I wish I could be as sanguine about the the election of the firmly openly gay Speaker of the California Assembly as I am about the first openly lesbian Mayor of the City of Houston. And while I have met Assemblyman John Pérez, an openly gay Latino Democrat from Los Angeles elected by his fellow partisans to preside over the state’s lower house, I don’t have great hopes that he’ll initiate the kind of reforms we need here in the Golden State.
Pérez is certainly a very nice man with a polished presence, but he’s also the favorite of the state’s unions. According to the biography on his his campaign’s web-site, he spent the 15 years prior to his election to the General Assembly “working for labor unions, most recently serving as UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers International Union) political director.” Wikipedia identifies his as a “union organizer“. Just what we need another “organizer” in a position of political power.
Don’t think he’ll be standing up to those public employee unions who, while one in eight Californians are out of work, with employees in the private sector taking pay cuts to keep their jobs, continue to fight for higher wages for the already highly paid state employees. Those unions will continue siphon off a hefty portion of their members’ salaries to fill their coffers, replenish the war chests of state Democrats and campaign for higher taxes.
I would wager that Pérez was elected to such a powerful position so early in his legislative tenure (he was first elected only last year), in large part, due to backing from public employee unions who wield the power behind the various Democratic Party thrones in Sacramento. They know that a man who cut his political teeth in union activism would not join the growing chorus of Californians upset at that power. Indeed, thanks to that power–and the unwillingness of California politicians to challenge it, our state is in one heck of a fiscal mess.
His election may be a historic milestone for gay Americans, but it’s also a sign that Democrats in the California Assembly are in the pocket of the state public employee unions and a guarantee that the fiscal problems which have plagued this state won’t get any better. In fact, they are likely to get worse. Much worse.