Logos for state agencies may come and go with the stamp of a printing press, and most people hardly notice. But the employees of those agencies sometimes grow fond of the emblems.
When the state printer told the California Coastal Commission it could not use the 1 3/8-inch-tall blue wave at the bottom of its stationery, some members of the embattled agency were dismayed.
"We were told they were taking our wave away," said one local staff member of the commission, which is responsible for regulating development along California's 1,000-mile coastline. "The wave is very symbolic to us. It seems really petty and vindictive and immature."
The talk at the office, the staff member joked, is of making a rubber stamp to imprint the wave on outgoing letters or starting a "Save the Wave" campaign.
It turns out that the wave--a stylized symbol made up of three nested Cs to stand for the initials of the agency--does not conform to the state administrative manual that governs the letterheads of state agencies.
The commission will still be able to use the wave on pamphlets and publications. It just won't be used on stationery and business cards.
But for some staffers, the decision, coming at a time when the commission is facing serious challenges, has taken on added significance.
On Tuesday, Michael Fischer, the commission's executive director since 1978, resigned. Assembly Speaker Willie Brown reportedly does not plan to reappoint Melvin Nutter as commission chairman. And Gov. George Deukmejian has proposed a 20% reduction in the commission's budget and a 12% reduction in staff for next year.
Jack Liebster, spokesman for the commission, said that "I personally am so paranoid that I wondered" about the state printer's decision. But he said it was just a routine matter. Liebster said the commission put in an order for 20,000 sheets of paper.
"In the past we have been able to use the seal," he said. "We got a call saying that they (the state printers) are tightening up."
Liebster said the commission decided not to pursue the issue because "we have a lot more important things to worry about."
Ann Garbeff, spokeswoman for the Department of General Services, said that the printer has directed his staff to ensure that all orders for new stationery conform to the administrative manual. She said the commission was told it must apply for a variance to use the wave on its stationery, but "we have not heard anything from them."
Some commission employees were expected to tuck away a few sheets of the old stationery for posterity. "I'll save a couple of sheets," Liebster said. "It's like keeping an old bottle of Coca-Cola."
Commission Chairman Nutter and Commissioner Marshall B. Grossman said they had more pressing things to think about. "They can take all the waves they want," Grossman said. "Just leave the budget and the independence of the commission intact."