Changing of the guard
Yesterday's stories on the retirements of Tony Beard as Senate Sergeant-at-Arms and John Waldie from the Assembly Rules Committee are yet another sign that there is a changing of the guard going on at the Capitol. The number of staff who roamed the halls when Willie L. Brown, Jr. was Speaker or cut their teeth working for a member who wasn't subject to term limits continue to diminish.
One of the underreported challenges with shorter term limits was that it encouraged a culture where staff would bounce in and out of the building at a shockingly rapid pace. To say Beard and Waldie's 30+ years of continuous service has been the exception to the rule is an understatement. The problem was exacerbated by the state's budget woes which meant for many staff the only way to move their careers forward was to move out to the private sector. Even when leaders wanted to reward loyalty they simply lacked the tools to do so.
It is particularly disturbing how many staff simply have no idea or expectation that things can be different. Most staffers under the age of 35 assume there isn't any other way of doing business. As these post-term limits babies increasingly take over the most senior staff positions how will they shape the Capitol's culture? Will they take advantage of the opportunities created by the seismic changes brought by the confluence of term limits, redistricting, top two and the majority vote budget? Or will this lack of history caused a new paradigm that leaves some of the worst aspects of the last twenty years still firmly in place?