Tag Archive: Willie Brown


“Many of the people living on Los Angeles’ streets lack health as well as homes. They were put there by social policy, legacies of the mid-1960s when California was a laboratory for reform–and they sit there as another reminder of reform gone awry.” — Sherry Bebitch-Jeffe, USC Institute of Politics and Government, March 22, 1987

California’s road to homeless hell was paved five decades ago with landmark legislation with good intentions.

According to repeated KNBC (Burbank) I-Team reports, the City of the Angels has become the City of Trash. The number of homeless on the streets of the City of Los Angeles today (does not include the remainder of the Southland) would fill a 36,000-seat stadium.

A similar count of homeless in San Francisco City-County jumped 30 percent year-over-year to 17,595 last year (does not include the balance of the Bay Area).

California with its 12 percent of the nation’s population is “home” to 22 percent of the country’s homeless.

And with these ever increasing numbers of homeless comes ubiquitous mounds of public excretion, piled-up garbage and epidemics of disease-carrying vermin (e.g., rats). The number of Los Angeles typhus cases reached 93 in 2019, the predictable result of homelessness, trash, filth and rats.

As a former gubernatorial press secretary (e.g., Governor George Deukmejian), Almost DailyBrett knows it wasn’t always this way in the Golden State. There was a wonderful time when California was a great state with a great governor. Alas, that era has passed.

There was a much earlier time when mentally distressed Californians received care in safe state hospitals.

They weren’t on the street. Now they are seemingly everywhere.

And if you try to reverse the tide you are a mean-spirited, insensitive bad person, who wants to “warehouse” the homeless. As a result, no one does anything except throw more money at the problem.

Los Angeles passed a surcharge on the county’s staggering 10.5 percent sales tax, and $1.2 billion in bonded indebtedness for temporary homeless shelters.

What’s next?

And yet there was a day in which California warehoused the homeless … another way of saying, the state took care of the safety of all of its citizens.

The Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS)

As a cub reporter for the Glendale News-Press, your author covered the funeral of Assemblyman Frank Lanterman (1901-1981) at the Church of the Lighted Window in La Canada-Flintridge, California.

A virtual who’s-who of California politics attended the service including then-Governor Jerry Brown and then-Assembly Speaker Willie Brown among others. “Papa Frank” was revered as a compassionate man, who took a sincere interest in people most would rather put out their collective minds: the mentally ill and the developmentally disabled.

Unarguably, there was horrific unfairness with involuntary confinement to California’s mental hospitals (e.g., Camarillo). Lanterman wanted to address the specter of people being held without recourse for years, decades or even the rest of their natural lives.

Alas, the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act of 1967 cure (e.g., homelessness) proved over time to be worse than the disease of warehousing. Lanterman was an Assembly Republican. Nicholas Petris and Alan Short were state Senate Democrats. The Lanterman-Petris-Short Act was signed into law by then Governor Reagan in 1967. The legislation is a product of the days when California actually had two political parties.

The legislation came with predictable public relations alliteration as it was designed to end, “inappropriate, indefinite and involuntary commitment.”

The well-meaning deinstitutionalization bill was intended to save taxpayer dollars (e.g., Reagan interest) and end warehousing (e.g., Lanterman, Petris and Short legislative intent). The mentally ill (except for the most serious of cases) were released into the community with the notion of seeking community care.

Some homeless did just that, they went to their community providers and took their pills. Others … way too many others … ended up on the streets.

The evidence can be seen in a slow-motion Disney-style ride in a traffic jam plagued vehicle passing literally hundreds of tents lined up along California major and minor city streets.

Be Wary Of Social Engineering; Practice Tough Love

The Lanterman-Petris-Short Act is yet another example of best-intended social engineering with unfortunate unintended consequences, impacting two generations of humanity, those fortunate enough to live in homes and apartments, and those forced into hard-sleep hell.

Will there ever be those in positions of trust with the courage to say, ‘Enough is enough.’

Some may blame California’s crazy housing and rental prices as contributing to the problem. No doubt. But the evidence appears clear that California legislated the crisis by emptying the state hospitals, and the result is visible virtually everywhere, everyday … 24-7-365.

There are people on the streets (e.g., Union Square in San Francisco), who are a danger to themselves and others. They don’t need temporary shelter only to return to homeless squalor in short order. Instead, they need tough love. They need to be moved into safe and secure state mental hospitals to receive the care they so desperately need.

Almost DailyBrett believes the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act needs to be repealed, and replaced with legislation that does not return to inappropriate, indefinite and involuntary commitment.” 

Instead the state will have authority to remove mentally ill homeless from the streets and to acknowledge the outsourcing of care was an undeniable failure. The homeless mentally ill need to be cared in a stable and safe environment, benefiting them and Californians as a whole.

It just seems that courageous California public leaders are in short supply.

https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/trash-rats-cover-homeless-encampments-in-la/2304741/

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1987-03-22-op-14759-story.html

https://www.disabilityrightsca.org/publications/understanding-the-lanterman-petris-short-lps-act

https://www.economist.com/united-states/2019/10/19/homelessness-is-declining-in-america

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_D._Lanterman

“I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A; California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.” — The Mamas, The Papas, 1966

Let’s embark on a little California dreamin.’

What if … California voted to secede from the union?

calexit

The state would inform Donald Trump’s Washington, D.C. that all of its myriad of laws-and-regulations are now-and-forever “null-and-void.” Instead, the world’s sixth largest economy with a $2.42 trillion GDP would be going alone.

Welcome back: California Republic.

The precedent was set when South Carolina, an “S”-state, voted to secede from the union in 1860. Now California, another “S”-state as in “Sanctuary California,” could vote on Calexit next year.

Naturally, constitutional and historical scholars have a habit of getting in the way. They will point to the U.S. Constitution, which would need to be amended by a two-thirds vote of each house of Congress and then approval by three-quarters (38 out-of-50 or more) of state legislatures.

Besides, wasn’t a similar secession program settled at Appomattox Court House in 1865?

appomattox

Details, details, details.

If California votes to leave the union, couldn’t the state’s legion of fighting attorneys simply stipulate, pontificate and bloviate the Golden State is no longer part of the United States? The result would be that all federal laws … including the Constitution … are null, void, not biding and simply not applicable.

Finis. Endo Musico

The ball would then be thrown into Donald Trump’s court. Does he envision himself as the 21st Century comb-over Abraham Lincoln saving the union for the second time?

Would he be willing to go to war with California to save the union?

Trump is already implying a massive loss of funding to the state, if it dares declare itself a “sanctuary state,” defying to not notify federal authorities, when criminal aliens are apprehended.

Let’s say he follows through on his threat; the California Republic responds as suggested by former Speaker Willie Brown by withholding funds from Washington, D.C., and ultimately votes to secede from the union.

What comes next?

The California Republic

“California could very well become an organized non-payer.” – Former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown 

As a former press secretary of the Governor of California (George Deukmejian, 1983-1991), the author of Almost DailyBrett must ask: What would characterize a stand-alone, California Republic?

  1. California would be at least the world’s third-independent, one-party C-state opposing the wishes of the United States of America: California, China, Cuba. Republicans and members of similar subversive political parties would be subject to “extreme vetting” before receiving visas to enter sanctuary California.
  2. California’s highest 13.3 percent income tax rate would be combined with the present federal top income tax rate of 39.6 percent for a total marginal rate of 52.9 percent, all heading to the Franchise Tax Board in Sacramento. Those making less than $60,000 per year (e.g., California definition of wealth) would pay a lower rate on a sliding progressive scale. Each of the state’s 58 counties would be mandated to impose a minimum sales tax rate of 10 percent.

Meg-lev trains are expensive.

  1. Consistent with the California Sanctuary State … err Sanctuary Republic status, there would be no reason for a southern border, let alone a northern border with Oregon or an eastern border with Nevada and Arizona. Anyone could come and go as they please. The words, “contraband,” “illegal” and “undocumented” would be eliminated from the republic’s dictionaries.
  2. In order to avoid any and all unpleasantness with other nations (e.g., USA), California would establish a Department of Peace. The department would then oversee the republic’s Peace Army, Peace Navy, Peace Air Force, Peace Marines and Peace Coast Guard. Peace weapons would never be loaded, let alone fired.
  3. To stop real crime, the republic would establish a Department of Corporate Prosecution taking dead legal aim at those who buy low and sell high, employ tens of thousands, and make the products we need and use on a daily basis. These deep-pocket achievers deserve their just desserts before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  4. California’s golden poppy would be replaced by cannabis as the republic’s official flower. These dynamic “flowers” can be used for ornamental, medicinal and recreation purposes. Sorry golden poppy your days in the sun are done. The same is true for childhood immunizations.
  5. The republic’s colleges and universities will replace annoying grading, testing and reading with everyone receiving the highest grade possible. The state would be flooded with 4.0 GPAs. Faculty would be instructed to provide trigger warnings, guarantee safe spaces, and excuse students subjected to opposing points of view.
  6. Hollywierd would dictate California’s culture and would serve as the republic’s propaganda ministry, ultimately controlling all legacy and digital media connections within the republic’s boundaries and beyond. There would be no need for a TMZ.
  7. California would impose strict mortgage and rent controls statewide insuring that no fixer-up bungalow in San Jose could exceed $1.6 million with an outlay of $1,000 per month in property taxes. Glad we got that settled.
  8. And finally all California commuters would be required to use electric, solar, wind or biomass transportation for their five-mile trips that take 45-minutes or more.

Is all of the above, California Dreamin?

“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.

http://aliciapatterson.org/stories/willie-brown-power-money-and-instinct

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Lockyer

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/04/16/AR2005041600154.html

http://www.fatsrestaurants.com/menus/frankfatsmenu.aspx

Couldn’t help but ponder the quote on a bumper sticker, stuck on the back of gray Prius.

prius1

I was imagining the driver under the influence of a NPR news report, contemplating her sustainable garden, taking a sip from her fair-trade coffee and making a mental list of organic, veggie ingredients to pick up from the co-op market.

Before you can scream, “stereotype,” I could also envision the same bumper sticker affixed to the back of a truck with mud-flaps, gun racks with the driver listening to Rush Limbaugh and contemplating stopping off for barbecue beef brisket or chipotle pork ribs.

So what am I babbling about? My point is that many of us claim to celebrate diversity, but only as we narrowly define it. “Diversity” usually includes gender, ethnicity, creed and sexual orientation, but what it doesn’t include for way too many people in way too many instances is a contrary political point of view.

We may extol the virtues of a “marketplace of ideas,” but then we may choose to tune out commentary that does not agree with our own. Think of it this way, millions of dollars are being made by polemics (e.g. Limbaugh, Rachel Maddow, Glenn Beck, Bill Maher, Ann Coulter and until recently, Keith Olbermann), throwing raw red meat to the devoted by savagely pillaring the other point of view and resorting to name calling of the disciples that dare preach the alternative gospel.

This past week, we all know people who tuned in for Barack Obama’s State of the Union, and then switched channels when Reps. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) delivered the official GOP and Tea Party responses respectively. And before that, the metaphorical shoe was on the other foot as Republicans tuned into George W.’s State of the Union, but tuned out the Democratic response. This all brings up some simple questions:

What are we afraid of?

Didn’t we learn in school that “sticks and stones may break my bones….?”

Many of us decry the loss of civility in our society, and yet we have our own responsibility for this state of affairs by refusing to even acknowledge that the other side has any merit whatsoever. In some cases, we adopt an elitist attitude resorting to calling people “dumb” and “stupid” if they don’t share our own particular wisdom…pass the sandbox shovel please.

One of the few things that I learned in public relations is to take the time to carefully study the messaging of the competition in a business setting or the other side of the aisle against a political backdrop. By appreciating the other point of view and where the other side is coming from philosophically, you can better anticipate their rhetorical thrusts and conversely conceive the best and most credible way to counter these arguments. You are just better at your own job. bubbatruck

Sacramento was a lonely place for a Republican constitutional office holder in the 1980s, in fact there was only one, my boss, Governor George Deukmejian. The Democrats held all the other constitutional offices (Lite Gov, Secy of State, Controller, Treasurer…) and to make things worse for us they held huge majorities in the State Senate and State Assembly, the latter run at the time by the all-powerful and incredibly articulate and skillful “Da Speaker” Willie Brown.

So how did we get anything done?

The answer is that our position was difficult, but not impossible. We had the bully pulpit of the governorship. We had GOP caucuses that were big enough to sustain gubernatorial vetoes, but we also had something else that was valuable…an understanding of how the other side thought and behaved. If we were to secure legislative passage for anything that we wanted, we had to convince Willie Brown and the Democrats on how they could declare victory. As the old saying goes in Sacramento: “When in doubt, declare victory.” We knew how we could declare victory, but how would the Democrats declare victory? And if both sides cannot credibly claim victory, then you have no deal on anything, on any given day.

williebrown

We literally sat around for hours into the night, debating among ourselves as Republicans how Willie, a Democrat, could declare unmitigated and unadulterated victory. Some of the suggestions that we batted around the room did not pass the giggle test. Ultimately we had to convince Willie, particularly with arguments he could use himself, because he in turn had to sell his caucus, a caucus that was philosophically predisposed against us.

In many cases we simply could not make the sale, but in others we succeeded when the majority of the votes were stacked up against us. I am not talking about compromising your principles, and we certainly did not retreat when it came to not raising taxes and insisting on a balanced budget with a $1 billion reserve for emergencies (almost sounds quaint in these days of record deficits, doesn’t it?). But we did go out of our way to understand Willie and his caucus and we were better off for doing so.

Almost DailyBrett note: The “Closed Mind” bumper sticker brings back memories of three of Dan Quayle’s most repeated quotes: “What a waste it is to lose one’s mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.” Almost tops, “The future will be better tomorrow” and of course, “If we don’t succeed, we run the risk of failure.”

http://paulryan.house.gov/

http://bachmann.house.gov/

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677/ns/msnbc_tv-countdown_with_keith_olbermann/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willie_Brown_(politician)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Deukmejian

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Quayle

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