The State Capitol is on high alert as top elected officials return to Sacramento on Monday.
”Yea, it was a real wake up for how easy it would be for someone to come in here in wreak havoc,” Steve Maviglio remembers the last time the Capitol building was the scene of a violent attack. It was January 16, 2001 and Maviglio was serving as Press Secretary to Governor Gray Davis. The Assembly was wrapping up a late night session on the North end of the Capitol when a truck driver slammed into the South steps and burst into flames. ”We were minding our own business doing our jobs and all of the sudden you hear a big boom and see a fire in the side of the Capitol building we thought---seemed like a fortress---but it wasn’t very secure in retrospect,” Maviglio says.
The truck driver hit 70 miles an hour down 11th street, honking his horn, before the big rig jumped the curb and plowed into the building. ”These are pillars designed to prevent a big truck from coming through here,” Maviglio was in on the talks that led to the steel pillars that now block all four entrances to the Capitol; and the huge planter boxes made of reinforced concrete.
But in 1975 security was even more lax as President Gerald Ford walked through Capitol Park. ”The president sees the gun,” the old black and white film shows President Ford quickly backing away from the gun pointed at him by a radical extremist named: Squeaky Fromme. The gun misfired.
1975 is the same year Congressman John Garamendi also came face to face with an angry gun toting voter. ”There’s a lot of ugliness and emotion, fear, hatred out there and this is the result of it,” says Garamendi, now in his second tour in Congress.
In 2011, the CHP maintains a constant vigil; and you can’t enter the Capitol without going through metal detectors.
Governor Jerry Brown has vowed to cut the large security presence used by Arnold Schwarzenegger. But Maviglio, once threatened himself, thinks everyone in government is now rethinking safety, ”Once upon a time you could just walk into the building with no one looking at you, seeing you, no camera’s no nothing. And, now you have to think twice about it and I think the people that are coming to work on Monday will really be thinking about it.”
Monday at 11, Governor Brown will release his first budget; a budget likely to be controversial. And, then at one o’clock Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom will be sworn-in. The CHP is refusing to talk about security, but FOX40’s John Lobertini has been told there will almost certainly be a larger police presence and a heightened sense of alert.