Watching the antics of the legislature in the penultimate week before end of session, the image that came to mind was that of John Belushi’s character Bluto from the movie, Animal House, when he went on a vengeful rant after learning the Dean closed his college fraternity.

You might recall, in an angry voice, he called out a list of individual’s names, the objects of his wrath, and after each name declared: Dead!

Bluto’s ghost was at work in the California legislature last week declaring reform: Dead!

An effort to secure CEQA reform to improve the business climate while still protecting the four-decade-old environmental law met its end when the senate chose not to take up the measure.

CEQA reform — dead!

On the other hand, a bill passed to make it easier for survivors of police officers and firefighters to collect workers compensation benefits by lengthening the time to claim benefits for diseases presumed to be job related even if the disease strikes years after retirement. Instead of putting a check on uncontrolled spending on public employee benefits, the legislature just added a new burden on taxpayers.

Fiscal reform — dead!

Another bill passed by the legislature, at the request of the California Teachers Association, proposes to overturn a court ruling enforcing a law already on the books requiring student test scores to be considered in evaluating teachers.

Education reform – dead!

All this serves as background for the BIG reform that the legislative leaders say they will get done this week – pension reform.

If the CEQA model of accomplishing last minute reform is followed, special interests will smother pension reform. The legislators will piously say that they couldn’t possibly take on such a major reform in such a short time and will kill it.

Of course, the governor laid out his 12-point pension reform before the legislature almost a year ago but the powers-that-be in the legislature decided to wait until the last minute before raising the reform flag.

Steve Maviglio, spokesman for the union coalition opposing many reforms, and occasional contributor to Fox and Hounds, told the Contra Costa Times that reformers will be “pleasantly surprised” by a proposal the legislature will bring forth this week.

Maybe we’ll all be surprised, but I suspect by week’s end real reform – not marginal reform — of the public pension system is another hope to fix California that bites the dust.

CEQA reform — dead! Fiscal reform — dead! Education reform – dead!

Pension reform?

Bluto’s ghost haunts Sacramento.