Legislative Leaders Given Kennedy Center “Profile in Courage” Award

I’ll have to admit, I’m a bit shocked by this:

Boston MA – The four members of California’s legislative leadership who in 2009 led a bi-partisan effort in a bid to close the state’s devastating budget deficit have been named this year’s recipients of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award™.

Dave Cogdill, California State Senator and former Senate Republican Leader; Mike Villines, California State Assembly Member and former Assembly Republican Leader; Darrell Steinberg, California State Senator and Democratic Senate President pro Tem; and Karen Bass, California State Assembly Member, and former Democratic Speaker of the Assembly, were chosen in recognition of the political courage each demonstrated in standing up to the extraordinary constituent and party pressure they faced while working with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to address California’s severe financial crisis. (Press Release)

Look, I don’t want to take anything away from the enormous difficulties that these four faced in political terms. Cogdill and Villines were villified by leading voices on their own side (ie…John and Ken heads on a pike), while Bass and Steinberg were never going to get those votes. As for the Democratic leaders, well, Democrats are in a really tough position with the supermajority constraints.  It looks like they are working to do something

I suppose much of this is for history to answer.  But I will say this as somebody who worked to oppose Prop 1A personally and professionally, the February deal that was rejected on May 19 last year, we are still on the same road to shock doctrining that we were on in January 2009.  Nothing has changed on that front.

So, courage? Perhaps, if you mean courage in that, courage to keep the lights on sort of way.  But if we are to truly build a sustainable future for California, the heaping amounts of courage that will be required from our leaders will make this look like tiny in comparison.  In San Francisco terms, they had to jaywalk on Front Street.  We need leaders willing to crawl over Highway 101 in rush hour. Blindfolded.  On one leg.

5 thoughts on “Legislative Leaders Given Kennedy Center “Profile in Courage” Award”

  1. The JFK Library became a total joke by rewarding some of the worst politicians in the country for doing nothing but watch as California became a failed state.

    Karen Bass? Are you fucking kidding me? She didn’t show Courage, as Speaker she showed that she is so counterproductive everything she promised actually got worse.

    George Skelton, May 5, 2008:

    SACRAMENTO – Karen Bass has drawn up a short agenda for her two-year reign as Assembly speaker that begins next week. There are only three items: Balance a state budget that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared is “$20 billion out of whack.” Create a ballot initiative that would produce $300 million to $500 million annually for foster care programs. Restructure California’s tax system to make it conform to the modern world. Actually, she wants to create a blue-ribbon commission of “the best and the brightest” to tackle taxes. Actually, she wants to create a blue-ribbon commission of “the best and the brightest” to tackle taxes.”

    Let’s see how she actually did when it came to her agenda as Speaker.

    1. Budget.

    GRADE: Counterproductive

    California is way worse off with no solution in sight. As Speaker, Bass presided over 3 statewide elections when she refused to put Majority Vote on the ballot to break the GOP Veto.

    2. Foster Care

    GRADE: Counterproductive

    As with 2/3, Karen Bass refused to use her power to put a Foster Care initiative on the ballot during any of the three statewide elections while she was Speaker. In fact, during her time as Speaker, $80 million was cut from Child Welfare Services Program along with an additional $26.6 in an across-the-board cut of reimbursement rates for Foster Care providers. Instead of getting $300-500 million MORE, she ended up $106 million less.

    3. Taxes

    GRADE: Counterproductive

    Having a goal of a Blue Ribbon Commission pretty much proves Bass has no business in congress. But not only did she fail to reform California’s revenue crisis, she actually made things worse with a $1.5 Billion a year tax cut for multi-state corporations. Now the California Teacher’s Association is spending millions in union dues on a ballot fight to get back to where we were before Bass was counterproductive on taxes.

    In realty, anyone rewarding bad behavior by the legislature is actually promoting the failure of California. The Kennedy Library is promoting failure with this move, just as much as the fools dumb enough to support Karen Bass for Congress.

    No wonder California failed.

  2. who pardoned Nixon and helped put us on the road to fulfilling Nixon’s credo of, “When the President does it, it’s not illegal.”  The Kennedy Center gave Ford the award too.

    In both cases:  way to go, thwarting the real consequences and accountability that need to play out, in order to prop up the existing faltering power structure!

  3. This just really shows how out of step the rest of America (on purpose maybe? probably not… just plainly ignorant? but clearly there’s a subset of press that wants it this way) is with California “politics.”  This is why most Americans think Californians love the Governator and that he’s a swell guy who sides with Obama on “stuff.”  Our press is so corrupt and incompetent that this is the idea that Americans have!

    I want to weep for California sometimes but it’s also kind of funny and I’m trying to be optimistic.  Also I live in Humboldt and not some hellhole like Sacramento or Los Angeles so at least I can look out my window and see something beautiful every day to remind me why California’s worth saving.

  4. Given that Speaker Bass and Senate President Steinberg basically caved in to the governor and his Republican allies, I don’t see a whole lot of courage here. The July budget dictated by the Big 5 was one of the most regressive in our state’s history.

    Here’s what courage should really look like: The next time the Republicans threaten to shut down state government unless the Legislature passes another cuts-only budget, Senator Steinberg and Speaker Perez should reply: “Go ahead, make our day!”

    You may recall that Newt Gingrich used the same threat against President Clinton in 1994 and the President stared him down. That’s courage.

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