Now, it looks as though the white knight has ridden in... on his own jet.
The reform group assembled and underwritten by billionaire Nicolas Berggruen, the Think Long Committee for California, today endorsed and pledged its support to the wide-ranging initiative drafted by another reform group, California Forward.
Wonder Twin powers, activate!
California Forward's initiative "perfectly reflects both the growing public demand in California for a more accountable government and Think Long's mission of strengthening California’s democracy for the long term," said Berggruen in a emailed statement.
As I wrote back in early November, the initiative is a wide-ranging retooling of government functions on both the local and state levels. It includes new local flexibility to spend state revenues; performance measures and "pay as you go" rules for state budgets; and a new rule requiring state legislation to be in print for three days before a vote.
"We are looking forward to working together with California Forward," says the statement from Berggruen, "and are prepared to dedicate ample time and resources to this worthy cause."
That last comment is the biggie: resources, as in money. There's no word on exactly how much the billionaire investor-turned-reformer will sink into the initiative, but there's wide agreement that he'll do what it takes to get the measure on the ballot -- a task that, these days, typically takes around $3 million.
So far, California Forward -- a longer established bipartisan group but one without big bucks -- has reported less than $600,000 for its initiative campaign. So this news will be very big for their campaign.The news release announcing the new partnership also hints at some private polling that's been done on the Cal Forward initiative. And no doubt one thing going in its favor will be the lack of a well-funded opposition campaign. After all, who's going to fight an initiative that purports to both streamline government and offer new transparency?
When Think Long announced last week that it wasn't pursuing its own reform plan for 2012, the safe money was a partnership with California Forward, given the numerous ties between the two groups (in the VIPs involved) and the general approach of both groups to systemic governance changes. So this news isn't surprising. But it is a shot in the arm for those who have been looking for a bipartisan and non-governmental approach to reform.