"Voices of Reform" is a special project of The Commonwealth Club of California, and is made possible by generous grants from the James Irvine Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation.

The Project reflects The Commonwealth Club's longstanding interest in California governance. In 1911, Progressive reformers affiliated with The Club amended the California State Constitution to provide a way for citizens to enact legislation directly and recall elected officials. They perceived that corporate interests were inappropriately determining the outcome of both legislative and judicial decisions, and believed that the citizens' interests were not being served by the normal constitutional structure of state government.

Almost 100 years later, in 2003, California held a gubernatorial recall election. Citizens exercised the 1911 provision for the first time to recall the state's chief executive. Although much of the debate in the media and among the public around the recall focused on the individuals involved, it was clear that structural problems with governance in California were also among the causes of dissatisfaction.

The event of the 2003 recall presented an opportune moment to initiate a statewide discussion on the need for structural governance reform. Californians were disgruntled with the status quo, and political and policy analysts sought to identify what had brought California to the situation where a majority of voters wanted to recall the governor. To nurture the nascent conversation on governance reform, The Commonwealth Club - in cooperation with many other public-sector organizations in California - launched Voices of Reform.

Voices of Reform seeks to foster probing discussions of key governance reform issues, make these discussions available to a broad range of people throughout the state, and encourage opinion leaders in this state to actively pursue promising reforms.

VoR organizes speaker forums and panel discussions throughout California, and a selection of VoR programs are broadcast on TV and radio, statewide. Transcripts and other material generated through these discussions are published in the Club's magazine, The Commonwealth, and in newspapers around the state.

On November 15, 2005, several members of the Voices of Reform Steering Committee sent letters to Governor Schwarzenegger and the state legislative leadership committing to assist their efforts to seek policy solutions related to structural governance issues. Voices of Reform is now in the process of convening over 150 political and community leaders from across the state and political spectrum, with the goal of identifying critical governance reforms that, if implemented, would significantly improve the transparency, equity, and efficiency of state government.

The Commonwealth Club is in a unique position to facilitate VoR activities, as a trusted, non-partisan convener, with a strong history in good governance. The Commonwealth Club's core competency is in providing neutral forums for dialogue (public and private), and amplifying informed discussion through the media. We are lead by a broad board of 44 president and CEO level leaders of corporations, foundations, media organizations, non-profits, and universities. The Club is recognized internationally as a premier venue for civic dialogue and meaningful discussion of civic affairs with over 18,000 members, and our programs are broadcast weekly on over 150 stations nationwide.

Issues VoR addresses include:

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