I keep reading that Gov. Jerry Brown is on a roll, but I don’t see him in a sandwich shop. Or anywhere else for that matter. For Southern Californians, he has become almost invisible.
And we kind of like it.
This makes all the political sense in the world. The more people see and hear about the state government and how it works, the less they’re going to like it. Better to tell them the budget is balanced, and not dwell on the details (the broken tax system, the massive underinvestment in infrastructure, the damaging budget crisis cuts that aren’t being restored).
No news is good news.
The trouble is: on a practical level, California needs both debate and action. There are big challenges for the state. How do we rebuild trade infrastructure to grow and compete with a rising world and an expanded Panama Canal? How do we respond to the rapid aging of the California population? How do we expand and improve our school programs and instruction? How do we create sustainable pensions and kill off public workers’ retiree health care benefits that are duplicative, now that we live in a country with Medicare and Obamacare? What are we going to do to give regions the ability to govern themselves, and prevent more cities from slipping into bankruptcy or governmental chaos?
And what the heck do we do about water?
The end of the legislative session will bring some more energy and debate on at least a few of these questions – water chief among them. But breaking through into the public consciousness requires not merely news or conflict but a character. The governor is the lead character. But he thinks it’s wise to remain fairly quiet. And politically, he’s right.
But quiet makes it harder to raise issues. Quiet often masks delay and drift. Quiet now will make the next crisis more jarring and louder.
The very quiet governor may well be gone by then.