Thursday, September 18, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Senate aide’s firing opens window on seamier side of Capitol

walters column sig

By
From page A13 | May 07, 2014 |

As the Legislature recessed last month for an 11-day spring break, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg described the first months of the session as “a little rough.”

It was his oblique reference to the suspension of three fellow Democratic senators who were facing criminal charges.

But if Steinberg hoped that the Capitol’s extracurricular turmoil was over, he was dead wrong.

Last week, Steinberg fired one of the Senate’s sergeants-at-arms after a Sacramento Bee reporter informed him that court records showed the man had used drugs before becoming involved in a shootout at his home 17 months earlier that left one man dead and three others wounded. Tuesday, Tony Beard Jr., Gerardo Lopez’s boss as the Senate’s chief sergeant-at-arms, resigned.

The circumstances surrounding Lopez’s dismissal – and Lopez’s resignation – open, ever so slightly, a window on smarmier aspects of life in the Capitol. In many ways, it’s a small and cloistered town in the middle of a larger city.

The Legislature employs a couple of thousand people, but its personnel practices are as arbitrary and opaque as any third-world dictatorship, with no accountability for who gets hired and fired and why.

Many of those on legislative payrolls are purely political hires, and they are expected to work on political campaigns when needed, supposedly using vacations or leaves of absence – in effect taxpayer-financed campaign workers.

Over the years, many stories have circulated about specific positions being created for specific people who, for one reason or another, had patrons among influential legislators – sometimes extramarital paramours, sometimes those who had been designated as legislative candidates and needed income while campaigning, sometimes just friends or relatives of friends of the powerful.

Nepotism, or at least its appearance, abounds in the Capitol. Lopez is the son of Dina Hidalgo, who runs the Senate’s personnel office, and Lopez’s wife is another family member who holds a Senate staff job.

Beard is the son of a man who was the Assembly’s top sergeant-at-arms for many years. Speaking of which, what do sergeants-at-arms actually do?

Ostensibly, they are Capitol guards, but the Highway Patrol also polices the building and its grounds.

Sergeants stand at the doors of legislative chambers to check in members and keep out the riffraff, and attend committee hearings to maintain decorum. They ease legislators’ lives by providing lifts to and from the airport and running whatever other errands their bosses may need done.

Lopez’s remaining on the payroll for months after the gunfight sparked a small rebellion among the Senate’s other employees, who anonymously complained to The Sacramento Bee and other legislators.

Now everyone is wondering whether this is just another of many revelations about the seamier side of Capitol life this year.

Dan Walters is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee. Reach him as dwalters@sacbee.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Theatre DeVille in Vacaville closes

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 16 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Focus on school attendance now, always

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

 
Pepperbelly’s for sale

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 4 Comments

Jury selection begins in 2011 Fairfield murder trial

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3

 
Seniors get help at Kroc Center health fair

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Drug court success stories tell their tales

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Suisun City Senior Center seeks holiday donations

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Lunafest returns to Fairfield in November

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Weather for Sept. 18, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B10

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

Suisun City police log: Sept. 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
.

US / World

Emotions mount on final day of Scottish campaign

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
More than 2,000 homes threatened in California fire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Maps provide early warning of California fire risk

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
US military role in Iraq raises combat questions

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Police: Ambush suspect was military re-enactor

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
House grudgingly approves arms for Syrian rebels

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

Ex-VA doctor: Phoenix report a ‘whitewash’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
School district police stock up free military gear

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 4 Comments | Gallery

NASA’s Maven spacecraft reaches Mars this weekend

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Liberia president praises US for Ebola help pledge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Obama reaffirms opposition to US combat in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
AP Interview: Iraq premier says no foreign troops

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

Doctor says Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has cancer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
US scientist: Ebola unlikely to become airborne

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

.

Opinion

 
Give new crime report a chance

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A7, 27 Comments

 
Homeless find welcome in Vallejo

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7, 7 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in History: Sept. 18, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Sept. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Sept. 18, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
My brother fails to make an effort to when it comes to my kids

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
U2 returns to iTunes Top 100 — 26 times

By Los Angeles Times | From Page: B4, 1 Comment

Directors Guild finds TV diversity hiring stalled

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Sports

 
Giants snap tie in 9th, beat Arizona to narrow gap in West to 2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

49ers’ Kaepernick fined for inappropriate language

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1, 4 Comments | Gallery

 
Rodriguez gets 1st MEL soccer win since return to league

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Pegulas’ bid to buy Bills OK’d by NFL committee

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
FSU benches Winston for 1st half of Clemson game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Umpire West suspended 1 game for grabbing jersey

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
After making ‘mistake,’ Vikings bench RB Peterson

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Sharks sign D Braun to 5-year, $19 M extension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rockets acquire Jason Terry, picks from Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Panthers remove DE Greg Hardy from active roster

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Barry Bonds appeal heads back to court

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NFL, union agree to new drug policy, HGH testing

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Raiders rookie Derek Carr focuses on job at hand

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

.

Business

Brown signs ride-sharing insurance legislation

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
US homebuilder confidence soars in September

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Anthem, hospitals join to offer new insurance plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Drag queens dress down Facebook over names

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

Wells Fargo pays $290,000 in sex harassment case

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Fed signals plan to keep key rate at record low

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Obituaries

Margaret King

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9