Is Direct Democracy Broken? Last Night’s KALW City Visions Discussion

Last night on City Visions on KALW radio we had a feisty discussion about direct democracy in California, with special attention on San Francisco’s crowded ballot.  City voters there are faced with 25 initiatives this year, many put on due to a quirk in the city charter that allows supervisors to place them as leverage over political opponents.

Joining me for the discussion were:

  • Bruce Cain, Professor of Political Science at Stanford University;
  • Joe Eskenazi, Senior Editor at San Francisco Magazine; and
  • Quentin L. Kopp, Member of the San Francisco Ethics Commission, retired California Superior Court judge, former San Francisco Supervisor, and prior California State Senator.

Bottom line: the advent of direct democracy has proven popular with the voters in concept and is tough to reform, even if voters don’t like having so many choices to make.  However, we discussed possible reform efforts related to paid citizen signature gathering and shorter ballot.

You can listen to the discussion here.  And next Monday, I’ll be hosting a one-on-one discussion with California High Speed Rail Authority chair Dan Richard, so mark your calendars now!


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