California just wouldn’t be California without a rich history of certified wackos. The ranks of politicos have had more than their share and the election November 7th has two prime specimens, Cruz “You Lose” Bustamante and Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown. Cruz is running for Insurance Commissioner and Brown has his Zen mind set  this time around on the office of Attorney General. It would be hard to find two people less suited for those offices.

Let’s begin with the lamentable Cruz, currently the Lt. Governor of California, a job for which he has collected a paycheck since 1999 when he was elected on the same ticket with Gray Davis, a former Lt. Governor. When Davis was recalled for gross malfeasance in the matter of energy contracts with Enron by the voters in October 2003, Bustamante alienated just about everybody by playing dog in the manger. Ignoring Davis and the Democratic leadership, who insisted  the recall was a Republican dirty trick and no Democrat should run other than Davis, so the recall would be a straight up and down vote on Davis or his challenger Schwarzenegger, Bustamante tried to have it both ways. He ran for Governor on the slogan “No on recall — Yes on Bustamante” and lost to Schwarzenegger by 1.3 million votes. But in those days The Govanator was a little unsure of himself and asked Davis to help him with a “smooth transition” part of which was a deal that kept Cruz in place as Lt. Governor.

Bustamante knew this cozy sinecure would  not last forever and began raising money for future campaigns and looking  for politcal support from such traditional Democratic bases as the labor movement. Unfortunately, while speaking in front of 400 black trade union activists in 2001 Cruz uttered the “N-word” inadvertently, for which he apologized. In 2004 he was fined  $263,000 for illegal campaign finances, the largest  such fine ever levied in the United States. His current campaign for Insurance Commissioner is classic in its corruption.

The position of an elected Insurance Commissioner of California was created by Proposition 103 in 1988. Prior to that each commish had been appointed by the Governor. John Garamendi, a Democrat, was the first elected Commish in 1991. He never took money from the insurance companies and by enforcing all the provisions of Prop. 103 he was  able to give California rate-payers rebates from rip-off insurance companies totaling one billion dollars. That was nice. But Cruz Bustamante has already taken $120,000 in cash from insurance companies, not to mention accepting free meals, trips to Pebble Beach, Las Vegas and San Diego for he and his entourage. His opponent, Steve Poizner, a millionaire,  has not taken a penny from the industry he wants to regulate…Who do  you think will get you your next rebate check?

And now we come to Jerry Brown. Whereas Bustamante is just a grafter of the old school who seems to have stepped out of a Thomas Nast cartoon, Jerry is just a wonderful fool. Who can forget  those stony days when with pot-clouded judgement the fuzzy folks elected him Governor. That was in 1974. Governor Moonbeam, as he quickly came to be known, succeeded Ronald Reagan as Governor of the Golden State, which was ironic in the sense that Reagan had defeated Jerry’s old man, Pat Brown for the job in 1966. I remember meeting Jerry in 1979 in San Francisco. He had a little Frenchman with him in a neat little Cardin suit who I was told was the Governor’s Zen master. I asked the Frenchman, whose name was Jacques Barzaghi, what his job was and he replied: “My job is no job.”  And so it went. A State Trooper assigned to Gov Jerry’s security detail confided in me his frustration that he frequently had to guard parties where the Gov was in attendance and the smell of pot would come wafting his way but there was nothing he could do about it. And now the current Mayor of Oakland, that bastion of all things good, wants to be Attorney General…He’s leading his opponent, state Senator Chuck Poochigian (R), by a hefty margin and has the endorsement of the ultra-left-liberal LA Times. So what could possibly go wrong? This morning in a story reported in the even more ultra-left-liberal SF Chronicle, a former aide of Brown’s in the Oakland Mayor’s office, Nereyda Lopez-Bowden, says she was sexualy harrassed for years by Jacques Barzaghi, who also harrassed other women in the office. Her case was settled by the City of Oakland in 2001 for $50,000. Lopez-Bowden says Brown knew about Barzaghi’s sexual harrassment and turned a blind eye, covered it up and did other shameful things in this regard. Brown eventually fired Barzaghi when the Zen Master became involved in a domestic abuse case filed by his wife. As of this morning the Chronicle reports Barzaghi’s unlisted Oakland phone number is disconnected. I guess, Jacques, now we say with full Zen truthfullness that your job is really no job.

Links: glucas@sfchronicle.com, www.pocho.com/news/2001/cruzbustamante/cruz021501.html

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