Prop Zero
The Starting Point for Commentary and Coverage of California Politics

New Year's Resolution: Move State Capital South

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    NEWSLETTERS

    If California is going to be one state, maybe the capital ought to be in the south, where most of the people, and most of the people who matter, reside.

    The latest example of how we Southern Californians don't inhabit the same state -- or the same universe as folks in Sacramento involves the case of Molly Munger.

    A civil rights attorney who has devoted a career to the cause of equal opportunity and education, Munger is in the news as sponsor of an initiative to raise state income taxes to provide a funding source for local schools.

    She is well-known particularly in Southern California, where she lives, but also has been a national figure. The journalist Nicholas Lemann made her a big character in his book on the America's education-based meritocracy, The Big Test. (Full disclosure: I've known Munger since I was a kid in Pasadena; her sons played Little League at the same park where I played and later coached baseball).

    But up north, they don't seem to have heard of her.

    The conservative commentator Joel Fox, also of Southern California (and whose politics hardly match Munger's), recounted recently in a post on Munger how a Republican consultant quoted in a leading blog, Calbuzz, dismissed her by association with her family. (Her dad is Charlie Munger, famous as Warren Buffett's partner, and her brother was a force behind redistricting reform in California). [CORRECTION: Your blogger totally blew it and misstated in the original version of the below paragraph what Calbuzz and Fox said. Calbuzz merely quoted a consultant, in a survey of consultants' views on tax initiatives, who speculated about the dynamics of Munger's family. I regret the errors, and apologies to the authors of Calbuzz, for putting words in their mouths.]

    Commentators on a Sacramento show said they had never heard of her.

    This is the latest example of a fact about California that hits me everytime I've visited Sacramento in the 10 years that I've been reporting on state government and politics: most of the folks up there don't know much about Southern California.

    And they don't care to know; Southern California in the Sacramentan's mind is a big, sprawling, smoggy, unknowable place, without much shape.

    We're a state of eight big regions -- each of which has the character of the state.

    The ties and contacts of the people who run state government are mostly to Sacramento or the Bay Area or both. People who are vital to civic life in Los Angeles or San Diego are nobodies in Sacramento.

    That's understandable -- the Capitol is 384 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, far enough that it's best to fly to get there -- but it's not right.

    Southern California is where most Californians -- nearly 2/3 of the state population live. Our key figures should be statewide figures.

    The problem, of course, is that California is too big to be one state.

    Let us know what you think. Comment below, send us your thoughts via Twitter @PropZero or add your comment to our Facebook page.