It's not just cats...

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… who always land on their feet. The politically well-connected are equally skilled.

Consider the case of Joe Desmond.

In May 2005, Governor Schwarzenegger appointed Joe Desmond Chairman of the California Energy Commission (in addition to being chairman, Desmond also filled the seat on the commission that is meant to represent the "public-at-large"). But there was a problem-- the position requires senate approval, and most of the senate lacked Schwarzenegger's enthusiasm for Desmond. Critics of Desmond, lead by then OC State Senator Joe Dunn, felt Desmond was too obedient a servant of the big energy companies, misguided in his belief that the state needed "an Energy Secretary who would be exempt from an array of conflict-of-interest rules" (Desmond has firsthand experience of conflict-of-interest questions), and just flat wrong in wanting to return California to the exciting days of electricity deregulation. The Senate refused to confirm Desmond. But this didn't mean Desmond was out of a job-- Schwarzenegger kept him on as CEC chairman for as long as the law allowed.

While Desmond didn't get a chance to reintroduce electricity deregulation, he did get to deal with at least one controversial issue: the building of offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals (scroll down to "Hindenberg Part II"). In early July, the CEC issued a pro-LNG white paper. But by then, Desmond had been gone from the commission for weeks.

By law, without the senate approval, Desmond had to leave the commission in May 2006. But Desmond didn't so much move out, as he moved sideways into a new position the governor created for him. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported, "one day before Desmond would have been forced to resign from the commission without Senate confirmation, Schwarzenegger in May appointed him to be the undersecretary for energy affairs, a newly created position that pays more than $123,000 a year".

Desmond, however, only lasted 5 months in his custom-built position. He resigned two weeks ago. But if you're worried that the cupboards might be a little bare at the Desmond house this holiday season, since Joe is out of work, fret not-- once again he has landed on his feet. It was announced today that Joe Desmond has been hired as senior vice president of external affairs for NorthernStar Natural Gas Inc., one of the companies that wants to build an offshore LNG terminal. According to the LA Times' Robert Salladay, the "external affairs" in question will involve Desmond trying to squeeze the best deal for NorthernStar out of the state officials who were until two weeks ago his colleagues, and, of course, his former boss and protector, Governor Schwarzenegger.

If cats were as good as Joe Desmond at landing on their feet, they wouldn't need 9 lives.

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