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California split: Petition to break state into 6 garners over 800,000 signatures

Published time: July 15, 2014 13:45
image from flickr by Ken Lund

image from flickr by Ken Lund

Backers of the ‘Six Californias’ plan say they have obtained enough signatures to prompt a referendum on carving up the most populous US state. Campaign leaders claim the split would remedy many problems by creating more effective local governments.

Campaign spokesperson Roger Salazar said the ‘Six Californias’ plan has gained over the 808,000 signatures necessary to include the issue in a 2016 ballot. The idea would be to split the world’s eighth-largest economy geographically into Jefferson, North California, Silicon Valley, Central California, West California and South California.

"It’s important because it will help us create a more responsive, more innovative and more local government, and that ultimately will end up being better for all of Californians," said Salazar on Monday in a statement.

Campaign organizers plan to submit the petition in Sacramento on Tuesday to set the wheels in motion for a 2016 vote. The initiative was dreamt up by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper who believes that “with Six Californias, we can refresh our government."

The billionaire, who made his money investing in internet startups like Skype and Hotmail, has shelled out almost $2 million in his own money to help fund the campaign.

“Six Californias is our opportunity to solve the many problems we face today. Six Californias gives us an opportunity to create a better future for all 38 million of us,” said a campaign statement on Monday.

Critics have slammed the plan as a waste of time and money and maintain that it will actually worsen California’s most pressing problems.

"This is a colossal and divisive waste of time, energy, and money that will hurt the California brand,” Steven Maviglio, a Democratic political strategist who has formed the group OneCalifornia with GOP strategist Joe Rodota to fight Draper’s plan, told Reuters.

A Field Poll carried out in February of this year showed that 59 percent of Californians were opposed to the idea of breaking up their state. However, even if the campaigners manage to boost the popularity of their initiative, they will still face the major obstacle of winning the approval of both Congress and the State Legislature.

Draper has accepted that the vote is a “long shot,” but claims that he can convince people that a change is necessary for the state with the “worst-managed government in the country.”