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William Westwood Lockyer (born in Oakland, California, May 8, 1941) is the current State Treasurer of Californiamarker, elected in 2006. He has also served as California Attorney General and President Pro Tempore of the California State Senate. Having held elective office since 1973, Lockyer has arguably had more varied executive and legislative experience than any other current official of the State Government.

Described by journalistic observers as one of California's most "colorful" - and "smartest" - politicians, Lockyer's special trademark has long been a peculiar intellectual brand of Truman-esque "plain talk"; he often speaks his mind with a picturesque frankness that seems almost cheerfully to invite political embarrassment.

He is an alumnus of the University of California, Berkeleymarker, graduating with a BA in Political Science in 1965. His first job was a public school history teacher, a role he recently reprised, teaching a course in State Government at the University of Southern Californiamarker.

After founding the Cal Berkeley Young Democrats, Lockyer began his political career as a School Board member of the San Leandro Unified School District, as chair of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, and California coordinator of Senator George McGovern's 1972 campaign for the Presidency.

Personal life

Lockyer has been married since April 2003 to attorney Nadia Maria Davis, an Orange County native of Hispanic, Native American and European descent. He has been married twice before, has an adult daughter who is an attorney for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and a six year-old son.

Nadia Lockyer is a graduate of UCLAmarker with a BA in Sociology and holds a law degree from Loyola Law School. She has been a public interest law attorney since 1997, representing adult victims of childhood sexual and physical abuse. After writing a handbook for immigrant students seeking higher education, she was elected in 1998 to the Board of Trustees of the Santa Ana Unified School District - becoming the first Latina (albeit with the last name "Davis") to serve as Board President. She currently works as Executive Director of the Alameda County Family Justice Center, funded by the US Department of Justice. The Center, according to its website, has provided services to more than 2,000 children who have witnessed domestic violence or been victims of sexual exploitation or other abuse.

Nadia Lockyer is currently a candidate for the District 2 seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in the June 2010 election.

Legislative Career

Lockyer first won a State Assembly seat in a Special Election of September 4, 1973, following the accidental death of the Bay Area Assemblyman Robert W. Crown who was his political mentor. He served in the Legislature for the next twenty-five years, more than half that time in the State Senate, where, in 1994, he was chosen by his peers to be President Pro Tem, the most powerful position of the upper legislative house.

In his spare time, Lockyer attended law school classes in Sacramento and received a law degree from the McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacificmarker. But he never actively practiced law, preferring, like some other legislators before the Initiative passage of term limits in 1990, to devote his time and energy to the work of professional law-making.

In that earlier era, the California Legislature was notable for its flamboyant characters (some with rumored lurid personal lives). Among these, Lockyer was considered only mildly eccentric - a voracious reader with a yen for junk food and a lifelong aversion to green vegetables, a mercurial temperament he schooled himself to bring under control, and a wry sense of humor that won him close friends on both sides of the partisan aisle.

As a legislator, Lockyer was generally acknowledged to be a hard-working and masterful consensus-builder and negotiator. His colleague, long-time Speaker of the Assembly Willie Brown, a principal target of term limits, recently remembered that, by the time Lockyer left the Legislature in 1998, "Capitol insiders took his prolific effectiveness for granted."

Environmental Protection Legislation and the Bay Trail

Lockyer was still a freshman legislator in 1974 when - 15 years before the Exxon-Valdez disaster - he wrote the first legislation to provide State funding for the detailed process of emergency oil spill decontamination. During his legislative career, he wrote other ground-breaking environmental laws, including the first State regulation of trucks hauling toxic substances on California roads and highways, which preceded federal policies adopted by the EPA. He was a close ally of environmental pressure groups like the Sierra Club and the Planning and Conservation League, backing their candidates for appointment to the Coastal Commission and opposing Air Quality and Water Board Republican appointees whom he believed to be biased toward industrial de-regulation.

Lockyer considered his signature environmental achievement to be his 1987 bill to create a Bay Trail, which he envisioned as an eventual 500-mile-long hiking and cycling path, a continuous recreational corridor, with adjacent bayshore parks and protected natural habitats, that would entirely encircle San Francisco and San Pablo Bays. Requiring unprecedented city, county and regional cooperation, the Bay Trail marked its 20th year in 2009 with 293 miles so far open to hikers, bicyclists, joggers and walkers, some of whom even use the Trail to "commute" to work or school. The remaining 200 miles are expected to be added within a decade.

1984 First Comprehensive "Hate Crimes" Legislation

In 1984, Lockyer sponsored the State's first "hate crimes" legislation, the most comprehensive in the nation at the time, which, as later amended, provided that "no person...shall by force or threat of force, willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with, oppress, or threaten any other person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him or her by the Constitution or laws of this state or by the Constitution or laws of the United States because of the other person's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender, or sexual orientation, or because he or she perceives that the other person has one or more of those characteristics." Later, as Attorney General, Lockyer was responsible for coordinating enforcement of this statute by local law enforcement.

1987 Tort Reform "Napkin Deal"

On September 10, 1987, while Lockyer chaired the State Senate Judiciary Committee, he and Speaker of the Assembly Willie Brown met in a dining room at Frank Fat's Chinese restaurant in Sacramento with representatives of bitterly competing special interests - insurance companies, trial lawyers, doctors and manufacturers - to formalize their agreement to "the most sweeping changes in California's civil liability laws in decades".

After many days of painstaking negotiations, these warring interests had accepted a compromise bill that included "a drastic restriction in product liability laws offset by fee increases for lawyers prosecuting medical malpractice cases. Doctors got promises that protections already in place against lawsuits would not be touched. Insurance companies won a reprieve from threatened regulations gaining momentum in the Legislature." This complex compromise had already been worked out; the dinner at Frank Fats was to ratify a future "peace pact" among all the concerned parties to abide by the compromise.

Lockyer, who had acted as mediator during the earlier negosiations, scribbled the terms of the"pact" on a restaurant cloth napkin, and so ended a political war. The compromise bill was then ramrodded through the Assembly and State Senate on the last night of that year's legislative session, and was signed into law by Republican Governor George Deukmejian.

The "napkin deal" became legendary in the State Capitol - though the legend grew to mistakenly confuse the long negotiations with the final culinary act of peace-making. Proudly reproducing the original napkin on a poster titled "Tort-Mania 1987", Lockyer and Brown regarded the special interests compromise and conciliation they had arranged as a great legislative accomplishment. "The public is better served", Lockyer said at the time, "when these groups are trying to mend rather than tear the fabric of society".

1997-1998 "Welfare Reform" Budget

Federal legislation signed by President Clinton in 1996 required California to enact “welfare-to-work” legislation to help welfare recipients move from government assistance to employment and “self-sufficiency”. The establishment of a new CalWORKS (California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids) program had a major affect on the State budget, propelling difficult negotiations between the Democratic Legislature and conservative Republican Governor Pete Wilson.

As Senate President Pro Tem, Lockyer was intimately involved in these private negotiations, which, he later recalled to journalist Daniel Weintraub, produced the State's “last…old-fashioned balanced budget.” Wilson himself was “very engaged” in the negotiating process. “We would spend literally hours, every day, day after day, trying to work through it…People just kept arguing, and it wasn't just about philosophy. Too much of the legislative work tends to be anecdote and slogan. Wilson was committed to being empirical about it. We made a serious effort to try to measure the practical impacts of the proposals. It just was very hard, very difficult bargaining…I endured five-hour sessions regularly with Wilson. It was not easy, particularly when his theory was, if they're not ready to settle, run 'em through the soft sand for a while. Keep grinding away and wearing on people…. Maybe things have changed, but that worked.“

Ironically, after Lockyer left the Legislature in 1998 to become Attorney General, there followed a decade of State budgets jerry-built with fiscal gimmickry and a budgetary process hamstrung by constitutional impediments, finally leading to the crisis of 2009 (see below), in which another Republican Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, would propose scrapping the CalWORKS program entirely as a partial solution to averting financial catastrophe.

1997 Tax Cut "Mega-Deal"

One month after the Budget was passed and signed by the Governor, Lockyer was the key Democratic negotiator of a bi-partisan tax "mega-deal", a six-bill package that included a billion-dollar income tax cut for middle class Californians by increasing the dependents credit over a three year-period.

State Attorney General

Lockyer's predecessor as California Attorney General was a conservative, laissez faire Republican who considered the high point of his term in office to be passage of the "Three Strikes and You're Out" mandate, which greatly increased the size - and ballooning cost - of the state's disproportionately non-white prison population.

Lockyer felt his large staff of some 2000 attorneys, and the entire state Department of Justice, had to be radically restructured and reinvigorated - first, to modernize the relationship between the Attorney General and the California law enforcement community. Having grown up in the Berkeley 'Sixties atmosphere of anti-police rhetoric, he now found himself called the State's "Top Cop" and he took the role to heart, both practically and symbolically. Besides providing new technical support services for all of the State's 90,000 law enforcement officers, including those in neglected smaller departments, Lockyer was personally diligent about attending memorial services for every officer in the State who was killed in the line of duty.

At the same time, Lockyer steered the Justice Department to a new legal activism that reflected his liberal values in such areas of litigation and regulation as civil rights and anti-trust enforcement and consumer and environmental protection. He became one of the two most prominent state Attorney Generals in the nation, rivaled in media attention only by New York's Eliot Spitzer. The two men were personal rivals as well, once nearly coming to blows after "screaming expletives at each other" at a Los Angeles convention of the National Association of Attorneys General. But when that organization elected Lockyer its President in 2003, Spitzer was not even in the running, almost universally-disliked by his colleagues for his "holier-than-thou attitude" (ironic in light of Spitzer's later political downfall as New York Governor in a juicy call-girl scandal). Lockyer was not only popular among the other AGs, but respected for his legal initiatives, which, if not always successful, were never lacking in innovative energy.

Conflicts and Compromise: "Three Strikes", Gay Marriage and Medical "Pot"

These years as Attorney General proved a maturing experience in that Lockyer often had to resolve conflicts between the real-world requirements of the job and long-cherished political principles. His legal mandate was to represent the State in any litigation to which it was a party - even if he personally found the State position objectionable - for example, when defending a State employee accused (with justification) of sexual harassment; justifying prosecution of a petty thief sentenced to ridiculously long imprisonment under the mandatory "three strikes" law; or, in 2004, asking the courts to invalidate San Francisco same-sex marriage licenses which conflicted with State law, though Lockyer personally supported gay marriage.

Sometimes, it also worked the other way - when defending California's 1996 legalization of medical Marijuana against federal attacks by the Bush Administration, backed by his Republican predecessor, who had encouraged federal drug enforcement officials to crack down on distributors of "medical Pot". Lockyer found this particularly satisfying as he had come to strongly support "compassionate use" of Marijuana after living through his mother's and younger sister's deaths from leukemia.

High Tech & Law Enforcement: Sex Offenders, DNA Testing, Bullet Coding

An avowed technophile, Lockyer found different quandaries while directing his Department to give new high technology support to law enforcement agencies.

His predecessor had actively promoted legislation aimed at curbing sex crimes, notably California's version of "Megan's Law", which required authorities to make publicly available registration information provided to local Police by former child molesters, rapists and others sex offenders after being released from custody. But the public could only access this information about registered sex offenders living in their communities by visiting a Police station or calling a 900 toll-line number - until Lockyer sponsored legislation requiring the data to be posted on a public Internet website. Less than 90 days after the bill was signed into law, Lockyer's Department had the website up and running, listing the names, aliases, addresses or zip code locations, criminal history, and personal profiles, including physical descriptions or photographs, of more than 60,000 past sex offenders, together with an interactive map that allowed users to search their neighborhoods, with nearby schools and parks highlighted, for the location of those registered. But this technological accomplishment and its "popularity" - accessed by 27 million computer users in 18 months - was overshadowed by complaints that much of the information was outdated; that there were too many restrictions on use of the information by employers, landlords, schools and insurance agents, or, as the ACLU contended, too few restrictions to protect the civil liberties of those who had already paid their debt to society.

Similar problems followed from a bio-tech achievement of which Lockyer was especially proud - expansion of State Crime Lab facilities to process DNA genetic samples taken from convicted felons, aiming to create the largest State-run DNA criminal data-bank in the country. Law enforcement officials said this would be a boon to solving a growing backlog of often "cold" investigations of violent unsolved crimes. But the under-funded and under-staffed Lab soon developed its own massive backlog, with tens of thousands of unprocessed and non-prioritized DNA samples languishing in refrigerators, still to be placed in the offender database. And a voter-approved measure of 2004 that allowed Police to gather DNA, not just from convicted violent criminals, but from anyone arrested, even without charge or conviction, for any felony, violent or otherwise, led Lockyer himself to express reservations. "I personally wouldn't have put arrests in the measure," he said, adding that he would also have made it simpler for innocent people to get their information removed from the files - a complaint of civil libertarians who raised the specter of the innocent being trapped in a vast database with murderers and rapists, and with only limited time and opportunity to get their files expunged.

And then there was the case of the "numbered bullet". After a Seattle company unveiled a new technology for "coding" individual bullets, Lockyer sponsored the first legislation in the country which would have required all handgun (but not rifle) ammunition sold in California to be engraved with a unique serial identification number. "We are losing too many of our young people to seemingly random shootings and anonymous killers," said Lockyer. The bill "will strip criminals of their anonymity and give law enforcement evidence it can use to quickly and effectively solve more gun crimes." Predictably, the National Rifle Associationmarker and other gun rights groups - already at odds with Lockyer over enforcement of State prohibitions against semi-automatic rifles - strongly condemned the plan, saying criminals could easily obtain unmarked ammunition and that the whole process would create a costly enforcement bureaucracy. Manufacturers also opposed the measure as economically disastrous, since the engraving machines would cost up to half a million dollars each and would make virtually obsolete tens of millions of dollars in existing manufacturing equipment. The bill died in the Legislature.

2000-2001 California Energy Crisis

Of the many actions taken by Lockyer's staff against corporate fraud and malfeasance, the most prominent were related to the California Energy Crisis that began in the summer of 2000, marked by rolling blackouts, brownouts and the billions of dollars in price hikes that appeared on consumers' electrical bills.

It later emerged that the "crisis" stemmed in part from illegal practices by energy corporations such as the now-defunct Enron. The exposure of these hidden offenses began in August 2000 when Lockyer created an Energy Task Force to launch the State's first investigation of alleged price gouging by power companies.

The Wall Street Journal scoffed at million-dollar rewards offered by the Attorney General's office for information about illegal conduct by energy powers, dismissing the allegations as unsupported by clear evidence. But such probes eventually led to some five billion dollars in brokered settlements by Enron and a half dozen other corporations which admitted to "gaming" the State's deregulated energy system.

Enron and Prison-Rape Remark Controversy

As Attorney General, Lockyer was incensed by what he believed to be inequities in the legal system that allowed financial and corporate malefactors to escape punishment entirely, or at worst, to be incarcerated in minimum-security, "Club Fed" facilities.

During the Enron scandal of 2001 which led to the then-largest corporate bankruptcy in American history, Lockyer, who spent much of his time talking with hard-nosed police officers, achieved some notoriety for his public quip, "I would love to personally escort Ken Lay [[[Enron]] CEO [[Kenneth Lay]]] to an 8-by-10 cell that he could share with a tattooed dude who says, 'Hi, my name is Spike, honey'". Intended to be an off-color comment on the impunity of white collar criminals, this remark was instead widely condemned as encouraging prison rape. Lockyer later apologized for the statement in a letter to the Los Angeles Times, saying, "My anger over the activities of energy barons doesn't come close to my lifelong outrage at the crime of rape. ... I guess I let my anger get the better of me..."

Lockyer's indelicate comment was often recalled in press reports when, five years later, Kenneth Lay was convicted on four counts of securities fraud. Vacationing at Aspen while appealing his conviction, Lay died suddenly of a heart attack. He was never imprisoned.

Auto Industry Global Warming Lawsuit

On September 20, 2006, Lockyer filed a lawsuit against what his office refers to as "the big six automakers" for their alleged contributions to the global warming problem. Initial reaction was mixed, with some environmental groups being supportive, and an auto industry trade calling it a 'nuisance suit'. A similar suit in New Yorkmarker had been dismissed by a federal court and is now on appeal.

The California suit was dismissed on September 17, 2007, with the court saying that "The adjudication of plaintiff's claim would require the court to balance the competing interests of reducing global warming emissions and the interests of advancing and preserving economic and industrial development."

Hewlett-Packard Scandal Controversy

While Attorney General, in 2006, Lockyer and his staff conducted a criminal investigation into the Hewlett-Packard pretexting scandal to ascertain whether or not the investigators authorized by Chairman Patricia C. Dunn to discover the source of leaks from within the company illegally obtained home phone records and cell phone records of HP board members and journalists. Charges were subsequently brought against Dunn, which were dismissed by the court in 2007.

Landmark Legal Cases



2003 Gubernatorial Recall Election

An initiative to recall newly-re-elected Governor Grey Davis qualified for the ballot in July 2003, with a special election, scheduled for October, to include both a referendum on the recall itself and a list of candidates vying to replace Davis if the recall succeeded. With some arm-twisting by US Senator Dianne Feinstein, all the potential Democratic candidates, including Lockyer, agreed not to run, in the hope that this would strengthen Davis' campaign to defeat the recall.

At the start, it appeared that the strongest Republican candidate would be former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, who had unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for Governor the previous year. During that earlier campaign, Davis had spent millions on campaign ads attacking Riordan, believing the moderate Mayor would be his most formidable opponent in a general election. Riordan was then defeated in the primary by a more conservative Republican, helping Davis to win a narrow victory in November 2002.

Lockyer, at the start of August, publicly warned Davis and his political consultants against a repeat effort to sabotage Riordan's candidacy by negative attack ads: "If they do the trashy campaign on Dick Riordan ... I think there are going to be prominent Democrats that will defect and just say, 'We're tired of that puke politics. Don't you dare do it again or we're just going to help pull the plug.'"

Five days later, when Arnold Schwarzenegger made the surprise announcement that he would run as a Republican in the recall election, the famed actor became the foremost threat to Davis' political survival.

Lockyer and Schwarzenegger had been casual friends since Lockyer's State Senate years, when the actor had chaired the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and the two men had together toured charter schools in southern California. Later, Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante announced he would become the only prominent Democrat to place his name on the recall ballot.

On October 7, by a decisive vote, Davis was recalled, and Schwarzenegger was elected to replace him. Two weeks later, at a UC Berkeley post-mortem conference of the election, Lockyer announced that while he had voted against the recall, he had also voted for Schwarzenegger. He explained that "Arnold represented... hope, change, reform, opportunity, upbeat problem solving".

Despite some support from San Francisco radio talk show personality Ronn Owens, who hailed Lockyer's "courage" and "independence", fellow Democrats and feminists reacted bitterly to Lockyer's surprise announcement.

2006 Election

As partisan gridlock continued to grip the Capitol, Lockyer increasingly felt the Governor's performance was disheartening, marked by inexperience, lack of strong political conviction, and personal braggadocio. In a typical flash of intellectual provocation, he criticized Schwarzenegger's leadership style as demonstrating an "arrogance of power" with the "odor of Austrian politics", alluding to the Austrian-born Governor's upbringing in a country with a "long history" of "elite...autocracy".

Soon after the Recall election, Lockyer began thinking of his own candidacy for Governor in the 2006 election and how he might run without resort to "puke politics". Inspired by discussions with noted futurist Peter Schwartz, he tried to lay the groundwork for a lofty, issues-oriented campaign.

In January 2005, while still Attorney General, Lockyer tentatively announced his candidacy for Governor - "the one and only office that has held abiding interest for me since I left the Legislature...It's the job I want, not only because I think I'll be a great executive, but because I think that I can and will lead the best campaign you've ever seen, a winning Democratic campaign of ideas, ideals and inspiration to stake out a great future for California."

But he abruptly changed his mind after four months of testing the political waters - deterred by the grim prospect of a very costly and bruising primary battle with wealthy opponents of his own party and an uphill fight to defeat the universally-known Schwarzenegger in the general election.

In June 2005, Lockyer announced he would instead run for State Treasurer. He was elected to that office in November 2006.

State Treasurer

Climate Change and Renewable Energy Finance Initiatives

As Treasurer (and ex officio trustee of CalPERSmarker and CalSTRS, the two largest public employee pension funds in the United States) Lockyer found innovative ways of using the authority and influence of his office, notably including new types of financial support for California's pioneering bi-partisan efforts to help fight Global Warming and mitigate other effects of Climate Change:

  • Expanding the "Green Wave" environmental initiative first proposed by Treasurer Phil Angelides in 2004 to a multi-billion dollar investment in renewable energy


  • With statutory authority of the Treasurer's California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA), exempting new "Zero Emission Vehicle" manufacturers, such as electric automobile startup Tesla Motors, from sales and use tax on the purchase of equipment used in California manufacturing.


  • State purchase - the first by any governmental body in the US - of "Green Bonds" issued by the World Bank to finance Climate Change projects in developing countries


  • Providing a $48 million loan guarantee program to help California truckers comply with new diesel emission regulations put into force by the California Air Resources Board


Based on such State programs, Lockyer also sponsored federal legislation (H.R.3525,“Private Activity Bonds for Clean Energy Projects”) introduced in July 2009 by California Congressman Mike Thompson to provide tax-exempt bond financing nationally for private sector Renewable Energy projects, Zero-emission vehicle purchases, and "green" manufacturing facilities.

2008 State Budget and "Banana Republic financing"

In the fall of 2008, with the economy clearly faltering, but before the extent of the looming fiscal crisis became clear, the Legislature very belatedly passed what Los Angeles Times political columnist George Skelton called "another atrocious, short-sighted, gimmicky budget that set a record for procrastination" and "wreaked havoc all across California among small business vendors, healthcare centers and nursing homes that couldn't be paid by the state until a budget was enacted."

Lockyer was even more critical, describing the budgetary provisions to Skelton as "banana republic financing", based on accounting gimmicks (that "give gimmicks a bad name"), "phony inflated estimates of revenue" and a "boondoggle" of "massive" corporate tax breaks at a time of mounting State deficit.

But the monumental size of that deficit did not become clear until six months later, in early 2009.

2008–2009 California Budget Crisis

The 2009 financial crisis in Sacramento began with the discovery that a $25 billion deficit would follow the sharp drop in revenues resulting from the 2007-2009 Recession.

As frantic negotiations began to drastically revise the last budget, Lockyer pleaded with Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner to provide a guarantee for State bond payments. "A fiscal meltdown by California ... would surely destabilize the U.S., if not worldwide financial markets," Lockyer wrote to Geithner on May 13. The Obama Administration declined the State's request.

Earlier, Lockyer warned the legislative conference committee that private lenders would be leery of any more "smoke-and-mirrors accounting tricks" and that lawmakers would have to rely heavily on spending cuts to balance the budget: "It seems to me that the kind of budget we will require before the end of June is almost entirely comprised of cuts...My suggestion to you is don't delay the pain. It's going to be awful, but just get it done. It's going to be worse if it doesn't get done."

Lockyer was also quoted as telling Democratic legislators that, "fair or not", angry voters blamed them for "12 years of flowing red ink". "Why don't you start with the realization that probably none of you are going to be back here next year?", after the 2010 elections. "You're not going to get reelected. Just put the politics out of your brain...That's a very liberating thought, and with it you can get a lot done."

When the Legislature failed to pass a balanced budget before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, 2009, forcing State Controller John Chiang to begin issuing IOUs to some State creditors, Lockyer suggested having a respected intermediary - someone of the stature of former Reagan Administration Secretary of State George Schultz - mediate between the Republican Governor and the Democratic-controlled Legislature. One Republican State Senator scoffed at the idea, saying, "No caucus is going to go with that...I'm not going to vote for new taxes just because some mediator told me to."

Throughout the Budget crisis, Lockyer warned that an impasse would increasingly raise the costs of short-and long-term State borrowing, ultimately as much as an additional $7.5 billion in interest over the next 30 years. On July 6, with no budget agreement yet concluded, Fitch Ratings downgraded California's bond rating to BBB, just one notch above the dividing line between investment grade and speculative grade "junk" bonds. A Lockyer spokesman estimated that this downgrade alone would represent an immediate "hit of hundreds of millions of dollars" in higher credit costs when the State tries to sell $53 billion in public works bonds for school and road construction.

As the cash-strapped State was forced to issue some 90,000 IOUs to cover $350 million in short-term debt, the formal standing of California bonds continued to decline. Moody's joined Fitch in cutting the State's debt rating (though still three levels above "junk" status), because of "increasing" risk to debt service payments. And a London firm which tracks speculative "credit default swaps" ranked California "ninth in the world among the 10 governmental entities most likely to default on their financial obligations" - just above Kazakhstan, Latvia, Iceland and Argentina. A Lockyer spokesman called this assessment "ludicrous", and Lockyer himself continued to insist, as he had done throughout the crisis, that the threat of default was "infinitesimally small...short of a thermonuclear war."

But two days later, on July 16, Lockyer made an ominous warning, prefaced by a brutally frank statement: “I call on the Governor and Legislature to focus exclusively on what it takes to bring this year’s budget back in balance, honestly and immediately. I urge them to...quit adding or resurrecting endless ideological debating points, and to stop using budget negotiations to score points with political allies or against partisan opponents." Absent immediate agreement, "with every passing day", the state’s credit rating moved "closer and closer to the junk pile...If the Governor and Legislature dump us on that pile, they will end indefinitely the state’s financial ability to build schools, highways, levees – all the critical public works we need to rebuild California. If our credit rating sinks to junk status, the state will find the door to the infrastructure bond market locked shut”. At that point, “financing for infrastructure projects will cease. It won’t slow. It will stop. Many thousands of California workers will lose their jobs. Thousands of businesses will lose billions of dollars in revenue. At the precise moment our best economic recovery effort is most needed, we will fail...The ultimate victims will be taxpayers and families up and down the state." Lockyer concluded his appeal to the budget negotiators - “Give Californians and the world a pleasant surprise, for once: Balance the budget now, and get back to the work of getting our state back to work.”

One Democratic insider suggested that by this "tongue-lashing of legislative leaders", the "ever-blunt" Lockyer "didn't win...any friends in the Capitol".

Four days after Lockyer's scalding remarks, the Governor and legislative leaders finally announced they had reached agreement on a complex budget plan which combined heavy spending cuts to education, health, welfare and prisons, with still more accounting gimmicks and a controversial scheme to raid the coffers of city and county government. Not until the end of that week did the full Legislature approve the thirty separate bills that embodied this agonizing series of compromises - on the 24th day of the fiscal year.

Lockyer cautiously remarked that investors seemed encouraged - "so far" - by the fact that this "tough budget" had at last faced up to the "structural deficit problem" of the State. But California "still has a lot of hard work and sacrifice ahead before we are out of the woods"

A month later, despite continuing acrimony about the Budget agreement, Standard and Poor's removed California bonds from its "credit watch list", indicating that while the bonds still had a negative outlook, they were not "under threat of an imminent downgrade". Lockyer was optimistic about this "positive development...It reflects confidence that the budget solution adopted by the governor and legislature gets us on the right track...”

Political Future

Three of Lockyer's predecessors as State Treasurer - Jesse Unruh, Kathleen Brown (sister of Jerry Brown, Lockyer's successor as Attorney General), and Phil Angelides - had lost gubernatorial campaigns, and Democratic pundits considered the Treasurer's job a much "smaller bully pulpit" which did not provide a good spring-board to higher office.

Despite persistent rumors that Lockyer, who had earlier accumulated a $10 million political war chest, might be a "dark horse" possibility for Governor in 2010, he has so far expressed no interest of mounting a campaign to succeed Schwarzenegger.

Asked why he remains reluctant to enter the gubernatorial contest a year before the election, he explains that he sees no chance of winning a Primary election battle with former Governor Jerry Brown, his successor as Attorney General and, by November 2009, the most likely Democratic nominee . Lockyer says he prefers spending time with his familly to the personal sacrifices entailed in seeking and, if elected, holding, the State's top office.

"You kill yourself being a Governor", he joked recently, "and then maybe you get a new aqueduct named after yourself".

References

  1. His rivals for this distinction are current Attorney General Jerry Brown, who was elected California Secretary of State in 1970 and Governor in 1974, but has never served in the Legislature; and former Lt. Governor, now US Congressman, John Garamendi, elected to the State Assembly a year after Lockyer, whose only other State office was Insurance Commissioner.
  2. Peter Schrag, "Paradise Lost: California's Experience, America's Future" (1998), Page 52; http://www.latimes.com/news/local/politics/cal/la-calpolitics-profiles-bio-lockyer,1,2432137.htmlstory
  3. Los Angeles Times, April 18, 2003; San Francisco Chronicle, April 18, 2003
  4. Contra Costa Times, August 20, 2009 http://www.ibabuzz.com/politics/2009/08/20/lockyer-takes-early-fundraising-lead-in-supes-race/
  5. "Experts expound", Capitol Weekly, July 16, 2009
  6. Jason Sweeney, "Lockyer bill remembered as Bay Trail turns 20", Hayward Daily Review, June 4, 2009; www.baytrail.org
  7. "Final Report of the California Attorney General's Civil Rights Commission on Hate Crimes", http://www.ag.ca.gov/publications/civilrights/reportingHC.pdf
  8. James D. Richardson, "Willie Brown: Power, Money and Instinct", http://www.aliciapatterson.org/APF1603/Richardson/Richardson.html, citing the legendary version
  9. ”What Works…”, excerpted from Daniel Weintraub interview with Lockyer, Sacramento Bee, July 12, 2009
  10. California Budget Project, "What's in the Tax 'Mega-Deal?', September 1997, http://www.cbp.org/pdfs/1997/970919Megadeal.pdf
  11. Brooke A. Masters, "Spoiling For A Fight, The Rise of Eliot Spitzer" (2007), Pg. 282
  12. "Medical pot users honor Lockyer", AlamedaTimes-Star, February 25, 2004
  13. Attorney General's office press release, September 13, 2004, http://ag.ca.gov/newsalerts/print_release.php?id=1137; http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov/
  14. Julia Scheeres, "Rough Reception for DNA Law", November 27, 2004, Wired.com; Henry Weinstein, "Law Officials Decry DNA Lab Backlog", Los Angeles Times, September 15, 2006
  15. California proposes requiring bullet ID numbers, Reuters | April 27, 2005; http://www.nraila.org/Issues/FactSheets/Read.aspx?ID=178
  16. "California Democrats Warn Governor against Trash Talk", Sacramento Bee, August 1, 2003
  17. Ronn Ownens, Voice of Reason (2004), Pg. 125
  18. Carla Marinucci and Marc Sandalow, "Lockyer, Angelides first Democrats in Governor's race", San Francisco Chronicle, March 16, 2005
  19. Sacramento Bee, January 23, 2005
  20. http://www.calpers.ca.gov/index.jsp?bc=/investments/environ-invest/home.xml
  21. http://gov.ca.gov/press-release/10038/ Office of the Governor, Press Release, June 30, 2008."Governor Schwarzenegger Celebrates Clean Technology Investment in California, Welcomes Tesla Motors Production to California"
  22. (London) Financial Times, June 11, 2009
  23. "Partners To Aid Truckers Clean Air", San Diego Union, March 25, 2009
  24. Lake County News, August 8, 2009, http://lakeconews.com/content/view/9830/764/
  25. George Skelton, "Blame all the players for the gimmickry budget", Los Angeles Times, September 22, 2008
  26. Kevin O'Leary, "Can the U.S. Afford to Let California Fail? Time, June 19, 2009
  27. Steve Wiegand, "Lockyer urges spending cuts to balance state budget", Sacramento Bee, May 22, 2009
  28. George Skelton, "Note to budget doctors: Don't spare the knife", Los Angeles Times, June 11, 2009
  29. "Lockyer suggests mediator break state budget impasse", Los Angeles Times, July 1, 2009
  30. sgvtribune.com, July 3, 2009
  31. "Downgraded bonds cost a bundle", Sacramento Bee, June 30, 2009
  32. "Calif. budget talks stall amid reform proposals", Associated Press, July 6, 2009
  33. "State leaders talking again - budget woes go on", San Francisco Chronicle, July 11, 2009; "California is a high risk for credit default, according to analyst", Sacramento Bee, July 14, 2009; "Amid Budget Travails, California Investments Pay Off, Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2009
  34. "Calif. treasurer warns of junk bond threat", Silicon Valley Business Journal, July 16, 2009; "State Treasurer warns of credit rating hitting ‘junk’ status", San Francisco Business Times, July 16, 2009
  35. Steve Maviglio, "Budget Winners and Losers", California Majority Report, July 22, 2009
  36. "California Approves Budget...", Bloomberg.com, July 24, 2009
  37. "S&P takes California bonds off watch list", Sacramento Business Journal, August 18, 2009
  38. Steven Maviglio, "Governor's Race: The Early Line on 2010", California Majority Report, November 8, 2006
  39. Calbuzz.com, March 29, 2009; Christian Science Monitor, June 2, 2009; Steve Maviglio, California Majority Report, July 28, 2009; Calbuzz.com, August 14, 2009
  40. San Jose Merucury News, November 15, 2009


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