Tag Archives: State Bar

Arnold’s Pettiness & The Revenge of Poochigian

I feel like I can’t help but get really, really shrill with Arnold Schwarzenegger.  See, the thing is that he’s now shown himself to be a petty, vindictive political animal. Nothing new, nothing post-partisan. He’s a politician who carries a grudge.

Case in point, Arnold vetoed the rather standard reauthorization of funding for the California State Bar. Basically, the State Bar is a quasi-governmental organization. Funding comes entirely from the dues of licensed attorneys.  And while you can find plenty of attorneys (this one included) that moan about the dues, it’s not like there are any tea parties organizing.

Yet, it is clear that this veto has little to do with the fees, and a whole lot more to do with an unqualified judge: one former state Sen. Chuck Poochigian.  If you’ve been reading Calitics over the past few months, you’ll have read about his nomination and subsequent confirmation as a judge on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal.  Thing is that the Bar rated him as “not qualified.”  But the part that really got them in trouble was the fact that the score got leaked to the press before the confirmation hearing.

Of course, I suppose it doesn’t matter that Chuck Poochigian isn’t qualified for the job. He was never a high-flying litigator with a vast record of trials. And he never served as a judge.  Ron George, the Chief Justice, for his part, castigated the bar for not considering his political experience (although they actually did).  The fact is that Poochigian really just doesn’t have the experience that you typically see for a judge. And the time in the Legislature? No, that’s really not the same thing.

This brings us back to Arnold vetoing the bill.  He was simply pissed that the Bar didn’t play along with his little game for Poochigian, and basically stated that:

In his veto message, Schwarzenegger cited a recent audit critical of the bar and questioned the group’s “impartiality in considering judicial appointments.” The July audit found rising costs at the bar and poor internal controls, which allowed a former employee to embezzle nearly $676,000.

“The conduct of the State Bar itself must be above reproach,” Schwarzenegger wrote in his veto. “Regrettably, it is not.” (LAT 10/120/09)

Interesting that Arnold didn’t mind letting the Chiropractic Commission or the body that licenses nurses fester as they failed to do their jobs, jobs that affect the very health of millions of Californians. Yet, you mess with his political agenda, and you’ll get the horns.

Post-partisan, huh?

The New State Bar President, Jeff Bleich, Understands Progressivism

I don’t often (or ever, really) bring up the CA state Bar on this site, but they are a major player in Sacramento. But I thought I should point out that Jeff Bleich, the new (since 9/29/07) president of the California State Bar shares some of our values. In his inauguration speech (PDF) he spoke of increasing pro bono work by attorneys, and his resume reads well. He’s the Vice-Chair of the CSU Board and was appointed Director of the White House Commission on Youth Violence by President Clinton. He gives to a wide range of Democratic candidates, from DiFi (ugh) to Kerry and Edwards.

And oh yeah, he actively supported the campaign of a challenger to Congressman Tom Lantos in the 2004 Democratic Primary, Ro Khanna. In the video, you’ll see him talking about Mr. Khanna, an attorney who was recently honored with the SF Democratic County Central Committee’s Trailblazer Award, and the problems with Rep. Lantos.

While I understand the hesitance to challenge Rep. Lantos, as many assume he will retire soon, he’s been getting more and more Lieberman-esque in his golden years. He chairs the House Foreign Relations Committee, and has been a bad vote, and a bad voice on a wealth of issues regarding the so-called War on Terror. And, oh yeah, he told the Dutch that they can’t complain our gulag-esque prison camp in Gitmo because they didn’t protest about Auschwitz enough. As Lucas so aptly pointed out in that post, the leaders Rep. Lantos was talking to weren’t even alive during the Holocaust. And, oh yeah, the Netherlands had already been conquered at the time of the opening of Auschwitz, and many were fighting to protect minorities (see The Diary of Anne Frank). Mr. Bleich was dead on when he said that Lantos no longer properly represents the district. See the flip for my “Why Primaries Are Important” List.

I’ve said a lot about the subject of primaries, but here are some of my thoughts, and here is my cutesy Top 5 list.

Top 5 Reasons Primaries are Important
1) Primaries get the grassroots growing and are great training grounds for new leaders.
2) Primaries are, in many CA districts, the only real election at all.  Voters should get the chance to vote where it means something.
3) Primaries get people to register in a party (yay, more registered Democrats).
4) We get a real debate in places where that is frequently missing. Electeds should be held accountable to their constituents to explain their views.
5) Primaries force electeds to be more responsive to their constituents and to better represent the interests of those constituents. (Calitics 3/6/2007)