Big Daddy

Ask Big Daddy

Hey Big Daddy,
So, I read these AP stories about Dennis Hollingsworth hanging out with the governor and Susan Kennedy, and smoking cigars. What gives?

-Sullen State Worker

Hey Sullen,
Ain’t it funny how life works? I seem to remember not too long ago, a certain freshly-minted Republican leader who shall remain nameless talking about the need to end Big 5 negotiations. This leader spoke eloquently about the need for more transparency in budget negotiations and the end of back-room deals.

How quickly those things go up in smoke.

But can you really fault the guy? Sure, he likes to hang out after school and smoke with the cool kids. I get it. Personally, I can’t imagine wanting to hang out with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Susan Kennedy in my free time, but that’s just me. Everyone likes to be liked, or at the very least needed, and as a Republican in the Legislature, you don’t get that feeling very often.

But it looks like Senator Hollingsworth has figured out what a lot of us have known for some time. Transparency is not a good thing. Because people who monitor state politics are not participants. They’re voyeurs.

I have a friend with a six-year old daughter – cutest kid you ever saw. When the kid is hanging out with the family or other adults, she’s sweet, mild-mannered, charming and precocious. But add another kid to the mix, and the switch is flipped. The kid starts performing, and that performance usually consists of yelling the word “no” loudly and defiantly in the face of her parents.

Not to compare budget negotiators to a six-year-old girl (remember, I said the kid was cute and mild-mannered), but there are some similarities. When the lights go on, it means there’s going to be a show. And more transparency more often than not means more performance.

Really, could you imagine if these meetings were broadcast. Nothing would ever get done, and we would get well-groomed and uptight lawmakers speaking to the cameras instead of each other. That’s just a waste of everybody’s time.

So hey, if Susan Kennedy can convince Dennis Hollingsworth to allow some poor kids to keep their health care, and if that means sucking down a cancer log with the Man From Murrieta, then so be it. I’m sure she’s had to endure worse.

Heck, anyone who saw those Wall St. Journal snapshots of Kennedy and her stogie a few weeks back was left with the distinct impression that the deal making only gets started once the stogies have been lit up. I just praise the good Lord above that the budget talks have not moved into the governor’s now-famous Jacuzzi. And if they have, I refer you back to the earlier section about things we really don’t need to see.

But as I write this, from my soapbox, it looks like we’re getting close to a budget deal. The nice thing for Hollingsworth is that he doesn’t have to do much heavy lifting in the vote department. Now that Curren Price has been elected, he’s only got to put up his own vote, and wait for Abel Maldonado to go along with the program.

Now, whether he’ll be able to hold the reins of power in the Raucus Caucus that is the Senate Republican crew, well, that, gentle reader, is a subject for another column.

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