Opinion Columns & Blogs

Editorial: Sen. Steinberg hands out a sweet sinecure

Nice work if you can get it. So went a popular tune of the 1930s, and some of the nicest work you can get is in California politics and state government.

And if your friend is particularly highly placed like Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, you can even get appointed to a job that pays $128,000 per year.

Did we mention you only have to show up for work once a month?

That’s especially nice work.

Steinberg’s “dearest friend,” John Adkisson, is a law school pal and was Steinberg’s campaign manager when he ran for the Sacramento City Council in 1992.

California doesn’t have as many cushy little jobs as it once did. And it doesn’t have as many plums as other states have. But there still are a few sprinkled throughout California’s boards, and they’re filled by “friends.”

The rest of us need not apply. It’s all perfectly legal. But the Senate and Assembly’s use of these insider positions to help their “friends” is the sort of thing that drives voters to distraction.

We are sure Adkisson has a fine enough legal mind. Steinberg selected him, he said, because of his background in employment law.

But this isn’t Adkisson’s first rodeo making a lot of money in state government. He had been billing $300,000 per year on contracts from the Senate Oversight and Outcomes Committee, as well as with the Legislative Counsel’s office.

Adkisson and his friendship with Steinberg isn’t so much the issue as it is the notion that there still are flagrantly cushy jobs to be handed out in the Capitol. That plum jobs exist at a salary higher than most Americans can ever hope to attain is an ethical crime, if nothing else. There are state priorities other than these sorts of sinecures.

Adkisson’s appointment reminds us of another 1930s song: Brother, can you spare a dime?