Part-time California Legislature was 'corrupt,' ex-leader says
Former Assembly Majority Leader Dario Frommer does not share the nostalgia of those who want the California Legislature to return to being a part-time body.
So the Democrat from La Cañada Flintridge has agreed to co-chair a campaign against an initiative proposed by Republican Assemblywoman Shannon Grove of Bakersfield to end the Legislature’s full-time status.
"We had a part-time Legislature in California. It was widely viewed as corrupt and ineffective," Frommer said of the days before California voters created a full-time body in 1966.
Grove’s initiative would have the Legislature meet 90 days a year and cut members’ pay from more than $7,900 a month to $1,500. That, Grove said, would "get them away from the seductive atmosphere of the Capitol dome, get them back home with family, neighbors and work, and give them a better chance, as a citizen legislator, to serve their constituents best interests."
The proponents, who include Ted Costa of People's Advocate, have 150 days to collect 807,615 signatures of registered voters to qualify the measure for the ballot.
Frommer, who served in the Assembly from 2000 to 2006, will be ready to campaign against it if it qualifies. The state's problems will not be solved by having the government of one of the world's largest economies "run by a part-time commission," Frommer said. "In fact, you are going to make it worse and give special interests even more sway than they hold today.''
The answer, he said is a different change. "I served as a legislative staffer before term limits and as a legislator under them. I can tell you first hand that term limits are largely responsible for the problems we have in Sacramento today,'' he said.
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: Dario Frommer, then the Democratic leader of the California Assembly, speaks to reporters questions in 2005. Credit: Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times