On the 23rd day of the impassee over adoption of the state budget in 1992, Speaker Willie Brown and Governor Pete Wilson finally started talking to each other again. The meetin gcame after Brown, uninvited, marched to the governor's office and asked to be let in. Facing reporters, Wilson put his arm around Brown and called him "my pal." The budget impassee - over education - continued, however, lasting a record-breaking 64 days. Photo by Rich Pedroncelli

Willie Brown: Power, Money and Instinct

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA–Frank Fat’s is the smallest building on its block. Painted garishly pink outside, the Chinese restaurant is sandwiched between a parking garage and an old brick office building a short walk from the California State Capitol. The napkin from Frank Fat’s restaurant that resulted in major changes to California’s civil liability laws. “DMZ” at the top stop for De-Militarized Zone. The handwriting is state Senator Bill Lockyer’s, then chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Courtesy of Tom Dressler, Los Angeles Daily Journal) Inside, behind the restaurant’s heavy oak door, is a long, narrow bar. Fat’s was remodeled in the mid-1980s to give it a fashionably slick Art Deco look. Most of the tables are in the rear. But off to one corner is a booth with a brass plaque memorializing it as the favorite table of James “Judge” Garabaldi, who until his death in 1993, was the king of Sacramento lobbyists. He represented a most lucrative set of clients: The liquor and horse racing industries. The best dish in this Chinese restaurant is the

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Under political siege in 1988, Willie Brown listens to two of the five Assembly Democrats who attempted to unseat him as Speaker. The Gang of Five's rebellion eventually fizzled. At left is Assemblyman Steve Peace of Chula Vista and, right Jerry Eaves of Rialto. Photo by Rich Pedroncelli

Willie Brown: The Members’ Speaker

SAN FRANCISCO — Willie Brown, his tuxedo glistening in the spotlight, bounced onto a stage in the ornate ballroom of the Fairmont Hotel, the grandiose citadel of San Francisco’s old-moneyed establishment. California’s most powerful politician began introducing his after-dinner entertainment and his guests definitely would not be disappointed. On Brown’s cue, Ray Charles took stage, backed by the Oakland Symphony Orchestra. Willie Brown hams it up with his special guest, entertainer Ray Charles, at a San Francisco fund-raiser for Brown’s Political treasury in April 1993. Lobbyists, corporate executives and others paid $10,000 a table for the evening. (Photo by Louis Bernstein) Sitting at Table No. 55 that April evening was the mayor of San Francisco, Frank Jordan. Nearby, Brown’s night-life buddy, Herb Caen, the San Francisco Chronicle columnist, celebrated his 77th birthday over a cake given to him by Brown. Over at Table No. 84 was Marguerite Archie-Hudson, a former Brown aide and now a Democratic state legislator from Los Angeles. Assemblyman John Burton, the crusty chairman of the powerful Rules Committee, was introduced by

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Willie Brown, front row, third from right, and the men of Jones Methodist Church. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Hamilton T. Boswell.

Willie Brown: The Play for Power

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA — Willie Brown arrived to face the cameras and the questions. A new Speaker had been chosen in a closed-door meeting of Democrats in the California State Assembly and it was time to make the announcement: A liberal Democrat from San Francisco had emerged the winner. It was not Willie Brown. Young Assemblyman Willie Brown in his Sacramento state Capitol office in 1967. (Photo courtesy California State Library.) The new Speaker in June 1974 was Leo T. McCarthy, a polished, somewhat stiff, New Zealand-born lawyer representing a San Francisco district neighboring Brown’s. In California, only the governor is more powerful than the Speaker and it was a position Brown wanted dearly. Brown and the retiring Speaker, Bob Moretti, stood with McCarthy in a show of Democratic solidarity. But it was difficult. It was hard enough that Brown had lost, that he had failed to become the first African-American Speaker in California history. Harder still, four of the six blacks in the Assembly went against Brown and he fell short of victory by exactly

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Al's Place in Mineola,from a 1936 Postcard marking the Texas Centennial. Willie Lewis Brown, father of Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, is third from left standing at attention in a white duck jacket. In an interview 57 years later, he said he remembered holding the tray that day. "I wanted to have something in my hand to show I was a waiter."

Willie Brown: The Early Years

Dallas, Texas-On a drizzly January morning earlier this year, a crowd of politicians and lobbyists from California jammed into the Good Street Baptist Church, a modest brick building in the heart of Dallas’s black neighborhood. The power elite of the nation’s most populous state had come to pay homage to Minnie Collins Boyd, a small black woman who had worked much of her life as a maid for Dallas’s white families. She had died at the age of 83. They listened as tributes were read from Texas Governor Ann Richards and former President Ronald Reagan. Back in California a night earlier, Governor Pete Wilson paid his respects during his televised annual “state of the state” address. Willie Brown, Speaker of the California State Assembly, and a Democrat from San Francisco. (Photo by Lois Bernstein.) Minnie-as she was universally called by her friends, family and the former president was the mother of Willie Lewis Brown, Jr., who at that moment was arguably the most powerful politician in California and by virtue of that status, arguably the

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