Dan Morain

Dan Morain

By Dan Morain
dmorain@sacbee.com
Published: Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 – 12:00 am

Having been flayed by a leaked FBI affidavit alleging that he rented his position for $88,000, state Sen. Ron Calderon is going out of his way to muddy up California Senate leader Darrell Steinberg.

Through his lawyer, Calderon claims that Steinberg was or is a target of the federal investigation in which the Montebello Democrat is embroiled.

It makes sense in the twisted world of politics. One of the time-tested tactics is to attack an opponent’s strength, although Calderon’s foe is not Steinberg, but rather himself and his appetites.

Steinberg is a politician, not a choirboy. He raises campaign money with the best of them and oversees a tough campaign operation. But having known my share of bent pols, Steinberg is not a crook, to borrow a phrase from one who was.

Steinberg has carried his share of silly bills. He has gone out of his way to help his labor patrons. But he also has done more than his share of serious work on behalf of people who most need it.

He won approval this year to restore dental care for poor people and has been the leading advocate of high school vocational education, securing $250million in this year’s budget for it.

Most significantly, he sponsored the 2004 initiative that generates $1billion a year in tax revenue to fund the mental health care system. Though its execution is flawed, the money has helped numerous people in need of mental health care.

Calderon got involved in important legislation to expand protections for homeowners facing foreclosure. For that he deserves praise.

But when he wasn’t at the trough at Chops or in Vegas, Maui, Pebble Beach or Bandon Dunes, he often could be found working on obscure legislation to help various interests and campaign contributors.

There was, for instance, a bill to permit the importation of kangaroo skin for use in tennis shoes, and one to authorize the sale of fireworks during the days leading up to New Year’s Eve on behalf of the fireworks industry.

Then there is the measure that got him into trouble with the feds – the film tax credit.

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