Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Dear Big Daddy,
I don’t begrudge anybody grabbing a day off, but why do Capitol staffers take Cesar Chavez Day off on Monday and state employees do the same thing on Wednesday?
–Perplexed in Portola

Dear Perplexed,
Because this is California government, that’s why. The state can’t seem to do anything right, and apparently that extends to taking time off.

The lack of ability to coordinate on a single holiday says a little something about the current state of affairs. If this were a different kind of publication, I might reprise a colloquialism about both hands, a roadmap and the location of certain body parts.

But I’ll refrain. For now.

But really – what does it say about our ability to balance our books, coordinate the flow of billions of federal stimulus dollars and move goods and services in this 7th largest economy in the world if we can’t even agree on when to celebrate Caesar Chavez Day.  Something’s gotta give.

Doesn’t it?

It’s enough to strike fear into the heart of the most concerned citizen, or Golden State booster. But maybe fear isn’t such a bad thing.  Fear and Trembling is more than just the musings of a paranoid Danish philosopher. It was also a roadmap for how I operated as speaker, although I confess I didn’t devise the system myself. I got part of it from the old San Jose Mercury newsroom, where a shiv in the back in the dark was an art form, and part of it was from watching Lyndon Johnson. It worked for me.

But it shows the real problem with a subject dear to my heart — term limits.

Legislators need to be reminded that if they step out of line and buck the leadership there will be consequences. Everyone somewhere, sometimes needs a spanking, and that includes the governor – any governor – and other statewide electeds.

But if everyone knows that the chief is only in a temporary gig, inspiring fear is a difficult trick.

And if they do good – “good” means do what I tell them – they deserve a reward, like a high-speed rail route in their district or enterprise zones or a new state museum.

The same people who brought you term limits – arch-conservative Southern Californians and a few columnists – are the same ones who whine about legislative dysfunction. They played a role in screwing up government, then they complain that government is screwed up.

So heck, take Monday off. Take Wednesday off. Take the entire week off for all I care. Maybe when we’re all rested up, we can begin untangling this bureaucratic mess we call California government and come up with some systems that make sense to some people who don’t need both hands and a roadmap to find … well, you get the idea.


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