Dear Big Daddy,
What will go wrong in Sacramento in 2010?
–Worried in Watsonville
Not a thing. Whatever bad that can happened has already happened. Chill.
Multibillion-dollar deficits? Goofy governor and goofy Legislature? The stranglehold of money on politics? Political gridlock? Partisanship beyond the pale? Failure to govern? They’re all here now.
So look on the bright side.
For one thing, the governor is in his last year and he’ll be going back to Hollywood soon. Hasta la vista, Herr Schwarzenegger, Vaya con dios con su potro y puerco. Or rather, Auf Wiedersehn. Hollywood has a global warming problem, so go for it.
The problem here, of course, is that many good staff people will be gone, too, lost in the whirlwind of whoever gets elected governor in November. Good people already are leaving – Mike Chrisman is heading back to Madera, for example – and presumably others soon will follow, like Mary Nichols or Linda Adams. Fred Aguiar already left – oh, wait, he reappeared! – but the Horseshoe gets kind of tight the final year of an administration. Reporters love it – it’s great for leaks.
The members of the Legislature all operate under term limits, so they won’t be around long. A third of the Assembly will be termed out this year, and a fourth of the Senate. So if there’s somebody in that mix you don’t like, the odds are not too bad that they’ll be departing. But the problem, again, is that the good ones and the bad ones are forced out together, slipping through a revolving door that the public created. The only redeeming quality here is that the public gets what it deserves.
I myself have been gone many years, of course, and I can watch the panoply of puerility that is the governor and Legislature with amusement. I don’t golf and I don’t have to watch my weight, so my greatest recreation is watching events unfold in the building, especially in the Assembly.
By the way, Speaker-designate John Perez is sitting in my old office. He seems to be a tough smarty-pants – a good combination. But if he screws up, I’ll haunt him. And you haven’t been haunted until you’ve been haunted by Big Daddy.
I’ve even toyed with the notion of having people sentenced to life in the Senate or Assembly with no possibility of parole, while paying them well, requiring them to be experts in a particular policy and barring them from running for statewide office. It would be like joining the Masons or a bowling club, but it might help. What could possibly go wrong?
I know that nostalgia is a disease that plagues old politicians, and I admit I’m stricken. But as I look back, the building that once offered a lot of fun now is duller than a Jeff Denham speech. No booze, no loose women, no napkin policies, no sense of history being made, no respect from the public, no shiv in the back in the night from a political ally.