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Wednesday, July 10, 2002


Davis is shitting bricks, and Democrats are trying to cover his ass.

The Orange County Register and Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters are both reporting that Davis intends to sign AB 1493 (the anti-greenhouse-gas bill) to appease his liberal base, but that Democrats are scared a subsequent referendum drive will put it on the November election ballot and thereby further threaten Davis' relection hopes. So Democrats in the legislature are bottling up the already-passed bill, hoping to run out the clock.

The referendum process in California is very tricky. Among other things, Article II Section 10(d) of the California Constitution says you need a summary and title prepared by the State Attorney General [Democrat Bill Lockyer], and the AG has ten days in which to generate that after the Governor signs it and a referendum request is submitted. In addition, the petitions must contain the entire text of the measure, including the summary. That turns each individual petition into a huge multi-page document, and this incredibly expensive printing job can't start until the AG's summary is available.

So it takes a lot of money to mount a successful referendum in California, especially on an abbreviated time schedule. But by making all possible preparations ahead of time, and laying out perhaps $5 million, I think the signatures can be gathered in as little as one week after the Attorney General's summary is released.

The good news is that the Secretary of State, Bill Jones, is a Republican. He won't add to the delays, and if anything will lean on his office staff and on the County Registrars to complete the random-sample signature verification well ahead of the statuatory deadlines. And if the referendum backers concentrate on Republican counties (e.g., Orange County), they can further assure that the signature verifications are finished quickly and fairly.

So if this bill is sent to Davis within the next few days or weeks, it can still make it onto the November ballot. But if the Democrats blatantly sit on it till August 31st, and Davis then takes 30 days before signing it, and Lockyer takes 10 days to prepare a summary, they will succeed in delaying the referendum till March 2004 and thereby protect Davis' butt.

I don't think the PR pressures will let them sit on it that long. Here's my prediction: The Dems will stall another two weeks, while newspaper editorials and talk show hosts lambast them and advertising pressure from builds up, then they'll finally send it on to Davis. He'll take his 12 days, then Lockyer will take his 10 days, and petitioning will finally start in the final week of August. After a record signature-gathering blitz, petitions will be submitted around September 1st and they will be verified by the end of September, which is more than 31 days before the general election. Opponents of AB 1493 will pour $50 million into defeating it in November, and in the process badly (perhaps fatally) damage Davis' re-election campaign.

And if that happy chain of events occurs, Kyoto will be totally destroyed as a political issue in the United States.

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