Yisroel Pensack: Would-Be Tax Reform Attorney Frank D. Walker’s Reality Check

From: Frank Walker
Date: April 14, 2010

…Prosper California is the tax-exempt political organization I founded to advance the LVT [land value tax] initiative I drafted.

Although one person can draft an initiative to revamp California’s system of raising public revenue, a successful petition drive to qualify such an initiative requires (a) thousands of volunteer signature gatherers, or (b) at least $3 million in order to hire paid signature gatherers, or (c) some combination of (a) and (b). I have not been successful in obtaining this level of support to run a statewide petition campaign as necessary to gather nearly 700,000 signatures of registered voters in the short window of time available after the title and summary was released by the Secretary of State’s office.

Although the proponent(s) of an initiative have 150 days from the date of release of title & summary in order to obtain the required signatures, those signatures must be submitted to county registrars for verification no later than April 16, 2010 in order to qualify for the Nov. 2010 ballot. If submitted thereafter, the initiative could qualify for the June, 2012 ballot but not for the Nov. 2010 ballot. Thus, I effectively had only 4 months in which to gather the required number of signatures to qualify for the Nov. 2010 ballot. Also, to allow for invalid signatures, we will need to gather at least 800,000 signatures, or 200,000 signatures a month during a four month period, to be reasonably assured of qualifying an initiative to amend the California constitution.

While it is possible to gather 800,000 signatures in four months with a combination of ample financial backing (PG&E has put up $17 million to support its special interest initiative to make it more difficult for public utility districts to be formed in California and Mercury Insurance has put up more millions to qualify its initiative) and/or an organization of thousands of dedicated volunteers, it is extremely difficult to both secure such support AND gather 800,000 signatures in four months time.

In the absence of significant financial support and a dedicated state-wide organization of signature gatherers, it is difficult to motivate a few dozen signature gatherers to spend day after day of their time gathering signatures when it is apparent that the rate of signature gathering is far, far short of 200,000 a month.

For this reason, I have suspended efforts to qualify for the Nov. 2010 ballot and am now focusing on qualifying for the ballot in 2012. This will involve simply changing dates in the original initiative and then resubmitting to the Secretary of State’s office along with another $200 filing fee.

However, I do not plan on resubmitting until such time as an organization & support is in place to make possible a very vigorous petition drive in California’s most populous counties, particularly from San Diego County to Los Angeles County in Southern California and the Bay Area counties in Northern California.

Other reform organizations hoping to qualify voter initiatives for the Nov. 2010 ballot have suspended their efforts for similar reasons…

My favorite author once wrote that “When there is correct thought, then there will be correct action” — or words to similar effect. Unfortunately, at the present time there is very little correct thought. But I remain hopeful for the future.

Also see Prosper California’s website and Facebook page and previous articles here and here.

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