Mark Ridley-Thomas and Erwin Chemerinsky's call for a revamping of the recall process misses the point (Commentary, Oct. 29). They should have said that the 124-year-old state Constitution "is deeply flawed and needs to be fixed in a sensible, fair and nonpartisan manner." Several years ago the memberships of the League of California Cities, the California Contract Cities Assn. and the Local Government Commission voted unanimously to call for fundamental constitutional reform, but the efforts of the Constitutional Revision Commission were quietly buried without discussion.
Why should the Constitution clearly state every procedure for a recall election? The Constitution ought to be a document that every high school student could read, a document that sets out only basic policy. No constitution should be more than 100 pages. It is the Legislature that should be required constitutionally to put the specifics into law.
I agree with the recommendations of Ridley-Thomas and Chemerinsky, and I would add one more reform: Signature gatherers should not be paid on a per-signature basis. Doing so provides them with a strong incentive to cajole, harass and even lie to residents to increase their pay by pumping up the signature count. It should be sufficient to pay them on a daily or hourly basis. Then they could focus on what the petitions are supposed to be about -- demonstrating the real support for the recall, not the con-artist capabilities of the signature gatherers. And can we please take a crack at reforming the fatally flawed initiative system too?