Gov. Jerry Brown was reviewing bills in the courtyard outside his Capitol office one day this month when, during a break, he lamented the time required by "these damn bills" and suggested his inclination to sign many more of them was waning.
The economy, global warming and water and high-speed rail infrastructure all demanded his attention, he said.
"Those are all big issues," Brown said, "and then on top of that you have the endless desire of the Legislature for more and more activities or interventions or spending or law."
As Brown looked over to a table where a stack of bills and his advisers were waiting, he remarked on the Legislature's "pent-up desire" and said, "Going forward, there could be more 'No's.'"
In the following days the Democratic governor would veto legislation to ban the sale of certain semi-automatic weapons and to make some drug crimes "wobblers." He vetoed 12 bills on Saturday, including a measure to extend the statute of limitations for some sex abuse victims, and on Sunday he vetoed 18 more.
But for all his complaints about the deluge of legislation, by the time Brown finished acting on this year's legislation, he had accommodated the Democratic-controlled Legislature on all but about 11 percent of the bills it sent him.
The final count for the year, according to the governor's office: 800 regular session bills signed, 96 rejected.
Over the course of his career, the third-term governor has now signed more than 13,500 regular session bills.
After the final bills were dispatched on Sunday, Brown's press office posted a photograph on Twitter of Brown's desk. The chair was empty, a pen left behind.
"Festina Lente," the tweet said, or make haste slowly.
PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown prepares to sign a bill on Sept. 16, 2011, near his office in Sacramento. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua