Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg postponed the first hearing of a measure to name the Legislative Office Building after the late Democratic staffer and political strategist Bill Cavala.
The building at 10th and N Streets across from the Capitol houses scores of legislative staffers for the lawmakers, caucuses and committees.
An unpublished Senate committee analysis of the proposal reviewed by Capitol Weekly suggested that “the Legislature establish basic guidelines for naming buildings” and other areas. It also details guidelines used by the Senate Transportation Committee for naming highways and other structures — guidelines that might bar naming the building for Cavala if they were applied. Publication of the analysis was delayed when Steinberg postponed the hearing.
Steinberg’s SCR 62 was scheduled to be heard Monday by the Senate Governmental Organization (GO) Committee today. At Steinberg’s request, the bill’s first hearing has been moved to the GO hearing on April 13. The bill has reportedly upset some on the Republican side, who object to naming the six-story structure after a political operative who was not an elected official.
Cavala was a legendary Democratic political figure who began his career as an Assembly staffer in 1971. He rose to become a top aide for five different Assembly Speakers, beginning will Willie Brown in 1981. He later served as director of the Speaker’s Office of Member Services (SOMS). Cavala died on Dec. 26 at the age of 66.
Steinberg introduced SCR 62 on Jan. 11. It proposed to rename the Legislative Office Building at 1020 N St. as the “William L. Cavala Legislative Office Building.”
Cavala was long one of the most powerful residents of the LOB, as it is known to most people around the Capitol, during his years at SOMS. He was also well-known as a political strategist who helped plan numerous Democratic campaigns over the years.
According to the Senate analysis, establishing guidelines for naming structures could “mitigate questions or controversy in advance of legislative consideration.” It goes on to note than none of the legislative Rules Committees — Senate, Assembly, or Joint — currently have such guidelines. Neither does the Department of General Services.
It also notes that there is already now a conference room in the SOMS offices inside the LOB named after Cavala.
If the legislature adopted the guidelines used by the Senate Transportation Committee, Cavala might not qualify. It lays out five qualifications for a naming proposal.
Four of these likely would not be a problem for SCR 62. Many would agree that Cavala “provided extraordinary public service.” The author of the measure, Steinberg, represents Sacramento, and thus would not be naming something in someone else’s district. The building is not already named for someone else, and private money likely could be found to pay for new signage.
The measure could, however, run afoul of the fourth guideline: “The proposed designation must reflect a community consensus and be without local opposition.”
According to sources, several Republican legislators are opposed to the idea, though SCR 62 so far has no registered opposition.