Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown endorses exercise, mum on Torlakson, PUC

SAN JOSE – Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, sharing a stage Wednesday with Gov. Jerry Brown, heaped praise on the popular governor, calling him “a great role model” at the opening of a new fitness center at an elementary school here.

Brown, Torlakson said, has “trimmed up the budget to be fit,” ensuring continued education funding “so you can help realize your academic dreams.”

It is Torlakson, though, who finds himself in a difficult re-election fight and needs endorsements more than Brown. And the governor was not in a giving mood.

He did not mention Torlakson once in brief remarks. Instead, Brown playfully taunted several hundred students at Katherine R. Smith Elementary School about their mascot, the panther.

“When I went to school I was a wildcat,” he said, “and wildcats can eat up panthers any day.”

The 76-year-old governor encouraged students to “lift weights, lift yourself up, run around and do things,” concluding his remarks with “Go Panthers!”

Brown left without comment, refusing to answer reporters’ questions about recently released emails in the controversy surrounding Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and the California Public Utilities Commission. According to one email, Michael Peevey, the president of the PUC, said at a dinner in 2010 that he expected PG&E to spend at least $1 million opposing a ballot measure that sought to roll back provisions of Assembly Bill 32, California’s landmark greenhouse gas reduction law.

Asked after Brown left about the governor’s lack of endorsement in the race, Torlakson said, “We’re good. We work together.”