Bad Manners

Politics is a nasty, brutal contact sport played in nice threads, an observation I’ve made a number of times by me as both a newspaperman and a blogger. 

But it should always be conducted with good manners is the corollary to that maxim provided by my friend John Mockler. 

One of the people with the best manners and best reputation in the state Capitol and around Sacramento is Dennis Mangers who celebrated his retirement as president of the California Cable & Telecommunication Association Monday evening at the Sacramento Sheraton. 

An Orange County Assemblyman from 1976 to 1980, Dennis has been more of a powerhouse than a patron of the arts in Sacramento. The permanent theater that now houses the Music Circus was largely his creation. He is helping build Sacramento’s Diversity Center. The resume of his good works is lengthy. 

As was the program Monday night hosted by the self-described President Pre Tem of the state Senate, Darrell Steinberg. When Steinberg takes over the Sente later this year he will have Dennis offering him counsel, a boon for the state of California. 

The program was long not because of the windiness of the speakers but because of all the people Dennis has touched over the past 30-some years. Steinberg assured the crowd they would be out of there by 1:45 am. 

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer gave a heartfelt tribute that stressed Dennis’ integrity and skill as a lobbyist. 

In the late 1970s, Dennis, Lockyer – the state’s former attorney general — and former Assemblymen Bruce Young and Mike Roos were roommates. (Lucky for them, the statutes have all long since run.) 

Dennis sang, “Oh What a Beautiful Morning,” from Oklahoma giving Gordon MacRae a run for his money. 

Mayor Heather Fargo sang Dennis’ praises as did Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, Controller John Chiang, Sen. Tom Harmon — whose kids went to school in Huntington Beach with Dennis’ — and several cable television executives. 

Dennis’ daughter, Kirsten, offered a humorous and sly tribute to her father and, finally, Dennis offered a brief rebuttal and thank you. 

Embedded in the otherwise grand event were two examples of unforgivably bad manners. 

Painfully noticeable in their absence were the current President Pro Tem of the Senate, Don Perata, and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, whose names appeared prominently in the program. 

Both were to offer greetings at the beginning of the evening, which suggests that their appearances were timed to suit their schedules. 

If they weren’t going to show, they should have sent surrogates. Rep. Doris Matsui managed to do that. 

At a minimum, someone on Perata and Nunez’s plentiful staffs should have picked up a cell phone and called either the party organizers or Steinberg to let him know they were going to be no shows. 

Had they done so, Steinberg would not have offered a fulsome introduction of Perata and announced to the 500-plus person audience with a flourish, “President Pro Tem of Senate, Don Perata.” 

What followed was an eight-and-one-half-months pregnant pause, punctuated at Table Nine by some wag, in rich baritone, saying: “The Family Von Trapp.” 

Steinberg quickly recovered, then offered a similarly laudatory introduction of Nunez only to hear  nothing but “The Family Von Trapp” from Table Nine. 

Politics is a nasty, brutal contact sport played in nice threads that should always be conducted using good manners. 

Here endth the lecture. 


Filed under: News


  1. Dennis Mangers should also be lauded for his efforts, years ago, to sustain the struggling alternative Capitol City Ballet. When I left as chair of their board of directors and Dennis and Judith Weintraub took the reins, the company remained viable for several more years, despite the often petulant and stormy temperament of its Artistic Director. Dennis brought credibility, stability, funding and his deep love of the arts to that challenge. The CCB company eventually merged with the Sacramento Ballet but brought with it a tradition I started, the “Beer and Ballet” series. It was the only way we could figure out how to fill the seats at the 24th Street Theater and it worked. Hats off to Dennis for the many contributions he has made to this City. Now that I think about it, maybe HE should run for mayor!

    Comment by Robyn Boyer — 4.30.2008 @ 11:37 am

  2. Dennis has been a mentor to many and a friend to more. I am sad I missed his retirement party, but happy to know he’ll still be around the building for some time to come. He’s first class, the kind we need more of and from whom many of us in the business could learn a great deal.

    Comment by Rebecca Darling — 4.30.2008 @ 6:55 pm

  3. Only nice to people in power or people with a pen. I think Nunez and Perata got it right.

    Comment by Nolan Frizelle — 5.06.2008 @ 8:17 pm

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