John J. Benoit (1951-2016)

Former State Senator John J. Benoit died Monday at his home in Riverside County. He had been diagnosed with cancer in November. Benoit, a longtime officer with the California Highway Patrol, had a great sense of humor and a lifetime of stories from his career in law enforcement. In his office at the Capitol, he kept a small book filled with traffic tickets that he had written. One ticket, signed by a well-known young socialite and hotel heiress, confirmed that Benoit pulled her over for speeding at more than 100 mph. “It’s my only celebrity autograph” Benoit would joke.

Benoit was also a private pilot who flew regularly between his home and Sacramento. He made his first flight to Sacramento as a legislator in December 2002 to be sworn into office. During the flight, Benoit realized that his route would take him close to airspace that had been closed for the landing of the Space Shuttle Endeavour (finishing up STS-113). According to his telling of the story, he decided to circle just outside the restricted area in the hopes of seeing the landing shuttle. The shuttle came in much faster and at a steeper angle than he had expected and Benoit ended up being much closer to the flightpath than he had any desire to be.

Benoit resigned from the Senate in 2009 after being appointed to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, ending a stay in Sacramento that was far too short. He will be missed by many friends.

Senator John J. Benoit

Senator John J. Benoit

Best Parody Twitter Accounts of the Capitol

Humans are human. It’s because of this that life in and around the California capitol has inspired some great comedy over the years. In recent years, some of the best comedy has come in the form of real-time tweets from a handful of parody accounts by people in and around the Building. This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it should give you some ideas about who you should be following.

Unruly Unruh

Unruly Unruh
Joined Twitter: April 2013
Followers: 1,560 Followers
Most Recent Tweet: This Month
Why Should You Follow? Unruly Unruh, named after former Speaker Jesse Unruh, dispenses wisdom and occasionally crude (but expertly timed) humor on Floor activities, the personal lives of legislators, and general California politics.

Vanity Caucus

Vanity Caucus
Joined Twitter: May 2013
Followers: 1,868 Followers
Most Recent Tweet: This Month
Why Should You Follow? Although the account describes itself, “always sarcastic, never intentionally mean” it was the focus (allegedly) of an several-month investigation by Assembly leadership (allegedly) after a comment critical of one legislators appearance.

Bacteria Bear

Bacteria Bear
Joined Twitter: April 2011
Followers: 1,752 Followers
Most Recent Tweet: October 2015
Why Should You Follow? This bear (scientific classification: Ursus schwarzeneggerus) has been hibernating for nearly a year now, but in it’s day was one of the more prolific parody twitter accounts. Named for a truck-proof security barrier that was installed outside the Governor’s office in the late 2000s, BB retweeted photos taken with visitors and regularly harassed the reporters who congregated near it while waiting on press conferences.

Assemblyman Chewie

Assemblyman Chewie
Joined Twitter: September 2015
Followers: 325 Followers
Most Recent Tweet: Last Month
Why Should You Follow? Who can resist insider humor mixed with Star Wars references like “Has anyone found funding for a clone army in the budget bill?” Certainly not I.

Rotunda Reagan

Rotunda Reagan
Joined Twitter: June 2015
Followers: 182 Followers
Most Recent Tweet: Six Months Ago
Why Should You Follow? This twitter account is as active as the statue in the basement. Maybe getting a few more followers would entice the author to bring it back? Never hurts to ask.

Bronze Gipper

Bronze Gipper
Joined Twitter: June 2015
Followers: 133 Followers
Most Recent Tweet: This Month
Why Should You Follow? The longer-lasting of the two parody accounts based on the grinning robot in the basement, the Gip is clearly someone who enjoys connecting with elected officials and other parody accounts in tweets. I see great things to come from this account. Follow now and you never know how far those coat-tails will take you.

Leland Yee’s Gun

Leland Yee’s Gun
Joined Twitter: March 2014
Followers: 290 Followers
Most Recent Tweet: A Few Months Ago
Why Should You Follow? The FBI raid on Senator Yee’s office came as a big surprise for most Capitol staffers. What shouldn’t have come as a surprise was the nearly-instantaneous rise of the wise-cracking “Leland Yee’s Gun.”

Roger Dodger

Roger Dodger
Joined Twitter: June 2011
Followers: 361 Followers
Most Recent Tweet: A Few Months Ago
Why Should You Follow? Created just months after the real Roger was sworn into his first term in the Assembly, Roger Dodger has had the time to follow the full arc of his career from young legislator to the Roger we know today. Looking back on the tweets from this account, it can be painful to see just how prescient they were. From the very first tweet (“Roger Hernandez for Congress Twitter Kickoff! It will be hard to write just how truly awesome I am in 140 characters or less.”) it seems like these tweets were written in the past week.

 

Behold! The 2016 California’s Legislature has Arrived!

There is exciting news this week in the world of California legislative publications that you can get for free (admittedly, as a resident, this world isn’t that large)… the arrival of the 2016 edition of California’s Legislature from the Assembly Chief Clerk’s office.

The core of the book is the hundreds of pages of in-depth information about legislative process and history (there were 1,474 regular session bills chaptered in the year that Speaker Rendon was born, while there were exactly zero in the year fmr Speaker Atkins was born) and the history of the Capitol (there is a fascinating comparison of downtown Sacramento under the back cover).

New to this edition is a quick information guide including statistics on California’s largest cities and counties, an updated 27-page glossary of legislative terms (which omits the ever-popular “Legislative Bingo”, probably because it isn’t actually a legislative term), and a 1930s photo of a particularly smug-looking Governor Rolph standing next to a stack of books containing the pardons, commutations and reprieves that he had granted.

Those who remain unsatisfied can dive into the luxurious 111 pages of appendices that include information ranging from the sessions of the California Legislature (the shortest was the 60-minute 1st Extraordinary Session of December 1973) to the history of the flags that have flown over California (including the flag raised by a pirate who captured Monterey for a little over two weeks in 1818).