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Former Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg is becoming the Democratic co-chair of California Forward, a bipartisan, foundation-underwritten group that promotes state government reform.

Hertzberg succeeds Leon Panetta, a former congressman and White House chief of staff whom President Barack Obama named head of the Central Intelligence Agency. And he joins the Republican co-chair of California Forward, Thomas McKernan.

The organization supported Proposition 11, the 2008 ballot measure that shifted legislative redistricting, and is studying other proposals for reform, including an open primary system.

Another civic organization, the Bay Area Council, meanwhile, is promoting a constitutional convention as a more aggressive step toward reform, and the two groups have developed something of a rivalry for media attention and organizational support.

"I have watched California Forward's work for the past year and am honored to work alongside public, business and regional leaders who care deeply about California's future and have devoted their lives to helping its government institutions keep pace with a changing state," Hertzberg said in a statement.

Hertzberg is a partner at Mayer Brown LLP and is chairman and co-founder of G24 Innovations based in Cardiff, Wales, which manufactures a lightweight and flexible solar cell. He represented a San Fernando Valley district in the Assembly from 1996 to 2002 and was speaker during his final term. He also chaired the transition team for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.


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