Around Town | September 16, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - September 16, 2011

Around Town

OUR MAN IN SACRAMENTO ... Fresh off his freshmen year in Sacramento, Assemblyman Rich Gordon met with the Palo Alto City Council this week to discuss the latest happenings in the state Capitol. Gordon, a 13-year veteran of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, described his first year in the Assembly as a "very interesting experience" — and not necessarily in a good way. State politics, he said, are very different from those at the local and county levels. "The partisanship is unbelievable," said Gordon, for whom consensus-building was a major theme of last year's Assembly campaign. "It's a real challenge to tackle some of the big problems confronting the state when you can't even communicate sometimes." One problem, he said, is the sheer amount of legislation. Each legislator is allowed to introduce 40 bills, and while few actually reach that limit, the result is still a massive quantity of proposals. Consequently, there's "often not much quality," Gordon said. Another challenge is figuring out what Gov. Jerry Brown will do with the bills once they get to his desk. This includes a bill, co-authored by Gordon, that would strengthen lobbying and gift-giving policies pertaining to rail officials. Gordon said it's tough to pick out a pattern in Brown's vetoes. The governor said, for example, that he would veto any bill that would change the governance structure of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, a topic of great interest in Palo Alto. "Many of us who have spent time with Jerry Brown think that probably most of his decisions are made through some kind of a 'Zen moment' thing rather than some kind of consistent policy, but we'll see how it all plays out." He did have one bit of good news for the council — the Legislature's current interim recess means no surprises. "The good news is that at least for the next several months, you're safe from us. We can't pass any new legislation."

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