Under the leadership of newly elected Governor Hiram Johnson, the California legislature set out in 1911 to wrest the government away from what it felt was the undue influence of big business and special interests and return control to the people.
Together, Johnson and his Progressive Movement supporters pushed through voter-empowering amendments to the state constitution that created the processes called the initiative and the recall.
But has the employment of those political tools in recent years violated the spirit and intent of the Progressives who made them law?
Gregory Graves, a lecturer in the departments of history and environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, will address the issue in "Power to the Voters: Initiative and Recall in California, An Historical Perspective," a UCSB Affiliates Town Forum lecture, at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 15 in the First Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, 21 E. Constance Ave. in Santa Barbara.
Cost is $8 for Affiliates and Chancellor's Council members and $10 to the public. Advance registration is required and can be made by calling UCSB's Office of Community Relations at 893-4388.
In his talk, Graves will discuss what Johnson and the Progressives had in mind when they created the initiative and recall processes. And he will question whether they would have approved of the recall of Governor Gray Davis and recent initiative efforts that have limited taxation, denied services to undocumented aliens, banned affirmative action, and prohibited race-based information gathering.
Graves received bachelor's and master's degrees in history from Oklahoma State University and a Ph.D. in history from UCSB.
He teaches classes in California history, the American West and environmental history and is a partner in Graves and Neushul Historical Consultants.
He is co-author of "Saving California's Coast: Army Engineers at Oceanside and Humboldt Bay" (1991), and "From These Beginnings: A Biographical Approach to American History" (7th edition due in 2004).