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Farewell to a Giant of Civility

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As if we needed another reminder that the era of deliberation and civility in California politics and government is over, on Tuesday, Dr. Timothy Hodson passed away.

Tim was the recently retired executive director of the Center for California Studies at California State University, Sacramento. He was a leading expert on California politics who spent more than three decades working in and around the State Capitol. 

Only 61 years old, Tim succumbed to brain cancer.

Under his leadership, the center bustled with great programs.

It expanded its nationally known Capital Fellows Programs; established the California Journalism Awards, which recognize excellence in the coverage of California politics, government and public policies; and created the LegiSchool Project, an innovative high school civic education program; and the Faculty Research Fellows Program, which links the research needs of state policy makers with the resources of the California State University's 23 campuses.

Before Tim entered academia, he earned his political and governmental spurs, and the bipartisan respect of legislators and colleagues on the legislative staff, during the 15 years he worked under the Capitol dome as a Senate staffer.

Tim harkened back to an era, mostly in the '60s and '70s, that those of us who roamed the halls of the California Capitol then liked to call "the Glory Days" -- when bipartisan cooperation could result in good, bold policies, when there was a lot more collegiality and honest attention paid to critical issues.

Tim's great gift was that he could -- and did -- bridge the gap between the professional legislature and academia.

In doing so, he helped students, teachers, politicians and professionals understand, and perhaps learn to respect, each other's roles in shaping the present and future of the Golden State.

Bob Stern, the demise of whose think tank, the Center for Governmental Studies, is another reminder of how far our politics have meandered from the search for the common good, summarized well the thoughts of Tim's friends and colleagues.

"I have such great memories of working with him when he was with the Senate, debating him on a number of issues, and always but always appreciating his decency and love of service," Stern observed. "He truly left a mark on California and his many colleagues, students and disciples."

Yes, Tim, you did leave that mark.

Hopefully, too, on the denizens of State Capitol you flourished in and worked so hard to keep relevant to California's future leaders and to those who must lead in this critical time.

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