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Perata says former assemblyman has ‘Wright’ stuff

Former Assemblyman Rod Wright, D-Compton, was termed out of office in 2004,
but early last year he returned to the work for the Legislature–this time as
a legislative staffer.

He is currently on the payroll of Senate Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland,
working out of his Los Angeles office. His salary is $23,160–a substantial
cut from his days as a legislator.

Wright, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer during his time in the
Assembly, is the second termed-out Democratic assemblyman with health
problems that Perata has hired in the last two years.

In February 2005, Perata hired former Assemblyman John Longville, D-San
Bernardino, as a principal consultant to his L.A. office, at a pay rate of
$102,624 per year, as the Inland Empire Democrat underwent, and then
recovered from, serious heart surgery.

“[Wright] is a life-long Angelino and a hell of a field guy and I had some
room on my staff,” said Perata. “He was available so I hired him.”

Wright, who spent years on the staffs of Maxine Waters and Willie Brown when
they served in the Assembly, said that with the advent of term limits it
will become increasingly common for former members to reappear as staffers.

“I was a staff person for the better part of 20 years,” said Wright. “I was
elected for six and I am a staff person again.”

“What, if you are an ex-assembly member, you don’t have to eat?” asked the
52-year-old.

Before joining Perata’s staff on April 1, he spent a full year working for
Sen. Edward Vincent, D-Inglewood, as a legislative aide to the select
committee on California’s horse-racing industry. In that post, he earned the
same $23,160 salary.

“He came to me and indicated that he would very much need to get some kind
of employment where he could get insurance,” said Vincent, who has known
Wright for years. “He told me what he needed so I brought him back and let
him do some work on the committee.”

Vincent said that Wright did work for the select committee both in Los
Angeles and Sacramento.

Wright briefly had flirted with running for Senate–not being a Senate
staffer–in 2006, a contest that would have pitted him against Assemblyman
Mark Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles, in the 26th District. Wright had raised
more than $150,000 for his bid, but dropped out earlier this year.

“Some days you look up and you go, ‘Do I really feel like doing this right
now,'” said Wright. “The answer was no.”

Ridley-Thomas is now expected to coast into the Senate.

According to Perata press secretary Alicia Trost, the staff of the senator’s
Los Angeles office primarily interfaces with local boards and city councils,
sets up town-hall meetings for Senate Democrats, does outreach, and
organizes the ethics and computer training for L.A.-based legislative
employees.

Wright, an African American and former chairman of the Legislative Black
Caucus, replaces another outgoing African-American employee in the L.A.
office, Perata said.

Wright said the focus of his work has been on outreach for the pro tem on
infrastructure issues, particularly working with the port in Los Angeles.
“The senator has been concerned with a number of infrastructure matters,”
said Wright, who says he is in the office most days, but is not a full-time
employee. “The pay is kind of commensurate with the time.”


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