A top lieutenant of embattled Speaker Willie Brown, Assemblyman Tom Bane (D-Tujunga), is proposing a resolution commending Brown for his outstanding leadership, but a Republican legislator said the idea amounts to a "vote of confidence" for Brown that could backfire.
"If he (Bane) can't get 41 co-authors (from the 80-member Assembly) for that resolution, it looks bad (for Brown)," said Assemblyman Richard L. Mountjoy (R-Monrovia). "It's a dumb political thing to do. I won't be a co-author, and neither will a lot of other members."
Member resolutions like the one proposed by Bane do not require a favorable floor vote. Dozens of them are routinely sent out by lawmakers to VIP constituents commending them for winning various honors every year.
Bane, chairman of the powerful Rules Committee, denied that the resolution can be interpreted as an index of confidence in Brown's leadership.
"It's not a vote of confidence," Bane said. "It's just a resolution for him (Brown) to hang on his wall and send to his mother and kids."
The Bane resolution says he and other members of the Assembly "express their gratitude and commend Speaker Willie Lewis Brown Jr. for his long and successful tenure of leadership in California."
A cover letter says the resolution "will give him (Brown) a well-deserved expression of our appreciation of him. Please join me in co-authoring the attached resolution. I know he will cherish it forever."
Broke the Record
Brown broke the late Jesse M. Unruh's 7-year, 3-month, 6-day longevity record as Assembly Speaker on March 7.
The resolution also gives the Speaker credit for being instrumental in passing landmark laws to do such things as rebate $1.1 billion in surplus funds to California taxpayers, overhaul the Medi-Cal and health care delivery systems, implement major changes in the schools, require automobile seat belt use, train welfare recipients for long-term employment, and impose deposits on beer and soft drink containers.
A member of the so-called "Gang of Five" engaged in a running power struggle with Brown, Assemblyman Gary A. Condit (D-Ceres), charged that the resolution is "50% fiction."
Condit said Bane is "trying to give Brown credit for things that he had nothing to do with," and he also won't co-author the resolution.
He added that "it clearly is an attempt to portray the Speaker as being productive in the policy arena where he has not been that productive.
"Each member will have to search his own conscience to see if they want to be a co-author or not."
Reached in Washington, where he was on the annual state legislative congressional lobbying trip, Bane said he told Brown that he was going to sponsor the resolution "and Willie said OK."
"He has been an outstanding Speaker for a long time," Bane said. "I'd like to have a lot of co-authors. I have no devious motive. Those who want to congratulate Willie can join me. Those who don't want to don't have to."