Three Ballot Initiative Amendments for 2010

(Keith’s obsession with anagrams aside, all three have merit. – promoted by Cool Cal)

Based on feedback from my previous thread on 2010 referenda, I’ve drawn up draft ballot amendments:

Citizen-Lead Ethics Amendment Neutralizing Uncompetitive Polities (CLEAN-UP): Independent Redistricting Commission.

Citizen-Lead Ethics Amendment Neutralizing Entrenched Machines (CLEAN-EM): Rolling Term Limits.

Citizen-Lead Ethics Amendment Neutralizing Obscure and Unintelligible Turpitude (CLEAN-OUT): Public Budget & Spending Website.



Thoughts?

Citizen-Lead Ethics Amendment Neutralizing Uncompetitive Polities (CLEAN-UP):  

WHEREAS the establishment of entrenched political elites, real or perceived, is dangerous to the civil discourse necessary to the survival of any democratic republic and destructive to the rights and freedoms of the individual persons constituting the body politic; and,

WHEREAS the unethical practice of drawing legislative districts in order to protect incumbent elected officials is so popularly considered to have originated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that this practice is commonly known as Gerrymandering because in 1812, Governor Eldridge Gerry’s supporters did create such unethical districts; and,

WHEREAS the People of Massachusetts have a moral and ethical responsibility to themselves, their posterity, and their fellow citizens to end the practice of Gerrymandering in Massachusetts prior to its two-hundredth anniversary-

We, the People, hereby resolve and command in perpetuity by amendment to our Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that legislative districts at all levels of government shall be drawn by independent Redistricting Commission.  Therefore-

1) When the boundaries of elected officials’ districts within the Commonwealth must be redrawn, the Secretary of the Commonwealth shall issue a call for the appointment of members to the Redistricting Commission.

2) The Redistricting Commission shall consist of members appointed by the most influential political parties in the Commonwealth.

a) Each major party, defined as those that garnered at least fifteen percent of the vote in any statewide election race in any of the last two general elections, shall appoint three members to the commission by vote of their state committees.

I) Each party must appoint one member who holds an accredited terminal degree in Mathematics, Computer Science, or in a similar field approved by the legislature and subject to judicial review.

II) Each party must appoint one member who holds an accredited terminal degree in City Planning, Regional Planning, or in a similar field approved by the legislature and subject to judicial review.

III) Each party must appoint one member who holds an accredited terminal degree in Anthropology, Sociology, or in a similar field approved by the legislature and subject to judicial review.

IV) Each party must appoint one member who is an acknowledged expert in Geographic Information Systems, or in the commonly-used equivalent technology of the day.

V) No member of the Redistricting Commission may be currently or have been within the last two years an elected official, a partisan appointee to public office, a lobbyist, an attorney practicing law except for pro bono service, a judge, justice, or magistrate, a state committee member for any party, or an elected leader of any party’s statewide elected leadership.

VI) Should any party not appoint its members within five months of the call for appointment mentioned in section 1 of this amendment, said party’s appointees shall be determined by lot from all qualified persons who applied to the Secretary of the Commonwealth as possible alternate members.

b) The minor parties, defined as those that garnered at least three percent of the vote but less than fifteen percent in any statewide election race in any of the last two general elections, shall jointly appoint three members to the commission by vote of a special caucus.

I) The three members appointed jointly by the minor parties described by this section shall be subject to the same requirements as members appointed by major parties as described by subsection a of this section.

II) Each minor party shall by vote of its state committee, appoint three members of said committee to attend the special caucus to appoint members of the Redistricting Commission.

III) If the minor parties shall not agree within two months of the call for  appointment mentioned in section 1, the Great and General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts shall have the authority to set the time and place of the special caucus described in this subsection.  The members of of the special caucus or their respective parties shall pay any reasonable costs associated with the frugal use of the space provided for the caucus.

IV) The members of the special caucus shall determine their own parliamentary procedures by a vote of a simple majority using the most currently accepted version of Robert’s Rules of Order.

V) If the special caucus shall not appoint its members within five months of the call for appointment mentioned in section 1 of this amendment, the minor parties’ appointees shall be determined by lot from all qualified persons who applied to the Secretary of the Commonwealth as possible alternate members.

3) The Redistricting Commission shall be sworn to uphold the constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and to draw districts without regard to the party affiliation of persons therein or the likely partisan impact of different redistricting schemes.

a) The Redistricting Commission shall base its decisions on geographic connectedness, shared interest, apolitical demographic data, and firsthand input from members of the body politic, provided that incumbency and political affiliation may not be considered.

I) The Redistricting Commission shall have access to all such data possessed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with the exception of private personal information and information threatening to the security of the People of the Commonwealth against invasion or organized crime.

4) While working on the redistricting map, all of the members of the Redistricting Commission shall be given a modest stipend sufficient to enable their participation in the commission, provided that all members shall be remunerated equally.

a) A fund equal to one million dollars per member shall be established.  This amount shall be adjusted in equal proportion to the change in the actual cost of living in Massachusetts between the year this amendment was ratified and the year in which the Redistricting Commission shall convene.

I) This fund shall be used to pay for the cost of defending the districting map drawn by the Redistricting Commission against legal challenges.

II) No legal challenges to the districting map shall be initiated more than one year after the Redistricting Commission shall file its final districting report.

III) Any monies remaining in this fund after all legal challenges to the redistricting map have concluded shall be divided equally amongst the members of the Redistricting Commission as final remuneration for their work.



Citizen-Lead Ethics Amendment Neutralizing Entrenched Machines (CLEAN-EM):

WHEREAS the establishment of entrenched political elites, real or perceived, is dangerous to the civil discourse necessary to the survival of any democratic republic and destructive to the rights and freedoms of the individual persons constituting the body politic-

We, the People, hereby resolve and command in perpetuity by amendment to our Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that no person shall serve indefinitely in any elected office without reentering the private sector from time to time.  Therefore-

1) Any person, having served in the same elected office for eight consecutive years or three consecutive terms, whichever is longer, shall not appear on any ballot in Massachusetts for election to that same office, nor be permitted to serve in that same office if elected, until said person shall have passed in some other capacity a waiting period of at least one full term of said office.

a) The term “same office” shall include any office of the same type, regardless of the district or polity in which the service occurs.  For such purposes, municipal legislatures- such as a town selectboard or city council, shall be considered equivalent, regardless of form or location.  However, school district legislatures shall be considered separate and distinct from municipal legislatures.

b) An interruption of at least one full term of said office shall be required to interrupt the count of consecutive years or terms.

c) An elected official may always complete their current term of office should this limit come into force mid-term.

d) A person limited by this provision may appear on the ballot for the same office for a term immediately following the waiting period provided that a full term passes before that person begins the next term of service.

e) A person currently serving in an office may not appear on any ballot for a different seat of the same or an equivalent office in a fashion that extends their own current term beyond their effective term limit or in a fashion that maintains continuity of candidates with a person who is limited under this provision.

f) A person limited by the provisions of section 1 may appear on the ballot for election to a different office and may serve if elected, unless forbidden to do so by the provisions of section 2, below.

2) Any person, having served in any elected or appointed office for a total of sixteen consecutive years or three consecutive terms, whichever is longer, shall not appear on any ballot in Massachusetts for election to any office, nor be permitted to serve in any elected office if elected for a waiting period of four years following the end of the last term in office.

a) A person upon whom this limit comes into force may still appear on the Massachusetts ballot and may serve if elected for the offices of President or Vice President of the United States.

b) The four year waiting period shall not include any period during which said person is employed as an elected or appointed government official, an officer of a court, or an attorney-at-law, unless said employment is of an unpaid and uncompensated nature.

c) An interruption of at least two years shall be required to interrupt the count of consecutive years or terms.

d) An elected official may always complete their current term of office should this limit come into force mid-term.

e) A person limited by this provision may appear on the ballot for election for a term immediately following the waiting period provided that the waiting period passes before that person begins the new term of service.

f) A person currently serving in an office may not appear for a different seat of the same or an equivalent office in a fashion that extends their own current term beyond their effective term limit or in a fashion that maintains continuity of candidates with a person who is limited under this provision.  United States senators are specifically prohibited from running for another senator’s seat in a fashion that maintains continuity of candidates between races.



Citizen-Lead Ethics Amendment Neutralizing Obscure and Unintelligible Turpitude (CLEAN-OUT):

WHEREAS the People have a legitimate and Natural interest in protecting the property of individual persons and the produce of their industry; and,

WHEREAS the People have vested limited constitutional authority to seize for the greater good property and productivity in an elected government that is legally, morally, ethically, and Naturally accountable to the People; and,

WHEREAS said constitutional government has failed to legitimately account for its expenditure of such seized property and productivity or to provide services and security of personal rights and freedoms commensurate with the perceived value of the seized assets; and,

WHEREAS the People voted overwhelmingly in the year Two Thousand to demand the reduction of their income tax burden and the Great and General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts did fail to fully heed and obey-

We, the People, hereby resolve and command in perpetuity by amendment to our Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that our government shall provide a full, transparent, easily understood, and complete accounting of every individual public expenditure.  Therefore-

1) In addition to their annual appropriations act, all governmental or quasigovernmental expeditures and the revenues provisioning the same shall henceforth constitute the reported Budget of the corresponding state, county, school district, or local government.  No government in Massachusetts shall claim that any expenditure, discretionary or not, authorized directly or indirectly under the authority of said government or any quasigovernmental unit created thereby is outside of the Budget or not subject to the oversight of its elected officials or the People.

a) The entirety of said Budgets shall include descriptions of every department, agency, or other unit governmental or quasigovernmental; and, descriptions of every line item assigned thereto.  Said budget shall be placed in full and gratis view of the People without restrictions on the publication, republication, or distribution thereof.

I) The entirety of each annual state Budget shall be published in American English using ink upon paper or another durable format readable by humans without mechanical assistance and at least one copy placed in every law library and state archive in Massachusetts.

II) The entirety of each annual municipal, school district, or county Budget shall be published in American English using ink upon paper or another durable format readable by humans without mechanical assistance and at least one copy placed in the library of every municipality affected by that budget.

III) The entirety of each annual Budget shall be published, at no cost to the reader, in the dominant freely-accessible, open-sourced, open-standard, non-proprietary, hyperlinked, cross-indexed, and searchable electronic format of the day.  At the time of passage, the World Wide Web as accurately readable by the three most commonly-used Web browsers from different manufacturers shall be considered the acceptable format, provided that no proprietary software shall be required.

b) Within six months of the conclusion of each state, county, school district, or municipal Budget’s fiscal year, a Comprehensive Accounting shall be published that includes descriptions of every department, agency, or other unit, governmental or quasigovernmental; and, descriptions of every line item assigned thereto; and, descriptions of every expediture, salary, purchase, or other loss of assets or of value assigned thereto.

I) Said Comprehensive Accountings shall be published in the same durable and electronic fashions required by subsection a of this amendment and retained in full and gratis view of the People for a period of not less than fifty years.

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