Jerry Brown’s Back. But Is He Really Better Than Ever?

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Jerry Brown is governor of California again, and I have a positive feeling about his administration.

I never, ever thought I would write those words. A little more than two months ago, I complained about both candidates for governor and their insipid campaigns. However, Brown’s inauguration earlier today, January 3, made it clear to me that he is a man who has lost all pretension and that he has become governor for the right reason this time.

An elected official worried about appearances and poll numbers would not crack a joke while taking the oath of office. I’m sure some will criticize Brown for not taking the oath more seriously. What I saw was an honest guy willing to recognize what everyone was thinking when he got to the line about “without mental reservation.” Who in their right mind would want to be governor of this broke, nearly ungovernable state?

When he was governor from 1974 through 1982, Brown’s primary focus was not California, but Washington, D.C. He badly wanted to be president, and at times it seemed like everything he did and said was geared toward his next run for office. This morning, Brown closed his 16-minute inaugural address at Sacramento Memorial Auditorium with a call to go beyond “narrow perspectives” and partisanship. He urged loyalty to California, and he conceded that he didn’t quite understand many years ago when his father, Gov. Pat Brown, spoke to him about the need to be loyal to our state.

I’m not about to psychoanalyze Jerry Brown from a distance. He’s a unique figure in California’s history, and not necessarily for the best reasons. But during his inauguration, Brown appeared like a man with nothing to lose. He’s not going to run for president again. His legacy is already written for the most part.

California faces deep, deep problems. We need elected officials who tell us things we don’t want to hear and who offer honest solutions. It is, in other words, a perfect time to have a governor with nothing to lose. We’ll know within the next few months whether we really have one.

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• Trails tip: If you’re looking to keep a New Year’s resolution or you simply want to get out and enjoy our rare sunshine, avoid the “ditch” trails. These are trails that follow the route of old irrigation or mining ditches. Not surprisingly, the trails still conduct water. They can be muddy or even flooded this time of year. The list includes the Oak Bottom and Clear Creek water ditch trails at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, the Upper and Lower water ditch trails south of Shasta Dam, and the lower section of Mule Mountain Pass Trail at the Swasey recreation area west of Redding. Some of the trails at Clover Creek Preserve in east Redding get pretty boggy, too.

If you want to get off the pavement, I recommend the stretch of FB Trail north of Keswick Dam Road (not the muddy FB Trail between the Sacramento River bike path and Keswick Dam Road), the Escalator Trail at Swasey, and the “upper” trails in the Clear Creek Greenway that are best accessed at the Cloverdale Road trailhead. Remember, you can find lots of good trail maps at the Healthy Shasta website.

• Traffic will be slow on Interstate 5 on the Pit River Bridge north Redding until about January 21 while workers replace five bridge expansion joints. One side of the bridge or the other will be shut down, the speed limit will drop to 25 mph, and a pilot car will be in use. Shasta Constructors has the $900,000 contract for the bridge work.

shigley-mugshotPaul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and has a pile of muddy shoes outside the front door of his home in Centerville. Paul Shigley may be reached at pauls.anewscafe@gmail.com.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment.

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has been a professional journalist since 1987. For 12 years, he served as editor or senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a statewide trade publication for land use planners, real estate development professionals and attorneys. Prior to that, he worked as a reporter or editor at newspapers in Redding, Grass Valley, Napa and Calistoga. Shigley's work also has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Planning magazine, Governing magazine, California Law Week, National Speed Sport News and elsewhere. In addition, he is co-author of Guide to California Planning, a college text and reference book, and is currently working on a book for the American Planning Association about the Bay Delta and California water resources. A graduate of California State University, Sacramento, Shigley has contributed to A News Cafe since 2009. He and his wife, Dana, live in western Shasta County.
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