A Bay Area Journalist's First-Hand Account Of How Mayor Jerry Brown Screwed Over Oakland On His Way To Sacramento



J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Oakland Unwrapped Column
UrbanView Newspaper
February 6, 2002

A couple of weeks ago, the campaign manager for Secretary of State Bill Jones tried to think of the awfullest, most horriblest slam he could say about Richard Riordan, who is running against Jones for the Republican nomination for California governor.

"Dick Riordan does not share the values of the average Republican voter in California," Jones’ manager finally said. "He shares the position of big-city mayors like Willie Brown and Jerry Brown."

Now you would have thought that what with quitting the Democratic Party and tagging along with such conservative organizations as the Manhattan Institute and embracing such issues as increase-the-police and developers rights, Jerry Brown would have been the darling of the Republican Party. Or, at least, tolerated.

Apparently not.

Late last year, in fact, in its online "daily briefing" of interesting news articles, the state Republicans quietly slipped in a link to an article written by The Chronicle’s conservative columnist Debra Saunders that talked, a little unflatteringly, about the sexual harassment problems of Brown’s advisor and housemate, Jaques Barzaghi. Sounds like a sort of early heads-up in case Brown decides to run for some higher office.

Barzaghi is like a spectre that haunts the late night upper reaches of Jerry Brown’s City Hall like O.G. … no, not those O.G.’s…the original one, Erik, the Opera Ghost, from Gaston Leroux’ "Phantom Of The Opera," the lover of wine and fine art and classical music, the mysterious controller of the opera’s managers, who causes the young women to run in panic at the very mention of his name.

"I’m a very good-looking fellow, eh?" [the ghost tells Christine Daaé, whom he has kidnapped and taken to his dungeon home beside the lake] "When a woman has seen me, as you have, she belongs to me. She loves me for ever. I am a kind of Don Juan, you know!" And, drawing himself up to his full height, with his hand on his hip, wagging the hideous thing that was his head on his shoulders, he roared, "Look at me! I am Don Juan triumphant!"

Like the Opera Ghost, Jacques Barzaghi will not go away, and so long as he does not go away, the subject of his sexual problems will continue to come up whenever anyone talks about Jerry Brown for more than fifteen minutes, and will be part of the legacy of the Brown Administration, whatever else there may be.

It’s been mentioned once or twice in the mayoral campaign, though Wilson Riles is too nice a guy to bring it up consistently. As a matter of fact, Wilson Riles does not come off well when he spends too much time attacking Brown. It’s not his personality or style. My suggestion would be that he drop the attacks against the Mayor altogether, and maybe just have someone come around to the debates and sum them all up musically, say, sampling that old Linda Rondstat song:

We’ve been cheated
Been mistreated
All by Jerry Brown.

We got ourselves a new mayor
His name was Jerry Brown
He said he’d bring us status
And fix up our downtown

But, we’ve been lied to…

I suppose you could play around with some words like sex and Measure X, and ab-sen-tee and sa-la-ry and Bar-za-ghi, but hey, I’m not getting paid by the Riles campaign, so I figure they can work out rest of it themselves, if they want this thing finished.

[Note to Readers: I would like to apologize for the Linda Rondstat reference, which is generally in poor taste and not conducive to high-minded journalism. However, I’ve got it figured out that every reporter and columnist covering Jerry Brown is allowed at least one Linda Rondstat reference every three years. This has been mine, and I’ll try not to do it again until at least 2005.]