Bill Lockyer should make like Bulworth in his last 19 months

by CalWatchdog Staff | June 4, 2013 6:15 am

June 4, 2013

By Chris Reed

lockyerNews that state Treasurer Bill Lockyer will retire when his current term expires in January 2015 has produced plenty of tributes to Lockyer’s smarts and tenacity, and plenty of pushback from people who say he’s just a part of the Democratic establishment that’s mismanaged the state since Pete Wilson left Sacramento in 1999.

I think the latter critique is pretty strong. Still, I did write a newspaper editorial endorsing him in 2006[1] that offered some faint praise.

“The Democratic candidate for treasurer, Bill Lockyer, has displayed a vicious partisan streak in his eight years as attorney general, using his powers to sandbag initiatives he doesn’t like and to file frivolous lawsuits solely to score political points with unions and environmentalists. In his previous job, as Senate president, he was the epitome of the pay-to-play Sacramento culture, famously blocking a law meant to keep criminals out of California casinos and card clubs after taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from the gambling industry.

“Incredibly enough, we have no choice but to endorse him. His Republican opponent, Board of Equalization member Claude Parrish, is simultaneously flippant, uninformed and unfocused. Lockyer may be the devil, but he’s a smart devil. Were Lockyer treasurer, it is incomprehensible that Californians might someday wake up to learn that the state had lost billions of dollars because he made complex financial decisions without due diligence. That is not the case with Parrish.

“We set out to give Lockyer the most grudging election endorsement in the history of the printed word. We hope we have achieved our goal.”

‘Puke politics’ call was one for the ages

220px-BulworthStill, while Lockyer has for the most part played the role of loyal partisan, what he did in 2003 remains a high point in modern California politics. He denounced the “puke politics” of then-Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and later admitted to voting for Arnold Schwarzenegger in the recall.

That is the Lockyer I’d like to see over the next 19 months: someone who is brutally honest about his party. The New York Times reported in April that President Obama wishes he could go rogue[2] in his speeches and tell the truth about the political world, as Warren Beatty did in 1998 as an unhinged, suicidal senator in the movie “Bulworth.” Lockyer could play that role with little of the downside that Obama would face for being honest about his fellow Dems. It’s not like he’s pushing a legislative agenda as California treasurer.

Lockyer could be true to his history by continuing to depict Republicans as heartless reactionaries, as he loves to do. But he could also point out that the CTA and CFT see public schools more as an adult jobs program than a way to help kids get ready for life. That affluent urban greens simply don’t care if heavy regulation leads to high unemployment. That touting “social justice” is a convenient veneer for a Democratic Party that cares far more about its share of the middle class and wealthy — public employees, trial lawyers, greens and socially liberal urban professionals — than about poor people.

And if Lockyer would go Bulworth on Jerry Brown — specifically Jerry Brown and the bullet train — that would be awesome.

C’mon, Mr. Treasurer: Tell the truth about the bullet train

California is on the brink of spending billions of dollars on a Central Valley bullet train link with no prospects of funding for the links that would actually reach the Bay Area and Los Angeles. The word for this is insane.

The gap between the self-image Brown cultivates himself of frugal, careful brainiac and the absurdity of his championing of the bullet train project is the size of the Grand Canyon.

C’mon, Bill! Candor time! Get back in your “puke politics” mode!



  1. endorsing him in 2006:
  2. go rogue:

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