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Barbs, jokes fly at roast of Assembly speaker

June 1, 2011 | 10:13 am

With a budget deadline looming, state lawmakers, lobbyists and staff blew off some steam Tuesday at an annual roast that that ranged from raunchy to geeky.

Assembly Speaker John  A. Perez (D-Los Angeles) was the ostensible subject of the roast, but the barbs flew in all directions. Few topics were off-limits, including Perez’s weight (he’s a larger man), his sexual orientation (he’s openly gay) and his heritage (he is Latino). Even the recent news that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a child out of wedlock was fodder for the evening. (Though most of those jokes aren’t blog-appropriate.)

There was also a public airing of the rivalry, and differing budget negotiating styles, between the Senate and Assembly leadership.

“Until the Chilean miners, Darrell was frontrunner for biggest cave-in of 2010,” Perez said of his Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento.

Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills) took the opportunity to mock Perez’s tired line that “everything is on the table” in budget talks. “As someone who’s watched him eat, everything is on the table,” Blumenfield said.

Perez later said of Blumenfield, who is Jewish, that it’s “nice to have a budget chair committed to saying no to pork.”

One of the funnier moments was a video spoofing the “It Gets Better” YouTube video series, which tells gay teenagers that better times are ahead. Three former speakers, including Perez’s cousin, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, told Perez that life gets better after the speakership.

“No one cares if you actually graduated from college,” Villaraigosa said, making reference to recent news that Perez allowed biographies that said he graduated from UC Berkeley to go uncorrected.

Villaraigosa made light of his own PR troubles surrounding his acceptance of free tickets to sporting events, as well. He said no one cares once you leave Sacramento “unless it involves free tickets, in which case they care a lot.”

Former Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), who is now in Congress, rejoiced in the video: “You get to vote no on the budget … It really does get better.”

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento

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