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RB Mansion Exterior.JPGThe tour guides at the old Governor's Mansion in Sacramento are trying to solve a mystery, one that involves a black cat.

One of the guides, John Casey, is the grandson of former Gov. Pat Brown, the last governor to live in the Victorian mansion at 16th and H streets, and therefore the nephew of the current governor, Jerry Brown.

Casey was given the black ceramic cat by his aunt, former Treasurer Kathleen Brown, with a story that Pat Brown used it to denote whether his conversations with reporters at the mansion were on or off the record. If the cat was sitting on a hall table, so goes the legend, reporters knew the conversations were off the record, but if it was missing, everything was for attribution.

Casey contacted me in hopes that I could verify or debunk the story so that the cat could be properly displayed in the mansion, which is now a state park facility, but I wasn't around the Capitol in those days, nor were any of my current reportorial colleagues. But if anyone knows the real story, he or she can either email me at or post a comment on this item.

PHOTO CREDIT: The exterior of the historic Governor's Mansion in downtown Sacramento on Wednesday September 6, 2006. The Sacramento Bee/ Randall Benton


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