Wednesday, July 17, 2013 (SACRAMENTO) A 5-Point Plan for California’s First “Chief Engagement Officer” 1.

“Get what you pay for” government. Sacramento has become a merry-go-round for career politicians who use the power of their positions to move up the political ladder instead of improving California’s financial environment and quality of life. There’s no incentive to ensuring economic development, recruiting businesses, advancing our education system, or achieving better civic engagement. Elections shouldn’t be the only time we judge our politicians. Taxpayers are currently paying six-figure salaries for government complacency. Pete’s Plan:  Set the example for other politicians by getting paid according to my performance.  Establish my own “100-point Performance Dashboard”– a mixture of indicators ranging from easing the business registration process to increasing voter turnout. And I’ll post it online.  I’ll get paid only for those portions of the dashboard that I successfully execute.  Launch a biannual “Eureka Prize,” awarding counties and Californians on civic engagement measures, including the highest increases in voter turnout and the development of online/handheld voting applications.

2. Quit driving jobs out of California by making life difficult for California businesses. The Secretary of State’s office is the first place you go when opening a new business and the last place you go when the lights are turned off and the doors are closed. The sight isn’t pretty. The registration process for businesses in California is one of the worst in the country. In fact, many California businesses register in nearby Nevada or in Texas while they wait for the California registration to come through, just so they can open a bank account.

California has lost more jobs than any other state since the beginning of the recession, and is one of the toughest states in which to start or grow a small business. Governor Jerry Brown and the other career politicians in Sacramento are doing nothing to stop it. Trying to start – and run – a business in California is a nightmare of misguided information and various websites and 800 numbers, instead of a streamlined easy-to-use process. This needs to change. Pete’s Plan:  Make all business registration available online.  48-hour maximum turnaround for business registration without a premium charge.  Remove the $800 annual fee for the first year of operation for new businesses – both corporations and LLC’s . And then reduce that fee to be competitive with other states.  Develop a “GoldMine BizPortal” that easily connects new businesses with support services, the Board of Equalization, Employment Development Department, and Franchise Tax Board.  Provide customer feedback surveys with all business registration forms to improve service.  Issue a biannual “Coming & Going Report,” outlining why businesses are starting in California – or leaving. Let’s stop hiding the facts.  Maintain an ongoing “CA BizTracker” of business start-ups and failures on the SOS homepage. 3. California is the world leader in technology and design – let’s use it to make government run better and get more Californians informed and involved. California is home to the best graphic designers and technology experts in the world, but you’d never know it from the way our elections are run. Calif ornia has been ranked in the bottom 5 states in the use of technology in the voting process. Even states like Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and Arkansas far exceed California in the use of technology for voting purposes. And our electoral system is also one of the worst in the country when it comes to counting absentee ballots, provisional ballots, and the ballots of our armed forces members serving abroad. Pete’s Plan:  Create a California-based “Design for Democracy” summit involving the state’s best graphic designers, and launch a top-down review of all the state’s civic engagement platforms – from our absentee ballot forms to the Secretary of State’s website.  Overhaul the ballot information packet to make it easier to read, more informative, and more accessible in digital formats. 2

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Launch handheld tools statewide for finding the nearest polling location and tracking your absentee ballot. Improve communications and promotion of voting to our overseas military. Encourage immediate electronic voter registration at all points of contact with the state – including when a Californian obtains a driver license, buys or sells a home, or rents an apartment,

4. More Californians/fewer Sacramento politicians in the ballot initiative process. Earlier this year, the U.S. Third Circuit Court found that Governor Brown, the Secretary of State, and the Legislature unconstitutionally placed Proposition 30 at the top of the ballot through an all-too-typical insider deal. The Ballot Initiative is the “People’s Voice” in California and must be protected against Sacramento overreach. We need more Californians involved in the initiative process, not politicians. Through technology and better public engagement, we can keep the ballot box in the hands of informed Californians, where it belongs. Pete’s Plan:  Propose a “Citizen’s Initiative Review”– a process that utilizes a “Citizens’ Jury” to review and comment on state ballot initiatives.  Propose an “e-Petition” system with electronic signature gathering that will generate online involvement in the legislative process.  Develop an online system so citizens can weigh in on important legislative issues on a real-time basis, and so that professional politicians hear from real Californians, not just special interest lobbyists.  Stand up and fight for the voters against power plays and phony “reform” efforts –– that actually strengthen the power of special interests, like the Prop 30 hijinks.

5. Follow the money: make it easy for you to track money in politics. Current Secretary of State Debra Bowen was known as a technology leader when she was a State Senator. But as just another politician using the Secretary of State post as a failed springboard for higher office, she has presided over an election results website that crashes repeatedly on election nights and a campaign finance website that has been stuck in a “closed data” mindset. Until recently, the Secretary of State actually charged hundreds of dollars for a simple copy of the public campaign finance and lobbying databases. Pete’s Plan:  As recommended by the former head of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, propose a ban on all fundraising activities by state legislators and statewide officeholders while the legislature in is session. 3

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Exempt challengers from this ban to help level the playing field that’s now stacked so heavily in favor of incumbents. Create new computer applications to release as much campaign data as legally possible for the public to review…instantly and free of cha rge.

Contact: Clay Russell / 213.265.7358 / ###


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