Secretaries day

March of time: After a year of ugly partisanship and chaotic electoral mayhem, we could all use a blast of fresh political air, something to remind us of the pre-term limit days when the political process seemed a little more stable and predictable.

Well, Bites has found just such a psychological jet stream, and it’s blowing into California all the way from the Federated States of Micronesia, where our beloved March Fong Eu has been spending the Clinton years as our ambassador.

Eu was the last great, stable political presence in California, serving as our secretary of state from 1975 to 1994, a time during which she quietly and efficiently took care of the state’s business, without grandstanding or political posturing.

And now, she’s back! With the help of renegade campaign finance reformer Tony Miller—the man she appointed to take her place, and who is now serving as her campaign treasurer—Eu last week formed an exploratory committee to retake her secretary of state’s office in 2002.

With a stated goal of reforming California’s voting process to avoid the future possibility of enduring a Florida-style descent into hanging-chad madness, Eu is returning to help clean up this here town. And Bites says, it’s not a moment too soon.

Give Peace a chance: Before Eu can reclaim her rightful place in the California pantheon of leaders, she’ll have to run in what could be the most surreal of primaries this state has seen in a while. That’s because her challenger could be Sen. Steve Peace, the man who gave us electric deregulation.

Actually, that is a label that Peace is no longer accepting now that his baby has grown up into a political Godzilla that has been doing the Tokyo shuffle all over the Golden State and just making one helluva mess.

On his Web site, Peace recently placed a lovely little piece of revisionist history in the form of a video that tries to claim that he didn’t create this monster after all. No, claims Peace, he actually tried to prevent deregulation back in 1996. Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket.

Now, Bites doesn’t blame Peace for trying to avoid the tar bath and feather towel that Californians are preparing for him, but this kind of approach is just downright insulting.

Sorry, Steve, you’re just going to have to take your medicine … or perhaps a job with one of the power-generating companies that you’ve made so rich.

Paying the Bill: Meanwhile, our current Secretary of State Bill Jones is sounding more and more like he has already given up his official duties to run for governor full-time, even though the race isn’t until next year.

Jones recently issued a letter challenging Gov. Gray Davis and California’s legislators not to accept campaign contributions from utilities or energy producers until the current energy rate crisis is resolved.

Bites applauds the idea, although coming from Jones, it has “cheap political ploy” written all over it. Jones hardly has a history of playing the Jiminy Cricket role, and is more likely trying to score a few easy political points, and trying whatever he can to stymie Davis’ amazing fundraising prowess.

But as one of the only Republicans left in this state, Jones has been cynically playing the “do the right thing” card whenever he can. His other major recent public challenge to Democrats was—during this year’s redrawing of political districts—to use the same redistricting formula that the court imposed on California in 1991.

“When district lines are drawn to guarantee one-party domination in the Legislature, the voters and their democracy suffer,” wrote Jones (and don’t you hear the patriotic music playing in your head as you read it?).

Of course, that formula was a compromise in a year when California’s government was divided between Democrats and Republicans. Would Jones still want to use it if Republicans ruled California like Democrats do today? Yeah, right.

To the victor go the spoils.