Big Daddy

Ask Big Daddy

Hey Big Daddy,

We just saw an old-fashioned slap-down. As a connoisseur of legislative discipline, how do you rate the Perata lockout?

–Old School Fan

Dear OSF,

If you’ve ever tried to house train a puppy, you might have gone through the part where you keep repeating the words, “Do not pee on the carpet.” What the puppy hears, of course, is “blah blah blah carpet!” Predictable results ensue.

Teflon Don seems to have developed a similar fixation: He got the most important part right, the word “office,” and messed up the rest. If you ask me, you move the whole office. Changing the locks rings of the passive-aggressive roommate who doesn’t have the guts to ask you to move out.

Besides, office moves fit into the standard rhythm of the Capitol. I mean, has anybody noticed if Extreme Makeover with Ellen & Roy is over yet? The dolling out of square footage is an accepted part of a leader’s role. Short of assigning a him a homelier wife, sticking him in a smaller office is the worst thing you can do to a legislator.

A properly feared leader will keep a truly hideous office in reserve. A good rule of thumb: If a door doesn’t have a biohazard sign on it, you can threaten to stick a legislator behind it. If the Willie Brown speakership had continued, there would now be an slightly tilted 27-square-foot platform suspended off the fifth floor of the annex without walls or a ceiling, accessed by tightrope and just waiting for a malcontent. Trust me, I saw the plans.

If you want to mess with the locks, lock ’em in like I did in 1963 and don’t let ’em out ’til you get what you want. I know the work ethic of the average legislator. They’re happy to toddle off for a day-long lunch.

And give the Mod Three a little credit. They may be disloyal, but at least they’re honest–they attended their little cabal out in the open. In my day, there were so many secret covens, I think half the guys had ceremonial robes and daggers hidden in their desks.

So, if you want me to do my bit holding numbered placards while the pro tem prances by on ice skates, I’m showing a 4.1. Still, it pleasantly chills the darkest recesses of my heart to see the game played in the old way. This move sends a message that Perata is willing to take further steps, like rearranging their furniture for bad feng shui or hiding their door plaques. It ain’t the old days, but it’s something.

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