Resolutions for better politics in the New Year

With 2013 quickly receding, here are some suggestions for California politicians, and a few others, for the upcoming year.

SACRAMENTO — Forty-five percent of Americans make New Year's resolutions, so I've read. And about 90% of those vows wind up being blown off.

But we're allowed to give it another try every year. It's part of the self-improvement process, a vital acknowledgment of personal flaws.

So in the interest of bettering the species — and nothing personal — I offer some 2014 resolutions for Sacramento politicians. Never mind that I have done this before and generally been ignored.

Gov. Jerry Brown should resolve to:

•Savor and bask in all the media speculation — even if it's a distant reach — about his possibly being tempted to run for president in 2016. For the fourth time.

At his age — he'll be 78 during the next presidential election — and after those earlier, ill-conceived stabs at the job, to even be mentioned is an achievement and honor. Soak it in. Smell the roses.

But Brown knows better than to take the chatter seriously. These are slow times in the news biz and political writers are scraping for anything to keep busy. He understands. Presumably.

•Be more considerate. But this seems hopeless.

Case in point: Brown continues to refuse to speak to the Sacramento Press Club, as previous governors routinely did, promoting their agenda for the coming year. It was always a sold-out luncheon for a good cause: refunding the club's scholarship program for college journalism students. This governor doesn't even bother to respond to the club's invitation.

It's not that he's too busy doing the people's work. He takes time to address special interests and rich supporters with his hand out for money to finance his 2014 reelection campaign.

Here I interrupt with a proposed resolution for fellow news types:

•Stop writing and broadcasting that Brown hasn't announced whether he'll run for a fourth term. When he's begging donors for millions to fund the race, that's enough announcement. That's running.

Back to Brown resolutions:

•Seriously rethink two potential behemoth boondoggles — the bullet train and delta tunnels — before the state gets in so deep it can't escape.

The bullet train has a $68-billion price tag with only $12 billion in sight. That's fiscally irresponsible.

The delta project is priced at $25 billion — but could soar to $60-billion-plus with interest on borrowing — and involves tearing up a garden spot to water a desert. More creative thinking is needed.

Now resolutions for legislators:

•Pass fewer laws. Address only legitimate state problems, rather than merely pumping out fodder for press releases. Each bill costs $20,000 on average to process.

The lawmakers regressed in 2013. They passed 901 bills, according to the governor's office. Brown signed 805 and vetoed 96. That's up from 2011, a comparable year in the legislative cycle. That year they passed 889. The governor signed 761 and vetoed 128.

•Conduct more of the public's business in the public light. Longer committee meetings with more public testimony. Fewer sneaky "gut-and-amend" shenanigans at the end of legislative sessions.

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