Opponents of a term limits measure on the June ballot kicked off a campaign tour today using a carved 10-foot "Trojan Horse" -- named Mr. Ed -- to spread their message that Proposition 28 is deceptive.
"We've got to stop this scam that's going to be perpetrated on the citizens of California," said Assemblyman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, at a Capitol press conference today.
Though Proposition 28 is touted as a reduction in terms, opponents contend it would lengthen most lawmakers' time in office.
Controversy over Proposition 28's impact centers on provisions that would cut from 14 to 12 the number of years future lawmakers could serve in the Capitol, but allow all of them to be served in one house.
Currently, legislators can serve no more than six years in the Assembly and eight in the Senate. To reach the maximum 14 years, they must switch from one house to another - and only a small percentage do so.
Only two of 26 lawmakers who were termed out of the Assembly or Senate in 2010 had served in both houses to reach the 14-year cap. Five others switched from one house to another that year, however, records show.
Gabriel Sanchez, spokesman for Yes on 28, characterized the Trojan Horse campaign as deceptive itself.
"That's completely inaccurate," he said of the contention that supporters are misleading voters.
"(Proposition 28) reduces time in office from 14 to 12 years," Sanchez said. "What we have now is a broken status quo where lawmakers are constantly campaigning for the next office. This measure is a sensible reform that will put the focus on policy, not politics."
Opponents of the term limits measure said they named their wooden horse "Mr. Ed" in reference to Ed Roski, whose firm contributed $300,000 to the initiative several months after the Legislature provided environmental exemptions for his planned NFL stadium in the City of Industry.
Sanchez noted that Proposition 28 applies only to future legislators, not existing officeholders
"It does not extend the terms of any current or past lawmakers," he said.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ted Costa, president of People's Advocate, speaks near "Mr. Ed," a Trojan horse opponents of Proposition 28 are using to represent Ed Roski. The Sacramento Bee/Jim Sanders