"I intend to lead as you expect me to: boldly, creatively, and decisively."
That's the pledge, and the promise of Assembly Speaker John Perez as he takes the helm leading the lower house of the California Legislature for what will be, elections willing, one of the longest tenures of Assembly speakers in the term limits era.
And with that, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger put his arm around Abel Maldonado today, and pushed the Republican back out into the political free-for-all over his nomination to be California's next lieutenant governor.
Schwarzenegger's decision to withdraw the original Maldo nomination and submit a brand new one does two things: it resets the clock on how long the Legislature has to act, and it reignites the questions for Assembly Democrats about whether they have enough votes to end all speculation -- one way or the other -- about Maldo's fate.
It was a day full of partisan bickering, political maneuvering, and threatened legal action. In short... the kind of day that's helped fuel the perception that California's statehouse is stuck in never-ending dysfunction.
And through all that, by day's end there still was no real clarity as to whether Abel Maldonado took a big step towards becoming the next lieutenant governor... lost the fight altogether... or is stuck somewhere in between.
Welcome, students, to Constitutional Law 101. Interpret the following passage from Article V of the California Constitution:
"In the event the nominee is neither confirmed nor refused confirmation by both the Senate and the Assembly within 90 days of the submission of the nomination, the nominee shall take office as if he or she had been confirmed by a majority of the Senate and Assembly."
What does it mean to be "refused confirmation"? Failing to get a majority of the house (in this case, the Assembly) to vote 'Yes'? Or having a majority of the chamber cast a 'No' vote?
The nominee getting hit from both the left and the right... the urgency, or lack thereof, in having a new #2... and the fact that someone's actually doing the job as we speak.Yes, another intriguing week in store over a job that never gets any press in normal times: the office of lieutenant governor and the chances this month that Republican Abel Maldonado will get to order some new business cards.
It's no surprise that the choice of Maldonado by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger faces a tougher, much more uncertain road in the Assembly than in the Senate. Last week's quick hearing before the Senate Rules Committee made it clear that, in the words of one Democratic senator, the "comity" of the upper house is going to prevail in elevating the senator from the Central Coast to the post.
Today, the lower house drama began to play out, with three Democratic assemblymembers summoning reporters to discuss the various reasons they plan to say 'no' to Maldo.
So it's Christmas Eve. And let's face it, the Capitol is all quiet. Which means there's time for something light... as in a trip back with the chief executive to his former career, and a scene that makes budget fights look tame.
There are 321 days left until California voters go to the polls and choose their next governor. That's a long time, but not so long that political junkies won't read tonight's new poll and wonder this: might the all-but-official Democratic heavyweight candidate end up losing?
That was the sentiment of John Perez of Los Angeles after Assembly Democrats unanimously chose him today to be the fifth Speaker of the Assembly in just the last nine years.
No major news today on whether Abel Maldonado will... or won't... be California's next lieutenant governor. But new comments from the leader of the state Senate seem to acknowledge one part of the deliberations... or rather, six billion parts.
As in the $6.3 billion of missing dollars needed to balance the current budget... a deficit that may require the vote of Senator Maldonado to resolve.
BUDGET DAY PLUS 29 -- The hallmark of a good horror movie is that just when everyone thinks they've stabbed, or strangled, or mutilated the monster to death... he rears up again, scaring the bejeebers out of everyone.
In budget terms, Senate President pro Tem Don Perata appears to be trying again to kill the ugly budget beast that is talk of raiding transportation funds.
In an emailed letter from his campaign this afternoon, the Oakland Democrat emphatically stated he is not on board with any plan to take money from the Proposition 42 and Proposition 1A transporation funding guarantees.
"Raiding these funds now would break faith with voters who joined us in supporting the plan to rebuild California," Perata writes. "I can't stop people from floating trial balloons in Sacramento, but I can sure shoot this one down before it gets very far."
But still the talk persists, with more and more Capitol denizens seemingly braced for some kind of eventual deal that relies on borrowing -- a theory espoused today in a piece by Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Weintraub.
Of course, one could parse the words in Perata's letter and observe that his pledge to not borrow only specifies transportation funding, and not the myriad of other funds approved by voters in recent years. But on previous occasions, the pro tem has condemned talk of all such borrowing schemes... so perhaps he's still referring to the whole concept.
But as the budget impasse drags on, and Governor Schwarzenegger prepares to issue his minimum wage executive order tomorrow, today's promise from a leading Democrat only further confuses those of us watching the process as to how it'll all get resolved.