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Jerry Brown Gives So-So Evaluation of Governor

December 13, 1987|From Associated Press

SACRAMENTO — Former Democratic Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. says he has mixed feelings about how his successor, Republican Gov. George Deukmejian, has performed his duties, adding that some of the state's pressing problems, such as toxic cleanup, have no easy solutions.

In a wide-ranging interview, Brown, the two-term governor who lost a bid for the U.S. Senate and failed as a presidential contender, also said he plans to run for an unspecified office again--someday after the 1988 elections are over.

"I find it very difficult to rate governors. It's a fairly complex equation," Brown said when asked about Deukmejian's performance. "In terms of popularity, I'd say he's doing rather well. In terms of what he's done, I'd say he's doing average.

'Lot Easier to Create'

"On toxics, I remember people saying (to me), you're not cleaning up this dump fast enough. They'll say that about Deukmejian and probably his successor because these dumps are a lot easier to create than they are to clean up.

"It's a long process. I think we get our understanding about toxic chemicals only slowly. We're going to solve that problem only over many, many years."

Brown criticized Deukmejian's frequent references in speeches to solving the $1.5-billion state deficit problem that Brown left him and Deukmejian's handling of educational reform.

"Deukmejian has very successfully positioned himself against crime, and that's been the cutting edge of his political career right up to the present day," the former Democratic governor said.

"Now, he's confronted with a vacuum," he said, referring, as an example, to Deukmejian's inability to attack the state Supreme Court because it is made up of a majority of his own appointees.

"Deukmejian's going to find himself with not as much to say and a little confused. He has to lead in issues that are more subtle and more difficult--traffic congestion, the failing schools.

"Now he's really on his own for the first time. He's going to have to stand up and tell the people of California how he can really improve the quality of life."

In the interview, Brown labeled as "basically dishonest," Deukmejian's claim that he took the state from "IOU to A-OK" after the Democratic chief executive left office.

'Expanded Government'

"Deukmejian has postured himself as some guy who is cutting and trimming and saving," he said. "As a matter of fact, he's raised taxes by billions of dollars and put fees at ever higher levels on the (state college and university) students, and basically expanded government."

Brown said Deukmejian's own Finance Department reported that state spending as a percentage of Californians' personal income has increased from 7.72% in his last year in office to 8.26% under Deukmejian.

"He may have had to do that, given the growth of the state and the challenges he faced," the former governor said. "But for him to go around talking about the state somehow not having any money and him cutting back to meet this reduced level of funding is just a fraud because he's increased spending, as the figures show, by 65%, and a budget that was $25 billion is now up into the high 40s."

Brown also criticized Deukmejian on educational reform.

"I would fault Deukmejian for his . . . lack of understanding that we have so many different ethnic groups, that our education system has to go to extra efforts to secure a high level of education. We have to put more resources in, more money, because the challenge is bigger.

"Minority kids who are fast becoming a majority are not going to provide the trained work force and citizenry we need unless some major improvements are made and continue to be made.

"It's up to the governor to try things. If they don't work, try new things. What I'm finding with Deukmejian is if he tries something and it doesn't work well enough, he just stops. You can't do that. . . ."

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