By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
HE WON IN PART BYholding out great appeal to independent voters, sweeping that category in his general-election race against conservative Republican legislator Chuck Poochigian, who, with former Reagan chief speechwriter Ken Khachigian at the helm of his campaign, ran the most relentlessly negative campaign of 2006.
As California attorney general, one of his key themes clearly reflects his key theme as Oakland mayor: “I want to fight crime,” says Brown. “A lot of people in this business just want to manage it.”
Brown, a fixture of police ride-alongs around his tough East Bay town, tried many tactics as Oakland’s mayor. They worked pretty well for the first seven years of his mayoralty, with crime down compared with the first seven years of his predecessor’s tenure. But in his final year in 2006, things went south — and it was embarrassing to see the bodies piling up in Oakland while he ran for attorney general.
At the end, he was using methods and technologies in Oakland that arguably made him one of the tougher anticrime mayors in big-city California: Brown bought new sensor equipment to instantaneously detect the sound of gunshots in bad areas, and pushed for and got GPS tracking devices to place on released convicts who had been judged to be potential high-propensity repeat offenders.
Despite Brown’s obvious move to the right on crime, he hasn’t exactly made inroads with conservatives. “I still think he’s a socialist kook,” says Jon Fleischman, publisher of the conservative Republican FlashReport.org.
Now Brown looks to the future. His high-powered wife/special counsel says she’ll avoid potential conflicts of interest by working as a volunteer, and “won’t take outside clients or work in the private sector.”
The new attorney general began by issuing his hardline ruling on the Jessica’s Law initiative, approved overwhelmingly by California voters in all but one sector of the Bay Area last November. In keeping with his no-nonsense attitude toward criminals, Brown set off debate by ordering that convicted sexual predators, even those whose status predates the new law, will not be allowed to live within 2,000 feet of places where children congregate.
It’s the sort of ruling one might expect from a tough prosecutor type who wins the A.G.’s office, but still surprising from a guy who called his 1990s radio show We the People and pursued projects like bio-intensive food production.
As for the rest, “It will emerge,” he says, echoing one of his oldest lines, connoting a chaotic creativity. But this time the creativity will be overlain with the nonpartisan problem-solving he laid out in his inauguration address. “My father always said this was his favorite job,” says the former governor. “I hope he’s right.”