We held our annual ECA Leg Day April 4th and we did it a little different this time. Instead of rounding up a few membersand traipsing through the halls of the Capitol Building we sent a small team–Dave Sorem, Government Affairs Committee Chair, Rich Lambros, our consultant to the committee, John Hakel, executive director of Southern California Partnership for Jobs (SCPJ) and me–as a recon squad.
Over the years we have seen a disproportionate share of state infrastructure money go to northern California projects. It didn’t make sense to us–why would the area of the state that has two-thirds of the population (and representation in Sacramento) come up short when it came to getting state funding The answer was pretty simple according to Senate President Pro Tem Kevin DeLeon, a Los Angeles Democrat. “Those guys from Northern California are here all the time,” DeLeon told us in a moment of absolute candor. “We see you guys once a year for a photo op and that’s it for the year.” So the answer, from one of the top leaders of the state, was proximity (northern California folks generally drive to Sacramento in an hour or so if they don’t live there already)–repetition and relationships. More clarity came from understanding that it is not necessarily relationships with the office holders, although those are nice, but relationships with the staffers and committee consultants who tend to have a long shelf life in Sacramento.
So how do we get our fair share of funding? Our recon team was to take a very few strategic meetings with some top level legislators and a few other southern California assemblymen and state senators. We were sounding them out on a topic that is close to our mission here at ECA–trying to set an agenda for
infrastructure work in Southern California and create a legislative team (SoCal Caucus?) that works on those issues.
There is method behind our madness. The leadership in both the State Senate (DeLeon) and the General Assembly (Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood) are both SoCal guys. We have local relationships with many of the legislators in our area and, working in their local district offices, we hope develop more. We have good relationships with our local labor union partners and they have a lot of clout in the state capitol.
– Wes May Executive Director