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Jerry Brown says it's not up to him to weigh in on governor's veto threat

October 9, 2009 |  5:55 pm

Maybe it’s because he’s been governor before. Maybe it’s because he hopes to be governor again. Whatever the reason, state Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown – California’s Gov. Moonbeam of the 1970s – proclaimed Friday that he considers Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's threat to veto 700 bills as simply a part of the political game.

Brown, a front-runner to replace Schwarzenegger in 2010, cited the separation of powers doctrine to declare that he didn’t have a legal leg to stand on in offering an opinion on the governor's position that without a water deal, the bills would languish, or worse.
Brown concluded his two-page letter to Assemblyman Alberto Torrico (D-Fremont) and Sen. Jeff Denham (R-Atwater), who had asked for an opinion on the legality of the governor’s threat, by suggesting that “compromise in the rough and tumble legislative process is not achieved by doilies and tea.”

Brown borrowed 19th century German President Otto von Bismarck’s famous quip about lawmaking, saying, “There are two things you don’t want to see being made – sausage and legislation.”

“No one can duck responsibility like Jerry Brown can,” Denham said in a statement after receiving Brown’s missive. “Asked to render a legal opinion, Jerry instead rambles, quotes Otto von Bismarck and speaks of doilies and tea. And now Jerry wants to be governor again? Heaven help us if he makes it back.”

Torrico was more charitable with Brown, a fellow Democrat, less so with Schwarzenegger, a Republican. He noted that some colleagues in the Assembly have been grumbling about pushing for an impeachment attempt against the governor if Schwarzenegger makes good on his veto vow.

“It’s hard to gauge the level of anger among members, but a year’s worth of work would be going down the tubes,” Torrico said. “What’s happening is remarkable. It’s just one more sign of our political culture – negotiation by ransom note.”

--Eric Bailey in Sacramento