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SKELTON: New Year's resolutions for state's politicians

  • Gov. Jerry Brown’s resolutions should include minding his manners and finding a way to pay for high-speed rail before construction starts. (RICH PEDRONCELLI / Associated Press)

From my skimpy research on New Year’s resolutions, I’ve learned that 40 percent of us make them, and about 90 percent end in failure.

A dismal record of weak will.

Yet New Year’s resolutions should be encouraged because they’re vital to self-improvement. They reflect at least a brief recognition of personal flaws and the need for betterment. Therefore I’m proposing a few, mainly for Sacramento politicians. Never mind that I’ve tried this in previous years and mostly been ignored. So some resolutions are repeats.

The first is for Gov. Jerry Brown, and it calls for some background:

• Be more considerate of people, and not just those he regards as intellectual peers or is hitting up for political favors.

Inconsiderateness long has been a Brown flaw, regardless of such qualities as political brilliance and an ability to charm if he chooses. This defect isn’t just limited to eating off other people’s plates, an annoying habit.

Here’s the kind of thing I’m referring to: Early each year, California’s governor traditionally has spoken to the Sacramento Press Club. The sold-out luncheon is a big fundraiser for the club’s scholarship program that benefits college journalism students. Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gray Davis, Pete Wilson, George Deukmejian — they all came, promoting their agendas, answering reporters’ questions and helping students.

Brown has stiffed the club for two years running and is heading into a third. He basically ignores the invite. Just keeps the club dangling.

This is an old Brown trait.

The first time he was governor, in 1975, the state Chamber of Commerce invited him to speak — as governors always had — to a huge annual breakfast of California business leaders, industrialists and growers.

“We couldn’t get a response from him,” recalls Sacramento attorney John Diepenbrock, one of the event’s organizers. “He wouldn’t say yes, wouldn’t say no. We were getting to the point of desperation.” So Diepenbrock, a Republican VIP with strong ties to the White House, invited the president of the United States. President Gerald Ford flew out, subbed for the governor, and the rest is history.

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