California Attorney General Jerry Brown’s bid to return to the governors mansion is flagging.
While the large and effectively marshaled resources of billionaire Republican Meg Whitman are no doubt helping her overcome some of the Golden State’s distrust of Republicans, the ongoing problems in Oakland are hurting Brown too.
Oakland is still on edge from the violence last week that followed the murder acquittal of a transit cop who fatally shot a 22-year-old black passenger in 2009. Now, Oakland police are saying that if the budget cuts got into effect they will stop responding to a host of criminal complaints from citizens, including burglary, unregistered sex offenders, fraud,and vandalism. The deadline is at 8 p.m. tonight for the city to relent in the cuts or see 911 calls start going to voicemail. The city has always been a mess, but it is careening into serious trouble.
Brown rebuilt his career by taking on Oakland’s problems as mayor from 1999 to 2007. It was an example of practical governance for a man who had come to be known as Governor Moonbeam for his often unusual liberal ideas while governor from 1975 to 1983 and in his ill-fated 1980 and 1992 presidential runs. Brown touted new centrist credentials as a practical big city mayor. That status helped him secure the attorney generalship in 2006.
That Oakland is falling apart again, in part because of busted budgets and public union threats, reinforces the message from Whitman that Brown is not up to the job.