We love milestones here, and Gov. Jerry Brown last night reached a historic one. According to his office, by about 7 p.m. Saturday, Brown had served a total of 3,925 days and 9 hours as California's governor. That tied the amount of time Earl Warren, the only other California governor elected three times, served before Oct. 5, 1953. That was the day the Republican resigned to become chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, where he famously presided over decisions desegregating schools and reinforcing rights of the criminally accused.
That means that Brown is now officially California's longest-serving governor, though unlike Warren, his terms were not consecutive. What's more, it is a feat unlikely to be topped. A 1990 state constitutional amendment limits governors to just two terms. Because terms served before it was enacted don't count, Brown, a Democrat first elected governor in 1974 and re-elected in 1978, was able to run anew in 2010, reclaiming the seat with his defeat of Republican Meg Whitman.
The last California governor to serve before the two-term limit, George Deukmejian, elected in 1982 and again in 1986, declined to seek re-election in 1990 and was succeeded by fellow Republican Pete Wilson.
Deukmejian is now 85.
Police auditor reaches out to VTA bus riders
If you've ridden a VTA bus on the East Side of San Jose over the past couple of weeks, you may be asked a provocative question when you look up at the overhead lights.
"Concerns about a San Jose Police Officer?"
The Office of the Independent Police Auditor commissioned the production of a series of placards to be inserted in bus interiors as part of an ongoing outreach effort to neighborhoods that tend to experience high levels of crime and, correspondingly, police attention.
"We hope people understand if they do have concerns, that we're here," said LaDoris Cordell, the police auditor and a retired judge.
The signs, which in addition to English were translated into Spanish and Vietnamese, feature a multiracial photo array of pensive faces with the question overlayed, accompanied by the independent police auditor's phone number.
The campaign was based on the pragmatic decision that the bus system is heavily traveled in the targeted areas. The buses involved travel primarily along the East Side through downtown. It was also pragmatic as a way to multiply the reach of an office with six staffers, two of whom are dedicated to outreach.
It's a key goal for the office: Since Cordell was appointed in 2010, she has aimed to improve the public visibility of the office, whose mission largely overlaps with the police department's internal affairs division in fielding complaints against officers.
But Cordell says it hasn't always been clear that her office is detached from the police, freeing citizens from the conundrum of complaining about police to the police.
Her office consulted with police, including acting Chief Larry Esquivel, on writing the language for the signs.
The introduction of the signs coincides with a new wave of rookie officers hitting the streets and a gang-suppression effort targeting many of the neighborhoods served by the buses.
"This was a good time to reach the population," Cordell said.
Internment interrupted Mineta's local schooling
To introduce his most recent newsletter, San Jose Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio asked his constituents this trivia question: "Who was the last mayor to attend K-12 public schools in San Jose?" Hint: It was not Tom McEnery, who attended Catholic schools.
Oliverio announced in the newsletter that several people had the right answer: Norm Mineta, now 81, who became mayor in 1971 and later went on to become a congressman and U.S. secretary of transportation.
Just one problem for the fact-checkers here at IA: Technically, that is not the correct response. During World War II, Mineta spent roughly three years at the Heart Mountain Japanese internment camp in Wyoming, where school was conducted in the barracks. (Famously, the youthful Mineta's baseball bat was confiscated because authorities saw it as a potential weapon.)
Oliverio told us that it was unfair to penalize Mineta, who was involuntarily sent to the camp before returning to graduate from San Jose High School. And we get that. But the fact remains that between mid-1942 and early 1946, roughly the time of Mineta's middle school, he was not in public school in San Jose.
So what's the right answer? It's Ron James, the mayor from 1966 to 1971. James went to Lincoln Grammar School (on the site of the convention center now), Woodrow Wilson Junior High and San Jose High School, graduating in February 1946.
Rat takes center stage at judge's SJSU talk
Retired federal judge Vaughn Walker was speaking at San Jose State University's Morris Dailey Auditorium Wednesday night when a rustling swept through the audience. It was not because Walker, the judge who handled the Proposition 8 same-sex marriage case, was distracting viewers. It was because a rat -- a real live rodent -- was walking across the stage.
When Walker spotted it, he said something close to "I'll give him a test later," though his precise words were lost to many in the audience. "It was a surprise," Walker told IA later by email. "I heard a twitter in the audience. I wondered what I said to prompt it. Then I saw the rat and figured it was he, not me, that caused the twittering."
University spokeswoman Pat Lopes Harris told us, "It's very embarrassing. I'm sorry to hear that happened. We're always trying to take action regarding rodents."
Harris noted that three large construction projects on campus may have displaced the rodent population.
Internal Affairs is an offbeat look at state and local politics. This week's items were written by Sal Pizarro, John Woolfolk, Robert Salonga, Scott Herhold and Paul Rogers. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 408-975-9346.