Assembly Speaker limits press access

Jan. 8, 2013

By Katy Grimes

As the new legislative session began yesterday, there was a quite buzz in the Assembly. But it wasn’t just about the many new lawmakers. A rumor was going around that Democratic Assembly Speaker John Perez had ordered the Capitol Sergeants to prevent reporters from accessing Assembly members in chambers.

Assembly Press Layout

Then I saw one longtime reporter standing near the entrance to the Assembly floor, where reporters position themselves if they are waiting to speak to a lawmaker. But the Sergeant told the reporter that he could not speak to lawmakers.

“News reporters will be barred from interviewing legislators in the Assembly chambers under new rules ordered by Speaker John A. Pérez before Monday’s first session of 2013,” Jim Sanders of the Sacramento Bee reported. The prohibition is among several rule changes imposed by Pérez that restrict press movement within chambers during floor sessions and tighten access to legislators immediately afterward.”

Reporters have always been allowed to quietly interview legislators in the back of the Assembly chambers, and hallway interviews have always been encouraged, particularly if it is a camera interview.

New ban, old ban

I’ve already experienced this. At the end of the last session, while seated at the “visiting press” news desk in the dark corner of the Assembly Chambers, several Assembly members walked back at different times to speak with me during contentious floor debates. As one Assemblyman and I spoke quietly, a Sergeant asked us to step outside. He looked apologetic when he made the request, but it was apparent that he had his orders.

Speaker John Perez had been doing battle with Republican legislators day after day during the final weeks of the session, leaving him visibly irascible. He yelled at Republicans who dared to challenge him, and several times banged so hard on the dais with the gavel, I thought it would shatter.

All of this apparently led up to limiting press access to the legislators, who had spoken openly about what was going on during the debates, and behind the scenes. I think Perez had had enough, and it was one way to limit information getting out.

Hostile media relations

Since the end of the last session, I was told by a Democratic strategist that Perez hates the media. He apparently despises reporters. Access to his office is difficult and contentious. For the three years I have been reporting from the Capitol for CalWatchdog, I have never received a press release or official statement from Perez’s office, yet they insist that I am on the media list.

Last January on the first day of session when the Legislature returned from its holiday break, I entered the Assembly Chambers and walked to the media desk I had been using for the last two years. As I sat down, a representative from Perez’s office informed me that I was not longer allowed to use the desk, and she escorted me to the opposite corner to the “visiting press” desk.

I can do my job from any seat but this was petty… especially since nearly all of the desks between the “visiting press” desk in the corner and the the desk I had been using up front, sat empty most days. I am one of only a few reporters who cover the Assembly from inside of the chambers every day that it is in session.

With a Democratic supermajority in both houses of the Legislature, and a Democratic governor, I expect to see more rules like this in the coming months. But, there are also more moderate Democrats in the Assembly. This should be a very interesting session.



Write a comment
  1. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 8 January, 2013, 09:49

    Good show, California. This is the type of transparent kakistocracy you morons voted for.

    To you Pollyannas out there (Seesaw, Intheoc, Teddy’s fambly of sock puppets) – is there NOW any doubt what the rest of us have been warning you?

    This joint’s on the shnide and our “leaders” are only greasing the skids.

    Reply this comment
  2. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 8 January, 2013, 11:25

    Don’t think I have anything to do with this situation, jimmy. I don’t know any more than you do about what had transpired with the Assembly, resulting in the new rules. If you are not happy with your reps, use your vote in the next election. I certainly will use mine!

    Reply this comment
  3. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 8 January, 2013, 11:54

    Porky Perez is a jike.

    Reply this comment
  4. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 8 January, 2013, 11:55

    To you Pollyannas out there (Seesaw, Intheoc, Teddy’s fambly of sock puppets)
    I think John or Katy may have banned Teddys gimmick accounts….Uhaul and Queeg have not posted in weeks.

    Reply this comment
  5. Donkey
    Donkey 8 January, 2013, 16:46

    Hang in there Katy!! Citizens need reporters like you to squeeze these fat slobs like Mr.Perez.

    I can tell from the tone of your stories that you are the type of press repoter that the Founders wanted to feed the people the truth. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  6. us citizen
    us citizen 8 January, 2013, 17:40

    Rex, maybe Teddy’s other personalities have been cured at the shrinks…….Maybe we can get some help for seesaw too. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  7. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 8 January, 2013, 18:43

    us citizen says:

    Rex, maybe Teddy’s other personalities have been cured at the shrinks…….Maybe we can get some help for seesaw too.

    Hahhahahahahahhaa……………..Good one US Citz!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  8. Hondo
    Hondo 8 January, 2013, 19:22

    Someone wrote that Pravda was now a more honest news source than the amerikan press. And I think that maybe true. That is one of the most scary milestones in this countries history.
    Like Jack Nicholson in ‘A few good men’, Perez thinks ‘you can’t handle the truth’.
    California is getting scary, Soviet scary.

    Reply this comment
  9. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 8 January, 2013, 21:35

    Perez’ action is more proof that California has descended to Banana Republic status, with him playing the role of Fidel Castro.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  10. Sean Morham
    Sean Morham 9 January, 2013, 13:04

    There will be a bill in Sacramento in 2014 for a state emergency, to suspend the state constitution, and approprate private assets for public funding, when insolvency beckons and the beast sees starvation in the near future. The citizens will be dependent on the Cal gov t(governor, legislative, judicial) to protect them during the calamity. Does anyone doubt how the Cal courts would rule? They need to be fed.
    Far fetched, yes, but we we heard the US would be recession free several years back, due to technolgy. How did that work out? Perhaps, 2008 was just the precursor of an economic disaster starting in USA in you know where. Far fetched?

    Reply this comment
  11. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 9 January, 2013, 22:09

    Sean, the disaster began in the 80’s during the Reagan Administration and came to a culmination in Sept. 2008. I suggest that you check out the documentary film, “Inside Job”. When you finish watching that, check out the fictional drama, “Margin Call”.

    Reply this comment
  12. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 10 January, 2013, 04:07

    Sean, the disaster began in the 80′s during the Reagan Administration and came to a culmination in Sept. 2008. I suggest that you check out the documentary film, “Inside Job”.
    Inside job in NO WAY laws all of the problems in the show at Rayguns feet seesaw you little liar. The problems in Inside Job are the result of both dems and repubs over the last 30 years…only a liar would try to spin that fact. But then again we KNOW you lie on a regular basis to keep YOUR SCAM going, the public pension scam, which itself is an INSIDE JOB.

    Reply this comment
  13. Sean Morham
    Sean Morham 10 January, 2013, 15:20

    See Saw, it is what it is. The elite in Gov t, Business, Academia, Labor played and will continue to play a part. There are members of both parties among them.

    Reply this comment

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