'Crackpot' California Break-Up Idea Not Going Away

Sunday, 22 Jun 2014 09:27 AM

By Elliot Jager

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A proposal being pushed by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Timothy Draper to break up California into six separate states is still alive,  The Los Angeles Times reported.

Advocates need to gather about 800,000 signatures to put the proposition on the ballot and Draper has committed $2 million to the effort. A spokeswoman for Six Californias indicated that the group already has "a significant amount of signatures and are hoping to get the remaining signatures we need this weekend."

To Los Angeles Times journalist George Skelton the notion "sounds really crackpot." He writes that "Proposals to split up California have been around almost since statehood. In 1859, the Legislature actually passed a bill to separate the state at the Tehachapi Mountains. But Congress, facing a Civil War, never acted on the proposal." He opined in April, "Go ahead and put this thing on the ballot. We could use some fun."

Draper argues that, "California has become the worst managed state in the country. It just is too big and too ungovernable," the Times reported.

At the root of Draper's anger is a sense that Californians are being taxed without being properly represented. "We spend the most and get the least," he told New York magazine. Those who want to keep California as is point out that a majority of both houses of the U.S. Congress would have to approve the break-up of the state.

Joe Rodota, co-chair of OneCalifornia, said that with enough money Draper could get the proposition on the ballot. Getting it passed would be much more difficult, he said, according to the Times.

While "California is certainly badly governed" that does not "mean that it's ungovernable," write analysts Troy Senik and John Yoo in City Journal.They say that Draper does not give sufficient weight to the problems entailed in breaking up the state.

The daily lives of Californians would be complicated for those who live or work in one state while sending their children to school in another. Disputes over water rights would be exacerbated. The state's existing liabilities would have to be divvied up. And Californians would have to be willing to give up considerable national clout including their 55 Electoral College votes, according to Senik and Yoo.

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