Key Art of "Summer of Rockets" featuring Keeley Hawes and Toby Stephens.

Summer of Rockets

Start watching
6HWbNHN-show-poster2x3-c7tgE2Y.png

Artbound

Start watching
FZG3mkG-show-poster2x3-nOossfs.png

SoCal Update

Start watching
Death in Paradise Series 10

Death in Paradise

Start watching
millionaire still

KCET Must See Movies

Start watching
MZihTLV-show-poster2x3-5CKaGu8.jpg

Independent Lens

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
HvlSxHY-show-poster2x3-4ik43uV.png

Earth Focus

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

Who's Reformed? Not the Legislature While Reform Bills Languish

Support Provided By

 

We expect -- although experience argues against optimism -- that state legislators will be men and women of virtue. Realistically, they won't always be virtuous or even ethical. And so California has a system of laws to check unethical behavior before political corruption becomes endemic.

The system that checks corruption has failed. The quality of malfeasance in Sacramento has passed from reciprocal back scratching and pandering for campaign money to something uglier. The mess today includes bribery, political vendettas, globalized crime, and arms deals.

In recent polls, only 35 percent of voters approve of Sacramento lawmakers; 47 percent disapprove, largely since state Senators Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), Ronald Calderon (D-Montebello), and Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) were caught up in widely publicized criminal investigations. (Wright has already been convicted.)

The investigations continue and may uncover additional criminal behavior, possibly by other members of the legislature.

 

Fear was the mood in Sacramento when their Senate colleagues voted to suspend Yee, Calderon, and Wright. Brisk backside covering led to the introduction of more than a dozen reform bills in the following weeks. The rhetoric of reform from the leadership was occasionally soaring in its aspiration to penalize dishonest politicians.

It's now some months later, and systemic reform has very few supporters. Some bills have been passed, but critics see them as "nibbling around the edges, grabbing the low-hanging fruit." New rules in the state Senate limiting contribution seeking don't have an enforcement mechanism. The Assembly is ignoring the whole idea of "blackout days" for going to big money contributors.

Worse, the new leadership rising in the state Senate is unsympathetic to real reform.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, "Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, saw key elements of a wide-ranging proposal to strengthen California's landmark Political Reform Act deleted by the Senate Appropriations Committee, led by Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, who will replace the termed-out Steinberg as the Senate's leader." (A bill with similar limits on spending never even got out of committee.)

The amendments to Hill's bill "eliminated pieces of his proposal that would have barred lawmakers from taking expensive free trips and prevented indicted lawmakers from using their campaign accounts as legal defense funds."

That last amendment speaks volumes about what the California Legislature has become. When indictments are being unsealed, reform is on every legislator's agenda. Later, the goal is self-protection.

Support Provided By
Read More
A young olive-skinned person wearing a black cap, grey painted nails and a black t-shirt with an Anime character on it looks at the camera with a very slight smile. He is sitting on top of a table at a park.

How Some College Counselors Are Fighting Back Against Pandemic-Induced Enrollment Decline

Thousands of California high school graduates didn’t go to college last year due to the pandemic. The drop, which mostly affected community colleges, might be temporary, but it showed the need to provide more support for students going from high school to college. A new counseling program in Riverside County aims to do just that.
A server waits on a customer at Langer's Deli in Los Angeles, California

Hallelujah! L.A. County Celebrates Lifting of Most COVID-19 Restrictions

A celebratory atmosphere was felt in the Southland as businesses in Los Angeles County and across the state returned to mostly normal operations today with the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.
Singer, dancer and activist Nobuko Miyamoto holds her hands out.

We Are All Part of Many Worlds: Nobuko Miyamoto’s Barrier-Breaking Art and Activism

In her decades of activism, Nobuko Miyamoto has bridged the divides of art forms and race in a quest for social justice.