Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

January 21, 2014
Former California Sierra Club lobbyist John Zierold dies at 88


John Zierold, who ran legislative strategy in Sacramento for the Sierra Club during the 1970s and 1980s, as environmentalism became a powerful social and political movement, has died.

Former colleagues in Sacramento learned over the weekend that Zierold, who had retired to Kentucky, had died on Dec. 26 in Louisville at age 88. He had been preceded in death by his wife, Mary.

Zierold, who had worked in Europe as a U.S. intelligence operative during the immediate post-World War II era, began representing the Sierra Club at the Capitol in 1969, during the infancy of the environmental movement.

Zierold played pivotal roles in legislative battles for almost two decades over such issues as coastal protection, the California Environmental Quality Act, creation of the state Energy Commission, regulation of logging, and legislation designating "wild and scenic rivers" on which dams would be prohibited.

He also clashed with Jerry Brown during his first stint as governor over Brown's advocacy of a liquefied natural has terminal near Santa Barbara and a "peripheral canal" to carry Sacramento River water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta — battles that Brown lost.

"He saved the Coastal Commission from defeat," Norbert Dall, a Sacramento environmental consultant who worked for Zierold during the period, said Tuesday, recounting Zierold's skills at working the legislative system. Dall also said that Zierold played a major role in rounding up key votes to elect Leo McCarthy as speaker of the state Assembly in 1974.

Zierold's survivors include a stepson, Marc Allaman, in Folsom.

PHOTO: Protesters hold signs during a July 19, 2012 rally sponsored by the Sierra Club to make their point regarding limits on levels of deadly soot pollution. The Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench

September 26, 2013
George Zenovich, former California lawmaker, dies at 91

Zenovich.jpgFormer Democratic legislator and appellate court justice George Zenovich, who helped write landmark legislation on behalf of agricultural workers, arts and culture and low-income housing while championing the cause of handicapped children, has died. He was 91.

Zenovich was a member of the state Senate and Assembly after serving a tour in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. In the Legislature, Zenovich co-authored a first-in-the-nation law recognizing the right of farm workers to collectively bargain.

He also co-authored a measure to create the California Arts Council and another to established the California Housing Finance Agency.

Gov. Jerry Brown appointed him to the 5th District Court of Appeals in 1979. On Wednesday, Brown traveled to Fresno to visit with Zenovich, but arrived too late.

"George was a longtime friend and a rare public servant who combined wisdom, skill and basic practicality. His many friends will miss him," the governor said in a statement.

John Ellis of The Fresno Bee has a full obituary on Zenovich.

PHOTO: George N. Zenovich and his wife Kika Zenovich during the dedication of the new Court of Appeal Fifth Appellate District building in Fresno on Thursday September 13, 2007. The Fresno Bee/Darrell Wong

August 15, 2013
Former California legislator Patricia Wiggins dies at 73

wiggins.JPGFormer Democratic legislator Patricia "Pat" Wiggins, who championed smart growth and the use of alternative energy sources, died Thursday. She was 73.

Wiggins was on the Santa Rosa City Council before she was elected to the California Assembly in 1998. She served in the state Senate from 2006 to 2010, when she did not seek reelection due to an undisclosed medical condition.

Lawmakers praised Wiggins in statements noting her death, calling her a dedicated legislator who took on tough issues.

"I will always remember Pat as a gracious, thoughtful and visionary public servant, but more importantly, a reliable and trusted friend," said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.

"Pat Wiggins was one of the Legislature's leading advocates for policies that encourage smart growth and discourage sprawl," said Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez. "She also cared deeply about the people she represented and the state of California."

"Pat Wiggins will be missed," said Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael. "She was an enthusiastic leader on the environment, local government issues, and smart growth in the state Capitol. She also had a great passion and tenacity in representing her community. "

Wiggins is survived by her husband, Guy Conner; two stepsons, Steve Silverman of Scottsdale, Ariz., and James Silverman of Owings Mills, Md.; and her four grandchildren, Shane, Ava, Leah and Solana.

A celebration of her life will be held at 1 p.m. on Nov. 3 at the Friedman Center in Santa Rosa. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Sonoma Land Trust, or to the Pat Wiggins Fund at Conservation Action Fund for Education.

PHOTO: Then Assemblywoman Pat Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa, unveils a constitutional amendment on local funding for sheriff, police and fire departments on April 9, 2003. The Sacramento Bee / Brian Baer

May 14, 2013
Daughter-in-law of former Sen. Don Perata drowns in pool

PerataInvestigation.jpgThe daughter-in-law of former Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata died over the weekend.

Catherine Perata, who was married to the son of the Oakland Democrat, drowned in a pool at the family's Napa home Saturday morning. She was 38.

The Associated Press reports:

Napa Police Capt. Jeff Troendly says 38-year-old Catherine Perata was found unresponsive Saturday morning by her husband in their backyard pool. ...

Troendly says while foul play is not suspected, investigators are waiting for a toxicology report before concluding the death investigation.

Don Perata served more than a decade in the Legislature, including four years as pro tem, before leaving office due to term limits in 2008. He lost a 2010 bid to become mayor of Oakland.

Read more from the Associated Press at

PHOTO CREDIT: Don Perata, shown in 2008. Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli

March 27, 2013
Willie Washington, longtime manufacturers' lobbyist, dies

williewashington.jpegFuneral services for Willie Washington, a lobbyist for California manufacturers for more than a quarter century, will be held Friday.

Washington, who retired from the California Manufacturers and Technology Association in 2006, died March 19. He was 77.

Washington, a native of North Carolina, served 22 years in the Air Force , much of that time in Sacramento, before joining Lockheed Aircraft Service Co. in 1977, working for the company in Iran and experiencing the country's bloody revolution in 1979. He returned to the United States that year and moved back to Sacramento as a lobbyist for Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel.

Eight years later, he joined the manufacturers' association and represented its 400 members in the Capitol for the next 19 years. He once told an interviewer for the Sacramento Business Journal that his pet peeve was encountering "preconceived assumptions of my views on social issues" because he was black.

"People look at me and if they are blacks or liberals, assume that I have the same views on issues that they do," Washington told the Journal in 2001. "Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't."

January 31, 2013
Former State Board of Education head C. Hugh Friedman, dies

C. Hugh Friedman, a past president of the California State Board of Education who was married to former Democratic Rep. Lynn Schenk, died Tuesday.

Friedman, whose death was reported by the U-T San Diego today, had leukemia. He was 81.

The Board of Education wasn't the only political appointment received by the longtime University of San Diego School of Law professor. The U-T recaps his service:

Mr. Friedman also served on numerous national, state and local boards and commissions, having been appointed by President Bill Clinton and California Govs. Gray Davis, Jerry Brown and Ronald Reagan.

Among his many positions, Mr. Friedman served on the California State Air Resources Board from 1999 to 2004 and on the White House Conference on Small Business Commission from 1993 to 1996. He was the president of the California State Board of Education from 1982 to 1984, and he served as the president, vice president and director of the Del Mar Fair Board between 1982 and 1986.

Friedman's wife, a Democrat, was secretary of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency during Gov. Jerry Brown's first two terms in office and chief of staff to former Gov. Gray Davis. She served one term in Congress in the 1990s.

Click here to read the full U-T San Diego obituary.

January 24, 2013
Former California state parks chief dies

By Robert D. Dávila

Henry R. Agonia, who was appointed to oversee California state parks by Gov. George Deukmejian, died Jan. 18 of leukemia, his family said. He was 70.

Agonia was parks chief for the city of Glendale when Deukmejian named him in 1987 to be director of the state Department of Parks and Recreation.

He led efforts to manage resources at California parks, campgrounds, beaches and historic sites as public attendance grew while state funding declined. He apologized after stirring up controversy with remarks suggesting state parks should play a role in promoting religion.

A Sacramento resident, Agonia worked as a consultant after leaving state government in 1992. He ran an environmental planning and communications firm and served as executive director of the California Association of Recreation and Park Districts.

Besides his wife, Marlene, he is survived by his mother, three children, a sister, two brothers and eight grandchildren. A memorial service is set for 10 a.m. Friday at East Lawn Memorial Park, 43rd Street and Folsom Boulevard, Sacramento.

A full obituary will appear tomorrow in The Bee.

January 14, 2013
Former state legislator, wine lobbyist Paul Lunardi dies at 91

Paul Lunardi , a former Democratic legislator who represented the wine industry in the Capitol for two decades, died Friday. He was 91.

The lifelong Roseville resident started his career in public service on the Roseville City Council in 1950, becoming the city's youngest mayor several years later. He won a seat in the state Assembly in 1958 and served three terms before being elected to the state Senate in a 1963 special election. He stepped down in 1966 because of redistricting, according to an obituary prepared by his family.

While in the Legislature, Lunardi's key accomplishments included fighting to keep part of the route linking Truckee and Lake Tahoe's North Shore open year-round, providing a boost to the ski and tourism industries, and authoring legislation to create the Lake Tahoe Joint Study Commission.

The Roseville Democrat went on to act as a legislative advocate for the Wine Institute, a position he held for two decades. He continued to represent other groups in the Capitol until 1994.

He is survived by children Nancy Lunardi, Carol Kennedy, Janet Bedrosian, and Richard Kennedy,11 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

January 4, 2013
Funeral services scheduled for former Assembly chief clerk R. Brian Kidney

Kidney.jpgFuneral services for former Assembly Chief Clerk R. Brian Kidney are planned Thursday at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Sacramento.

Mr. Kidney, a longtime Sacramentan, died Dec. 22 from injuries sustained in an auto accident. He was 82.

Mr. Kidney served for 28 years as an Assembly employee, including four years as chief clerk and parliamentarian under then-Speaker Willie L. Brown. His resume included stints in the Assembly's engrossing and enrolling department, and as assistant chief clerk.

After his retirement from the Assembly in 1991, Mr. Kidney served as a parliamentary consultant to governments in Hungary, Malawi, Namibia and South Africa. He also worked as a lobbyist for the Gualco Group.

A native of San Mateo, Mr. Kidney earned an undergraduate degree in Russian history from the University of Michigan and a master's degree in government studies from the University of San Francisco.

He is survived by a sister, Brenna Quebbemann, of Newport Beach, and by two nephews and two nieces.

Mr. Kidney's funeral Mass is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Thursday at St. Ignatius, 3235 Arden Way. Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations to the Father Leo McAllister Scholarship Fund, care of the Sacramento Regional Community Foundation, 955 University Ave., Suite A., Sacramento, CA 95825.

PHOTO CREDIT: Court of Appeals Justice Ronald Robie, left, chats with retired Chief Clerk Brian Kidney during a April 1, 2008 Assembly floor ceremony. Photo courtesy California State Assembly

December 27, 2012
Former lobbyist, state legislator John Quimby dies at 77

Quimbyjpg.jpg John Quimby, a former state legislator who went on to spend three decades as a lobbyist, has died of complications related to pneumonia.

Quimby, 77, had overcome polio as a child and later battled pulmonary disease that was brought on by his confinement to a wheelchair, his prepared obituary states.

The Democratic lawmaker was first elected to the state Assembly in 1962. He served what was then the 72nd Assembly District, which spanned parts of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, for 12 years before losing in a primary in 1974. Quimby continued to represent those counties in the Capitol after he lost, not as an elected official but as a lobbyist starting in 1980. He retired from lobbying in 2011.

While in the Legislature, Quimby authored a namesake law that required developers to donate land or money for local parks. He enjoyed reminiscing about his time in the state Legislature, which was marked by the reign of famed former Assembly Speaker Jesse M. Unruh.

"Like Jesse Unruh, John was known for his wit, idealism, anger and irreverence and until 1976 his drunken excess," according to a prepared obituary submitted to The Bee. "He attributed his 1974 political loss for saving his life."

Quimby spent the following years "helping countless individuals find recovery" during his own 36 years of sobriety.

He is survived by two children, three step children, seven grandchidlren, seven great grandchildren and a brother. A memorial service will be held at Carmichael's Mission Oaks Community Center on Jan. 5 at 1 p.m.

PHOTO CREDIT: California Secretary of State Lobbyist Directory

November 23, 2012
Lobbyist Mike Kahl remembered as 'principled, strategic and tenacious'

Longtime California lobbyist Mike Kahl, who founded the firm that became Sacramento powerhouse KP Public Affairs, died Sunday of Parkinson's disease. He was 71.

Journalist Greg Lucas chronicled Kahl's career in an obituary posted to his California's Capitol blog:

Principled, strategic and tenacious, Kahl and his partner Fred Pownall, built one of the most respected and one of the biggest grossing lobbying firms in Sacramento, representing the oil industry, water districts, and timber concerns, among many other clients.

Kahl pioneered a lobbying style grounded more in the policy of an issue than in political contacts. He was successful at it because, in most cases, he had studied the homework twice while his opponents were skimming the Cliff Notes.

"He preached to all of us that you had to deal with good public policy. This wasn't going to be about whether you were a good guy or if people liked you," said K.C. Bishop, a long-time Chevron lobbyist who worked closely with Kahl. "Good, solid public policy would win in the end but you needed to do the work to get there."

Services will be held Saturday in El Cajon, where he lived at the time of his death with his wife Judy, according to Capitol Morning Report. Click here to read Lucas' full obituary.

Editor's note: This post was updated at 11:30 a.m. with Kahl's age.

November 12, 2012
Tim Howe, longtime political consultant and lobbyist, dies

By Robert D. Davila

Tim Howe, a Sacramento lobbyist and veteran political consultant who was a top aide to Democratic lawmakers, died Friday of a heart attack while cycling in the American River Parkway, his family said. He was 66.

Mr. Howe began his career in politics in 1965 as an aide in the Legislative Bill Room at the state Capitol. He graduated from UCLA and earned a master's degree in political science from the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He returned to California to work for Assembly speakers Jesse Unruh, Bob Moretti and Leo McCarthy and joined the Assembly Majority Consultants during the early 1970s.

He graduated from UC Davis School of Law in 1978 and ran Assemblyman Vic Fazio's campaign for Congress. He served as Fazio's chief of staff in Washington, earned a master of law degree in taxation from Georgetown University and practiced law in Sacramento from 1981 to 1987. He was chief of staff for Assemblyman Lloyd Connelly from 1987 to 1992. He worked as a lobbyist for George Steffes and Associates before starting his own lobbying firm, Tim Howe and Associates.

A Carmichael resident, Mr. Howe had a son, John, with his wife of 25 years, Patti Habel, who died of cancer in 2010. He also is survived by two children from a previous marriage, Robert Howe of San Francisco and Julie Starbird of Sacramento; a sister, Evonne Morrissey of Sacramento; and three grandchildren.

A service is planned for 11 a.m. Friday at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 2620 Capitol Ave., Sacramento. Donations may be made to the American River Foundation, 5700 Arden Way, Carmichael, CA 95608; Nor Cal Beagle Rescue, P.O. Box 580327, Elk Grove, CA 95758-0006; or Sacramento Food Bank, 3333 33rd St., Sacramento, CA 958917.

October 7, 2012
Former CA Lt. Gov. Mervyn Dymally dies at 86

Mervyn Dymally, a former California lieutenant governor who served in Congress and the state Legislature, has died, CBS Los Angeles reported tonight. He was 86.

Dymally's wife said in a statement reported by the CBS affiliate that her husband "passed away very peacefully" in Los Angeles this morning.

"He lived a very extraordinary life and had no regrets," the statement read.

The news of the longtime politician's passing spread quickly on social media Sunday evening.

"Prayers to family and friends of Hon. #MervynDymally. My revered mentor. 52AD thanks you for your lifetime service" Assemblyman Isadore Hall, D-Compton, posted on Twitter.

The full CBS LA story is posted at this link.

October 2, 2012
Former Capitol aide, political strategist Al Wagner dies

Al Wagner, a Democratic strategist and former legislative employee was found dead Monday, according to the Fresno Bee.

Wagner, 56, retired from Democratic Sen. Michael Rubio's staff earlier this year. He previously served as chief of staff to former state Sen. Dean Florez.

Click here to read more from Fresno Bee colleague John Ellis.

September 1, 2012
Former California state legislator Ed Vincent dies

Former state legislator Ed Vincent died Friday, according to a statement released by Sen. Rod Wright. He was 78.

Vincent represented portions of Los Angeles County in the Legislature for more than a decade, serving in the Assembly from 1996 to 2000 and the state Senate from 2000 to 2008. The Inglewood Democrat also played football for the University of Iowa and the Los Angeles Rams, served in the U.S. Army and worked for the Los Angeles County Probation Department.

Wright, who worked on Vincent's 1983 mayoral campaign in Inglewood and later succeeded him in the 25th Senate District, said in a statement that he considered Vincent a close friend and mentor.

"Ed Vincent was a great friend, and someone I respected so much as a legislator," Wright said in a statement. "I will miss him and I send my heartfelt condolences to his wife, Marilyn, and his children, grandchildren and extended family."

Wright's statement did not cite a cause of death.

April 15, 2012
Former California state Sen. Cathie Wright dies at 82

Former California Sen. Cathie Wright, a Simi Valley Republican who served in the Legislature for 20 years, died Saturday. She was 82.

Timm Herdt writes about her legacy in today's Ventura County Star:

"She was a conservative politician with a soft heart for people who were not able to take care of themselves," said former Ventura County Chief Administrative Officer Richard Wittenberg. "She really cared for people who were poor or mentally ill."

Wright was instrumental in crafting details of the state's welfare-to-work law, but she took greatest pride in her advocacy for an integrated program for delivering services to mentally ill children. She championed the Systems of Care program as a pilot project in Ventura County, and then each year pushed to expand it to additional counties.

A public memorial service is expected to be held on Friday in Simi Valley. Click here to read the full obituary.

March 14, 2012
Prominent California lobbyist Rod Blonien found dead at home

Rod Blonien, a Capitol fixture for years as Deukmejian administration official and later as a major lobbyist for gambling and horse racing interests, was found dead in his home Tuesday, the apparent victim of a heart attack. He was 65.

Angela Schiele, a long-time associate in Blonien's lobbying firm, said Blonien's son, Jarhett, found him in a chair at his home after he failed to come to his office near the Capitol. His wife, Noreen, was out of town on business at the time.

Blonien worked for former Gov. George Deukmejian at the Department of Justice and then segued into a prominent role in Deukmejian's gubernatorial administration before setting up his lobbying practice in 1987.

Survivors include not only his wife, but four children -- Ryan, Jessica, Molly and Jarhett -- and 11 grandchildren.

A rosary will be recited at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by a funeral Mass at the cathedral at 10 a.m. Friday.

Editor's Note: This post has been updated to correct Blonien's age. He was 65, not 55. Updated at 12:35 p.m. March 14, 2012.

March 2, 2012
Longtime Marin supervisor, cousin of Jerry Brown, dies at 66

Former Marin County Supervisor Hal Brown, Gov. Jerry Brown's cousin, died today of cancer, the Marin Independent Journal reported.

He was 66.

Jerry Brown was governor before when, in 1983, he appointed his cousin to the county board, filling a seat left open when U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer went to Congress. The supervisor resigned from the board last year after being diagnosed with cancer.

"Hal was a champion for the people of Marin County, to whom he dedicated his life of public service," the governor said in a prepared statement. "His concern for the community shined through in all of his actions as a public official and he greeted the greatest of challenges with courage and humor."

March 1, 2012
Memorial planned after death of former lawmaker Norm Waters

Former Democratic Assemblyman Norman Waters, who served 14 years as a legislator, died at his Amador County home this week at age 86.

Waters served in the Capitol from 1976 to 1990, ultimately losing his seat to Republican David Knowles in one of California's closest races that year.

The Assembly adjourned today in Waters' memory, with Assemblywoman Alyson Huber, D-El Dorado Hills, memorializing him by saying that his service and work ethic left a lasting impression on constituents.

"Everywhere I go in those counties, they say to me, 'We haven't had someone this present in our county since Norm Waters,'" she said. "That's what they remembered about him, that he was always in his district fighting for constituents."

His Assembly career included stints as leader of the Rural Caucus and of the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee.

In his final legislative campaign, Waters portrayed himself as "The Last Rancher," a working cattleman on 600 acres of tree-dotted land, a "good old boy" in a stuffy Legislature of 9-to-5, suit-and-tie types.

Political observers attributed his 1990 loss partly to fast growth and an influx of conservatives into his largely rural district, stretching from Placer to Mono counties.

February 6, 2012
Longtime Capitol staff member Jerry McFetridge dies suddenly

McFetridge.jpgWord circulated early today at the Capitol that longtime staff member and consultant Britton "Jerry" McFetridge died suddenly over the weekend at his home in Clarksburg.

He was 72.

The Assembly is expected to adjourn in his honor today. He served under several Democratic members of the Legislature, including current state Treasurer Bill Lockyer. He is credited with mentoring dozens of Democratic staff members and shepherding significant legislation through the process over the years, including the state's prevailing wage law and the California Occupational Safety and Health Act.

After leaving the Legislature, he became legislative and political director for the State Building and Construction Trades Council. Most recently, he retired to a grape-growing operation in Clarksburg.

Senate Secretary Greg Schmidt, a close personal friend said McFetridge was "the consummate legislative consultant...He had great passion for the issues he believed in, but also a strict adherence to objectivity in his work. He was at the social heart of the Capitol, and a canny politician. But mostly, he was a grand human being."

He is survived by five children, including Duncan McFetridge, a lobbyist at the Capitol. Services are pending.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jerry McFetridge, stands next to remaining Elm trees along Hwy 160 earlier this month. Paul Kitagaki Jr./The Sacramento Bee.

January 5, 2012
Former Democratic Sen. Ruben Ayala, 89, was leader on water

PRISON PROBE.JPGFormer Democratic Sen. Ruben Ayala, who was a leading force on water policy during his two decades in the state Legislature, died last night. He was 89.

News of his death was announced in a statement from the office of Democratic Assemblywoman Norma Torres, who now represents Ayala's home region. A Torres spokeswoman said Ayala had been battling a prolonged illness.

Ayala, a former mayor of Chino and member of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, was first elected to the upper house in a1974 special election, according to He went on to win six full terms in Senate before stepping down in the late 90s due to term limits.

The longtime Chino resident authored 1980 legislation that proposed building a peripheral canal to transport water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The measure, Senate Bill 200, was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown but voters blocked it in a 1982 referendum.

Torres said in a statement that Ayala's "passion for our community and public service inspired us to build a better future for our children."

"If you ever had the chance to meet and speak to the Senator, you would've seen his passion for his family and the community he served," she said.

Read the obituary published by the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin at this link.

PHOTO CREDIT: California state Senators Ruben Ayala, D-Chino, left, and Quintin Kopp, I-San Francisco, listen during a joint legislative committee on allegations of mistreatment of inmates at Corcoran State Prison at the Capitol in Sacramento, on Wednesday Oct. 21, 1998. (AP Photo/ Bob Galbraith).

January 3, 2012
Wife of former California Assemblyman Tom Calderon dies

The wife of former Assemblyman Tom Calderon died on New Year's Day after a long bout with cancer. She was 52.

Marcella Calderon, of Montebello, was the first Latina to serve as president of the Montebello Unified School District board, Tom Calderon said in a brief statement announcing his wife's death.

Calderon said his wife will be remembered as a "committed community leader, relentless advocate for education, and a loving wife and mother."

The Calderons established a political and governmental relations firm in 1986, Calderon & Associates, that helped to elect more than 75 local and state officials from throughout Southern California, according to Tom.

A "public celebration" of Marcella's life will be held, but details have not yet been completed, he said.

Tom Calderon, 57, served in the Assembly from 1998 until 2002, when he ran unsuccessfully for state insurance commissioner.

Calderon, D-Montebello, is running to return to the Assembly from the San Gabriel Valley's 58th Assembly District, stretching from Montebello to Cerritos.

Besides her husband, Marcella Calderon is survived by their two children, Cameron and Victoria.

Editor's note: This post was updated to reflect that Marcella Calderon was from Montebello. Updated 9:55 a.m. on Jan. 3, 2012.

November 30, 2011
Longtime former California Rep. Carlos Moorhead dies at 89

Former GOP Rep. Carlos J. Moorhead died last week at age 89.

Moorhead, who retired from Congress in 1996, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and was living in an assisted living facility in La Cañada Flintridge at the time of his death, according to an obituary published by the Los Angeles Times.

The Times reports:

Moorhead worked as an attorney in Glendale before entering politics in 1966, when he was elected to the California Assembly. In 1972, he was elected to Congress.

While in Washington, Moorhead served on the Judiciary and the Commerce committees and specialized in energy policy, copyright law and cable TV legislation.

As a first-term congressman, he supported President Nixon during impeachment hearings and, over the course of his career, established a solidly conservative voting record.

Click here to read the full obituary of the longtime California congressman.

November 14, 2011
Former Democratic Sen. Teresa Hughes, 80, dies

Former Democratic Sen. Teresa Hughes, who served in the state Legislature for 25 years, has died. She was 80.

News of the longtime legislator's death was reported by the office of Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, who issued a statement calling Hughes an "outspoken voice for inclusion and justice."

"She was a fierce advocate for the men and women she represented, and spent every moment of her time in public service fighting for working families," Pérez said in a statement.

Hughes, who was first elected to a Los Angeles Assembly seat a July 1975 special election, was re-elected to eight full terms in the Assembly before winning a seat in the state Senate in 1992, according to a biography on She served two terms in the upper house before stepping down due to term limits in 2000. Prior to running for office, Hughes worked as a legislative consultant for the State Commission for Teacher Preparation and Licensing and as a staffer for former state Sen. Mervyn Dymally, according to the site.

Hughes, who lived in Castro Valley at the time of her death, was married to Frank Staggers, a retired urologist who served as president of the California Medical Association and the National Medical Association.

November 1, 2011
Legislative staff member Carlota Gutierrez dies

Gutierrez Carlota.JPGCarlota Gutierrez, a former reporter and legislative staff member, died last week at age 54.

Gutierrez, who worked under three Assembly speakers, had in recent years battled ALS -- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), which is sometimes referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease -- a degenerative disease that affects the nervous system.

A paid obituary published in today's Bee recounts her career:

Ms. Gutierrez served as Miss Sacramento, 1978, work as a sports reporter for Univision National Network, San Francisco in 1984 later producer and host for KOVR-TV, Channel 13, Sacramento. She subsequently worked as a media consultant for the California State Legislature with State Assembly Speaker Willie Brown in 1990, then State Assembly Speakers Cruz Bustamante, Antonio Villaraigosa, public liaison for State Treasurer Philip Angelides. After briefly working Western Integrated Network, went back to the State Legislature in 2002 managing media for Senator Liz Figueroa, Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas, and Senate Democratic Caucus. Carlota was very active in the Latino and Asian community and will be sorely missed.

Memorial services have been scheduled for the weekend. For more information, click here to read the full obituary.

October 25, 2011
Center for California Studies director Tim Hodson dies

Tim photo1.JPG Timothy Hodson, a leading expert on California politics who spent more than three decades working in and around the Capitol, died this morning. He was 61.

Hodson, who had previously battled prostate cancer, had revealed to friends in August 2010 that he had been diagnosed with brain cancer. The news of his death was announced in an email from his wife, Deputy Controller for Health and Consumer Policy Ruth Holton-Hodson.

The New Petty: Timothy Hodson's poem about the state of public affairs in California

Hodson served as executive director of the Center for California Studies at California State University, Sacramento for nearly two decades before retiring earlier this month. In that role, the former Senate staff member oversaw the Capital Fellows Program, a nationally recognized internship that counts more than two dozen judges and current or former elected officials as alumni. He also served until earlier this year as a commissioner on the Fair Political Practices Commission.

His expertise and knowledge of California's political process was rooted in the 15 years he spent under the dome, working for the Select Committees on Political Reform and Government Regulation, the Senate Office of Research and the Senate Elections and Reapportionment Committee.

In addition to his work with CSU Sacramento, Hodson taught over the years at Claremont McKenna College and the University of Southern California. A Sacramento State scholarship has been established in his honor. For more information on that fund, contact the Center for California Studies

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of California State University, Sacramento

October 17, 2011
Former Senate staffer Robb Deignan dies after bike accident

2006 Eppies Great Race2.jpgA longtime former Senate staffer has died after sustaining injuries in a weekend bike accident.

Robb Deignan, 65, was participating in a 100-mile road ride Saturday at the time of the accident, according to Facebook posts and an email sent by former colleagues at the Department of General Services. reported over the weekend that a cyclist in the annual Foxy Fall Century ride crashed after losing control of his bicycle while riding down a hill in Fairfield.

Deignan worked in state government for two decades, serving as a press secretary and media consultant in the state Senate and spending four years as director of public affairs at the Department of General Services, according to his LinkedIn and Facebook profiles. The former anchor and reporter for KTXL-TV put his media skills to work in the Senate, directing radio, television and web communications for the Democratic Caucus and serving as a press aide to then Democratic Sens. Kevin Murray and John Garamendi.

October 6, 2011
California elected officials respond to death of Steve Jobs

California's top elected officials have responded to the death of Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs with statements celebrating and reflecting on the life and contributions of the Golden State resident.

"Steve Jobs was a great California innovator who demonstrated what a totally independent and creative mind can accomplish," Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement. "Few people have made such a powerful and elegant imprint on our lives."

Jobs, who suffered from pancreatic cancer, died Wednesday at age 56.

Statements from other current and former statewide elected officials are posted after the jump. Share your own thoughts on Jobs' passing in the comments field below or on the Capitol Alert Facebook page.

October 2, 2011
Democratic pollster Andre Pineda, 46, dies

Democratic pollster Andre Pineda died last week at age 46.

The Pasadena-based pollster, who ran his own firm Pineda Consulting, was known for his expertise on winning support of Latino voters.

Mark Barabak writes about Pineda's career in the Los Angeles Times:

Pineda, a native of South Pasadena, built an international campaign practice on the strength of his experience in several facets of electioneering, including direct-mail and field organization as well as opinion polling. His clients included a number of corporations and philanthropic groups along with a roster of Democratic candidates and causes.

In 2008, Pineda was the pollster for New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's presidential campaign. After Richardson left the race, Pineda joined Barack Obama's general election effort, working on surveys to help boost Latino support.

Richard Schlackman, who hired Pineda in Washington in the mid-1990s for his San Francisco-based consulting firm, said Pineda was the rare practitioner who combined creativity with a facility for number-crunching. "It's why our [campaign] mail was so good, and that was back in the days before micro-targeting," said Schlackman, referring to the computerized data sifting that has become today's political norm.

Read the full Los Angeles Times piece at this link.

An obituary has also been posted on Campaigns & Elections.

August 25, 2011
Former GOP lawmakers Charles Gubser, Gib Marguth die

Former Republican Rep. Charles Gubser and Assemblyman Gib Marguth both passed away late last week.

Gubser, 95, served one term in the state Assembly in the early 1950s. The Gilroy native went on to represent a Santa Clara County congressional seat for nearly two decades, resigning in 1974 from what was then the 10th Congressional District. He died Saturday in Fresno.

Marguth represented a Livermore Assembly district for one term in the early 1980s before being appointed deputy superintendent of public instruction. He died last Friday at age 77. He had fought leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma for nearly a decade, according to a Contra Costa Times obituary.

Hat tip:

August 18, 2011
Memorial service for late Assemblyman Dick Floyd to be held

DSRICHARD FLOYDME.JPGA memorial service for the late Assemblyman Dick Floyd will be held at Capitol Park next week.

Friends and former colleagues will honor the colorful former Democratic lawmaker, who died last week at age 80, on Friday Aug. 26. The 11 a.m. service will be held next to the park's Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which was created by legislation authored by Floyd.

Click here to read an obituary by The Bee's Dan Walters.

August 12, 2011
Assemblyman Dick Floyd, 80, carried bill on motorcycle helmets

DSRICHARD FLOYDME.JPGRichard Floyd, a crusty, chain-smoking former assemblyman best known for carrying the legislation requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets, died at his Sacramento area home Thursday evening. He was 80.

Floyd was a long-time aide to Sen. Ralph Dills, D-Gardena, when he struck out on his own in 1980, winning an Assembly seat centered in the heart of Dills' south Los Angeles County Senate district and serving for 12 years.

Floyd's first Assembly stint -- much of its as chairman of the committee that handled horse racing, gambling and liquor legislation -- ended when he lost a primary to a Democratic challenger in 1992 after the district's boundaries were changed. But he returned to the Assembly four years later when the seat reopened, only to be bounced out again by term limits in 2000. Floyd ran for the state Senate that year, but lost in another Democratic primary battle.

As described by the California Political Almanac in 1990, "Floyd is easily the loudest, most profane member of the Legislature -- and proud of it. Not a last-night-of-the-session has gone by without Floyd bellowing a profanity at one of his Republican colleagues. During Gov. George Deukmejian's state of the state addresses, Floyd can usually be spotted tossing paper airplanes and making comments to anyone within earshot."

July 11, 2011
Mother of Democrat Janice Hahn dies on eve of CD 36 election

Obit Ramona Hahn.jpg The mother of 36th Congressional District candidate Janice Hahn has died just one day before the San Pedro Democrat competes in a special runoff election.

Ramona Hahn, 86, was the wife of late Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn. Her son, James Hahn, is the former mayor of Los Angeles. Janice Hahn, who serves on the Los Angeles City Council, is running against Republican Craig Huey in tomorrow's special election to fill a vacant Los Angeles County congressional seat.

"We understand that Janice needs to be with her family, but the campaign will move forward--as her mother would have wanted," Hahn campaign advisor John Shallman said in a statement. "Ramona was very proud of and always supportive of Janice. She was looking forward to seeing her daughter sworn in as the next Congresswoman of the 36th District. We will work very hard to make that dream a reality."

The Los Angeles Times has more on Ramona Hahn's death at this link.

PHOTO CREDIT: In this Oct. 17,1997 file photo Ramona Hahn, wife of the late supervisor Kenneth Hahn flanked by her son Jim, left and daughter, Janice, during a memorial service for her husband at the Crenshaw Christian Center in Los Angeles. AP Photo, Michael Caulfield.

June 2, 2011
Gray Davis aide Joseph Schultz dies in Afghanistan

Schultz.JPGA former aide to Gov. Gray Davis who joined the United States Army Special Forces was killed in Afghanistan over the weekend.

Army Capt. Joseph William Schultz, 36, died on Sunday after his Humvee was struck by an improvised explosive device, according to news reports and an email Davis sent to former colleagues.

Davis remembered Schultz, who worked in his Washington, D.C. office and as a press aide in Sacramento, for his "bright spirit and enduring commitment to integrity and public service."

"As a soldier, Joseph paid the ultimate price for our freedom, he gave his life. While Joseph's sacrifice has already been made, let us not forget the sacrifice that his family will be making for the rest of their lives - having lost one of their own. While we can never repay them for their sacrifice, we can honor Joseph and his family by committing to be of service in his memory," the former Democratic governor wrote.

Schultz was raised in part in Sacramento and graduated from El Camino High School in 1993. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. His mother, Betsy Reed Schultz, lives in Port Angeles, Wash.

June 1, 2011
Former California Treasurer Matt Fong dies

Obit Matt Fong.jpgMatt Fong, who was state treasurer from 1995 through 1999, has died.

Fong, a Republican, was 57. His wife Paula told the Associated Press that Fong died Wednesday morning after a battle with skin cancer.

Current Treasurer Bill Lockyer issued the following statement:

"Our state has lost a fine leader and a great example of the Asian-Pacific community's tremendous contributions to the California family. As Treasurer, Matt never forgot he was managing taxpayers' money, and never failed to put their interests first. I try to live up to that standard. My heart goes out to Matt's family. I hope they find strength in his courage, and that their grief quickly fades into the quiet joy of memories."

Gov. Jerry Brown also issued a statement:

"Matt Fong lived a life of service. He served his country as an Air Force Reservist and, later, he served the people of California as their Treasurer. It is with great sadness that Anne and I learned of his passing. On behalf of all Californians, I wish to express gratitude for the service that Mr. Fong provided to our great state during his term as Treasurer. Our thoughts are with his wife, Paula, and their two children, Jade and Matthew, during this time. I also wish to express my deepest condolences to Mr. Fong's mother, former California Secretary of State March Fong Eu, with whom I served in Sacramento from 1974 to 1983."

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer issued a statement praising Fong, son of former secretary of State March Fong Eu and Boxer's 1998 opponent for reelection, as a "strong competitor" who had a "distinguished career of public service in California ."

"We debated passionately, but we always had respect for one another. He will be missed and I send my deepest condolences to his family," she said.

Former Gov. Pete Wilson said: "Matt was a man of courage, of great intellect and a wonderful heart. He was a thoroughly decent good man and one of the more talented public servants that I have been privileged to work with. I will miss him greatly, both personally and professionally."

From state Controller John Chiang: "Matt Fong was a California fiscal leader who served residents of this state with distinction. He had a great passion for public service and a great sense of humor. He also was a friend who bravely battled cancer for many years.

Editor's note: This post was updated throughout the afternoon with reaction.

PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Fong in 2004. The Associated Press/ Ric Francis

April 13, 2011
Sidney Harman, husband of former congresswoman, dies at 92

Sidney Harman, the wealthy businessman and philanthropist married to former Democratic Rep. Jane Harman, died in Washington late Tuesday of complications from leukemia. He was 92.

Harman, who made his fortune in the stereo industry, made headlines in recent years for his purchase of Newsweek magazine and decision to merge the publication with the Daily Beast website. His wife represented the 36th Congressional District until late February, when she stepped down to take a job with a Washington, D.C. think tank.

Below is an excerpt from a Los Angeles Times obituary of Harman. Read the full piece at this link.

The path of Harman's long career took him from the electronics industry to government, academia and, finally, the Fourth Estate. His passion for the arts and philanthropic impulses led him to provide funding for Washington Sidney Harman Hall, a popular performance space. An indefatigable reader and thinker who was fascinated by creative geniuses, Harman also at age 92 founded the Academy for Polymathic Studies at the University of Southern California. From heart, he could recite long passages from Shakespeare, or Abraham Lincoln or Maxwell Anderson, and would often embroider a thought or regale dinner-party guests with an apt quote.

March 31, 2011
Lawmakers eulogize long-time budget adviser A. Alan Post

RCB ALAN POST 2.JPGAs state lawmakers eulogized A. Alan Post, the long-time legislative budget analyst, on the floors of both legislative houses today, his family established a website to solicit contributions to a University of California fellowship established in his name.

Post, who served as the analyst for 28 years through five governorships, died last Saturday at his Sacramento home. Legislators praised him for establishing the analyst's office as a bulwark of independent advice that defied political pressure. He was the second of just five people who have held that position over the last seven decades.

The website invites visitors to submit personal remembrances, photos and other tributes to Post, who was also a renowned artist, and to donate in his name to the A. Alan Post Fellowship in Public Policy at UC-Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy.

PHOTO CREDIT: A. Alan Post works on perfecting his painting, "French Fireman, No. 4" at his studio in Sacramento on July 19, 2004. (Sacramento Bee file photo / Renée C. Byer)

March 28, 2011
A. Alan Post, former California legislative analyst, dies at age 96

RCB ALAN POST 3.JPGA. Alan Post, California's longtime legislative analyst, died of natural causes Saturday in his Arden Oaks home. He was 96.

Mr. Post served as legislative analyst under five different governors during his 28-year tenure, beginning in 1949.

A Renaissance man, Mr. Post also was known as an artist. He displayed his work in multiple shows, and his colored paintings sold well.

As legislative analyst, Mr. Post supervised an office charged with giving accurate, nonpartisan information and analysis to the Legislature.

"We were extremely careful to be virtuous," Mr. Post said in an interview in 1995.

"I've been in an arena in which conflict, differences of opinion, is the stock in trade," he said.

"If they trust you, it is an extraordinary privilege and you simply cannot abuse it."

A native Californian, Mr. Post attended Occidental College, earning a bachelor's degree in economics and art.

He studied art at what was the Chouinard Institute in downtown Los Angeles, now known as the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. He also completed coursework for a Princeton University doctoral degree in economics but did not write his dissertation, said his son, David Post, of Sacramento.

Mr. Post was preceded in death last year by his wife, Helen, who was an artist in her own right and was third cousin to tennnis champion Helen Wills Moody.

Besides David, Mr. Post is survived by a daughter-in-law Susan, of Sacramento; and by three grandchildren: Allison Post Harris of Alameda, Erin Post Koshal of Toronto, and Matthew Rudd Post of Carmichael.

Details for services are pending.

PHOTO: A. Alan Post wipes paint off his hands after working on a piece in August 2004. Sacramento Bee/Renee C. Byer)

Note: Report by Ellie Shaw and Jim Sanders.

March 9, 2011
Pulitzer Prize-winning political reporter David Broder, 81, dies

55462693.jpgPulitzer Prize-winning reporter and columnist David Broder died today at age 81, the Washington Post reports.

Broder, who covered national politics for the Post for four decades, was suffering from diabetes-related complications, according to the Post:

The Post reports:

Mr. Broder was often called the dean of the Washington press corps - a nickname he earned in his late 30s in part for the clarity of his political analysis and the influence he wielded as a perceptive thinker on political trends in his books, articles and television appearances.

In 1973, Mr. Broder and The Post each won Pulitzers for coverage of the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard M. Nixon's resignation. Mr. Broder's citation was for explaining the importance of the Watergate fallout in a clear but compelling way. ...

He covered every presidential convention since 1956 and was widely regarded as the political journalist with the best-informed contacts, from the lowliest precinct to the highest rungs of government.

Click here to read the full obituary.

PHOTO: David Broder speaks during a taping of "Meet the Press" at the NBC studios August 10, 2008 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/ Getty Images for Meet the Press

February 28, 2011
Correctional officer spokesman Lance Corcoran dies

Longtime California Correctional Peace Officers Association spokesman Lance Corcoran passed away last night at age 47. Jon Ortiz at sister blog The State Worker has more.

February 25, 2011
Longtime Assembly aide remembered for 'wealth of knowledge'

Longtime Assembly aide Lou Leary died of cancer earlier this month. He was 60.

Bee colleague Robert D. Dávila writes in today's Bee:

In his role on the Assembly floor, Mr. Leary worked with the speaker and Democratic and Republican leaders to coordinate bills to be taken up and heard each day, and special events. He helped establish many procedures used today related to floor actions, re-referral of bills, and other motions and rule waivers.

"Lou had a wealth of knowledge about the legislative process," Assembly Chief Clerk E. Dotson Wilson said.

"His intellectual ability could attach to anything he put his mind to."

Click here to read the full obituary.

January 20, 2011
Senate honors late Long Beach Democrat Jenny Oropeza

JENNY OROPEZA 2006.JPGThe state Senate convened this morning to honor the life of Democratic Sen. Jenny Oropeza, who died in October at age 53 after battling illness.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg called the Long Beach Democrat "a crusader for the rights of women and girls and a champion for all of us as consumers."

"Frankly, I walk into these chambers and I still expect Jenny Oropeza to lift her mic right over there and to give an impassioned argument about one of her many causes," he said. "For when I think of Jenny, and when we all think of Jenny, we think of her first and foremost as a fighter. She fought for the health of children, for the health of our wives and our mothers, our sisters and daughters, for all Californians."

Colleagues praised Oropeza's focus on cancer prevention and limiting exposure to cancer-causing agents, including cigarette smoke, a passion fueled by her own battle with cancer.

"She used her fight against cancer not as an excuse to work less but as an inspiration to work harder," Steinberg said.

December 3, 2010
Political icon Joe Cerrell dies

Updated 12-03-10 6:47 PM for funeral services

Joe Cerrell, an icon of Southern California politics for decades as campaign manager and public relations consultant, died Friday of pneumonia following a brief illness. He was 75.

Over five decades, Cerrell was involved in dozens of Democratic campaigns from president to local office and founded Cerrell Associates, a Los Angeles firm. Hal Dash, his long-time associate who has been the firm's CEO in recent years, said, "We are deeply saddened to announce that our company co-founder, mentor, political legend and friend Joe Cerrell passed away this morning in Camarillo following a brief bout with pneumonia. His family was at his side to say goodbye."

Cerrell became involved in politics as a student at the University of California in the 1950s, founding a campus Democratic club and teaming up with another USC student, the late Jesse Unruh, who later became speaker of the Assembly and state treasurer.

Cerrell was an aide on Pat Brown's 1958 campaign for governor and at Brown's behest took over management of the state Democratic Party. He met his wife, Lee Bullock, while working on the Brown campaign.

Services for Cerrell will be held Monday at 10:30 a.m. at Christ the King Catholic Church, 624 N. Rossmore Ave., Los Angeles. Cerrell Associates, meanwhile, has established an archive on his career that can be accessed here.

December 1, 2010
Virginia Knight, former first lady, dies at 92

US_NEWS_KNIGHT-OBIT_LA.jpgFormer California first lady Virginia Knight died Monday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 92.

Knight, born Virginia Carlson, was the second wife of late Republican Gov. Goodwin Knight, who was elevated to state's chief executive from the lieutenant governor post when Gov. Earl Warren stepped down to become Supreme Court chief justice in 1953. The two married in 1954, the year Knight was re-elected to a full term as governor.

The Los Angeles Times has a full obitutary on the former first lady here.

PHOTO CREDIT: A 1958 file photo shows former first lady Virginia Knight with Gov. Knight. (File photo/ Los Angeles Times/ MCT)

November 9, 2010
Veteran legislator Alister McAlister dies

Alister McAlister, who served in the state Assembly for 16 years, died at his home near Wilton in Sacramento County Monday. He was 80.

McAlister, a conservative Democrat, represented the San Jose area in the Assembly from 1970 to 1986, leaving the Legislature to run for state controller against fellow Democrat Gray Davis, who went on to win the office and serve as lieutenant governor and governor.

For many years, McAlister chaired the Assembly committee dealing with banking and insurance matters and adopted the nickname of "Honest McHonest" when he ran for controller.

A practicing Mormon, McAlister was known for his work ethic - often sleeping on his office couch - and his extensive knowledge of financial law. He was preceded in death by his wife, Evelyn, and is survived by five children and 14 grandchildren.

Services will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at 8925 Vintage Park Drive, Sacramento, on Friday at 11 a.m.

October 22, 2010
Memorial service for Oropeza scheduled for Monday

A public memorial service for Sen. Jenny Oropeza has been scheduled for Monday in the Long Beach-area city of Cypress.

The Long Beach Democrat died Wednesday night after battling an illness for several months. She was 53.

The 1 p.m. service will be held at Church of Our Fathers, Forest Lawn, 4471 Lincoln Ave. More information is available on Oropeza's website.

October 21, 2010
Lawmakers, Capitol community remember Oropeza

The Capitol community is reacting today to the news that Sen. Jenny Oropeza, died yesterday after a battle with illness. She was 53.

Capitol flags will fly at half staff in her honor, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office said. See a collection of statements and tweets from lawmakers after the jump.

October 21, 2010
Democratic Sen. Jenny Oropeza, 53, dies

Democratic Sen. Jenny Oropeza has died following a prolonged illness. She was 53.

Oropeza had been largely absent from the Senate since her office announced in May that she had been diagnosed with a blood clot in her abdomen. The Long Beach Democrat, first elected to the Senate in 2006, had battled liver cancer and a tumor during her time in the Assembly.

Her own battle with cancer inspired her to become a champion of cancer prevention in the Legislature.

"I've always believed that we ought to regenerate the Earth and be concerned about ozone levels, but I didn't personalize it until I got sick," she told The Bee in 2005.

She carried legislation to curb fight cancer-causing chemicals and air pollution, including a ban on smoking at beaches and state parks. Earlier this year, she joined forces with Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, on legislation that would restore a program that provides mammograms to low-income women who do not have sufficient health coverage.

In an e-mail to Senate staff, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg mourned the loss of "a true public servant and a cherished part of our legislative family."

"She carried on her responsibilities through great physical challenge, which is an inspiration for all of us, and for that service we are grateful," Steinberg said .

Assembly Speaker John A. Perez issued a statement remembering Oropeza for her service, as well as her "charm and cheerful smile."

"From the time I worked with her on the Long Beach City Council, through our service together in the Legislature, I know she was a leader of conscience and compassion, and was an able and talented representative of her constituents," he said.

The CSU Long Beach graduate served on the Long Beach School District Board, the Long Beach City Council and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board before she was first elected to the Assembly in 2000. There she served as chair of the budget and transportation committees. The Democratic Caucus chairwoman is on the ballot for a second term representing the 28th Senate District.

She is survived by her husband, Tom Mullins.

April 5, 2010
Longtime Democratic Sen. Al Rodda dies at 97

Democrat Al Rodda, who served in the state Senate for 22 years, died Saturday at age 97.

Click here for more at

March 21, 2010
Barry Nestande, chief of staff to former Sen. John Benoit, dies

Barry Nestande, chief of staff to former Republican Sen. John Benoit and brother to Assemblyman Brian Nestande, died Friday. He was 49.

The familiar figure in state GOP politics was pronounced dead Friday afternoon after suffering an apparent heart attack at the gym, according to an obituary published in The Desert Sun of Palm Springs.

The Republican strategist first joined Benoit's legislative staff in 2002 and continued to work as the former senator's top aide on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. Before that he worked in insurance and finance, according to a statement released by Benoit's office.

Benoit described their relationship as "closer than most brothers" and rooted in a "shared faith in God and our country."

"From the earliest days of my first campaign for the State Assembly in 2001, until lunch yesterday, Barry Nestande was by my side," he said in the statement. "Working together as a team, we felt we could very effectively represent the interests of our constituents."

Nestande, whose father Bruce also served in the state Legislature, is survived by his wife Merrilee and sons Tyson and Brett.

UPDATE: Memorial services will be held 10 a.m. Friday at the Southest Community Church in Indian Wells. In lieu of flowers, the Nestande Family is requesting support for Beverly's House, a program to support young women leaving foster care that was founded by Nestande's mother. Donations can be made to YWCA-Central Orange County, P.O. Box 689 (Orange, CA 92856) with "Beverly's House" in the memo line

January 25, 2010
Senate education consultant Melinda Melendez , 61, dies

Longtime Senate staffer Melinda Melendez died Wednesday following a stroke. She was 61.

The senior education consultant to Democratic Sen. Gloria Romero devoted nearly 30 years to a career crafting state education policy.

Melendez first joined the Legislature in 1982, working as a senior consultant to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. She worked for numerous offices and committees, including serving as higher education adviser to former Assembly Speakers Antonio Villaraigosa and Robert Hertzberg and as principal education consultant for the Senate Office of Research. She also worked as a professor and as a legislative advocate for the Association of California School Administrators.

January 13, 2010
Memorial service set for George Runner's chief of staff

A memorial service for Capitol staffer Will Smith has been set for 11 a.m. Saturday at Sacramento's Arcade Baptist Church.

Smith, chief of staff to Republican Sen. George Runner, died unexpectedly Monday after he collapsed while playing basketball. He was 41.

A memorial fund has been created for his wife, Anissa, and four children. More information is posted after the jump.

January 12, 2010
Chief of staff to Sen. George Runner dies

Thumbnail image for Will.jpgWill Smith, chief of staff to Republican Sen. George Runner, died Monday night after he collapsed while playing basketball. He was 41.

Smith, who grew up in Weaverville and attended Sacramento State, first came to the Capitol as an Assembly Fellow.

In 1996, Smith joined Runner's Assembly staff. For the next 14 years, he worked in various capacities in Runner's Assembly and Senate offices, as well as for Runner's wife, former Assemblywoman Sharon Runner.

"He was just an incredibly loyal individual. He was loyal obviously to us, but he was loyal to his passions, to his faith," George Runner said. "He was loyal to his conservative convictions, but yet he did it in a way that no matter where you were and who you were you respected him."

June 8, 2009
Rites set for late labor leader

A funeral Mass for longtime California labor leader Jack Henning has been set for 1:30 p.m. Friday at San Francisco's Cathedral of St. Mary, at 1111 Gough St. A reception at the cathedral will follow the Mass.

The Mass will be preceded by visitation hours from 2-4 p.m., and a Rosary at 4 p.m., Thursday at the McAvoy O'Hara Evergreen Mortuary, at Geary Boulevard and 10th Avenue in the city. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Henning's name to St. Anthony's Dining Room in San Francisco.

A gifted orator who served as U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and as a labor official under two presidents, as well as leading the California Labor Federation for 26 years, Henning died last Thursday at his San Francisco home. He was 93.

June 4, 2009
Leaders react to Jack Henning's death

Government, union and political officials reacted today to the death of legendary labor leader Jack Henning:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Jack Henning was a premier labor leader who led a long and distinguished career in public service both at the state and national level. He dedicated his life to improving the lives of others, revolutionized the labor movement and had an enormous impact on California. Maria and I join all Californians in remembering Jack's service and our hearts go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis

Today American workers lost a tireless advocate, and I lost a dear a friend. I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to the family of John F. 'Jack' Henning. For most of his life, Jack Henning was on the front lines of the labor movement, fighting for civil rights, equality and justice for working Americans. He was a man of modest means, with a thirst for knowledge and a tremendous sense of compassion for his fellow man. His life story is one that inspires me and many Americans. His career began in his home state of California, where he fought for the most vulnerable - the working poor and underclass - fighting to improve their standard of living. A master orator, Jack began a steady climb within the labor movement and later served in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations as the U.S. undersecretary of labor. As a testament to his work, President Johnson later named him ambassador to New Zealand. Jack Henning was a champion, visionary and unwavering voice on behalf of the working women and men of the United States and of the world. We are all indebted to his leadership, and he will be missed.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg

All Californians lost a true friend today in Jack Henning. Jack Henning's commitment to working people and social justice serves as an inspiration to us in these recessionary times. Workers still benefit from his leadership on farmworker rights, workplace safety, worker's compensation and in many other areas. Jack Henning was a giant and he will be missed.

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass

Jack Henning spent his life trying to make California a better place to live and work. He was a tireless fighter for the labor movement and for social and economic justice. Jack Henning served the public well as Ambassador to New Zealand and as a Regent of the University of California. With his passing we reflect on Jack's love for the working men and women of California and his great love for his family, including his adored late wife Betty and his son Pat, who became his own fixture in the Capitol community. My colleagues and I in the Assembly send our sincere condolences to Jack's children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters in labor and his countless friends. We will adjourn Assembly session in his honor next week.

California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton

Jack Henning dedicated himself to improving the lives of poor and middle-class workers in California - and across the nation. In 26 years at the helm of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, Jack fought to protect farm workers, men and women who were injured on the job, low-wage workers, the unemployed, women and children. Under his leadership, the Labor Federation set the standard for unions across the country. A San Francisco native whose father was a charter member of the Plumbers union, Jack never forgot where he came from or who he was. Not only was Jack Henning a strong advocate for the working men and women of California, but also he was a personal friend of mine for decades. The California Democratic Party sends condolences to Jack's seven children, 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren and to the labor community on this loss. Jack Henning was a great man who will be deeply missed.

United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez

Today the American labor movement and the state of California lost a genuine champion of working people, and especially farm workers. No one inside or outside the California labor movement more consistently or selflessly championed the farm workers' cause over as many decades than Jack Henning. No one loved and respected Cesar Chavez more. Jack never wavered, whether it was standing with the United Farm Workers on picketlines in the dusty fields and vineyards or in the halls of the state Capitol. From the 1960s to the 1990s, he rallied the entire labor movement to support the UFW during strikes, boycotts, legislative and political battles. Jack Henning played a critical role in realizing the era's most important advances for all working families. He understood the labor movement could never be true to itself if it ignored the poorest of the poor, the men, women and children who work in the fields.

Lt. Gov. John Garamendi

The working men and women of California made great strides in being treated justly and fairly on the job because of the hard work, commitment, and leadership of legendary labor leader Jack Henning. Organized labor is where it is today in California and throughout the nation because of Jack Henning, a man who I had the honor of calling my friend. He did everything possible to encourage the labor movement for everything including the minimum wage, organizing the rights for farm workers and workers compensation. Jack accomplished what he did with the unusual mix of grace and tenacity with workers in the fields or politicians in the halls of government. He is the definition of a true public servant. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer

For most of my public life, Jack Henning was the voice and conscience of California workers. His passion for economic equality and social justice inspired a generation of post-war labor organizers. In his fight to bring decent treatment to workers and a better life to their families, Jack never wavered. And he will never be forgotten.

June 4, 2009
Labor legend Jack Henning dies

Jack Henning, a longtime leader in California's labor movement who served in the administrations of Gov. Pat Brown and Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, died today at his San Francisco home, labor officials said.

Henning was 93.

"Jack was a lion of a man and a great labor leader," said Art Pulaski, head of the California Labor Federation. "His vision and his magnificent oratory inspired several generations of union activists."

The CLF released a brief biography on Henning, which can be found on the CLF website by clicking here.

April 6, 2009
Jerome Waldie, former assemblyman, dies

Jerome Waldie, a former state assemblyman and later congressman who carried legislation to create a full-time Legislature and later introduced the articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon, has died. He was 84.

There are obituaries in the San Francisco Chronicle, Contra Costa Times and Greg Lucas' blog.

Waldie's son, Jon Waldie, currently serves as the chief administrative officer of the state Assembly.

November 3, 2008
LAT's Bill Stall, 71, dies

Bill Stall, the Sacramento-based Pulitzer-prize winning editorial writer for the Los Angeles Times, has died. He was 71.

The Times has an obituary here.

The paper has posted his editorial series on California governance that won the Pulitzer here.

From the Times' obituary:

October 20, 2008
Schwarzenegger bodybuilding patron dies

Obit_Weider.jpgBen Weider, one of the key supporters of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's bodybuilding career, died on Friday. He was 85.

Weider and his brother Joe brought Schwarzenegger to America in 1969.

"Without them having done that, I mean I wouldn't have known how to come over here. I sure didn't have the money. So that was a very important kind of stepping stone for me," Schwarzenegger told The Associated Press.

Read the AP's obituary.

Photo: 1998 file photo of Ben Weider. Credit: AP Photo/ Dave Thomson


Capitol Alert Staff

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @DanielSnowSmith

Jim Miller Jim Miller covers California policy and politics and edits Capitol Alert. Twitter: @jimmiller2

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers the Legislature. Twitter: @capitolalert

Koseff Alexei Koseff edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @akoseff

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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