Amid the endless stream of doltish notions spewing forth from Sacramento, Democratic State Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco has come up with one so imbecilic it takes your breath away.
With Yee and his legislative colleagues flopping and floundering in a pool of red ink $25 billion deep, he’s decided now’s just the right time to bring the Capitol’s special brand of management magic to bear on the University of California.
Yee — whose biggest contribution to date to the cause of higher education has been railing against the “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” video game — has now proposed a constitutional amendment to end the system of independent governance of the UC system, putting the 10 campuses in the grubby hands of the Legislature.
He’s rounded up a batch of second-rate hacks to join him in this crackpot crusade, including L.A. Democrat Anthony Portantino – a graduate of mighty Albright College whose greatest lifetime achievement was serving as Production Director for NBC’s “Grizzly Adams”; Brian Nestande — a Riverside County Rep who coasted into politics on his daddy’s coattails and made his bones helping to elect political giants like Michael Huffington and the late Sonny Bono; and Roy Ashburn, the Bakersfield GOPer who’s one step ahead of the posse seeking to recall him from office.
Huffing and puffing to the Chron, Yee accused the Regents of acting “absolutely above the law” for constitutionally operating outside the reach of a Legislature that’s pushed the state to the brink of bankruptcy. (As for being “above the law,” recall that the most famous campaign photo of Yee is his booking mugshot, taken when he was busted on a shoplifting beef in Hilo, Hawaii back in the day. But we digress).
Calbuzz stipulates that the UC Board of Regents isn’t perfect – far from it. Most recently, the administrative salary and perk scandals (unearthed by Calbuzzer Tanya Schevitz when she worked for the Chronicle) were dreadful, indeed. But the Regents, under the leadership of chairman Dick Blum, chief consort to Senator Difi, acted decisively in dumping former president Robert Dynes and bringing in Mark Yudof.
Let’s face it: the list of things that actually work well in state government would fit into a match box, with room left over to play the Cal-Stanford game. UC, with its well-earned global reputation and its still-affordable world class education for California public school kids, is at the top of that short list.
The idea of trading the Regents, who are insulated from retail politics – by design of the framers of the state constitution since 1868 – for the nitwits, narcissists and sharkskin suits that populate the Legislature in the era of term limits is enough to make the Cal bear barf.
We’re just sayin’.