Debra J. Saunders

His biggest mistake was ousting the highly capable and well-respected Robert Bobb as city manager. Brown then doubled down on dumb by naming Deborah Edgerly as Bobb's replacement.

Now-Mayor Ron Dellums had to fire Edgerly in 2008 amid the allegation that she had tipped her nephew, who worked for the city as a parking-meter repairman, before an impending police raid on a gang. A city audit cited Edgerly's penchant for "inappropriately hiring close relatives in lieu of well-qualified individuals."

The issue isn't simply that Brown dumped a great administrator in favor of a big-trouble replacement. It is the suspicion that Brown loves to campaign, but not to govern. That once he wins office, he loses interest in it.

Note his camera-happy tenure as attorney general. Want to talk about Anna Nicole Smith or Michael Jackson? Brown will go on your TV show.

Yet when it comes to taking a stand on the three-days-a-month furloughs enacted by the Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -- whom he seeks to replace -- suddenly Brown is tongue-tied. He filed a brief against furloughs for constitutional offices (like his), but in April, a press secretary told me he had no opinion as to the legality of furloughs in state agencies controlled by the governor.

Last month, Brown told the Sacramento Bee in an e-mail that he would try to settle the anti-furlough lawsuits filed by labor unions representing state workers. That's a cheap hedge -- it tells voters nothing. Ditto his stock phrase about how those with the biggest belts will have to tighten them.

I've seen Brown wow rooms with such quirky talk, and marveled at his pose as a disinterested politician who is prepared to gore all oxen.

The lore continues that, even though the SEIU has endorsed Brown and even though Big Labor is bankrolling the independent expenditure campaigns designed to elect him, Brown is so unpredictable that he just might benefit from their money, use their support and then with a fey shrug not return their favors.

Some even talk of Brown as so selfless that he might choose to become a one-term governor just so that he clean up Sacramento as his last hurrah in political life.

For my next column, I will argue there IS a tooth fairy.

E-mail Debra J. Saunders at To find out more about Debra J. Saunders, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at


Debra J. Saunders

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