Sacramento Old and New: Willie Brown vs. the CHP, Arnold vs. the State Bar Association

The news of the day is bad for California’s lawyers – turns out that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ended up, after a lengthy delay, signing the bill that authorizes the State Bar to collect dues for 2010, so the shysters of the Golden State will now have to fork over big bucks by March 1st. Feel free to theorize about Arnold’s thinking here, but I think it’s safe to say that anyone having anything to do with the Bar Association will think twice before labeling any judicial nominee “unqualified” or “not qualified” or anything like that.  

Or else otherwise, this Governor or the next will step on your oxygen tube with the implicit threat of a quick reorganization for your organization. Once you start turning blue, the only sure cure for this kind of political extortion is to get Capital “O” Obsequious but pronto:

“We are grateful to the governor for signing the State Bar 2010 fee bill. He has helped us to focus on issues and matters that are important to the State Bar,” said State Bar President Howard Miller. “We also want to thank the legislative leadership that has been so supportive and forthcoming. This entire period has strengthened the State Bar and given us important missions and goals that we now can actively achieve.”

Fair enough – go forth and sin no more. But speaking of extortion, what about Willie Brown and the California Highway Patrol? We’ll have to travel back four decades for that. See below.

Willie and an admirer in San Francisco’s State Building, from last year:


From UC Press E-Books Collection, 1982-2004 (formerly eScholarship Editions), it’s 

Willie Brown, A Biography by James Richardson

From four decades ago, Chapter 15, Mr. Chairman:

“One afternoon Brown briskly walked into a budget conference committee meeting late and looking angry. He immediately sat down next to [Senator] Collier and asked for a “point of personal privilege.” Collier granted him the courtesy, and Brown asked to return to an item in the budget to appropriate funds to purchase guns and other equipment for the California Highway Patrol. Brown then demanded that the funds be deleted from the budget. The trust between the two was so great that Collier asked no questions, immediately complied, and struck the CHP equipment appropriation.

At the end of the meeting, [aide Robert] Connelly asked his boss what was going on with the Highway  Patrol. “He was so mad, he wouldn’t talk about it.” Finally, Brown told Connelly that he had been stopped not once but twice by CHP officers that day on his way to Sacramento from San Francisco along Interstate 80 in his bright red Porsche. Each time, the officers walked over to Brown and said, “Hey, boy, where’d you get this car?”

Connelly quickly found the CHP’s lobbyist and told him what had happened. “The guy’s eyeballs rolled clear back into his skull. He said, ‘We’ll fix it.'” By the next morning, the CHP was distributing photographs of Willie Brown to officers along the Interstate 80 corridor between San Francisco and Sacramento with orders to “memorize this face.” The CHP got its appropriation back—and more.

Brown championed pay raises for CHP officers by authoring a bill that tied their salaries to a formula based on the salaries of large municipal police forces. The measure gave Highway Patrol officers a windfall raise, and then an automatic pay raise every time one of the unionized city forces got a new contract.”

Don’t mess with Texas!

Back in the day when he was still on the road, you’d never see Willie Brown driving a Porsche or an Acura NSX Japanese Ferrari at a speed anything less than 80 on the 80. The respectful officers of the CHP just let him do whatever he wanted.

First the stick, then the carrot – that’s how it works in Sacramento….

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