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What on earth does an assemblyman do?

November 20, 2014

By Nato Green : sfweekly – excerpt

David Campos and David Chiu are fighting over Tom Ammiano’s seat in the California Assembly with the intensity of a retiree from Iowa parallel parking a stick shift between two motorcycles on a San Francisco hill for the first time.

Election narratives assume that the Assembly is a more prestigious office than supervisor, but how many voters have the foggiest notion what an assemblyman actually does? I have lobbied several failed bills at the state Capitol, so can share my participant-observer ethnography of how the sausage is made. The voters of San Francisco can then make an informed decision of who is most qualified for the duties of this specific job.

The first thing to know about how the sausage of public policy is made is that it is made entirely of lips and nether parts. To call the Capitol a cesspool would be demeaning to cesspools. Lobbyists spend all day lurking unventilated, fluorescent-lit halls, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting legislators sneaking to the bathroom. People agree to any minor amendments when they have to pee. You can always tell how powerful a lobbyist is from the price of their lobbyist’s suit, which is directly proportional to their smell. Brooks Brothers and body odor? That must be the Western States Petroleum Association!

Also, the state Legislature is not run by the people we elect to do so. It’s run by attractive 25-year-old staffers for the legislators and various committees. I don’t know why sexy people are over-represented in the Capitol, but they are. Apparently powerful men like having hot young women around them. These are the millennials who tend not to be comely enough for Los Angeles, or capable enough to go to New York or D.C. But they are just comely and capable enough to steward the world’s eighth-largest economy… (more)
Or the only way to get your way is to buy your own lobbyists. If we took all the money we were handing to the legislators, because we can never buy them, and hire our own lobbyists, we might get better results. That or start a third party.
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