Thursday, September 15, 2005

Well, Duh - But It's Nice To See It In Print

Capitol Weekly highlights the shift in Legislative clout to the Assembly - citing a "confluence of personal, political and structural factors [that] have led to the balancing of power between the two legislative houses."

Add to those factors that the Assembly's Fellowship Program is the oldest and most prestigious and it's easy to see why the green house is better. (Senate Fellow snarky emails arrive in 3 . . .2 . . .1 . . .)

Clearly, Senate Pro Tempore Don Perata's legal woes don't help him. But really, term limits but both houses in the same boat and cause members to swap back and forth - anything to stay in the business. How, then, could the Senate claim to be the "upper" house? (Which doesn't exist in California, but which they claim anyway). Save the confirmation power, I can't think of any legitimate difference between the two houses. Membership? Nah - both of 'em represent too many people, and the difference isn't comparable to, say, the United States Senate. And, of course, having been an Assembly staffer of various sorts twice now, it gets awfully tiring to see, hear, and feel the superiority bleeding out of the pink side of the building for absolutely no reason.

Face it, Senate, once John Burton left, you really kinda lost the badass cred.

The Weekly says:

Free from the legal clouds surrounding Perata, Nuñez has focused on opposing Gov. Schwarzenegger’s "year of reform.” The Speaker holds weekly press conferences and, among legislators, has taken the lead in opposing Schwarzenegger’s agenda, which has been the target of protests from teacher, fire fighter and nurse unions throughout the year.

"My boss is the type of person who doesn’t like to have a press availability unless he has something very specific to talk about,” says Perata spokeswoman Alicia Dlugosh, who adds that the ongoing FBI investigation "doesn’t impact our daily lives.”

"He is so media savvy. He is a sound-bite machine,” said Dlugosh. "But what would we talk about every week?”
I don't know, but Fabian Nunez sure seems to figure something out (owing in no small part, I'm sure, to the tremendously talented staff he has amassed.)

The article also correctly explains that it was Willie Brown's outting by term limits that shifted power to the Senate to begin with. It's the people and the circumstances, not the structure, that give a California legislative house the edge.

Berkeley's Bruce Cain opines that the Senate has weakened, as opposed to the Assembly strengthening. There may be some truth to that - but at the end of the day, it's term limits that have rendered the houses all but indistinguishable. Inexperienced frosh Assemblymembers will soon become Senators, remaining comparatively inexperienced to those who have come before them.

Fabian Nunez, by virtue of some good timing and the cooperation of former Speaker Herb Wesson, is able to stick it out in his post for longer than normal (in post-term-limits terms) - so he has more power to burn because he's in a stonger position. The article discusses the internal caucus politics of each house and its leader well, so make sure to read it.

But to sum up - two things give the Speaker the edge: term limits and one hell of a staff.


Anonymous said...

WORD...spoken like a true Unruh fellow...the article is dead-on...the end of your post with the reference to the edge the Speaker has makes me think of marketing a steroid (or energy drink) called Speaker's Edge!!! It would enable the user to make thoughtful HR decisions and free him from the pesky FBI...just a thought!

Anonymous said...

Snarky Senate Fellow comment here...I was out having fun this weekend and couldn't pay attention to the this trivial blog which I refuse to read anymore.