THE WIZARD OF SACRAMENTO: GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (04/2020)
California’s Governor Jerry Brown, born in 1938, was raised by a father who was a politician who also served two terms as a governor. His own illustrious career included two separate terms as a governor of California. He also served on the board of Trustees for the Los Angeles Community College District, was the Secretary of State for California, chair of the Democratic Party, and Mayor of Oakland. He failed at his attempts to run for the Senate and as president of the United States, three times with the latter. His Jesuit education and nickname of “Governor Moonbeam,” which had been fondly given to him by his girlfriend Linda Ronstadt, would make Brown seem to be more of a people focused individual. In reality, his actions were more greed based and focused on personal financial gain.
“The Wizard of Sacramento: Governor Jerry Brown,” was written by William Smithers to highlight Brown’s actions as governor, especially with regards to his dealings with the energy companies who were huge supporters of his political campaigns. These largely involved the oil/gas conglomerates. Some of the biggest issues discussed, include Brown’s disregard for safety and environmental regulations with fracking in the state of California. This caused residents, especially those in the central valley, to have their health seriously impacted. He also used state employees to do research and offer advice for his personal financial gain with regards to drilling for oil on his privately owned land. The whistle blower in this case suffered retaliation.
In “The Wizard of Sacramento,” Smithers offers considerable evidence to show that Brown’s promises were very different from his actions. Smithers’ statements are backed up with researched evidence and are cited. A list of references is offered, at the end, for individuals who care to do more investigating.
Personally, I found this book to be extremely insightful. It is obvious that a tremendous amount of work went into researching the information presented. The author does an excellent job of clearly presenting this material in a thoughtful yet concise manner. I was never a fan of Jerry Brown and due to a number of discussions with friends, well respected professionals who had to deal with Brown directly as governor, I knew that he did not present himself well behind closed doors.
Having read “The Wizard of Sacramento,” it saddened me to see that Brown continued to let his constituents down especially for his own personal gain. As a California resident, I hope that the state will be able to continue to recover from the damage that he did.