Dallas could use California’s Willie Brown

Legendary California Assemblyman, and former Mayor of San Francisco Willie Brown is in Dallas tonight, speaking at the Dallas Public Library in promotion of his new book, Basic Brown: My Life and Times.

Willie Brown, photo by thomashawk, flickr

Update: Alas, the great photo of Willie Brown from thomashawk has been taken down since the original posting date; this one will have to do, from dogeatdogma


Orrin Hatch had some tussle with the Utah NAACP in the mid-1980s. By way of apology, he volunteered to go speak to one of their meetings on a topic of their choice.

Never say there is no humor in politics. The NAACP called to clear time on Hatch’s calendar, and once they got that secured, announced they wanted him to introduce Willie Brown.

At the time Brown was quite controversial, seen as a very partisan Democrat, and the opposite of the sort of guy a rising conservative like Orrin Hatch should ever introduce. Hatch saw disaster. I drew the assignment to draft an introduction and figure some way for Hatch to bow out.

Let me put in plugs for Terri Smith and Jeanne Lopatto here. Terri was secretary for the press office I ran at the Senate Labor Committee, Jeanne was press assistant. They made up a formidable political advance and research team that I would not hesitate to take on the campaign trail today, more than two decades later.

Smith and Lopatto put together the life history and legislative accomplishments of Brown, and when we looked at it, we thought Hatch had a great opportunity. Brown rose up from poverty, much as Hatch had. And while he was known as a partisan Democrat outside of California, he won election as Speaker of the California House by brilliant assembly of a coalition of Republicans and Democrats, beating out the favored candidates of both parties. He made legislative history when he kept that coalition alive to move legislation good for California.

Our press office was quite unpopular when we recommended a full-court press on getting reporters out to cover the affair. When Hatch read the introduction and understood Brown’s life, he told us he thought it was a big gamble, but he’d do it.

Hatch and Brown had a lot in common. Hatch came back from the dinner smiling, and extolling the virtues of Brown and bipartisan work.

That part of the genius of Willie Brown you don’t often hear: He’s a very likable guy, and he will work with people of all factions to get good laws. It’s also a side of Orrin Hatch you don’t often see: He’ll work happily with other factions, when he has the facts of the matters.

Terri Smith’s book is here. Jeanne Lopatto, late of the Department of Energy, toils away in Washington still. [Obama? Clinton? McCain? Bid for the team — it’s a sure bet you don’t want us working for your opposition . . .]

And Willie Brown’s promoting his biography in Dallas tonight. Details below the fold.

Willie L. Brown, Jr., author of Basic Brown: My Life and Our Times. The long-time California State Assemblyman and first African-American Mayor of San Francisco will discuss his experiences and views on the world.

Authorspeak programs will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the O’Hara Exhibit Hall, located on the 7th Floor. Tickets are $20 per speaker or $50 for the series for World Affairs Council and Friends of the Library. Non-member tickets are $30 per speaker or $80 for the series.

You may register by leaving your information on the World Affairs Council Reservations Line – 214/965-8412.

After Dec. 21st, tickets, may be purchased online by browsing to www.dfwworld.org and clicking on the Events Calendar.


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