Antonio Villaraigosa City Government Edmund G. Brown, Jr. (Jerry)

The Anne Factor: Or Why Jerry Will Be Different This Time

The Daily Beast has a brand new profile of soon to be California First Lady,
Anne Gust Brown, and her affect on the life and work of the governor elect. But before we get to the DB story, a few personal recollections on the same topic:

MY FIRST VERY BIG STORY AS A YOUNG AND NOT AT ALL EXPERIENCED JOURNALIST was a nationally syndicated interview/profile
I managed to wrangle with then California Governor Jerry Brown in 1976 when he was running for president as a dark horse candidate. For a few months of that year, and a few amazing primaries, it looked like he might very well have a shot at being the nominee. But it was not to be. The Democratic party leadership preferred someone a bit more…um….controllable and Jerry’s style campaign played better in the east and the west than it did in the deep south.

During my reporting for that story, I followed Brown around through a variety of circumstances and I remember in particular one late night in the governor’s office when staff and legislators were trying to get Jerry through the process of signing or not signing a large stack of bills, which was a maddeningly slow affair because Brown’s instinctive intellectual curiosity, combined with with his notoriously whimsical attention span, caused him to question things that were often really not worth questioning, given the circumstances.

As the process dragged on and on into the wee hours, I remember one politico—either a staffer or a state senator, I can’t remember now— expelling himself from EGB Jr’s office, flushed and steaming. “We gotta get this guy a wife,” growled the man for the benefit of anyone who happened to be within earshot. “We got to get this guy a wife who will kick his ass!”

In the intervening years I’ve interviewed and/or reported on, or simply chatted with Jerry Brown many, many times, and have often thought back on the rightness of that remark. Not about the ass-kicking part, but the fact that, like certain kinds of very bright people, he needed some sort of grounding person in his life, somebody who would hold on to his kite string, a counterweight to bring him to balance.

Enter Anne Gust in 1990. After first dating, and then living together, she and Brown married in 2005.

I met Anne only once, when the three of us sat together during lunch at a benefit for the California relief organization, Operation USA, and the rightness of their pairing struck me immediately.

The impression was reinforced a couple of times when I was interviewing Jerry on the phone at his home office, and he needed to pause several times to interact with his wife and the interplay spoke volumes.

One of the most charming things about his election night speech, for those of us who have watched Jerry Brown for a very long time, was the way he credited Anne for his victory and nattered on happily about how she would be California’s first lady. He gushed really. Jerry forgot to be cautious, or hyper intellectual. He was instead publicly adoring. And it was great.

I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: for better and occasionally for worse, Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown, Jr. was and still is one of the brightest people in American public life. He is also one of the canniest, politically speaking.

But common sense? In the past, sometimes not so much.

As a consequence, both as a governor and also as a presidential candidate, and even during his time in Oakland, he would occasionally give rein to creative but poorly thought out actions on a whim (more often then not with the encouragement of his longtime Pre-Gust “closest adviser,” the interesting but decidedly peculiar, Jacques Barzaghi). Some of those actions were to Brown’s—and/or our—detriment.

That’s where Anne Gust Brown comes in. She is not only extremely bright herself, she is a very savvy professional—a lawyer and businesswoman—who worked for 14 years for The Gap, first as general counsel and then Chief Administrative Officer.

She clearly gets him and in no way tries to keep Jerry from being Jerry. But, when need be, she sits down firmly on the other side of his teeter-totter. To his credit, he is grateful for it.

By the way, I think if Jerry had been settled down and married to Anne Gust when he was running for president in 1992, the year that William Jefferson Clinton became the nominee, and eventually a two term president, we might very well have had POTUS Brown.

All these years after his first two terms as governor, Jerry Brown is about to embark on his third. It will assuredly be his most difficult, given the state of the state. But with just a little bit of luck—and a lot of Anne Gust Brown—it may possibly be his best.

OKAY, NOW BACK TO THE DAILY BEAST PROFILE OF ANNE GUST BROWN , whom writer Joe Matthews calls The Most Powerful Woman in California.

It’s a definite must read. And he might be right about that most powerful woman thingy.

Here are some clips:

The conventional wisdom has hardened quickly: Californians, in rejecting Silicon Valley CEOs Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, supposedly declared in last week’s elections that they don’t want corporate executives running their government.

Nonsense. California voters may have turned down the applications of Whitman and Fiorina for the governorship and a U.S. Senate seat, respectively. But in the very same election, they voted to put a female corporate executive from the Bay Area in charge of their state’s government.

The name of Anne Gust Brown, a former top lawyer and executive for The Gap, wasn’t on the ballot, but it might as well as have been. She served as de facto campaign manager for the campaign of her husband of five years, the once and now future Gov. Jerry Brown. And by all accounts, she will serve as his top aide (albeit on an unpaid basis) as he runs the government.

That’s why no one batted an eye when Governor-elect Brown suggested this week that he may not bother appointing a chief of staff. The statement only seemed to confirm that Anne Brown will be in charge, even if she doesn’t hold the title. This would be nothing new. She performed a similar role during Brown’s just-completed four-year term as California attorney general.


Even Brown’s GOP opponent Meg Whitman, when asked during a debate this fall what she admired most about Brown, responded: “I really like his choice of wife. I’m a big fan of Anne Gust.”

Me too.


In case you missed it, Tuesday’s LA Times profile of Antonio Villaraigosa’s chief of staff and former LA gang czar, Jeff Carr, by Patrick J. McDonnell is worth reading if particularly you have an interest in the ins and outs of city government.

It’s a fairly friendly profile, written in a fashion that, allows some room for criticism, but will likely alienate no one.

Still, doing the piece was a good idea, as Carr is an interesting person in the city’s landscape, and someone with an ambition to eventually move up the ladder in California’s political world, so best you get to know him.



    Where is the outrage?

    Were most of these women subjected to human trafficking as the LAPD claims? Was prostitution part of this club’s business (the club has been operating for years)? I haven’t seen Jerry Brown’s supporters bringing attention to the buse of 80+ “undocumented” and exploited women.

    I have not seen the latino comminity come to the defense/rescue of these women. Most of these women were also reported to the INS and now subject to deportation.

    The progressives and liberals have remained silent about the case of 80+ women, I guess if Meg Whitman owned the 907 club, then the progressives would be concerned.

  • “Where is the outrage” – There appears to me more in-appropriate behaviour at LAX by TSA employees who molest and assult passangers daily, that at the 907 club.

    The TSA’s new guidelines call for agents to use their “palms and fingers” to “probe” your body for hidden weapons. This means TSA agents will now be feeling up your crotch, palming your breasts and fingering your testicles as part of their increasingly humiliating “X-rated pat down” technique.

    This new “palms and fingers” pat-down technique (also known as “groping” passengers) was announced by the TSA last week alongside an ambitious new plan to roll out 1,000 new “Cancer Causing” naked body scanners by 2011. Any air traveler who opts out of the naked body scanner, of course, gets groped by a TSA agent using the new “palms and fingers” pat-down technique.

  • not sure exactly how the TSA probing issue figures into this (except as virtual, government-sanctioned sexual molestation) but I fully agree with Phil that it’s a civil rights issue. Some pilots unions are urging their members to refuse to accept these humiliations, on top of the accumulated cancer- causing X-rays. One pilot’s been all over the airwaves re: how he puked at the thought of having to return to an airport after having been virtually sexually assaulted this way – if he’d been an average citizen, who knows what would have happened. If this were being done under Bush or a Republican admin. the liberals would be outraged – where’s the ACLU? This does not make anyone feel one iota safer, just more degraded – another victory for the terrorists, who have succeeded in turning America into something unrecognizable just 15 years ago.

    The public and civil rights groups should raise a huge hue and cry, led by the pilots – if they get only themselves exempted somehow, it won’t be fair. (Though that pilot in question is right that it’s especially stupid to treat the pilots that way: they are the ones already being sealed off and protected behind solid steel cabin doors and guarded by air marshalls: what MORE would they need to bring down the plane, than being at the controls already?)

    There are now machines available for modest cost that can detect explosives in shoes without having to remove them, and in liquids (so you could at least bring some water on board again while you swelter on the plane awaiting take-off, parched and brusquely told to shut up and sit down unless you’re seating in front) – but no rush to getting them implemented. The modest costs and additional screening time are cited, though some airports ARE buying the machines. Especially in Europe. Sadly in this new America, concern with people’s dignity and privacy is not a priority. Even when such indignities are acknowledged as “show” and stupid by those who work at airports themselves.

    I feel sad for kids especially who are being raised this way, the only way they will ever know, watching their parents and grandparents, pilots and flight attendants, their “role models,” being treated like jailhouse criminals, with public molestation being the order of the day.

    It can only be a slippery slope from here. (Bad enough they’ve been made complacent to the theft of “personal identity” on the net, only now becoming aware of the downsides to virtual robbing of their dignity for private gain under the guise of “freedom of information,” or social networking. They will never know the joy and freedom of flying, what it used to feel like to know you were an American, where the individual was valued – we now don’t have the right to refuse to be public molested even.)

    As for JB: I agree every powerful pol needs a partner or spouse who can “kick his (or her) ass” and match them in intellect and spunk, because they’re so surrounded by sycophants, they need a reality check and someone who’s not afraid to tell them how it really is. She’s smart, too, for staying relatively in the background, not attracting the flack someone like Hillary did (so that even if she IS the one who used the “wh” word, she flew under the radar.) Governor Gust in 8 years, maybe?

  • my comment eaten AGAIN, tho I tried resubmitting it and it said “duplicate.” Much as the world can live without my pithy words of wisdom, still…something fishy going on.

  • Yaaaawn at WTF’s Gotcha Politics. BTW, well played, Phil. You took the answer right out of my mouth. Americans don’t exactly have a great track record where womens’ rights are concerned. Maybe we just need to clean our own back yard before we judge Mexicans for how they treat women.

  • Lee, funny how you took Phil’s comment as being about our/ Americans’ not being in a position to throw stones re: women’s rights, while I took it at face value, as re: virtual gov’t-sanctioned molestation for ALL citizens male and female – if we want to get upset re: loss of dignity, let’s keep in mind that at least those women CHOSE to be groped for money. And took their chances as illegal immigrants.

    MEANWHILE I can’t agree w/ your cultural relativism, “America is just as bad” response to how we treat women vs. Mexico. Unless you’re in one of the privileged classes, no comparison — it’s still a largely sexist “macho” culture, women as madonnas or whores, sorry. Anyway that’s my personal experience and observation including from travels. Also there’s a reason more women from south of the border come HERE to engage in illegal sex activities than the other way around – lack of opportunity and education, maybe? (If Americans go abroad they tend to be more like high-class “escorts” or hostesses in Asia or the Middle East where white women are prized. Just sayin.’)

    WHERE do you even get this moral from Phil’s comment about EVERYONE being grotesquely groped by TSA in a misguided effort to detect terrorist tools hidden in the privates of average citizens?

    But I also don’t see validity to WRF’s kneejerk comments – and if liberals DID come “to the rescue” of scores of illegal immigrant women engaged in such illegal prostition activity, what a field day it would be for the right, are you KIDDING WTF??? I would hope all decent law-abiding people can agree that those who brought them here to engage in human trafficking in prostitution want them punished to the max of the law.

  • sbl, think you could turn the sanctimonious tone down a couple of notches? Thanks. That way I can more clearly see your point. Your pontification is quite shrill and as a result, distracting.

    Anyhow, if you don’t think that “madonna or whore” perception exists right here in the United States, particularly in the South, you’re incredibly naive. It’s obvious you responded to my “America’s just as bad” with your own knee jerk, “Oh, come on, America’s not that bad”, when it is.

  • Wow, I agree with SBL. Rob, you need to google the murders of females in Central and South American countries, horror stories all over the place. Never mind, you probably know and just don’t care, you have Americans that don’t look like you to bash.

    I remember a guy getting hooked up once, Mexican guy, for beating his wife up, he was a total coward. He claimed he didn’t abuse her but was just disciplining his “property”.

  • Boy Lee, you sure are giving people like SF plenty of ammo when they talk about liberals who do the knee-jerk “America’s just as bad” bash when they don’t know what they’re talking about or THINK. You put your foot in it further by insisting the south is as bad as Mexico. Unless you are talking about the trailer-dwellers or certain folk in Appalachia it’s absurdly insulting and naive to apply the Madonna-whore dichotomy, which tends to do with Catholicism in Latin cultures. (Yeah, go ahead and tell me it’s racist or whatever – I don’t care.)

    Sure the south is less “feminist” and more macho – one of my sisters is a mechanical engineer in Alabama, and after being transferred down there from Mass. had to adapt to cajoling men not happy reporting to a woman project manager instead of the direct approach women AND men use up north, for example. But NO comparisons to Mexico – on any level. (They ARE more religious too, but the born-again variety while keeping women “in their place” according to alleged biblical hierarchies is a very different thing – no point in explaining subtleties to you. UNLESS the women (in Mexico) are of the more elite classes – those who study abroad and are very cosmopolitan.

    And yeah, I’m going to be sanctimonious about the “America’s just as bad” crap because it’s tiresome and self-demeaning, and minimizes far more grievous problems elsewhere (whether sexism, fascism, treatment of kids: I’m sure you will say we’re “just as bad” – somewhere – as cultures which institutionalize child labor, religious oppression or whatever). You must be a holdover 60’s type raised with the stereotypes of the times. No point arguing.

    Oh, and speaking of child labor, in Mexico and Central America, have you noticed all the children as young as 5 working at family gas stations, restaurants, bakeries and so on, especially in rural and small towns, even late into the evening? Crawling up your windshield to wash the windows, waiting on tables until closing time? Their heads popping up from behind the bakery counter, barely visible?

    And their families consider them “lucky” because they have a business to work in and inherit at all. Not as bad as children knotting carpets in Pakistan and India and N. Africa but still. OK, now you will tell me where in America we are “just the same.”

  • OH, and the kids and women and families doing those jobs with their own business really ARE the lucky ones. Ever see the kids and old women, backs permanently bent from carrying piles of wood walking miles on the roads in Guatemala, with huge bags on their back for miles? Washing clothes in dirty streams by hand, on rocks and with old washboards, on top of all the other labor they must do, and getting beaten if they don’t do it right or fast enough or are even rumored to “stray?” Girls after puberty afraid to even talk to strangers, even couples asking for directions, lest they be accused of being of, a certain loose moral character? Ever had men grabbing you by the arm when you ignored their crude advances, because THEY were insulted? (Talking here about the wealthier but less educated types one encounters who think they run things in certain towns – not the more class-conscious peasants or “urban sophisticates.”) For all their macho in the south, if any man ever hit or grabbed a woman that way the other men would put him in his place.

    And classism – all you have to do is watch Telemundo and other local Spanish-language channels if you don’t travel. The “upper class” and trophy women tend to be light-skinned and haired, even if dyed; the workers are Indian physique… and their different mannerisms, even Catalan vs. peasant Spanish…Wonder which class the women hookers in question came from?

    And in many countries, especially Asia, e.g. Thailand, the families of the girls are the ones who sell them to traffickers or welcome the money they bring home as hookers in Bangkok. Just like in America. (Would that be Alabama or Georgia?)

  • To say that women in America are treated as bad as those in Mexico and other third world countries is to cross the line from adult discussion into the absurd.

    No educated adult is going to take a statement like that seriously.

  • He who keeps his flamethrower on a low setting doesn’t often get burned.

    He who keeps it on full blast often ends up getting scorched.


  • BTW there is/was NO human trafficking occurring at the 907 club, that was just LAPD sensationalism. 99% of the arrests were for the use of fake documents not prostitution.

    The LAPD seized the employment records of the club. The employment records include the photo-copies of the fake social security cards and I.Ds used by the women to secure employment. These women were also turned over to the INS and have given “appointments” to INS hearing/court.

    Rob, have you heard of the “femicides” of Cuidad Juarez? Did you read about the recent mass murder of 70+ Central American immigrants in Mexico? Do you know that Central Americans are routinely held for ransom, robbed by police and raped while traveling through Mexico? Do you know there are tens of thousands Central American immigrants missing in Mexico?
    “In a chilling testimony published in El Universal newspaper this week, a Salvadoran identified as Marisolina described being forced to cook and clean for the kidnappers as other migrants disappeared if they could not raise the ransom.”

  • Sbl, unlike you, I really don’t care what SF thinks. If you want to spend your whole life bowing at the alter of conservatives hoping to get a pat on your head on occasion, suit yourself. I’d rather call bullshit to power and beat people at their own game. It’s my style. It rubs you the wrong way because you obviously believe in getting punched a thousand or so times before hitting back. I don’t.

  • WTF, the United States does not have the high ground to judge any other country on its treatment of women, minorities, or any religious group. I don’t look at the world trying to convince myself that America is morally superior to the world. I look at the world for what it is, including this country.

  • LOL. I just read the rest of your comment, SBL. Rich. Just rich. So, let me get this straight… Mexican culture holds lighter complected women in higher stature than darker women? You don’t say? Because of course, here in America, we actually put darker complected and dark haired women on a pedestal, and treat blond, fair skinned women like crap. Oh yeh. That’s why Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce have blonde hair.

    You know, SBL, I believe that you travel the world. I just think it’s time you visited America.

  • Lee, to hear you actually say I’m formulating my opinions to suit SF or anyone else to “get a pat on the head” is stupid and condescending. But once in a while two people can see the same thing. I do NOT say the opposite of him just to be contrary as you seem to nor do I have knee-jerk attitudes that begin with “America is just as bad” (as ANYTHING in discussion). It’s just tremendously ignorant. As is your telling me to travel America more…your point out that JLo and Beyonce are bowing to aesthetics and aspirations in black and Latino culture in no way undermine what I said about the same sort of attitudes (but more so, related to how people are treated and their social status) in Mexico.

    Yes, there is for some reason an ideal of light skin and hair and straight hair at that, which I don’t share – and in Asia, women often make their eyes round to conform to advertising-pushed notions of beauty, which is sad and absurd. BUT here in America we have always had as “typica AMericans” very dark-skinned blacks and Latinos, from Bill Crosby to Eddie Murphy to many if not most of the mainstream black comedians; and what about Oprah being the most powerful woman in America? And women like Eva Longoria while beautiful are dark haired and complected, and it’s often been said that she would not have had the success and sex symbol status she does here, in Mexico, most likely, because of that. Meanwhile it’s almost a trend of women like her, Heidi Klum and one of the Kardashian sisters, the ditzy former playmate with her own reality shows – icons of beauty and style – marrying black men who are not light complected in general.

    Anyway, enough of this, there’s no point: you will go on finding ways to tell us “America is just as bad” and thereby, give tacit complicity to truly heinous human rights abuses around the world.

  • sbl, face it, you’ve been bullied into a corner by the right when it comes to America’s perceived moral high ground. The bottom line is you’re not going to point to anything other countries do that America hasn’t. I can’t believe you brought up the caste system of skin composition in Mexico….as if people of color are praised in America. Beyonce and J Lo didn’t die their hair blonde because Americans love and admire dark women. They died their hair blonde to appeal to white audiences, to be attractive to white males, not because they necessarily like white males, but because THAT’S WHAT SELLS. Period. That’s what keeps you on MTV. Start nurturing your dark beauty and you’re instantly relegated to “ghetto” status in our pop culture. Yes, the maids are black on Mexican t.v. while the wealthy characters are lighter complected Spaniards. Then flip to ABC, NBC, CBS, whatever, and watch a white district attorney round up gang members suspected of robbing an innocent white women at the beginning of the episode. This is a format used WEEK after WEEK.

    You can accuse me all you want to of having an “America is bad” complex, it’s no less prevalent than your knee jerk, “America is the greatest country in the world” complex. We conquer Mexico in a war then gut their resources with NAFTA, then we have the gall to tell them they treat their women like crap, while this country consumes porn like a pig at a troth. You are blind. Period.

  • ATQ, what’s wrong with calling a whore a whore? A whore has a simple definition. Either a woman is one or isn’t. I don’t think Meg Whitman’s a whore. I think she’s WORSE than a whore. If Meg Whitman had won, she would have hurt more people than a whore could hurt in a thousand lifetimes. That’s why I always contended that Meg Whitman should have taken it as a compliment.

  • Rob has mental issues, think he might really be the guy who stood outside the polling place back east with the baton. He doesn’t care about omen, he’s here to put out the .0000001 percent thoughts of the few other nuts like him. I’m just happy there’s only a couple.

    I don’t try to bully SBL even as wrong as she is at times, that would be futile.

    “I’d rather call bullshit to power and beat people at their own game”.

    I’m still waiting to see that happen.

  • I never said “America is the greatest country in the world” and point out faults where I see them. Like caving to the lowest common denominator when it comes to government-sanctioned sexual molestation of passengers, of degrading us with no point. In India and Muslim countries, much as women are generally second-class citizens (unless they’re protected by family and wealth, though India’s growing middle class is changing that and they do have laws to protect all people including the “untouchables,” sparking their own affirmative action debates), they would NEVER degrade women like this, in public no less. In highly sensitive cases like flying into Kashmir women are patted down behind a screen by other women, gently – but in all these countries, women and children have separate lines from the men. Who are NOT subjected to anything like the new procedures in public, either. I can’t imagine them allowing women and their children allowed to see them so degraded, or vice versa – especially when it does no good, it’s just a knee-jerk reaction to the LAST jerk, while real terrorists are already onto something new that does NOT involve their undergarments most likely. I guess they COULD be putting stuff in their cavities so literal strip searches will be next. We have a lot to learn about human dignity in many cases from countries which in OTHER cases, have things to learn from us. Blind support of “my country right or wrong?” I don’t think so.

    And yes, though it’s neither here nor there, some porn is degrading to women and lots of lonely guys feed at its trough – but they do in other countries as well. One of the first things people did to take advantage of their newfound freedoms in Russia, for example – and guess what men do secretly in Muslim countries? It’s also a huge industry south of the border.

    It may be mostly sleazy but do we want the Fred Phelps’s or imams or ultra-Orthodox rabbis or the Pope to tell people they can’t? In fact, suppressing it only makes it more of a valuable commodity – it’s always been been as apsect of being human for better or worse. Ever see Etrusan art? The stuff on the walls of exclusive private homes, their statues, and their public baths? Some of it would make Larry Flynt blush. Americans hardly invented the stuff.

  • Sure Fire, I have owned you on every single topic since I’ve been in here. I get my thoughts from learning and life experience, you get yours from a police p.r. memo. If blog were poker, I’d be a royal flush and you’d be a pair of twos.

  • I never said America was the first to do anything, SBL. Just said America does it. You’re not going to point to anything any other county has done to degrade women that America hasn’t. you might as well give up on this little campaign to score some brownie points with the right wing loudmouths inhere. They’re still going to beat up on you.

  • I was in the army from 73-76. Tell me the real war you fought in asshole. You can thank any vet that went in at anytime for fighting for your right to post the fucking trash you do.

    You’re welcome.

  • LOL. So, tell me, what rights that I enjoy today did you save marching around on an army base stateside? Sounds like you saw action like George W. Bush. The modern day Republican war hero. LOL.

  • The uncool thing about free speech is that people can say that they fought for this country when they really haven’t, and not face consequences. Frankly, I think anyone who claims, or even tries to insinuate, that they’ve fought for this country when they really never fought in a foreign war should be strung up and put in a stockade for life. What an insult to our soldiers who really have served in foreign wars. And you’re seeing a lot of Republicans doing this today. Bush did it. Used his service as a symbol of patriotism. The coward never left stateside.

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