Stall, an editorial writer for the Los Angeles Times, wrote a Pulitzer-prize winning series in 2004 called "Reinventing California." It explored how term limits, ballot-box budgeting, gerrymandered electoral districts and other dysfunctions had led to the state's fiscal crisis, culminating in the recall of Gov. Gray Davis.
Stall laid out a road map for reforming California and urged Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to seize the moment:
Schwarzenegger has a choice. He can submit, Gulliver-like, to being tied by a thousand special-interest strings. Or he can exercise the boldness needed to revive a California of opportunity, beauty and rational growth.
Sadly, we know how this story turned out.
Still, Stall's series should be required reading for anyone who wonders why California seems so ungovernable and is interested in how to fix it.
On a personal note, today's obituary in The Bee noted that Stall "was generous with his time in helping those learning his profession." I can attest to that.
Several times, out of the blue, Stall would email me with compliments on something I wrote, especially if it pertained to water or the Sierra Nevada, two of his favorite subjects.
After I wrote about an encounter with a bear in the Ansel Adams Wilderness in 2006, Stall wrote and described one of his backback trips to the area.
We camped two nights at Lake Ediza. No one else there, not even bears. The camp stove didn't work for some reason and we had to cook over a wood fire. Very inefficient!
During that exchange, Stall and I agreed to grab lunch sometime. We never did. I regret that. He was a great journalist, and his expertise and his passion for this state will be sorely missed.