Tag Archives: legislators

What the Legislators Did on their Summer Break

Many of them went house hunting for new districts

by Brian Leubitz

The Legislators haven’t had a summer recess for quite a few years owing to the catastrophe known as the budget.  Having wrapped that up already, they got to “enjoy” some down time.  By enjoy, I mean sweating over the redistricting maps, either looking for ways to retain their current positions, or to move on and up. Of course, there were time for some extra-curricular activities, such as Asm. Steve Bradford pretending to be a food inspector.

PhotobucketBut, the district shopping was fierce.  As I mentioned before, we will see a slew of Legislators try to wedge their way into un-term limited Congressional seats.  The merry-go-round has already begun.  But as the Republican Senate Caucus continues their freak out, at least one of the GOP Senators is in some serious trouble.  Sen. Sam Blakeslee’s district got a big GOP leaning chunk of Santa Barbara County pulled from the district, making it a more Central Coast district.  In other words, a very tough district for a republican.  And Asm. Bill Monning would like to take that seat:

A Carmel Democrat, Monning has long signaled his intentions but waited until Monday, when new statewide political boundaries were finalized, before making an official announcement. He said he was emboldened by a new, Democratic-leaning seat, and touted his two-term record in the state Assembly.

“I am enthused by (redistricting) and fired up and ready to go,” Monning said. “If the voters were to elect me to represent them in the Senate, there would be a continuity of issues, a continuity of relationships I’ve built.”(SJ Merc)

Monning is fairly popular in Santa Cruz and the area.  He’ll need to reach out to the slightly more than half of the voters who he has never represented, but many should be receptive to his message.

With Democrats needing just two votes in the Senate, and several possible pickups, a 2/3 majority in the Senate seems very possible.  What that buys us is a different question.

Save the Money, I’ll Legislate for FREE!

With the budget crisis looming, Sen. Steinberg has called for legislators to cut their salary, and many are or are about to:

Official letters are starting to roll in — two so far — from state senators answering the call to sacrifice during a time of fiscal crisis and volunteer for a 5 percent pay cut.

As of this afternoon, the State Controller’s Office, which issues legislators’ paychecks, reported receiving letters from two senators: Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, and Patricia Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa. (SacBee 6/18/09)

Hats off to Sens. Corbett and Wiggins on getting their letters in on time.  Considering that state workers are taking furloughs and the related pay cuts, legislative self-cuts probably should have happened in February. But, I have an offer  for the people of California that is really too good to refuse: I’ll legislate for FREE.  

You don’t have to worry about paying me a cent.  Now, I will go ahead and have a consulting company.  I hope you won’t mind when I work for Polluters, Inc. while I’m legislating. It’s completely unrelated, I assure you. And while I’m too busy working on the big OilCo account, I’ll have my staff take care of the work at the office. Don’t worry, you didn’t elect them, but they are really great people.  And my friend, Joe Lobbyist, will be letting me know all the details of all the bills coming up for vote.  He’s really a great guy, that Joe. Always looking out for the people of California.  You can count on that, because it’s the slogan of his lobbying firm.

While I kid, the troubling thing is that this is a real issue.  Heck, there is a part-time legislature ballot proposal working its way through the system as we speak.

Listen, I grew up in Texas, which has a part-time Legislature.  It didn’t work. It created ridiculous conflicts of interest.  My own house representative growing up was an insurance broker. Surprisingly, he voted to block insurance regulations over and over again. In Austin, Democrat Dawnna Dukes has pillaged the state for contracts for her siblings and her consulting company.

What you get with a volunteer legislative body is exactly what you pay for. You get conflicted, greedy, and corrupt legislators, mixed in with some well-meaning leaders who have to be independently wealthy in order to dedicate their time to the job.  It locks all but the rich out of the system, and nets some crazy stuff that we really don’t want here.

I get that people are frustrated with the Legislators. And for good reason, we are in the midst of a crisis. But, by and large, they are a product of the system.  We cannot scapegoat them for our own failures. We give them an unworkable system and tell them to produce miracles. It simply cannot happen without the systemic change that California voters seem reluctant to grant.  

We have met the enemy and he is us.

  –   Walt Kelly, cartoonist and creator of Pogo

UPDATE: More senators took the cut.