacramento. “People are more like-minded on coming up with fixes than one might think,” he said. Steve Frisch, executive director of the Sierra Business Council, said that major polls indicate May 19 election measures that would help with the state’s financial woes may not pass. That would make a constitutional convention more plausible, he said. It would be in the Sierra Nevada’s interests to have representatives at the table if a constitutional convention is held, Frisch added. “There should be a broad representation of all interests, including rural areas, to have a meaningful discussion,” Frisch said. The 15-year-old Sierra Business Council’s mission is to pioneer innovative projects and approaches that foster community vitality, environmental quality, economic prosperity, and social fairness in the Sierra Nevada The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.