A consumer watchdog group is howling over a recent appointment by state Sen. Ron Calderon, but for the vast majority of California voters, trying to make sense of these types of inside-baseball appointments can be like trying to snorkel in the San Francisco Bay.
Legal Newsline’s Chris Rizo broke the story when Calderon, D-Montebello, the new chairman of the Senate Banking, Finance and Insurance Committee, appointed a former State Farm lawyer as one of the panel’s two principal consultants.
Ken Cooley is a former legislative counsel for State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Corp.
Doug Heller, executive director of Consumer Watchdog, said Cooley’s appointment gives the insurance industry leverage over a key committee, accusing Calderon of political chicanery.
Calderon’s office said the relationship between Cooley and Calderon was overblown, a position legal analysts agreed with.
The reality is for the average voter its almost impossible to judge for ourselves, precisely because such appointments are made all the time, not to mention political paybacks that give six-figure jobs to loyal termed-out legislators, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did in the midst of a historic budget crisis.
I’m not comparing Calderon’s appointment to those of Schwarzenegger except to say, in California that’s the way the game is played. The watchdog groups help point out the potential problems, but until voters register enough concern little will be done to change the way professional political wheels turn.