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Deukmejian Often Finds Appointees Close to Home


SACRAMENTO — When Gov. George Deukmejian takes a number to wait in line at a barbershop near his Long Beach home, he gets his hair cut by Robert O. Boulding, a member of the Board of Barber Examiners.

When he attends services at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Long Beach, Deukmejian listens to sermons delivered by the Rev. William A. Thompson, chairman of the Board of Behavioral Science Examiners.

When the governor returns to his Belmont Shore neighborhood, he can wave hello to James A. Woodward, who lives across the street and is a Deukmejian appointee to the Medical Assistance Commission, which oversees Medi-Cal contracts.

Living near the governor seems to be one of the easiest ways to land a job on a state board or commission. Based on a review of 2,923 current members of boards and commissions obtained from the governor's office, Deukmejian's 90803 ZIP code has the highest number of appointees--26--of any in Los Angeles County.

After the governor's, the county's other ZIP codes with clout are: well-to-do communities on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in ZIP code 90274, with 16 appointees. Next in line, with 13 appointees, is ZIP code 90049, covering Westwood, Brentwood and Bel-Air in West Los Angeles. Beverly Hills' 90210 ZIP code and another section of Long Beach in ZIP code 90815 follow, with 11 appointees each.

"The governor feels the state ends just south of Long Beach, but he's not exactly sure where," cracked Robert C. Fellmeth, a University of San Diego law professor and expert on state boards and commissions.

Terrance Flanigan, a San Diego native who is Deukmejian's appointments secretary, minimized the degree to which geography enters into the selection process. Said Flanigan: "If you had a governor from the Central Valley or from somewhere in Northern California . . . it probably would surprise no one if a large number of appointments were from that area."

As governor, "you can appoint people to positions who you are familiar with" and whose judgment you rely upon. "This is one of the prerogatives you have as a governor," Flanigan said.

Los Angeles County--with an estimated 30% of the state's population--has about 500 appointments--only about 16% of the statewide total, according to a review of the figures.

The ZIP codes with the highest number of Deukmejian appointees are in the Sacramento area, where many officials move to serve in full-time posts. For example, one Sacramento ZIP code area has 78 appointees.

In the Glendale area, about 55 Deukmejian appointees currently are serving on boards and commissions. The top ZIP codes are 90027 in the Los Feliz area and 91011 in La Canada Flintridge, each with eight appointees.

Among the Glendale area appointees are Kenneth F. Kevorkian, a Los Feliz area businessman, who sits on the state Transportation Commission, and Glendale Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg, a member of the Waste Management Board.

Bremberg, who is active in Republican politics, said she would expect Deukmejian to appoint people he knows. "If I were the governor and if there was a choice between someone I know or someone I don't know, I'd pick someone I know," she said, because she'd know them "warts and all."

Indeed, Kevorkian, who also is on the Superspeed Ground Transportation Commission which is trying to develop fast train service between Las Vegas and Anaheim, said his father and Deukmejian's father grew up together and he has known the governor for more than 30 years.

Kevorkian said he has chatted with Deukmejian once or twice about the commission. "I've never exercised any influence with the governor. I don't go to him in the form of a power figure. He's not the type who would be receptive to that type of thing."

Deukmejian must fill hundreds of spots on about 375 boards and commissions. Some are low-profile, part-time panels such as the Board of Home Furnishings, for which members are paid $100 a meeting plus expenses. Others are high-profile, full-time, policy-making bodies such as the Public Utilities Commission, whose members earn $83,868 annually.

Interviews with about two dozen appointees provide an insight into the various ways that Deukmejian fills slots in his Administration. Capturing a gubernatorial appointment can be as easy as popping into Boulding's Long Beach barbershop when the governor is having his hair trimmed. For others, the task is more difficult, prompting them to enlist friends and political movers and shakers to lobby the governor's office on their behalf.

A seat on even the most arcane board can be a political prize that signals clout, access to the governor or prestige. It also can mean that an appointee has expertise in a specialized field or is close to the governor's conservative Republican philosophy.

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