Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Hey Big Daddy
I didn’t see you at the May Revise press conference. Where were you?
–Mary in Midtown

Dear Mary,
If you’re asking me if I was golfing with John Pérez, the answer is an official resounding no. Not that I  blame the speaker for skipping town and getting down to Pebble Beach. Given the rhetorical slop that was being served up by all sides Friday, I can hardly blame the speaker for skipping town.

But in the words of Francis Ford Coppola, Charlie don’t surf. And you can add to that: Big Daddy don’t golf. If I wanted to whack balls around all afternoon, I… well, I shouldn’t finish that thought. Point being that yucking it up with lobbyists and sycophants isn’t my idea of a foursome.

But you gotta hand it to the speaker for suggesting that it was the governor’s fault that he was caught raising campaign cash instead of offering some made-for-TV sound bytes to the governor’s crying wolf budget. That may not have been the smartest play, but hey, how do you know where the line is unless you step over it once or twice? Perez has got five years on the job to figure this out. Here’s hoping he realizes when to pull a partisan punch – for his own sake.

But this wasn’t a very good week for political speak – not that it ever is. Sometime after 2 a.m. last night this week, I was watching a CalChannel broadcast of Gov. Schwarzenegger at the Chamber host breakfast “in conversation” with some suit from the chamber of commerce. Talk about embarrassing. I hear that in some Southern states what went on on that stage is still illegal – even if it takes place behind closed doors. You can figure that out for yourself. Or not.

Point being, as much as there is a point, that the stuff that goes on in public, for the press and for the cameras, often has little to do with reality. Is the state going to eliminate CalWORKS? No. And if the speaker decides to raise a few thousand bucks instead of barking out drivel to be digested and misreported by the press, who cares? Is the world going to stop? Of course not. Heck, the governor himself opened up his home just a couple of days later to big-time donors. And this is a guy who used to complain about fundraising, and loudly.

And when it comes to budget drivel, what about the Big 5?

The Big 5, an institution that somehow got a toe-hold during George Deukmejian’s administration has probably done as much as anything else in the Building to ruin the budget process, and I’m not saying that just because they never let me join.

But in some respects I’m like Groucho Marx. Okay, I’m 200 pounds heavier and don’t have a moustache. But we do agree on one thing: We’d never join a club that would accept us as members.

If the Big 5 cut deals, twisted arms and sold the budget to the Legislature’s members, I’d say, Hallelujah and Amen.

But that doesn’t happen. The Big 5 slows down the negotiations, runs out the clock, hurls invective at its own participants and generally gets in the way.

My guess is just as much got done in the Capitol with the speaker in Pebble Beach. Maybe even more.

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