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My Sunday Column: A termed-out 2-percenter — the political education of Assemblyman Anthony Portantino

Ask just about anyone who has hung around the state capitol a while — reporters, lobbyists, staffers — and they will tell you that 98% of our legislators forget who they are and why they are there within two years of being elected.

The external pressure to do the bidding of special interests that supply the campaign cash — and the internal pressure to do the bidding of party bosses who control staffing, committee assignments and the fate of legislation — are so great that few can resist becoming part of the culture of corruption.

Anthony Portantino  one of the 2-percenters. He’s no angel, as he likes to point out, but he has talked truth to power on more than a few occasions and taken some stands that require a degree of courage.

He is someone who dared to challenge for the Assembly speakership, someone who refused to back prison realignment and abolition of redevelopment because they were poorly crafted bills, someone who became the lone Democrat to vote against the 2011 budget because no one really knew what was in it, someone who Speaker John Perezpunished for his independence by stripping him of a committee chairmanship and slashing his office budget.

Yet, Portantino defiantly fought back, forcing Perez to release budget records showing how the Assembly spends its money and how it uses its funds as a political weapon to punish and reward.

“In Congress, all the leadership positions are elected, so there is a sharing of power,” Portantino said last week over breakfast at Conrad’s in Glendale. “Here there is no sharing of power because the speaker appoints the leadership team. Back in Willie Brown‘s and Jess Unruh’s day, they understood that to be powerful you had to share it. You had longtime members who had cache, who had the bully pulpit, who had power in their own right and had to be respected.”

Our meeting was kind of an exit interview for Portantino who was termed out after six years in the Assembly and was left with nowhere to go — at least for now — in the game of political musical chairs that has developed under term limits.

Carol Liu holds the Senate seat in the foothills area for four more years and his hopes of running for Congress fell flat when redistricting put him in Rep. Adam Schiff‘s district.


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9 Responses to My Sunday Column: A termed-out 2-percenter — the political education of Assemblyman Anthony Portantino

  1. Wayne the Independent-Liberal says watch your mail for the property tax notice says:

    Portantino dared to be a non-scumbag? He sure did! I heard him on KFI with John and Ken. Big Fat Fag/Whale/Scumbag John Perez took all the staff and committee stuff away from a fellow Dumbocrat who would dare challenge his corrupt “leadership.” Once in a while, even these filthy machine politicians wake up and see they are destroying the place they call home. The worst Nazi-like backstabber we have is that rat Krookorian in CD2. Boy, has he been busy stabbing every business and homeowner in the back up and down Ventura Blvd! Yes, it’s down to John Walsh to be the sole opposition to a City Machine ripping off its homeowners and business owners.
    For all the Riordan fans—recall he was going to buy or start up a daily newspaper to report and expose these creeps and crooks. But like all his mentions of hopeful reforms and good ideas, he chickens out of all of it. He’s 82 and needs to shut the fuck up and keep to himself while he counts out his millions.

  2. anonymous says:

    Hi Wayne. While it’s clear you despise Riordan, I hope you were able to separate that from King Herb’s rude behavior when speaking before Clowncil.

  3. Wayne the Independent-Liberal says watch your mail for the property tax notice says:

    Re: King Herb I. vs. Riordouche-bag: ABSOLUTELY–His Excellency was horrible during that Clown meeting. Riordouche-bag has the money, connections, and clout to get Kevin elected mayor and throw out the King. He begins to do it, then it seems someone tells him to stop, and he drops the effort.
    That’s why I like Romney—he tried twice to dislodge a hard Left White house in favor of a moderate to right of centre group. Look at the hits and damage Mitt took trying to do that? He could of done what Riordouche does, but made a complete effort at it.
    When it comes to rotten, however, The King is definitely far beyond anyone.

  4. anonymous says:

    Yes, I am so saddened that Romney lost. The far right conservatives are doing the party in.
    I have no idea why Riordan dropped the pension initiative. I agree that 200 thousand signatures would be hard to get. But, I do wonder if something else was at play. I don’t believe he would have financially benefited from its passage and I do think he cares. Maybe the past elections was a window into what the final outcome would have been-like, what’s the point. Even if it got on the ballot, would it have passed? Our tax dollars (and illegally spiked rates) pay for the unions or their elected enablers to bus in the minions to vote their way. I wish the conservatives would shut up about their maniacal delusions like the old fart that said rape victims don’t get pregnant if they are scared (just what the liberal press lives for) and focus on our economy. Alas, it may be too late. Obama is determined to make our Country a welfare nation whose only claim is the illusion that our paper dollars still have some sort of value in a world market-a market that is on to us.

    • ex valley says:

      Many voters (and majority in LA) vote on emotions instead of reason and own economic interests. This is why what akin stupidly said in Missouri carried so much importance and tanked Romney. On the other hand Chicago has the most corrupt politicians in the country but this does not seem to reflect on Obama. I guess this was not covered msnbc.

      Speaking of old farts. The great achievement to soak California taxpayers (prop 30), celebration may be too premature.

      • El Quixotian says:

        Emotions…or Stockholm syndrome?

        3JobBob ruled us this ‘rithmatic, and proudly proclaimed that #MoneyIsFungible in assuring that resistance is feudal. You must vote the way your told, because (as Portantino learned) the Laird is gonna get your green one way or another.

        But if you play along, patronage will pay you back…until it doesn’t.

  5. anonymous says:

    Wow!! I didn’t know that about Facebook. On one hand I want to say “the joke’s on you CA.” On the other hand, I’m bummed I have to pay more taxes and it sickens me that it passed. I highly doubt it will impact the quality of public education in our state. I’m surprised they didn’t attach extended term limits to that measure.

    Your comment on voting based on emotions is apt.

    What’s happening reminds me of the quote by Friedrich Hayek: “Perhaps the fact that we have seen millions voting themselves into complete dependence on a tyrant has made our generation understand that to choose one’s government is not necessarily to secure freedom.”

    It really worries me the direction we’re going.

  6. Wayne the Independent-Liberal says watch your mail for the property tax notice says:

    HA HA HA!!! FREE PHONES FOR THE HOMELESS? Soon, If there is a Messiah, I’m going to be EX-VALLEY 2!!! YEH BABY!!!

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