LONDON - SEPTEMBER 19: A man views 'The Thinker' by French sculptor Auguste Rodin during the press launch of the Rodin exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts on September 19, 2006 in London, England. Rodin is being celebrated in a major retrospective of his work at the Academy which includes pieces never before seen outside of France. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
For those interested in fixing California's dysfunctional system of government, the highest hopes aren't for the governor or the legislature but for the so-called Think Long Committee, founded by billionaire Nicolas Berggruen. He's best known for not owning a home -- he's a world traveler who lives out of hotels -- and thus has been dubbed "the homeless billionaire."
I met with last fall at a hotel in Beverly Hills, and was impressed. Berggruen is a good listener who sees California not from the narrow perspective of the state's political elite. He's an expert on governance and constitutions -- which is good because California's governance problems are embedded in its constitution. And he seemed to be interested in applying best practices from around the world to fix California's problems.
Most important, he -- unlike much of California's political establishment -- seems to understand that a systemic fix is needed for the state. That small bore measures won't be enough. In a recent op-ed in the Sacramento Bee, Berggruen wrote: "Despite a recall election and the concerted efforts of political leaders in recent years, Californians have come to realize that the real challenge is not so much replacing elected officials as fixing a system that is itself broken."
The question is: is the Think Long Committee, which is still in its early stages, likely to help fix that system? About that, I'm much more skeptical. I'll explain why in another post.