A few resolutions for 2011

Capitol Journal

What’s New Year’s without resolutions? Just bowl games that are mostly boring.

My first resolution for 2011? To not watch the Rose Bowl on TV. It’ll be a little protest.

This Rose Bowl matchup is blasphemy against a sacred New Year’s Day tradition: the Pac-10 versus the Big Ten. West Coast (usually) against the Midwest. Instead in Pasadena on Saturday, we’ll get Texas Christian University playing Wisconsin.

Nothing against TCU. It’s a great institution and the Horned Frogs are a terrific team. But they should be competing in the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas, or the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.


(The whole bowl system has sunk so low that the Cotton and Sugar bowls aren’t even played on New Year’s Day anymore.)

Oregon or Stanford should be playing Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. They’re competing elsewhere.

Our way of life began changing a few years ago because of greedy universities pimping for TV dollars, a wimpy Rose Bowl committee and some computer-commanded contraption called the Bowl Championship Series.

They’ve completely screwed up bowl traditions and robbed West Coasters, especially Californians, of their right to a home or regional team to root for in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, hunkered around family, including folks who might never watch a football game the rest of the year.


But enough said about that.

Below are some suggested resolutions for other people, mainly politicians.

For Gov.-elect Jerry Brown:

--This time as governor, try to be more considerate of people. Don’t phone aides at all hours of the night. Don’t arrogantly keep people waiting. Decline or accept invitations; don’t keep the inviters hanging. Show some humanity, not just abstractly to the masses but personally to individuals.


--Break the addiction to eating food — nachos, fries — off other people’s plates.

--Be courageous. Stand up to the labor unions. They provided invaluable support in the election campaign. But everyone must sacrifice if the state is to be saved. And the sacrifices must be seen as fair all around.

Public employee benefits are too generous and top-tier pensions are politically unsustainable.

Meanwhile, private-sector unions may need to give on such issues as work breaks and flexible hours if Republicans are ever to be enticed into considering an extension of temporary tax hikes.


Similarly, environmental groups may need to be stared down over burdensome business regulations and incessant litigation that stalls government permitting of projects.

--Refuse to sign any spending bill that does not identify an honest funding source, whether it be a budget, a bond proposal or a few bucks for a bicycle path.

--Hold regular news conferences. Govs. Ronald Reagan and George Deukmejian did, and they finished their two terms fairly popular. You and Arnold Schwarzenegger did not and, well, you can look up the negative ratings.

Another reason for news conferences: You’ll be slashing the governor’s communications shop to show voters you’re a budget-cutter. So you’ll need to put extra effort into communicating yourself — and trying to sell that extension of tax increases.


--And the Willie Brown rule: Always assume you’re wired, especially around strangers. No more loose talk about Nazis or political whores.

Here are resolutions for legislators, some of which I’ve suggested previously, but were ignored:

--Democrats, hop to it. Having finally attained the long-coveted majority vote for budget passage, there’s no longer a Republican obstacle to blame. Take out the knives and quickly perform the uncomfortable, unpopular task of chopping a budget into balance and passing it.

-- Republicans, be willing to listen to what the Democrats have to offer for extending the tax hikes. Regulatory streamlining? Labor concessions?


--Do your work in daylight. No more adolescent all-night sessions with mumbling leaders forcing sleep-deprived colleagues to pass flawed legislation. The public deserves rested minds from its elected representatives.

Legislators did well in 2010 until October when they suffered a huge slip, pulling an all-nighter to pass a so-called balanced budget. It turned back into red ink almost immediately after being signed.

--Pass fewer laws. Nearly 1,500 were enacted in the last two-year session. Time out. We’re still not enforcing all the laws already on the books, starting with the ban on using handheld cellphones while driving. Each bill costs roughly $20,000 to process through the Legislature.

--Stop calling a party caucus every time some legislator feels the urgent need to spout off, have a hand held or extort some pork. It interrupts the legislative flow and promotes polarization.


--Along that line, take a member of the rival party to lunch a couple of times a month. Relax and chat about mutual interests, especially public policy. Loosen the partisan gridlock.

--Stop holding those godforsaken so-called news conferences with casts of thousands: lawmakers and special interests crowding the stage for a photo op that doesn’t impress anyone except themselves.

Likewise, a “press conference” on the Capitol steps is not a press conference. It’s a waste of time.

A resolution for readers: Keep the e-mails short and civil if you expect them to be read, let alone replied to.


And a resolution for journalists, myself included: Declare a moratorium on the overused words “reform,” “crisis” and “historic.”

I also resolve not to watch any of the bowl games after New Year’s Day, except — the workday permitting — contests involving West Coasters Stanford and Oregon.