Monday, November 1, 2010

303 / Dreaming About Democracy

I don't usually remember my dreams, but I had a dream last night that I do remember. It included a space shuttle-like airplane, parked tail down, ready to take off, right next to the Santa Cruz County Governmental Center, and I woke up with the phrase "the states are the laboratories of democracy" in my mind. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said that, by the way. At any rate, I think that this was a fitting dream to have on the eve of an election.

Sunday afternoon, I was present at an event sponsored by State Senator Joe Simitian, in Palo Alto, which featured a panel discussion in which the President pro Tem of the State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, participated. The theme of the panel discussion was the "Schwarzenegger Legacy," an evaluation of the last seven years of state government.

In response to my question about whether the next Governor would be able to "blow up the boxes," and carry out a fundamental reform of state government (something that Governor Schwarzenegger said he was going to do, and didn't), Senator Steinberg noted that former Governor Jerry Brown, now seeking to be Governor once again, has talked in his campaign about "devolution," which means reforming state government by a fundamental shift of governmental responsibilities from the state to the local level. As a former County Supervisor, this sounds pretty good to me. Actually, pretty democratic.

I like to think that "counties are the laboratories of democracy," where state government is concerned, and I wouldn't mind at all to see the experimentation that Santa Cruz County has done (for instance with Measure J, our land use/growth management referendum measure, adopted in 1978) tried out on a statewide basis.

As one of my favorites has said, "I'll let you be in my dreams, if I can be in yours."

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