2/3rds Adventure at the CDP Convention

Ellis Goldberg is President of the Tri Valley Democratic Club and has been behind an effort to pass a resolution in support of overturning the 2/3rds rule for both the budget & revenue.

A couple of months ago I realized that there was no apparent movement to undo the 2/3 rule that prevents the CA legislators from doing their job.  Sally Sweetser & I wrote a resolution to present to the CDP at the convention.   The resolution calls for a change to simple majority for BOTH budget and revenue legislation.  We went through the proper procedures and several Democratic Clubs and the Contra Costa Central Committee passed the resolution telling the state party to endorse this position.  

Five resolutions were submitted to the CDP Resolutions Committee concerning the 2/3 rule. We attended the Resolutions Committee meeting.  They decided to condense the five into one, which unfortunately did not include the part about revenue.  It is like being strangled by two hands but only trying to remove one of them.  The accepted resolution was written by not yet elected Chair John Burton.

Before the meeting I spoke to several committee members asking for their support and was assured by the Chair that I would get a chance to speak at the committee meeting.  The meeting started and only members of the committee were initially allowed to speak.  There were a total of 119 resolutions many of which were condensed.  All were put on a consent calendar to be voted on at once.  In order for any of the 119 resolutions to be considered individually, debated and addressed by their authors, a member of the committee had to pull the resolution to be considered separately.  None of the committee members pulled the resolution, which meant it would go to the convention floor as is.  Voting on these resolution would take place Sunday afternoon at the end of the convention.  The committee rules as posted on the CDP website say nothing about the pull procedure.

We later heard that delegates are allowed to pull resolutions from the floor and request amendments.   Sally did that.   Sally, Contra Costa County Party Chair Chuck Carpenter and I were prepared to make our case to the assembled convention.   We waited impatiently as members of the legislature & delegates debated props 1A-1F and other resolutions. Then someone asked for a quorum call which unfortunately would have ended all voting at the convention since many delegates already left.  Then that delegate rescinded the quorum call.  I thanked  him for doing that.  

Then another delegate approached Sally and I asking to speak on our resolution, he wanted to say something about term limits.  Sally told him that is off the topic.  He threatened a quorum call.  Sally read the name on his badge and said she would remember him.  I spoke to Chuck who said to let the guy talk.  The guy seemed satisfied.  

Chuck realized that any delegate opposing the resolution could make a quorum call, that would kill the resolution altogether, so Chuck and Sally decided to rescind the pull and instead try to pass our resolution at the meet e-board meeting in June on the peninsula.  Chuck went up to the stage and got Alex Rooker the new female Vice Chair to support our position at the e-board meeting.  I was really stressed by then and had a toothache to boot.  I had a root canal yesterday.  

We plan on taking a resolution to the E-Board meeting in June.

Ellis Goldberg

TriValley Democratic Club President & Webmaster www.TRIVALLEYDEMS.com

Office/home 925 831 8355

Cell 925 451 4303

The California Democratic Party should resolve to undo the 2/3rds rules for both budget and revenue related legislation, replacing it with majority rule.

It is the legislator’s job to legislate budget and revenue; they are prevented from doing that job by a minority.  The way it works in 47 other states is that voters get rid of legislators that don’t do a good job. That is democracy.  In California our legislators are judged on results they cannot effect due to the 2/3 rule where NO votes carry twice the weight as YES votes.  That is not democracy.

Polls soon to be taken may show that support for this resolution at the polls is weak NOW!  The vote will be taken in mid 2010 after thousands of volunteers gathered 700,000 signatures and the results of the last budget extortion have given Californians great pain.  Public opinion will change!

The California Democratic Party has never been stronger.  Obama campaigners and many others are waiting for a just cause.  They know that politics is a continuing experience and that they have to stay involved in order to keep the country we just got back.  Changing the 2/3 to simple majority for budget and revenue is that just cause.  Less than that is compromise and not as just.  Two hands are strangling Californians; both must be removed and replaced with a democratic solution.

Solutions brewed in smoked filled rooms are not democratic.  The California Democratic Party elects delegates to decide the direction the party should take by voting on resolutions in the sunlight.  Voting down this resolution will relegate delegate responsibility to a select group in a smoke filled room.  In that room they will choose between, budget vs. budget & revenue; majority vs. 55%.  A petition will be drafted in that room based on polling numbers taken before the consequences of the last budget have been taken into account.  

This is resolution as submitted to the Resolutions Committee


WHEREAS, the state of California requires a 2/3’s vote of the legislature to pass all budget and revenue related legislation which results in unequal representation with NO votes counting twice as much as YES votes;  

WHEREAS, this has resulted in rule by a minority of the legislature that has consistently blocked the will of the majority of the citizens of the state of California, delayed annual enactment of budget and revenue related legislation beyond the June 15th deadline, reduced the credit rating of the state, and forced the state to rely on borrowing which burdens future generations of California citizens;

WHEREAS, the 2/3’s rule has resulted in a fiscal catastrophe for the state of California and has caused undue harm to the health and welfare of its citizens;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party Central Committee supports amending the constitution of the state of California to allow a simple majority of the Legislature to pass both budget and revenue related legislation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party Central Committee will distribute copies of this resolution to the California Senate and Assembly, other California County Democratic Central Committees, as well as Democratic clubs, and work to support legislation that will overturn the 2/3’s vote requirement.

Drafted by Sally Sweetser Delegate 11th Assembly, member of the Diablo Valley Democratic Club and Ellis Goldberg Delegate 15th Assembly, President of the TriValley Democratic Club this resolution will be considered by the Resolution Committee of the CDP at the April Convention.  It was endorsed by the TriValley, Diablo Valley, San Ramon Valley Sonoma County & Wellstone Reform Democratic Clubs as well as the Contra Costa County Democratic Party Central Committee.

One thought on “2/3rds Adventure at the CDP Convention”

  1. Ellis – You are right on point with this post.  

    We Democrats must seize the wave of enthusiasm within the party to affect meaningful change in governance – both for the nation and for the state of California.  

    Smoke filled room decision making must be replaced with more transparency.  The simple majority rule for revenue and budget is the right policy to pursue, and in my opinion would have passed a 60% majority on the floor of our convention.  

    I too am displeased with how this went down.  See you at the E-Board meeting.  I will be supporting your resolution – in its pure form.

    Robert Johnson, Jr.

    aka “Morpheus”

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