Like many local elected officials, I stay up on all news coming out of Sacramento.
First, I look for advance warning of the latest hair-brain Capitol scheme which might make our jobs more difficult at the local level. Second, Sacramento is a train wreck, and I just can’t watch.
An article last week by Sacramento Bee reporter Steve Wiegand, “Long Hours in Capitol Can Mean Lousing Lawmaking, Critics Say,” caught my eye because it was a report on that train wreck.
He wrote about the growing trend in Sacramento to engage in marathon all-night sessions to get key legislation passed. The all-night session to pass the state water bill is just the latest example.
Wiegand asked both good government watchdogs and sleep experts whether they believe sound decision-making can take place in the middle of the night. Naturally, those experts answered, “No, it can’t.”
My answer would have been the same.
Here in San Luis Obispo, during our twice-a-month meetings, the quality of our decision-making drops rapidly whenever we meet past 11 p.m. Fortunately, we never go past midnight. I’d hate to think about the decisions we might make at 3 a.m.
The other topic Wiegand covered is the fact that most legislators in these late night sessions haven’t seen, let alone read, the final measures they’re voting on.
That makes as little sense as buying a house or a car, sight unseen.
Here in San Luis Obispo, our Council packet comes out almost a full week before our meetings. At the local level, citizens are always free to complain about the decisions we make, but at least we’re making informed ones.
These all-night sessions are proof positive of the dysfunction in Sacramento.
Is this really the only way for our legislators to pass an important bill? Is it any wonder those middle-of-the-night decisions often fall apart when we voters have a chance to view them in the light of a new day?
Here’s to the train wreck.
Andrew Carter is a City Councilman for the city of San Luis Obispo.