Happy Birthday, Governor Moonbeam!
Birthdays are about celebrating people and wishing them the best in the next year. Today is Governor Jerry Brown’s 73rd birthday. As the country’s most senior governor currently, he is also known for his frugality. Besides the stuff you read in papers about how he’s cut staff, lives in a one-bedroom loft, etc., I have personally witnessed his frugality. A couple of years ago, he and I boarded the same Southwest flight but unlike my coveted “A” group status, he was in the “C” group, which led me to believe he didn’t fly “Business Select.” I liked him a little more for that.
In addition to his frugality, did you also know that during his first term as governor in the 1970s, he appointed more women and people of color to office than any previous governor? Did you realize that he appointed the first openly gay judge in the country? What about the fact that he sponsored the very first tax incentive for rooftop solar systems more than 30 years ago? And finally, did you know he opposes the death penalty?
I didn’t know most of these things before I decided to write this blog. I began to get a clearer sense of the man who has been elected to help get us out of this gaping budget black hole that we are currently in. Governor Brown is a complex person with a duality that is wrought with contradictions. I mentioned that he is opposed to the death penalty. But as Attorney General, he had to enforce the laws of the State, including the death penalty. He was opposed to Proposition 13, but after its passage, embraced it as his own. During his first term as governor, he shunned the governor’s mansion and limo rides in favor of driving a modest car and living in an apartment yet in his current term, he has refused make any significant cuts to the grossly obese corrections budget.
I celebrate Governor Brown for his many contributions to California. In the coming year, I hope to see his best intentions for the people of California outweigh any political bullying by special interest groups. I hope that the man that once ministered to the sick in one of Mother Teresa’s hospices remembers that the budget cannot be balanced on the backs of struggling working families. And finally, I hope that he can overcome his duality and contradictions and emerge as the leader that once said, “We have to restore power to the family, to the neighborhood, and the community with a non-market principle, a principle of equality, of charity, of let’s-take-care-of-one-another.”
Happy Birthday, Governor Brown.
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