Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg wants to change the name of the Legislative Office Building to honor Bill Cavala, a longtime Democratic strategist and Capitol staffer under former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown. Cavala died on Dec. 26 at the age of 66.
Steinberg, D-Sacramento, introduced SCR 62 on Jan. 11. It asks that the new name of the building be the “William L. Cavala Legislative Office Building.” It also lists some of Cavala’s accomplishments in a career as a legislative staffer that began back in 1971.
Cavala’s work as a Democratic political operative has some on the Republican side quietly grumbling about the proposal.
Cavala worked for Democrats like Brown and now-Treasurer Bill Lockyer, and posted frequently on the liberal blog The California Progress Report. Capitol insiders say Cavala also helped engineer the departure in 2000 of Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush, at a time when Quackenbush was viewed as a major Republican contender for governor.
The LOB, as it’s known to those around the Capitol, is a six-story office building at 10th and N Streets across from the Capitol. It houses numerous legislative committee offices and the bulk of the legislative staff for both major parties.
It’s also where former Democratic Assemblywoman Nicole Parra was banished in 2008 after throwing her support by Republican Danny Gilmore, R-Hanford, against Democratic candidate Fran Florez in the race to replace her in the 30th Assembly district.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Lockyer said. “Normally, if building gets named, it’s after some elected official. It seems to me it’s appropriate to acknowledge the work that significant staff people do. He worked there [in the LOB] for a lot of years and had an impact on both policy and politics.”
Cavala and Lockyer shared a long history that began when they were college roommates at the University of California at Berkeley in the early 1960s. Both went on to work for Assemblyman Robert Crown. When Crown was hit by a car and killed while jogging in 1973, Lockyer won a special election to replace him — and Cavala ran his campaign.
When asked whether Cavala’s experience on the political side made him too divisive a figure to have such a building named after him, Locker replied: “You mean like Jess Unruh or Ken Maddy?”