To: Jerry Brown
From: Los Angeles
Re: We Will Not Be Ignored
The northward tilt in California politics is getting to be a little much. First, we had a governor's race in which all the major candidates were from the Bay Area. Your victory, and the departure of the Bodybuilder from Brentwood, means that the most prominent pols from California -- you, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi -- are all Northerners. And so far, your administration seems to be taking on a very northern cast. And while you seem to be getting along well with the State Senate President Darrell Steinberg, who is from Sacramento, there is already talk of tension and coming conflicts with the Assembly Speaker, Los Angeles' John Perez.
It's time to show us some love, Gov. Brown, with appointments and maybe some quality time here. One thing you could do would be to include the largest county in the state -- Los Angeles, with more than 10 million people -- in discussions about vital matters, such as how you're going to realign services so counties have more control over both spending and taxation.
That's a very good policy direction. But if you can't make it work in LA County, the whole thing could blow up in your face. LA County is already badly struggling, unable to meet the demands on its jails, health systems and social services. Given this, it was a bit shocking to read Wednesday's LA Times.
Deep in this story about your bold move for what we hope is systemic reform of the state-local relationship, Bill Fujioka, the chief executive officer of Los Angeles County, was quoted as saying that you and your staff haven't been including the county in discussions of this proposal. Fujioka, a very reasonable man, was reduced to pleading to the Times; "We would like a seat at the table."
Elsewhere, LA Times columnist Tim Rutten, who should be sympathetic to you, came pretty close to calling your expected budget a plan to torment LA County.
You've gotten a lot of attention for renting a Sacramento loft and walking to work. Bully for you. But the last time you were governor, you had a home and residence in LA. The rest of the state might not like us, but we're the heart of California. You can't reform the state without bringing us along. Maybe it's time to sell the place in the Oakland hills and buy something down here. Hancock Park has a few homes for sale for less than a million (reports say your Oakland place is worth much more than that) that are walking distance to your old Melrose Avenue hangout, Lucy's El Adobe.
We haven't seen you down here much in a long time. It'd be good for you to spend your weekends here, if only to remind you we're still here.