The Swarm

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March 16, 2010
Legislative leaders get prize for courage -- really

This would go squarely in the category of the further away you are, the better it looks.

The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation announced today that former Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Assemblyman Mike Villines and Sen. Dave Cogdill will receive a 2010 "Profile in Courage" award for "their humane approach to solving the California budget crisis."

The two Democratic leaders and two Republicans will receive the award from Caroline Kennedy at a ceremony May 24 in Boston. Bass said in a statement that she "honored beyond words." Steinberg called it a "tremendous honor," and his statement took a shot at "cynics in our state, and pundits across the nation" who "take their shots at California and our challenges.

"Faced with the most difficult choices and a budget crisis of unprecedented magnitude, these legislative leaders had the courage to negotiate a compromise that they felt was in the public's best interest," Kennedy said in a statement. "They did so knowing they would suffer the wrath of their constituents, powerful interest groups, and their own party members. The members of the Profile in Courage Award Committee chose to herald this story of political courage and bi-partisan compromise with the hope that it will inspire other elected officials facing similar challenges to stand up with courage, to cross party lines, and to do whatever is necessary to better serve the public interest."

But that recitation glosses over the many, many flaws in what the Legislature has done. While they have protected many social service programs, as we have noted repeatedly, they have used every gimmick and dodge in the book to avoid many of the hard decisions on the state budget. That means that when the day of reckoning finally comes -- and it will -- the pain will be even worse.

And that might take some of the shine off the award.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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