Sacramento: Land of the migrating politicos

first_imgI’m annoyed at Jackie Speier and Tom McClintock, and I’m not afraid to say why. These two state senators are after my dream job. Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, too. And considering the name recognition of this bunch, I don’t have a shot. In fact, there are at least five state senators interested in succeeding Cruz Bustamante as lieutenant governor next year, not to mention an assortment of other political types. Don’t they have better things to do than spend eight years in the cushiest job in Sacramento, a job clearly meant for someone as unskilled as myself? I’ve been eyeing the job ever since Bustamante burst on the public scene with his dubious campaign for governor (“Don’t vote for recall. But if you do, vote for me”). I had forgotten the state had a backup governor, so infrequent were Bustamante’s public appearances until that point. This replaced my desire to get appointed to one of those high-paying state commissions or being the state’s poet laureate. It turns out that position is pro bono. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card The job as California’s second-in-command, however, pays quite well: $132,000 a year, to be exact. I’m not going to reveal the shamefully low wages of a newspaper columnist/editorial writer, but suffice it to say it would be an enormous raise. And from what I can tell, the job’s not all that tough. The L.G. sits on some panels, such as the State Lands Commission and the University of California Board of Regents. He (because there’s never been a she to hold the job) is the ceremonial head of the state Senate. Occasionally he writes strongly worded letters. As chairman of the state’s Commission on Economic Development, he must travel to exotic lands such as Thailand on trade missions. And, most importantly, the L.G. baby-sits when the real governor leaves the state. Otherwise, the L.G. is left to his own devices and causes, with a staff of 29 to help out. At least, that’s the crew the current L.G. has. Clearly, I’m not the only one who has discovered the allure of this job. But why are perfectly self-respecting politicians such as Sen. Liz Figueroa from the Bay Area or Sen. Jim Battin of Riverside County vying for such an inconsequential job? Because term limits happened to them, and once their current terms are up, they need new jobs. This is the real horror of term limits. Rather than bringing in a corps of citizen legislators who go to Sacramento, then go home, it has turned a generation of career politicians into migrant workers, always looking ahead to the next job. Once someone’s exhausted the six years in the state Assembly, they move to the Senate for eight years. Once those eight years are up, they can seek one of the few statewide election positions available, such as governor, treasurer or L.G. If that seems unobtainable, they can try for a job on the local city council or board of supervisors. Going small isn’t as bad as it seems. In fact, it’s possible Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Councilmen Tony Cardenas and Herb Wesson all currently enjoy more power, more visibility and more perks than they did as state legislators. Voters might have thought terms limits would get rid of the same old cast of characters, but all they got was a traveling show. And because of that, my dream job is now out of reach and likely to fall into the hands of someone not inclined to revel in the obscurity of the job or celebrate its potential for serious slacking. Oh, the travesty. Mariel Garza [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more