If a unique gathering of Californians for a weekend full of talks about government proved anything, it may be that the best chance for consensus lies in the what's most absent in politics: substantive dialogue.
On the last weekend in June, 412 citizens from around the state gathered in Torrance to discuss what's wrong with California's system of governance and how it might be fixed. This morning, the backers of the event released their findings at a news conference in Sacramento.
Tops on the list: longer legislative terms, an initiative process that allows for amendments by citizens but not by politicians, and a focus on performance measures for state government.
The dog days of summer, especially in this unusual year where the Legislature finished its work on deadline and then adjourned for a month, leave a lot of time for contemplation.
Hence, a Reporter's Notebook entry that could be called the "Summer of What If?"
One of the essential selling points of California's move toward term limits for legislators two decades ago was that, by serving shorter terms, more citizen legislators would be elected who would do their time in Sacramento and go home.
But it's not happening, according to the analysis of a non-partisan think tank.