Tag Archive: Iron Duke

Walking along Berlin’s Tiergarten park trails, one must be wary of stepping in the Hundehaufen.

On virtually any street in the permissive sanctuary city San Francisco, one is hard pressed to avoid encountering Peoplehaufen as well as needles and refuse.

San Francisco has long been a donut with a hole in the middle. The multi-millionaires of Rincon Tower literally must negotiate homeless, druggies and poop droppings to enter and leave their trendy lofty pads. The middle class is nowhere to be found.

Has a stinking pile of human poop replaced the brown bear as California’s mascot?

Is the abandoned high-speed train from nowhere (e.g., Bakersfield) to nowhere (e.g., Merced) become another metaphor for a one-party autocratic state in which so much as gone so wrong, way too fast?

The Golden State with about 12 percent of the country’s population is the “home” to approximately 135,000 homeless or 22 percent of the nation’s total.

For the first time after the 2010 census, California did not gain a new congressional district (electoral vote). After the next census, the Golden State will contract by one congressional district, and actually lose an electoral vote.

Part of the reason is a serious undercount (unreporting undocumented folks) by the state’s population experts. The other reason is people are leaving (net 1 million or 2.5 percent of California’s American resident population outflow in 10 years ending in 2016), accelerating the growing Golden State diaspora.

California will move from 55 to only 54 electoral votes – still the most in the nation – and yet the 40-million person state has less sway over the presidential general election winner.

The blue state is in the bag. Republicans can still raise money in California – The Mother’s Milk of Politics – only to spend it in states that matter (i.e., Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida).

California can still brag about its fantabulous weather, the software and hardware geeks of Silicon Valley, and how its $3 trillion GDP places California only behind the U.S., China, Japan and Germany in business productivity (not business climate).

The only problem with these assertions is they were all true back in the 1980s, when the author of Almost DailyBrett served for eight years as a chief message developer and spokesperson for California Governor George Deukmejian.

California was a “Great State” with a “Great Governor” back then. You can’t make that assertion today, not even close.

In the following decade, your author served in a similar capacity for Silicon Valley’s largest industry, the microcircuit designers and manufacturers.

Being modest, Almost DailyBrett knows a thing or two about California. Alas your author, similar to so many others is viewing California with great regret across state lines (e.g., no sales tax, lower cost Oregon).

Speaking ex-cathedra, the chances are slim and none – and “Slim” is out of town – that your author will ever again reside in über-congested California with its stratospheric property values, staggering high taxes of every sort imaginable, and intractable problems including rampant homelessness, acute Central Valley poverty, illegal immigration and yes, poop on the streets.

Want to purchase for $840,000 or more a 1,000-square feet fixer-upper 1905-era bungalow with an annual $9,000 property tax bill in God-awful San Jose? Undoubtedly, it is freeway close to your work in bucolic Milpitas five miles away. It will only take 45-minutes to get there.

No Checks. No Balances

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – John Dalberg-Acton, English politician, historian and writer

California is in dire need of an “Iron Duke.”

Alas, the Duke passed away and undoubtedly resides in heaven. What could he be thinking as he looks down at what was once the greatest state in the nation on his watch, only to see it easily passed by no-state income tax Texas and Florida?

Governor George Deukmejian refused to raise taxes to close a $1.5 billion deficit, a going away gift from his predecessor Jerry Brown. California’s vibrant economy with all Golden State geographies contributing, retired that staggering debt (1980s dollars) in less than one year without demanding taxpayers dig deeper into their wallets.

Next month, California will once again increase its highest gas taxes in the country (an excise tax of $0.473 on top of a $2.25 per gallon state sales tax). The state income tax regime ranges from 1 percent to 13.3 percent. The sales tax in Los Angeles County is (gasp), 10.5 percent.

Believe it or not, San Francisco City County is lower at 8.75 percent.

In 10 days, California with its record $21.5 billion surplus will surpass New Jersey as the state imposing the largest tax burden on its citizens. Something is not working in California. Will another tax, another entitlement, another social engineering scheme save the day?

Similar to other one-party “C” states (i.e., China, Cuba), California needs a loyal opposition, a few brave souls to demand that homo-sapien poop on the streets is not an acceptable representation of what once was, The Golden State.

Heroes are hard to find in Sacramento these days.

Oh heck, let’s just enjoy another California $15 six-pack with 10.5 percent sales tax and mandated deposit fee. Cheers.






We all lost a great one today.

He was one of the most popular governors in the proud history of California.

George Deukmejian was much more than the 35th chief executive of the Golden State.

For Almost DailyBrett, a former cub reporter with a fascination of all things political … and a little hair at the time (see photo above), meeting and working for George Deukmejian changed my life.

Instead of taking and keeping an eternal vow of poverty as a reporter, your author was serving as the press director of the Deukmejian Campaign Committee at 27-years-very-young.

My salary was $18,000 annually, but quite frankly I would have worked for nada for the experience. My transformation from a registered Democrat to a proud Reaganite Republican began in 1982. More importantly, my three-decade-plus career in public relations ensued with the gubernatorial primary and general election campaigns; we almost lost both until we won.

Sacramento was a hostile place in 1983. The other party controlled literally everything with the exception of the corner office. We needed the “Iron Duke” more than ever.

Feb. 26, 1983: California Gov. and Mrs. Deukmejian, left, watch as Mrs. George Finlayson, wife of the British Consul General, curtsies before Queen Elizabeth II in a reception line at the Broadway Street Pier in San Diego. This photo was published in the Feb. 27, 1983 LA Times.

Our friendly adversaries in the Capitol Press Corps, who were not predisposed to our way of seeing the world, deep down respected “The Duke.” They would state that George Deukmejian was a little dull (his favorite color was … “gray”), but his team was well-organized. The Deukmejian administration spoke in one voice from the first day to the last day eight years later.

It was well known that others were offering their champions as press secretary when the job came open in 1987. There was little secret that I wanted the job, primarily based upon my institutional memory about everything and anything George Deukmejian.

The governor had faith in me, and gave a chance so many others would have denied me. For three years, I served as his spokesperson and a chief message developer. The first day became the next day. The first week became the second week. The first month …

Looking back on his years as governor, your author still remembers pushing the media horde back just to give him a glimpse of the horrifically damaged Cypress Structure the day after the October 17,1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.

LOS ANGELES – JUNE 07: Governor George Deukmejian campaigns for George Bush on June 7, 1988 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Grecco)

Each year after leaving the Office of the Governor in December 1989, George Deukmejian never missed sending a holiday card or a note now and then. When my first wife, Robin passed away, (he attended our wedding as governor), he called me to offer his condolences. That is the George Deukmejian I knew, kind and considerate right up to today … this sad, last day.

“We”, “Us”, “Our”

George Deukmejian always spoke in first-person plural, never wanting to draw undue attention to himself even though he was the chief executive of the largest state of the union. In a rare occasion in which he would employ the first-person singular, he once said: “my tear ducts are close to my eyes.”

His lifelong campaign was for public safety. He bravely called for California’s assault weapon ban when little Korean children were murdered by an AK-47 on a Stockton schoolyard. The NRA went crazy. What else is new?

The suffering endured by his ancestors in the 1915 Armenian Genocide always brought sad memories every April 24, and opposition to the Reagan administration’s stance on Turkey.

Many focus on his judicial appointments (yours truly wrote the vast majority of these news releases), his expansion of the state prison system, and his support for highways to get people to work … but seem to forget his lifelong dedication to human rights.

Then California Attorney George “Duke” Deukmejian and wonderful wife, Gloria at the Deukmejian for Governor headquarters opening in Manahattan Beach sirca 1982.

George Deukmejian was a committed fiscal-integrity, public-safety conservative. There were no flip-flops with the governor. He was at total peace with his philosophy.

And when the day was done, it was done. He went home to Gloria, his children, the noisy beagles and his one consistent vice, jamoca almond fudge.

Almost DailyBrett sensed this day was coming. My only regret is that I wished for the time and at least one more opportunity to be with him in these last years … just to say hello, and goodbye.

Your author will sign off with a tear from the ducts close to his eyes. He will make a promise to only use the first person plural. He will always remember the man who gave him a chance, when others would not.

George Deukmejian was the Governor, who changed my life.




“Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” — Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898)

“It is far easier to beg for forgiveness, than to ask for permission” – Too Many Authors to Count

“Puck em, if they can’t take a joke.” – The Reciprocal to the Above Assertion

After another year enduring a litany of university rules, regulations, statutes, limitations, procedures, restrictions etc. – enough to slow any progress down to molasses – Almost DailyBrett finds it peculiarly refreshing to contemplate how the California State Legislature railroaded through a sweeping civil liability law in 1987 – “The Napkin Deal” — on the morning after the legally mandated last night of session.cocktailnapkin

If a legislative body wants to pull out the plug on the clock on the wall at 11:59 pm on Thursday, September 10 to ensure that every minute thereafter remains … Thursday, September 10, the absolute last day of session … so be it.

Yes, the California Legislature could miraculously make time stop.

For the rest of the world, it was already Friday.

If a legislative body wants to suspend all of its rules, including an orderly committee process, and convene a “committee on the whole” hours after the clock struck midnight on the last day of session … que sera sera.

If a legislative body wants to act upon the design for a comprehensive civil liability agreement – benefitting powerful insurance, medical, manufacturing and of course, trial lawyer special interest lobbies – which is eternally enshrined on a watering hole cloth napkin – that’s how the pot sticker rolls.

As a wise scribe once told a green-behind-the-ears cub reporter, covering the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 1978: “A legislative body can do whatever it damn well pleases.”

That very same cub reporter later moved to Sacramento and listened late into the night on the squawk box in the Office of the Governor as the clock plug was being pulled out of the wall socket in the Assembly chamber. This action could mean one thing, and one thing only: The state legislative leadership was “recessing” to Frank Fat’s.

Frank Fat’s Cloth Napkin

Conceivably every state capital has a watering hole right down the street (not sure about Salt Lake City). And for California’s capital, Sacramento, it’s “Fat’s,” a Chinese restaurant that also serves yummy strip steaks.frankfats

It was here on a hot Central Valley night that Speaker Willie Brown, State Senator Bill Lockyer and others cemented a five-year, civil-liability peace agreement between the cobras and the mongooses (i.e., lawyers, docs, manufacturers and insurers). These mortal enemies were not about to become friends, but at least they were not going to cannibalize each other for a few years.

The trick was to steamroll the later-to-be-written in all of its legal niceties legislative language, which was outlined on the Frank Fat’s cloth napkin, through both houses of the Legislature, and send the resulting bill to my boss, Governor George Deukmejian.

Over the strenuous and legitimate objections of legislators speaking on behalf of consumer groups, asking for delays and hearings, Willie Brown invoked the Rule of 41. Simply translated, if 41 or more state Assembly members (California’s “green” lower house) are ready or compelled to vote “aye” for the provisions on a watering hole napkin … well … a legislative body can do whatever it damn well pleases.

Sue them if you wish.

The watering hole napkin … err legislation .. was now shipped to the upper “pink” house, the state Senate, for the suspension of all rules, convening of a committee as a whole, consumer lobbyists screaming, and the invoking of the Rule of 21 (or more out of 40 senators).

The bill was now being sent in the direction of Governor Deukmejian, who himself served for 16 years in the Legislature (Assembly four years) and (Senate 12 years). He instinctively knew the extraordinary measures that were required to hammer out this kind of deal and get it through both houses of the Legislature (easier said than done).

As was our practice, we held a news conference the morning after the official (and unofficial) close of session to discuss what the Legislature had done, and maybe (or maybe not) to give hints about expected bill signings and of course, vetoes by the “Iron Duke.”

Outraged reporters wanted to know if the governor was offended by the way the Legislature had suspended rules in both houses and rammed through a grand compromise that existed primarily in the form of a watering hole cloth napkin.sausagelaw

With an eye on the constitutionally prescribed separation of powers between the executive branch (e.g., Office of the Governor, state agencies and departments) and the legislative branch (e.g., state Assembly and state Senate), the governor stated his responsibility was to deliberate only on the language that reached his desk.

What did Bismarck say about “sausage” and the “law”?

Sometimes you have to break at least some, if not all the rules, if you want to get anything done.





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