Friday, April 25, 2014
The California State Senate Took Wednesday Off For a Mandatory Refresher Course in Ethics
The California Senate, comprised of 27 Democrats and 13 unknown Republicans, voted 28-1 on March 28 to suspend with pay three Democratic Senators, Rodrick Wright of Inglewood, Ron Calderon of Montebello, and Leland Yee of San Francisco. Senator Wright was convicted in January of perjury and filing false reports of his legal residences. Senator Calderon was indicted in February on 24 counts of corruption. Senator Yee was indicted in March of corruption and gun running. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg celebrated one month without indictments by calling a mandatory one day course in ethics for all state senators and staffers. It’s called “A Day of Reflection” on ethics. The Senators reflected on whether they were as dumb or unlucky as the three disgraced Senators. Some were reflecting on how quickly they could get out of the malaise of Sacramento into the Big Time of Congress. No floor sessions; no committee hearings. Mandatory attendance at taxpayer expense. He called for it Wednesday at the State Library. The three suspended Senators and two no-shows did not make the meeting. The Senate’s problem is not political corruption by ignorant, unethical Democratic Senators. The problem is political corruption by arrogant, dumb and unethical Democratic Senators, two of whom were stupidly caught on FBI wiretaps. They knew they were violating the law. Senator Yee is recorded saying “I hope I don’t get indicted.” Senator Steinberg recognized the training would not have prevented the kind of corruption of Senators Calderon and Yee. He said “But that’s only half the point.” The full point was to make it appear that the California Legislature was taking pro-active steps to change its image, if not its conduct. Senator Steinberg, the righteous Senator Steinberg, had earlier contributed $15,000, presumably out of campaign funds, to Senator Wright’s Legal Defense Fund. Their problem is that the Senators do not heed the wisdom of former Assembly Speaker “Big Daddy” Jessie Unruh (1961-1969) about lobbyists: “If you can’t eat their food, drink their booze, screw their women, and then vote against them, you have no business being up here.” Today’s legislators just want to be bought. The Senators met in closed session, followed by a news conference. The first presentation was entitled: “Crating a Culture of Ethics – A National Perspective.” The ethically challenged California legislators don’t need the national perspective. This is California – not New York or Illinois or Rhode Island. The State Assembly has been too smart to date for a corruption scandal. They learnt from Big Daddy. They met as usual yesterday. Senator Steinberg’s office issued a press release: “The group sessions will include a presentation … on strengthening standards of conduct in individual and institutional decision making.” These sessions can be interminably boring. No word on rather or nor the Senators and staffers could bring their cell phones, Black Berries, laptops, and notebooks into the meeting, or even scratch paper to doodle on. No telling if any of them were checking to see if they will be indicted next. Remember, a whole month has passed by. No, these California Senators could not work a full day in a library. It only lasted two hours, but they thought it was a full day. They were paid for a full day’s work, including perks. Just another day at the public trough. Business, as usual, in Sacramento.