Opinion Columns & Blogs

Gov. Brown, tear down this wall ...

With the revelation that everyone in the state Capitol building is Shocked, Shocked I Tell You, by the Calderon affidavit, this whole thing makes me wonder one thing:

Will there be any change?


One of the truly stunning aspects of the affidavit, other than the upper cable channel soap opera quality of the writing (“Any help you can give to my kids, you know that’s diamonds to me”), is the repeated implicit assertion by state Sen. Ron Calderon that one must avoid the appearance of impropriety, not the actual impropriety itself. You know, ethics.

Calderon said, “We cannot have a quid pro quo conversation,” and then, scant pages later, there’s a fat quid pro quo. And another. And another. Ad infinitum, if you will. And hardly any caveat emptors.

One of the state Capitol’s foremost Latin speakers, Gov. Jerry Brown, reacted to the news by blandly noting that he doesn’t comment on investigations. Why not? Everybody else is. The only thing he could muster was that, in response to Calderon’s claim that he talked to Brown, was Brown’s observation that he hardly talked to “that particular legislator.”

OK, fine. He hardly ever talked to the guy. I get that. He hardly ever talks to any legislators. But isn’t this a teachable moment, one that Socrates would have relished? Couldn’t Brown get up at a lectern at the Capitol (he has one; I’ve seen it. It’s very impressive) and say something, anything, that reflects his outrage?

Well, not yet.

For once, I would dearly love to hear someone in Sacramento’s political establishment just get up and let it rip. Someone like, for example, a governor. Something like:

“The system we have still permits California officeholders to put themselves on the auction block. Every. Single. Day. And I’m sick of it. You’re sick of it. It’s embarrassing to our process and corrupts everything we do and every bill we pass. We hold fundraisers during the legislative session. We watch lobbyists write bills because junior legislators are too green because of term limits. We go through the motions on campaign finance reform, and yet all we do is figure out ways to circumvent that same reform.”

I know it’s asking a lot. And we are so very busy watching “Duck Dynasty” and “American Idol” that many of us cannot be bothered with doing much more than complaining about the size of the cable remote buttons. But one would hope that someone of ethical stature, whom I believe is still Gov. Brown himself, would want to take the time to give that speech. He’s running for re-election in 2014, and if an election isn’t a good time to talk about just what, precisely, is deadly wrong in California, I don’t know when is.

There’s a Latin phrase that Brown is well-familiar with: primus inter pares.

“First among the equals.”

That’s you, Gov. Brown.

I would think that would be a quid pro quo that voters might be interested in, for once.