Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Dear Big Daddy,

So where have you been? I missed you.

–Intrigued in Indio

Dear Intrigued,

I was in Tijuana, Mexico, at a friend’s home near the race track recovering from the effects of an extended celebration and reading “Dreadnought.” I’m in fine fettle now and back floating through the corridors of power in Sacramento. Floating at 300 pounds is not easy but I’m light-footed, like Falstaff, and I can bring it off.

It’s nice to know little has changed in three months; constancy is a comfort in the spirit world. The budget is still a disaster, university administrators are still overpaid, columnists are still babbling the obvious, public pensions are still getting trashed by media “watchdogs,” lobbyists are still making lots of money and AT&T still runs everything. It’s like I never left.

Of course, there were a couple of changes.

When last heard from, Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi was busted on a shoplifting beef and her political future looked about as solid as my real estate portfolio. But I hear she’s back in action and pondering a gig as an Alameda County supervisor. Amazing. I’m pulling for her. Anyone who can fight public pressure and make a comeback after scandal deserves our support. I know.

The seat she wants, by the way, was just vacated by Nadia Lockyer, who stepped down amid scandals that are too lengthy to recount here. But I’m pulling for her, too, if for no other reason that nobody else seems to.

Public pressure is a powerful thing, and that’s too bad.

That’s because the great, unobservant public – and I say this after decades as a dedicated public servant – is absolutely clueless about what really happens in Sacramento.

That means that the best public servants must ignore the public in order to accomplish meaningful public policy.

So the cardinal rule of a good politician is this: Ignore the public.

Instead, the good politician negotiates with other good politicians to do good. And to get good politicians, you need to offer them something – like job security, decent pay, power over the purse and a real voice on policy. And to do that, you’ve got to eliminate term limits, restore pensions and expand the staffs – all the things the public says it hates.   

Well, to hell with the public. I spearheaded the shift to a full-time Legislature 46 years ago, and I wish I was around now to bring the Legislature back to its former glory. Because somebody needs to.

Anyway, I’m back.


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