It is hard enough for the average hard-working politician to get respect in Sacramento these days. It is made almost impossible by relationships like those between Assemblyman Mike Roos (D-Los Angeles), that body's majority leader and presumably therefore above average, and W. Patrick Moriarity, an Orange County fireworks manufacturer whose lobbying tactics have made him a political powder keg.
Moriarity's mission in Sacramento some years ago was to take away from cities their legal rights to ban both the sale and the use of any kind of fireworks, including the so-called safe-and-sane variety, within their borders. As The Times reported recently, Roos provided one of eight votes required to get Moriarity's bill out of an Assembly committee in 1981 and then lobbied hard for its passage among his colleagues in the Senate when the bill turned up without warning in that chamber in the last few hours of the 1982 session.
Roos was not the only politician who voted for the bill, which passed both chambers and was vetoed by then-Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. But, so far as the records show to date, he is the only politician who turned a profit of $50,000 on an investment in a Moriarity real-estate development in Baldwin Hills within days after his efforts in behalf of the fireworks bill paid off in its passage. Roos and his attorneys have said nothing publicly about the affair except that he has papers that show it was innocent coincidence, or words to that effect. He has declined to show those papers to the press.
But the Assembly has a much different relationship with Roos than does the press. It also has rules about conflict of interest to which even the majority leader is not immune.
It is time for the majority of the Assembly to put its leader under oath and find out just where he was leading them in 1981 and 1982 and why. And if he won't tell the majority any more than he has told the press or the public, the majority should arrange to provide him with a new title--something like minority leader, as in minority of one.