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


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.


• 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

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.

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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6 Responses

  1. Avatar Unabashed American says:

    We all know what the true definition of insanity is. So with Moonbeam's re-re-election, if you are expecting a different result….

    • Avatar Just Curious says:

      unabashed american.

      So you're immediatly going to put him down and resort to name calling? The true definition of insanity.. huh?

      Your candidate lost badly!

    • Avatar Harry Ames says:

      You know, "Unabashed", I'm an American too. Except I've been "bashed" by economic policies that have made profits for the rich its priority while our health, education, environment and safety have been jeopardized. We've elected leaders who are smart, courageous and are charged with trying to clean-up inherited messes despite half the populace being dead-set on impeding ANY progress and who are seemingly intent on crippling their efforts with a blanket vow of non-cooperation. A policy of "No!" just because of the administration that proposed it seems mean-spirited, and quite frankly, un-American.

      We have Republican leaders telling us that their ONLY goal is to ensure Obama is a one-term president (McConnell is on record with his "plan"). Not the economy. Not health care. Not the environment. Not any issue that matters to the people, just to make sure Obama is not re-elected. THAT'S why is slower than we wanted! (But, is happening in spite of the Nay-Sayers). The Republicans have made it clear they DON'T CARE about ANYTHING but regaining power and keeping those profit margins and big business tax cuts in place!

      So, wrap yourself in the flag, but doing so does not make you an American. It was a sense of unity, pride, cooperation and a desire to foster the common good that makes us Americans. Disagree, sure. But if you lose an election… try at least giving lip service to democracy and allow the "other side" an opportunity to deal with the issues that confront us all. That's what the flag USED to mean, anyway.

  2. Avatar Frank says:

    What was so insane about Jerry Brown's first tenure? Had we re-elected Gray Davis, sure, you might point to the tremendous budget deficit, but Brown did some great things while in office, including supporting education! We currently rank 47th in spending on our students in this state. I hope Brown does what he can to truly support our schools, our children, our future!

  3. Avatar Philbert says:

    Brown is, and has been for some time, a pragmatic man who is at peace with himself and will absorb the knee-jerk, unfounded criticism that will be heaped on him by the Nay-Sayers and Tea Party dupes. He truly envisions himself as a public servant.

    By the way, do you remember how he got the name "Gov. Moonbeam"? Back in the '70s he made some silly statement postulating that someday we'll use satellites and microwave technology for personal communication – that we might be individually linked to a global communications network.

    What a kook!!!

  4. Avatar D. Nethery says:

    I will not miss Arnie's huge ego. I do think Governor Brown has his feet on the ground and will truly help California. Phil, you are right. It never ceases to amaze me, how many people call Jerry Brown, "Gov. Moonbeam." His thinking was way ahead of the rest of the population. Let's hope he can continue to think out of the box, and come up with solutions.