Commentary: Can California's new speaker break from the pack?

John A. Perez was sworn in Monday as the California Assembly's 68th speaker. He offered a good speech, promising to limit special-interest influence and return to a more transparent process of approving the state budget.

"I've already announced that the budget will not be written behind closed doors in Big 5 meetings," Pérez said Monday. "A full Budget Committee and subcommittee process will ensure all members get to participate"

Pérez is in his honeymoon period, so we will grant him a few months to deliver on the goods. It could well be that his commitment to open government will withstand the test of time.

Yet as Pérez well knows, some of his predecessors made similar promises, only to betray the public with backroom budget deals in the dead of night.

So far, the signs are less than encouraging that Pérez will stray far from the pack.

Despite claims of wanting to work with the GOP, Pérez voted against state Sen. Abel Maldonado in his bid for lieutenant governor. He wants to ban lobbyists from texting lawmakers on the Assembly floor, but has no trouble schmoozing with them otherwise. (Hours after his speech, he had a fundraiser scheduled at the Citizen Hotel.)

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