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The Name Game

Want a bridge or freeway named after you? Here’s the skinny. By Greg LucasSacramento News & Review, February 20, 2014 

Bummer for James “Sunny Jim” Rolph. The charismatic mayor of San Francisco from 1912 to 1931, who died in office broke as California’s 27th governor, got his bridge taken away again.

Just the other day, Sunny Jim’s bridge—at least the western half of it—got renamed for another flamboyant San Francisco mayor: Willie Lewis Brown Jr.

At a ceremony Brown hosted on Treasure Island, he was asked if the Rolph family had called. Brown curtly replied, “No.” Apparently, jokes about the lineage of Read more »



The Challenges and Opportunities of Demographic Change

By Gov. Jerry Brown

In past decades, baby boomers have posed multiple challenges to the state beginning with building classrooms and training enough teachers, to developing a higher education system that would accommodate the infusion of young adults, to growing the economy fast enough so they could find employment. Even now, baby boomers continue to reshape society as they begin to leave the labor force. In the next 15 years, well over 1,000 Californians will turn 65 each day.

California’s future generations will face a new set of challenges. While California’s baby boomers were considered culturally diverse and highly skilled compared Read more »



A Great Day for Nothing

Very Little is Happening at the Capitol — A Perfect Time for Big-Picture Thinking 

By Greg Lucas, Sacramento News & Review, November 14, 2013 – Compared to the root-hog, bloodlust craziness of the death throes of the legislative session, the White Sepulcher is currently living up to its name. It’s quiet. (Here would be a good place to snidely add that it can never be too quiet, since every day the governor and the Legislature do nothing is a great day for California.)

Except, even though that sentiment has been expressed in this space more than once, the truth is that sometimes Read more »



Congress and the Feds Can Learn a Lot from California’s Debt Management

On debt, California’s responsibility—and The Skipper’s sage advice   By Greg Lucas

Sacramento News & Review, October 17 – A growing body of 21st-century philsophical thought recognizes that the 98 episodes of Gilligan’s Island ask and answer all the Big Questions.

So, amid this recent flurry of mouth-frothing and hand-wringing over debt, it should be no surprise The Skipper and Mary Ann slice straight to the bottom line.

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be. Do not forget: Stay out of debt!” sings The Skipper’s Polonius to Mary Ann’s gender-bending Laertes in the castaways’ musical version of Hamlet.


What more need be Read more »



Never Judge the Chickenshitedness of a Bill by Its Advisory Committee

 By Greg Lucas

Sacramento News-Review, September 5, 2013 — With few exceptions, things in the Legislature are at least as chickenshit as they appear. Usually more.

No matter how petty the motivation for some legislative act seems, the real cause is pettier. A “no” vote is less likely to be sparked by some lofty ideological schism than the author of the bill neglecting to compliment the other legislator on their latest dye job.

Too many bills sound swell but don’t do anything. Like one this year that encourages school districts to buy California produce. There are plenty more equally impotent measures Read more »



You’re Not Funny


On Capitol Hazing Rituals and Legislative Grab-Ass

By Greg Lucas

(Editor’s Note: Steve Maviglio, press secretary to Assembly Speaker John Perez offered the following comment when this column initially ran: ” You should stop by the Assembly chambers sometime. Media hasn’t been banned and never was. We simply asked that interviews be conducted in a corner instead of just anywhere. Neither the press seats nor the press bay for cameras has been moved. And the Speaker never began arming the Assembly [Sergeants-at-Arms] either. That started with [former Assembly Speaker Bob] Hertzberg’s detail, according to [Assembly Chief Sergeant-at-Arms Ron] Pane. Hope Read more »



The Political Arena Is No Place for Heroes

Politicians may be skilled at consensus building and the art of compromise, but don’t expect them to grow taller than the hedge

By Greg Lucas

San Francisco Chronicle August 1, 1999

Sacramento – Where have all the heroes gone? (Long time passing) Where have all the heroes gone? (Long time ago) 

A hero is defined as:

1. A man distinguished for exceptional courage, fortitude or bold enterprise.

2. One idealized for superior qualities or deeds of any kind.

3. In classical mythology and legend, a man of great nobility or physical prowess, often the son of a god and a mortal.

4. A sandwich made with Read more »



On the FBI at the Capitol and Legislators Fundraising

The FBI’s rubber-gloving of the Capitol prompts a look at campaign contributions 

By Greg Lucas

Sacramento News & Review, June 27, 2013 The line between felony and fundraising is explicit.

Yet California legislative history over the past quarter century shows 14 Democratic and Republican legislators, lobbyists and others convicted in a federal-corruption investigation that came to light in 1988 for soliciting campaign contributions outside the lines.

That’s one reason why the presence of Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in the Capitol sharply shifts the building’s ebb and flow.

Things slow down a bit. Actions are examined more judiciously. Soul-searching by lawmakers—even Read more »



Act Now to Revitalize School Funding

By Linda Galliher and Ted Lempert 

California’s students deserve a public school system that will provide them the tools they need to develop a solid foundation of academic achievement. The Legislature can start us on a path toward this goal by passing Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula. 

Under the formula, the existing complex and outdated bureaucratic structure would be replaced with a new local system that gives schools the flexibility to direct education dollars to school districts and students that need it most. No district would lose funding. This change simply would help level the playing field and Read more »



Chaotic, Last-Minute Bill Passing Bad for Californians

Why lawmakers are afraid to go where no lawmaker has gone before

By Greg Lucas

Sacramento News & Review, May 30, 2013 – Don’t disturb lawmakers right now, they’re deep in the plak-tau.

Plak-tau is the Vulcan “blood fever” manifested during the final stages of pon farr, the once-every-seven-years Vulcan mating obsession, which is pretty crazed by itself.

For members of the ever-so-terrestrial California Senate and Assembly, their plak-tau is neither about mating, nor is it “irrational and instinct-driven behavior,” as one Vulcan-to-English dictionary describes it, restricted to seven-year intervals.

Legislative plak-tau is an uncontrollable obsession centered on rapidly, and Read more »