Yesterday the Democratic Caucus of the California State Senate voted to replace termed-out senator John Burton [D-San Francisco] with Don Perata [D-Oakland] as the new President Pro-tempore of the senate. Considered the 'second most powerful' political position in Sacramento, Bay Area lawmakers breathed a sigh of relief - an appointment of his rival for the post, Martha Escutia of Whittier, would have signaled a complete shift in power to Southern California (sorry, LAist).

Perata is a former teacher in Oakland's public schools, having earned his credentials at the University of California, Berkeley. Generally considered left-of-center even within the California Democratic Party, he has fought for gun regulation, improved funding for public schools and even has a pet-project website,, set up for students, teachers and parents to report problems and lobby legislators on behalf of their beleaguered school district. He's currently working to oppose the huge new casino in nearby San Pablo.

This appointment comes on the heels of allegations, investigated by the Chron, of improprieties during his campaign related to business relationships with his son, Nick Perata, and local businessman and college friend Timothy G. Staples. It's also interesting to note that Perata was Burton's pick, and coincides with a number of political moves that Burton has made as his stint in the State Senate draws to a close. SFist would like to point out that they don't call it the "Brown-Burton Machine" for nothing.