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You want to be governor (again)? Start by following the law

Submitted by on Tuesday, 3 November 2009 No Comment

Anyone know of a nice third-party candidate – preferably one with a boatload of money, a bit of a political pedigree and at record of having voted before the turn of the century – who might be persuaded to run for governor of California?

If the election were held today among the top Democratic and Republican contenders, the temptation would be to leave the ballot blank. Yes, the situation is that far past “hold your nose and vote.”

For the elephants, we have Meg “I Was Too Busy To Vote” Whitman. She didn’t have a majority of Republican support in the latest polling, but she held a slim lead over former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell. Not enough of one to withstand the margin of error, but her money should take care of that.

For the donkeys, we have San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom … er, strike that. He’s gone.

For the donkeys, we have Jerry Brown, the former governor and current attorney general whose spokesman was allowed to resign this week after he admitted he surreptitiously recorded an interview a San Francisco Chronicle reporter conducted with two attorneys in Brown’s office.

California just happens to be one of 12 states that require all parties to a conversation to consent before it’s recorded. Reporters know that, and it’s hard to believe that the attorney general’s office doesn’t. Funny thing is, if the spokesman had asked for the reporter’s consent, she readily would have given it. It’s unusual for a source to ask to record an interview, but it’s not unheard of.

Brown,  meanwhile, has said nothing of the incident. He wouldn’t talk to the Chronicle for Monday’s story, and there’s nothing about it on the attorney general’s Web site. Guess it’s tricky to find someone to write the press release when your spokesman just bit the dust but, sheesh, how hard is it to bang out a statement condemning employees who break the law?

There are, of course, a pack of Brown apologists who insist that no laws were broken, that all parties have to consent only if the conversation is confidential. I’d love to see what would happen to the first journalist who tried claiming that interviews with public officials aren’t covered by the recording law. Unless a reporter wants to vacation in jail, though, I wouldn’t recommend volunteering as a test case.

It’s hard to understand why anyone would want to be governor of California right now  The job might not even be do-able under laws such as legislative term limits that place a premium on showboating at the expense of political pragmatism. Throw in additional burdens such as the two-thirds legislative approval required on all budgetary matters and the difficulties of governing grow exponentially.

Really, though, in a state of almost 37 million people, can’t we find at least two who are in it for something other than ego strokes or to relive their past?


Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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