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Governor Makes Final Round of Appointments

About 200 aides, allies and donors are named to posts, including 16 judgeships. Most designations will not survive his departure.

November 13, 2003|Gregg Jones and Dan Morain | Times Staff Writers

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gray Davis rewarded loyal aides, political allies, campaign donors and a sports icon this week in a flurry of nearly 200 final appointments to state courts, boards and commissions.

Davis named 16 people to Superior Court judgeships, including former Los Angeles City Atty. Burt Pines, his judicial appointments secretary, who will join the Superior Court in Los Angeles. Other Superior Court appointees include his legal affairs secretary, Barry Goode, and Assistant U.S. Atty. Kathleen Kelly of San Francisco. Kelly is former Gov. Jerry Brown's niece. She will serve on the bench in San Francisco.

Other than the judgeships, many of the nearly 200 appointments will be short-lived. Republican Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't expected to accept more than 17 Davis appointees when he takes office Monday, Davis aides said.

Davis returned to the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon for only the second time since voters recalled him on Oct. 7. During a ceremony naming the governor's office suite after former Gov. Pat Brown, Davis fought back tears when asked about leaving office.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday November 14, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 52 words Type of Material: Correction
Davis appointments -- An article in Thursday's California section about Gov. Gray Davis' final round of appointments incorrectly stated that the governor on Wednesday returned to the Capitol for only the second time since the Oct. 7 recall. In fact, it was Davis' third public event at the Capitol since the recall.

"I can't think of a better way to wrap it up than to honor Pat Brown," Davis said, pausing for a few seconds to gather his emotions before continuing.

Davis phoned Schwarzenegger on Tuesday afternoon to let the incoming governor know about his final appointments.

"We've had an ongoing dialogue on a whole range of policy matters and appointments, and I've tried as best I can to make him a full partner during this transition," Davis said. "He understands the things I have to do and I understand the things he has to do."

Susan Kennedy, a former senior advisor appointed by Davis to the Public Utilities Commission earlier this year, said the governor's flurry of appointments -- a tradition for governors as they leave office -- had been driven by "loyalty and a show of respect to people who have earned it, even if the new governor won't sustain the appointments."

Schwarzenegger aides didn't respond to calls seeking comment on the appointments.

Many of the 187 appointments that Davis announced late Tuesday aren't to salaried positions, but at least two are: the appointments of Davis Chief of Staff Lynn Schenk and Appointments Secretary Michael Yamaki to the California Medical Assistance Commission, with salaries of $99,000 a year. The Schenk and Yamaki appointments -- previously reported by The Times, but not acknowledged by the Davis administration -- were listed on Page 8 of a 13-page list of appointments.

In addition to her paid position on the medical board, Schenk was named to the High Speed Rail Authority.

Schenk's sister-in-law, Shari Schenk, director of marketing at the San Diego law firm of Casey Gerry Reed & Schenk, was named to the state Economic Development Commission. Former Los Angeles television journalist Tritia Toyota, who is married to Yamaki, was named to the California Council on Humanities.

The appointees named this week by Davis gave him at least $3 million in contributions dating back to 1999, either directly or through their employers or unions. Among the contributors was former U.S. Rep. Douglas Bosco of Sonoma County, who was named to the California Coastal Conservancy. Bosco has directly contributed $97,000 to Davis since 1999 and has been host to several fund-raisers; Bosco's former law firm has contributed $25,000 to Davis.

Davis' final judicial appointees include several people who have donated small amounts to campaigns. Attorneys appointed to the bench since the Oct. 7 recall and their law firms have given Davis $89,000, according to his campaign reports dating back to 1999 when he took office. In his first term, few judicial appointees had been campaign donors.

"There is absolutely no connection between campaign contributions and judicial appointments,'' Pines said. "I know because I'm the one who vets these people. I don't check. No one tells me. It is not something that is considered."

Other Superior Court appointments include Fish and Game Director Robert Hight, a longtime Davis aide; Allen Sumner, who was Davis' chief deputy legal affairs secretary and a former deputy attorney general; and former Sacramento County Dist. Atty. Steve White. Most recently, White was California Department of Corrections' inspector general. Superior Court judges are paid $139,784 a year.

Davis appointed four Cabinet members to positions: Mary Nichols, secretary for the California Resources Agency, was named to the California Coastal Commission; Dr. Diana Bonta, director of the Department of Health Services, was appointed to the Health Professions Education Foundation board of trustees, and Bill Lyons, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, was named to the state Board of Food and Agriculture.

Former senior advisor Kari Dohn, now a Sacramento lobbyist, was one of five appointees to the Film Commission. Another was actress Melissa Gilbert, head of the Screen Actors Guild.

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