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By Miriam Raftery

September 27, 2009 (San Diego) – “Our state is in trouble,” former Governor and current Attorney General Jerry Brown said at the San Diego Grassroots Democratic Convention here yesterday. Massive deficits coupled with tax revenues drying up are crippling education and public safety, Brown suggested during his speech and in an interview with East County Magazine.

Touted as a likely contender to run for Governor next year, Brown stopped short of declaring his candidacy. He urged voters to ask, “Who in their mind wants to be the next Governor?” Then Brown, 71, quipped, “You want somebody who has no future.”


Brown detailed how as Attorney General, he has gone after some of the biggest companies involved in mortgage fraud, including an $8.6 million settlement with Countrywide. He reminded audience members that as Governor, he vetoed a bill to allow adjustable rate mortgages with negative amortization, which was enacted under a future administration.

He has also sued Beverly Hills investment advisor Stanley Chais for misleading investeors and concealing ties to Bernard Madoff and launched investigations into credit rating agencies’ role in fueling the financial crisis. Most recently, he launched a real-time prescription drug-monitoring system and told convention attendees his office is cracking down on fraudulent ads.

Brown criticized the federal government for pre-empting state’s rights to go after companies for fraud and misrepresentation in a growing number of areas, ranging from sales of energy-efficient appliances to the mortgage crisis.

Long a champion of environmentalism, Brown has led the charge to prevent the federal government from stopping California’s efforts to cap greenhouse gases. “We’re fighting with Congress. We’re fighting with the EPA,” he said, adding that under the Obama administration, Congress has finally adopted the California standard.

He criticized Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman (albeit without naming her), for stating that her first act as Governor would be to suspend a new law restricting greenhouse gases. “It’s a war against California,” Brown declared, noting that our state has pioneered standards for clean air and water, as well as many other environmental protections. “We need to be unshackled from Republicans,” he said, adding, “99% of scientists agree on climate change and 100% of Republicans disagree. We can deal with it or not deal with it. If we deal with climate change we can create jobs, have innovation and build up our entire economy.”

He criticized cuts in education spending and increases in class size. “Democracy depends on education. That’s not a new idea. This is what Thomas Jefferson said,” Brown observed, noting that Republicans repeatedly add new tests while “taking money away from schools.” Brown said failures in schools are due to another cause, not insufficient testing. “Families don’t have enough income. Schools don’t have enough resources.” He called for decentralization of power to put more decision-making back into state and local hands. “That’s what democracy is.”

After his speech, Brown spoke briefly with East County Magazine.

He expressed concerns over state firefighting resources being spread too thin in the wake of steep budget cuts. “We need more firefighters,” Brown said, adding, “and we’ve got to do something about crime, too.” (Brown knows about the latter first-hand. “Even though I am California’s ‘top cop’, two of my tires got stolen,” his website states. “No matter, I got new ones and I’m rolling again!”)

San Francisco Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom told ECM in a recent interview that he would sign legislation vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger to provide healthcare for all Californians. So ECM asked Brown if he would sign the measure, which has been reintroduced in the Legislature.

“We just can’t afford it,” Brown replied. “There’s no money for a lot of things. I’m counting on President Obama to get universal healthcare at the federal level.”

We also inquired whether the Attorney General has any investigations ongoing into allegations of wrongdoing made against San Diego Gas & Electric Company, notably boasts made on tape by a member of an Assembly Committee overseeing the utility industry who claimed he had a sexual affair with a lobbyist that some media reports have identified as an SDG&E lobbyist. (SDG&E says it’s conducting an internal investigation and that the lobbyist denies the allegations; the Assemblyman has since resigned.)

“We have not received a complaint,” Brown said, but added, “ You give us a complaint, and we’ll jump on it.”

 UPDATE:  Sept. 29, 2009 - Brown has formed an exploratory committee to run for Governor, moving closer toward an official announcement of candidacy.


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3 strikes policy

The 3 strikes you are out policy has not proven to reduce crime. The one true cure for reducing crime is to have a civilized and humane system. This would include proper support systems and safety nets for families, a better educational system and competent family serv1ces, as well as, sufficient mental health and physical care programs. But the fundamental cause of crime is also poverty. All of the above are much less costly then the ten's of billions that are spent on incarcerating people for life which is essentially a death sentence. The question here what is the real goal? Destroying lives to try and stop a problem is not the answer. We live in a society of people and our responsibility is to problem solve in a constructive way so that we enhance the society we live in. To define the problems and apply the solutions that are necessary for success not failure. Perhaps you should consult with Mayor Cori Booker of Newark, a man who has dedicated his life to constructive solutions? Gather experts and resources to develop the best ways to attack all the aspects of crime and develop programs that really address the problem. The current system does none of this and can only grow in economic and human cost and be a huge drain on the state as the problem continues to increase with a deteriorating economy. Also rehabilitating as many as possible to be contributing members of society would be much more beneficial. For example insisting that a prisoner learn a trade or vocation and that their record does not impede their chances of returning to society in a way that makes an effort to avoid a revolving door situation. The current trajectory will bankrupt the state and ruin ten's of thousands of lives that could otherwise be productive. Judges should be allowed to determine sentences based on their wisdom and insight. This is the nature of a just judicial system. Are you against all of this? Life is short for all of us. Why not leave behind a better world?