They Don’t Make ‘Em Like This Anymore

Dean Misczynski is retiring for state service. If anyone deserves a tip o’ the hat for his contributions to California, it’s Mr. Misczynski.

“He is one of the most remarkable of the extraordinary, quiet people who do their jobs at the capitol with humor and professionalism,” to quote Rob Gunnison, my former colleague at the Chronicle, who has known Dean for several decades. 

A dog lover, Dean has left his mark on this state in innumerable ways, mostly without fingerprints.

Dean is a researcher, which keeps him where he likes to be: beneath the radar screen.

He is the founding director of the California Research Bureau, created in 1991, housed within the state library. The bureau delivers high quality, nonpartisan research on a cornucopia of policy issues.

It was also created, in part, to lifeboat talented policy staff from the Senate and Assembly who bore the brunt of the cuts imposed by 1990’s Proposition 140, the term limits measure. The politicians decided it was better to preserve personal staff than policy thinkers.

Dean disagreed.

Dean worked in the Senate Office of Research from 1982 until 1991. His Senate retirement resolution alludes to his arid sense of humor by noting the title of one of his analyses: “Financing Infrastructure in Times of Fiscal Fundamentalism.”

Prior to coming to the Senate, Dean was deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research during Jerry Brown’s administration, a time when the office did, in fact, conduct research.

Dean was fond of the building OPR occupies at Tenth and N St. The Spanish/ Moorish style structure, known as the Blue Anchor Building and the California Fruit Exchange, remains there because of Dean.

He liked the building so much he surreptitiously worked to get the structure placed on the National Registry of Historic Places, which it was in 1983.

While still at OPR, Dean was half of the staff team behind the,”Mello-Roos Community Facilities Act,” a post Proposition 13 alternative financing mechanism to property taxes local governments and school districts can use to make public works improvements.

Misczynski helped out Sen. Henry Mello. Phil Angelides was the staffer assisting Assemblyman Mike Roos.

It was Dean who coined the now widely used term, “fiscalization of land use.” And Dean was one of the first persons to point out the ramifications of Proposition 13’s impact on housing and land use.

A lover of Japanese food, it’s common sight around Sacramento to see him sitting alone at a sushi bar somewhere devouring raw bits of fish and a magazine like the New Yorker.

“People talk about the smartest person in the room. I always knew it was Dean, “ Gunnison said.



  1. Dean is a gem.

    Comment by Rachel Richman — 8.13.2008 @ 8:06 am

  2. Greg,
    Dean was also a mentor. When I was a very young and green staffer at OPR, and then later as an Assembly consultant, Dean helped me many times work through the intricacies of public finance. He pointed out political, pragmatic, and legal aspects that were not readily apparent. He had a talent for being able to wrap his mind around a subject and then translate it into terms that made sense to a novice. He was patient and never condescending and his guidance was invaluable. His life of service gives great meaning to the term “public employee.”

    Comment by Casey — 8.13.2008 @ 9:53 am

  3. In Japanese, the term Sensei means not only a teacher, but an individual that you respect; count on in times of need and nudging; run to when noone else will help you, and be a powerful and positive shadow throughout your life. Dean has been that person for me. He empowered me to start two grant programs that he was responsible for and trusted me to do the right thing. Because of his willingness, I know that many Japanese Americans residing in the state and nation thank him for promoting and believing in CCLPEP and the cultural and historic preservationists will remain forever grateful.

    Comment by Diane Matsuda — 8.13.2008 @ 12:14 pm

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