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Don Perata Praised By Tribune, Dammed By East Bay Express

In what has to be the greatest example of editorial contrast in mainstream media, we have the Oakland Tribune's loving praise for Senate Pro Tem Don Perata's political style during sessions on the California budget, and then East Bay Express reporting on his rumored investigation by the FBI.

On that, Robert Gammon, who was with the Tribune until about six years ago, seems to have spent much of his adult life trying to get Perata for this of that. If not him, then it was the SF Bay Guardian for a time takikng wacks at him. It's like an old saw. It can only sell papers for so long. Now, the industry's in free fall. But I digress.

You be the judge. Here's the Oakland Tribune:

Perata takes "textured" approach to foes

By Steven Harmon
MediaNews Sacramento Bureau
Article Last Updated: 07/14/2008 06:54:25 AM PDT

SACRAMENTO — Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata has what experts say is a textured approach to dealing with his Republican foes on the budget.

The Oakland Democrat simultaneously plays villain and confidante, foe and pal. He's a partisan flamethrower who takes his rivals to breakfast.

Take last week, when Perata's opening budget negotiation move — demanding higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations — had the effect of casting Republicans as heartless country clubbers. Even as he attacked Republicans for failing to empathize with the little guy, though, he promised the wine would be flowing freely as budget negotiations got under way.
Soon — perhaps after next week — he is expected to send home senators so he won't have to deal with a rebellious GOP caucus as he tries to woo the minority leader, Sen. Dave Cogdill, R-Fresno.
"He is incredibly smart as a tactician," said Darry Sragow, a Democratic political consultant. "He can play many steps ahead, and he can play at multiple levels, making several moves simultaneously.
"If you're trying to get somebody to do something they may be reluctant to do, personal relations matter a great deal," Sragow added. "Don likes to develop relationships with people he's negotiating against. That's the way he functions."
His relationship with Republicans has been complicated by hardball political tactics he has employed — such as waging a recall

campaign against Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Merced. Still, in a gesture intended to lift the cloud over budget negotiations, he aborted the recall campaign shortly before the June 3 election. At the time, Cogdill said the move eased tensions.
Perata can also disarm his foes with charm and wit that often isn't on display in the partisan-charged public persona he carries.

Now, here's the East Bay Express:

Perata May Be Indicted Soon
Sources say the feds likely will file charges against the state Senate boss.
By Robert Gammon

July 9, 2008

Prosecutors will probably soon ask a federal grand jury to indict state Senate boss Don Perata on public corruption charges, according to two sources familiar with the investigation. An indictment would culminate a four-and-a-half-year federal probe of California's second-most-powerful politician.

The FBI, the US Attorney's Office, and a federal grand jury have been investigating whether the senator took bribes or kickbacks in exchange for providing official government favors to close friends, business associates, and major campaign donors.

It's not clear who else may be charged along with the Oakland Democrat. But based on public records and interviews, the feds also have been targeting Perata's best friend and business associate, Timothy Staples; his close confidante, Lily Hu; and his son, Nick Perata. The probe has examined whether any illegal payments were funneled through the three, according to public records and interviews. The feds also have examined the senator's financial dealings with his closest political adviser, Sandi Polka, and his daughter, Rebecca Perata-Rosati.

The senator has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and his aides have often derided the probe, calling it superficial. But public records show that he is taking the investigation very seriously. Through May 17, the last state filing deadline, his legal defense had racked up $1,921,779 in expenses since the probe began. In the first four-and-a-half months of this year alone, his expenses totaled $445,925.

However, Perata still has plenty of money at his disposal. According to state records, he's sitting on $1.97 million in four campaign accounts. In addition, the state Democratic Party just donated $250,000 to Perata's legal defense fund on July 1. Party spokesman Roger Salazar would not say whether the contribution had anything to do with the investigation coming to a close. "The California Democratic Party helps Democrats up and down the state when they're running for election," he said. "We also help them when they're under attack."
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