10/04/2010 11:27 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Whitman's Housekeeper Saga Is a Distraction Californians Can't Afford

Time is running out. It will soon be election day. It is time to put the Nicky Diaz Santillan controversy where it now belongs: on the very back burner. If California voters are to decide between Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman, they need a lot more information from these two candidates than their positions on Whitman's one-time housekeeper, who turned out to be an undocumented immigrant.

After two debates now, however, I don't think would-be voters have really been given that vital information. In an odd way, the distraction of the Whitman housekeeper caper allowed both Whitman and Brown to duck the more important question that has yet to be answered in this financially record setting campaign, while the two candidates trade snide remarks with one another about poor Nicky Diaz Santillan, whose fate is uncertain: Exactly how will either Whitman or Brown actually tame the beasts of Sacramento, otherwise known as the state legislature?

During the first debate between the two, each candidate proudly reproduced their campaign talking points for the television and radio audience--telling what, if elected, they want to do. Missing was their formula for how to really do it.

The most recent debate this past weekend was dominated by, you guessed it, the immigration issue.

Now, I am not saying immigration isn't an important issue here in California (though, like elsewhere in the nation, it's really a problem that needs to be addressed and then solved by the federal government); but in a state where the un- and underemployment rate remains higher than the national average, and where the housing market is still in the critical care unit, whether or not Whitman did or did not know for some nine years that she had in her employ an undocumented immigrant worker seems of little consequence.

I totally understand the whole hypocrisy allegation against Whitman--I even had a lengthy opportunity the other day to discuss that issue with her directly on the radio--but, that aside, I submit that the economic problems asphyxiating this state are far more important and, therefore, far more in need of exploration and illumination than is Meg Whitman's employment track record.

Unfortunately, there is only one more debate scheduled. I would hope the Nicky Diaz Santillan issue would take a back seat to the other ones I just mentioned, but don't think I'd risk a fortune on a bet that that will, in fact, happen.

The sad truth is, despite Brown's years of experience in state politics, and Whitman's reputed business acumen, I have not heard a word from either about how they actually intend to steer the ship of state.

Too bad. As I said, time is running out...and I don't mean just till election day, either!

Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book, "No Time To Think-The Menace of Media Speed and the 24 Hour News Cycle." He has covered politics and police in Los Angeles since 1995 and is a regular contributor of investigative reports to KNX1070 Newsradio.