It's hardly news that Californians are frustrated with politics as usual. The budget is billions of dollars out of balance and invariably comes together late, with duct tape and deferral of the real problems. Sixty percent of Californians say the state is headed in the wrong direction.
But a large part of the problem is the disillusionment and lack of engagement by Californians themselves, who have a major stake but not much of a voice. Occasionally they rise up with ballot initiatives, but even those are largely dominated by special interests. How can ordinary Californians be engaged and heard on the state's big problems?
Next month, 300 randomly selected Californians will have an opportunity to do just that - to deliberate and speak out on key issues of fiscal and political reform that could help move the state forward. Using principles of Athenian democracy, and tools of leading-edge technology, these ordinary Californians will spend the weekend of June 24-26 in Torrance (Los Angeles County) engaging in the first-ever California statewide deliberative poll. Both the process and the outcome promise to be significant.