Tag Archives: Rod Wright

Sen. Rod Wright Convicted

Legislator faces up to 8 years for lying about his residency

by Brian Leubitz

Sen. Rod Wright was convicted yesterday of lying about his residency in his in-district apartment. Instead, the jury found that he was actually living at a Baldwin Park house that was outside of his district. Wright claims that he thought he was following the rules, but will face sentencing for the conviction on March 12.

The response has been rather low-key. Wright, generally considerate a moderate, was called “California’s Most Honest politician” just moments after the conviction by John Hrabe of Cal Newsroom. And Sen. Steinberg was clearly upset about the conviction. And as you can see, Dan Walters calls his exit a big loss for the legislature.

That being said, whomever gets elected will probably be at least slightly to Wright’s left. But Jon Fleischman called for Wright to be kicked out ASAP. Fleischman’s point that many legislators have played fast and loose with the residency requirement is a valid one. It has come up quietly in several previous races, including some that I’ve been directly involved with. Yes, the chambers decide their own eligibility, but all members should be playing by the same rules. While residency isn’t required for Congress (and Tom McClintock still doesn’t live in the district he’s represented for several years now), the rules make sense, from a representative standpoint at the very least. And legislators know this when they first sign up as candidates. Wright doesn’t rise to the level of Ed Jew’s proactive sketchiness, but the rules are the rules for all.

The timing of Wright’s exit is still up in the air, but you would imagine that Wright’s future will be resolved soon after that sentencing date.

State Senate Passes Tougher Renewable Energy Standard

SB14, which would require utilities to receive 33% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020, passed the state Senate today.  This would be a more stringent standard than the federal bill introduced today by Henry Waxman, which called for 25% from renewables by 2025.  So this is a very aggressive standard that was championed by Darrell Steinberg.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said the bill, which now goes to the Assembly, would help pave the way to a more environmental friendly future.

“The green economy is the economy of the future,” Steinberg said. “The environment and the economy go together.”

Mod Squadder and corporate-friendly Sen. Rod Wright, along with Lou Correa, voted no.  For Wright, who said he is “concerned that this bill is moving too fast,” the vote is particularly inexcusable, as his district is witness to the ravages of greenhouse gas-emitted pollution.  The final vote was 21 aye, 16 no.  Tony Strickland, who pretended to be an environmentalist during his campaign, predictably took a walk on the vote.  What a coward.

Capitol Weekly has more.  This is a big win for Sen. Steinberg, and while the bill is certain to be amended (the “cap and trade” style appearance of “renewable energy credits” that utilities can pass to one another to get inside the 33% standard seems ripe for gaming the system), a strong claim on a very progressive priority gives us hope that progressives won’t be stiffed for this entire session.

In a related development, Rep. Jerry McNerney introduced three very good energy bills at the federal level, including the Smart Grid Advancement Act, which would develop a smart electrical grid that could help reduce energy use during peak times, the Vehicles for the Future Act, which would build out the electrical infrastructure for plug-in hybrids and EVs, and the GREEN Act, which would provide $100 million in grants for developing career and technical training in green jobs.  The three bills are explained here.

The Money Goes In, The Favors Go Out

This article by Frank Russo got me pretty depressed about the state of California politics.

There’s something amiss in the state of Sacramento-and it has something to do with the state’s banking and lending institutions and the stacking of committees that deal with them with legislators that are either weak kneed or just a bit overfriendly with the industry that they should be protecting us from.

What else is new?

Well, this afternoon, the Senate Committee on Banking, Finance, and Insurance, Chaired by Senator Michael Machado of Stockton, will be hearing two bills that have been gutted down behind a closed door process such that today’s public proceedings on them may amount to little more than a sham […]

It’s difficult enough to get bills passed through the Assembly Banking Committee and the Assembly floor when going up against the behemoth banking industry which has a lot of spare change to throw around in legislative races and many high paid lobbyists scurrying about the Capitol.

It looks like AB 69 by Assemblymember Ted Lieu, originally a great bill, has been amended since it left the Assembly-and before today’s hearing-such that the Center for Responsible Lending, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and policy organization dedicated to protecting homeownership and family wealth by working to eliminate abusive financial practices, initially listed in support, has withdrawn that position.

Read the whole thing.  The bottom line is that in this recent primary election special interest groups spent nearly $10 million, and a good bulk of them were business interests who are now playing inside Democratic primaries in traditionally liberal areas to sell low-information voters a bill of goods.  This doesn’t always work, but it works just enough to frustrate progress in Sacramento.

Lesson 3: The business lobby can influence Democratic politics, even in a largely minority district.

Former Assemblyman Rod Wright, a moderate, defeated liberal Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally — reversing the pattern of leftist victories — in a South Los Angeles Senate district after business donors invested roughly $1 million in Wright’s campaign.

“Business has tended to stay out of black politics,” says Sragow, who advises the business lobby. “But some black politicians ask, ‘Why? We’re always out looking for economic development in our districts.’

“The business community has decided it can’t get a Republican Legislature, so it will play in districts where there’s a Democratic candidate it can work with.”

A major Democratic strategist has all but said that Don Perata shepherded along the candidacy of Rod Wright, and actually put it in terms that come very close to illegal coordination (note “a flurry of record spending by closely-aligned IE groups focusing all of their attention and ammo in one, concerted direction.”)

This is the game.  IE’s are increasingly the only way to reach the electorate, as the low-dollar revolution has pretty much not reached the Golden State.  So the Chamber of Commerce and industry groups fill the pockets of the politicians who, once elected, feel obligated to repay them.  The US Constitution allows the right for anyone to petition their government for redress of grievances; outlawing lobbyists or the ability of merchants to consult their politicians is not tenable.  What is tenable is to either create a parallel public financing system by employing the residents of the state to pay attention to local politics enough to fund progressive-minded candidates, or to bring clean money to California, where it’s arguably needed more than anywhere else, and end the pernicious influence of special interests in state elections.  Otherwise, you get a steady parade of mortgage relief bills that offer no relief.