California is one complex lady. And her relationship with the government … well, it’s no less complicated. California Forward Executive Director James Mayer

So in terms of playing love doctor between the state and those who run it – it’s not going to be easy. How will California and its government learn to reconcile?

Helping guide the answers is California Forward, a non-profit organization looking to transform the way California is run. The organization’s vision is to unite the state’s government by creating a stronger link with regional and local governments. 

In other words: Time to open up the dialogue.

“The greatest challenge is to have the capacity to engage as many Californians as possible to have this conversation,” James Mayer, California Forward’s Executive Director, said. “Things will only change if local business and community leaders get involved. “

There’s no proven formula that’s going to achieve these changes. It’s not simple math; political science is a unique chemistry – like any complex relationship – that’s going to exercise trial and error.  And as the cliché goes, it’s going to take steps.

Mayer understands these changes can’t happen overnight, and that the organization is setting realistic year-by-year goals. California Forward’s vision includes four major principles for solution:

Smarter revenue and budget systems, to fix California’s fiscal system to ensure that priorities are funded, so Californians know how their tax dollar is spent and to improve performance of public programs.

High Quality Public Services, to create reforms so public agencies spend dollars wisely on public programs.
Publicly Responsive Elected Officials, who will worry less about the priorities of an electoral system and seeking re-election over the needs of Californians.  

An informed and engaged public, ready to influence and participate with policy decision-makers.

It’s a non-partisan movement, challenging everyone in California politics to become conscious that an improved system will renew governance of California.

The plan: Use facts to identify problems. Then find effective solutions by engaging the public that these problems are directly affecting.

Sounds simple enough to work.

“After years, it’s time to step back and say the public doesn’t understand where their money goes and they have the right to know where that money goes,” Mayer said.

California Forward was also involved on the successful Prop 11 campaign, which changes the authority to establish legislative district boundaries from elected officials to an independent commission.

The non-profit also produces a newsletter through its Web site that is geared towards the public.

“It’s going to take a movement, that’s just the reality,“ Mayer said.

 James Spencer can be reached at