Even as Gov.-elect Jerry Brown has been virtually invisible to the news media, holding just one brief news conference in the last month, he continues to hold private meetings with lawmakers, interest groups and other budget decision makers and stakeholders.
On Monday he could be found at a major resort in Las Vegas, addressing the prison guards’ union, which spent more than $1.8 million on Brown’s behalf during the campaign. Just don’t ask us what he said. The Times was barred from covering the brief speech.
A reporter who traveled to the Rio All Suites to catch the Brown address was initially told that the governor’s staff had vetoed her presence there.
However, union officials later said it was their policy to keep the media out of the event. Even spouses of convention delegates were blocked from listening to Brown’s remarks, they said, for which the ballroom’s doors were closed.
Brown, who spoke of transparency often on the campaign trail, has held few public events and had little engagement with the media since defeating Republican nominee Meg Whitman on Nov 2. Attendees described his less than 10-minute speech as a thank you to the group.
The union is the largest public union still without a contract. Instead of following other unions into deals with the Schwarzenegger administration earlier this year, the prison guards opted instead to negotiate with Brown.
The governor-elect mentioned the looming state budget chasm, but did not offer specifics for how to close it, attendees said. Still, Brown was greeted with rapturous applause from several hundred delegates, a few of whom wore Brown T-shirts that implored, “Don’t Stop Believing.”
He also received more than one standing ovation. Brown returned to California on Monday evening. He has scheduled a budget briefing for Wednesday in Sacramento for state and local lawmakers.
“What starts on Wednesday is a serious conversation amongst the leaders in Sacramento about the budget and what it will take to solve the deficit crisis,” said Clifford. “The next step is serious public conversation with the people of California about what they want from their government, what they expect and what they are willing to pay for.”
Brown spoke to the Assembly Republican caucus on Monday before flying to Las Vegas. But don’t ask us what he said there, either. That event was closed to the media.