When Gov. George Deukmejian takes a number to wait in line at a barbershop near his Long Beach home, he gets his hair cut by Robert O. Boulding, a member of the Board of Barber Examiners.
When he attends services at All Saints Episcopal Church in Long Beach, Deukmejian listens to sermons delivered by the Rev. William A. Thompson, chairman of the Board of Behavioral Science Examiners.
When the governor returns to his Belmont Shore neighborhood, he can wave hello to James A. Woodward, who lives across the street and is a Deukmejian appointee to the Medical Assistance Commission, which oversees Medi-Cal contracts.
Living near the governor seems to be one of the easiest ways to land a job on a state board or commission. Based on a review of 2,923 current members of boards and commissions obtained from the governor’s office, Deukmejian’s 90803 ZIP code has the highest number of appointees--26--of any in Los Angeles County.
After the governor’s, the county’s other ZIP codes with clout are: well-to-do communities on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in ZIP code 90274, with 16 appointees. Next in line, with 13 appointees, is ZIP code 90049, covering Westwood, Brentwood and Bel-Air in West Los Angeles. Beverly Hills’ 90210 ZIP code and another section of Long Beach in ZIP code 90815 follow, with 11 appointees each.
“The governor feels the state ends just south of Long Beach, but he’s not exactly sure where,” cracked Robert C. Fellmeth, a University of San Diego law professor and expert on state boards and commissions.
Terrance Flanigan, a San Diego native who is Deukmejian’s appointments secretary, minimized the degree to which geography enters into the selection process. Said Flanigan: “If you had a governor from the Central Valley or from somewhere in Northern California . . . it probably would surprise no one if a large number of appointments were from that area.”
As governor, “you can appoint people to positions who you are familiar with” and whose judgment you rely upon. “This is one of the prerogatives you have as a governor,” Flanigan said.
Los Angeles County--with an estimated 30% of the state’s population--has about 500 appointments--only about 16% of the statewide total, according to a review of the figures.
About 120 Deukmejian appointees live in the Southeast/Long Beach area.
The ZIP codes with the highest number of Deukmejian appointees are in the Sacramento area, where many officials move to serve in full-time posts. For example, one ZIP code area has 78 appointees.
Deukmejian must fill hundreds of spots on about 375 boards and commissions. Some are low-profile, part-time panels such as the Board of Home Furnishings, for which members are paid $100 a meeting plus expenses. Others are high-profile, full-time, policy-making bodies such as the Public Utilities Commission, whose members earn $83,868 annually.
Interviews with about two dozen appointees provide an insight into the various ways that Deukmejian fills slots in his Administration. Capturing a gubernatorial appointment can be as easy as popping into Boulding’s Long Beach barbershop when the governor is having his hair trimmed. For others, the task is more difficult, prompting them to enlist friends and political movers and shakers to lobby the governor’s office on their behalf.
A seat on even the most arcane board can be a political prize that signals clout, access to the governor or prestige. It also can mean that an appointee has expertise in a specialized field or is close to the governor’s conservative Republican philosophy.
Long Beach appointees, in particular, may have a more parochial agenda--to help a neighbor whose political star they have watched rise since he was elected to the Assembly in 1962. Many met Deukmejian when they moved to the comfortable Belmont Shore section of Long Beach, launched careers, began families and joined service clubs, the PTA and other groups. Some of their children were baby-sitters for his children. One appointee’s husband coached Deukmejian’s son’s baseball team.
Deukmejian also had business ties to some of his appointees. Fred Riedman, Deukmejian’s former law partner, sits on the Board of the Museum of Science and Industry. Another former law partner, Malcolm M. Lucas, was named by Deukmejian as chief justice of the state Supreme Court.
Most of the Long Beach appointees are in much lower-profile, unpaid positions. Nonetheless, with 67 appointments, Long Beach has seven more appointments than even San Diego, California’s second-largest city, with more than twice the population.
Fellmeth, director of the USD Center for Public Interest Law, said it is not surprising that Deukmejian has picked a high number of state officials from Long Beach. Knowledge of an applicant, he said, is a critical factor in selecting political appointees.
Thompson, who officiated at the wedding of Deukmejian’s daughter, Leslie, agreed. “Frankly, my interpretation of it is, when you have some appointments to make . . . it’s probably only natural that you seek out people who you have some familiarity with,” he said. Thompson sits on the board that certifies social workers and licenses other types of counselors.
Despite an application and screening process designed to find the best candidates for the jobs, Flanigan, the governor’s appointments secretary, acknowledged that on occasion a decision hinges on timing and circumstance.
Consider the case of David G. Camp.
Camp, who owned a menswear store, first met Deukmejian when he was a Belmont Shore lawyer. His daughter was a baby-sitter for the Deukmejian family. In a recent interview, Camp said that after Deukmejian’s 1982 election victory, he was approached about an appointment but was too busy with his business.
A year ago, after Camp had sold his store, he bumped into Deukmejian at Boulding’s Belmont Shore barbershop. As they waited for a haircut, the governor and Camp discussed politics and Deukmejian’s future. When Deukmejian settled into the barber chair, Camp said, Boulding asked the governor: “ ‘How about Dave filling a vacancy on the barber board?’ ”
Camp recalled that the governor asked him whether he would be interested in the post. Camp replied positively and about three days later got a letter announcing the appointment.
Flanigan cautioned: “That’s certainly not how all the appointments are made,” but joked, “What better advice can you get (than) from your personal barber?”
Boulding said he has cut the governor’s hair regularly since the early 1970s. Because Deukmejian now stays in Sacramento much of the time, he gives the governor a trim only about four or five times a year. “We’re not an appointment shop,” Boulding said, so the governor takes a number and waits in line like any other customer.
Boulding, who moved from Long Beach to El Toro 10 years ago, said that about six months after Deukmejian was elected, “he was in on a Saturday morning and asked me if I would be interested in serving on the Board of Barber Examiners.”
It was almost as easy for a Deukmejian neighbor, James Woodward, who markets high-tech equipment to hospitals, to get named to his $44,898-a-year post on the Medical Assistance Commission. The panel contracts with health-care providers to deliver services to low-income and elderly people in the Medi-Cal program.
Woodward said he met the governor 12 years ago when he moved onto Deukmejian’s block. Deukmejian’s three children at various times have been baby-sitters for the Woodwards’ children, Woodward said. “We’re neighbors. You say ‘Hi’ to them. Once in awhile invite him over to chat,” he said.
About a year ago, Woodward said, he told the governor that he may have some time to serve on a state board, but did not seek a specific assignment. Woodward described his commission position as “just another job. I don’t get any ego satisfaction out of it. I’m just a quiet person who is doing a job.”
Others, such as Al Taucher, a member of the Fish and Game Commission, have known Deukmejian for 30 years. Taucher said he unsuccessfully sought a seat on the commission from then-Gov. Ronald Reagan. Taucher, who owned a Long Beach sporting goods store, said his neighborhood “might have more people . . . who have his (Deukmejian’s) ear,” but dismissed suggestions that appointees exercise political clout.
However, Charles G. Bell, author of a textbook on state government, said he believes gubernatorial appointees can wield influence either with the governor or in setting public policy. “The appointee may very well be at a reception at the governor’s home or some social function that gives them a point of access that other kinds of individuals don’t have,” Bell said.
Nevertheless, Long Beach Mayor Ernie Kell said, “The general consensus is that Long Beach wasn’t helped that much” by the appointments. The one exception, he asserted, is Bryan W. Littlefield, who manages an area beer distributorship and has used a seat on the Arts Council to promote local arts programs.
Former Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Robert Philibosian, a one-time Deukmejian aide who now serves on the Council on Criminal Justice and the Board of Corrections, dismissed suggestions that appointees have special access to Deukmejian.
“The governor listens to a lot of people, but he makes up his own mind. There’s no such thing as clout or having the governor’s ear,” maintained Philibosian, who lives in Tarzana in the ZIP code 91356--with seven appointments representing the most of any San Fernando Valley ZIP code.
Deukmejian has named a large number of fellow Armenian-Americans, including Philibosian, to state boards and commissions. Marvin Baxter, an Armenian-American who served as Deukmejian’s former appointments secretary, said the governor credits the Armenian community with providing “the support he needed to be a viable candidate,” especially in the 1982 Republican primary.
Richard R. Terzian of Westwood, who sits on the Commission on California State Government Organization and Economy, said, “All governors wind up giving appointments to people who are early and faithful supporters.”
Even though Terzian supported Deukmejian and helped raise money for his 1978 attorney general’s campaign, he did not immediately win an appointment. He sought one in 1983 or 1984, but it was several years later before he was named to the commission, better known as the Little Hoover Commission. “What I did was I asked people I knew . . . who also knew the governor and who supported the governor and other people prominent in the community to write letters” on his behalf.
Some Deukmejian appointees have become engulfed in controversy even after winning spots on state panels. For instance, earlier this month Marianthi Lansdale, wife of Long Beach developer William M. Lansdale, apologized after it was reported that she had misstated her academic credentials when she told the governor’s office that she had received an associate of arts degree from Long Beach City College in 1959.
Seats on high-profile and full-time boards usually require Senate confirmation. Sometimes the confirmation hearings spark disputes that result in an appointment being blocked.
For example, in early 1988 the Senate Rules Committee rejected the reappointment of Angie L. Papadakis of Rancho Palos Verdes to a second term on the State Board of Education. She was criticized by lawmakers for opposing bilingual education programs.
Papadakis said that after her rejection she was reluctant to take another state post, explaining, “I wanted to go on a cruise. I didn’t want to be tied down to another responsibility.”
Nonetheless, later in 1988 Deukmejian named her to the California-Nevada Superspeed Ground Transportation Commission, which is seeking to attract a private company to build a 300-mile-an-hour train between Las Vegas and Anaheim. Senate confirmation was not required.
When a Deukmejian aide queried her about her interest in the commission, Papadakis recalled telling him she didn’t know anything about trains. She said the staffer asked: “Do you drive a car? Have you ever been stuck on a freeway? . . . Then you qualify.” Papadakis said she has never received a call from Deukmejian telling her how to vote. “Once he appoints us, he gives us our head,” she said.
Some Deukmejian appointees concede that others might have more expertise to sit on a board or commission. “There are hundreds and hundreds . . . who are probably more qualified than I am,” declared Tirso del Junco of Pasadena, a Deukmejian appointee to the University of California Board of Regents.
Del Junco said that after Deukmejian was elected governor he received a letter asking if he was interested in a state appointment. He recalled voicing an interest in the Regents. But Del Junco speculated that his political ties--he is a former State Republican Party chairman--and the Administration’s desire to name a physician to the Regents may have prompted his appointment.
Del Junco minimized the importance of his address in landing an appointment. So, too, did George Fenimore, a Deukmejian appointee to the Fair Political Practices Commission, who lives in Brentwood on the Westside. “I could have lived in Tarzana or Watts. It’s just a coincidence,” he said.
Even so, there seem to be differences among cities with roughly similar populations. For instance, Pasadena, with an estimated population of 138,000, has 20 Deukmejian appointees serving on state panels, whereas Pomona, with an estimated population of 117,800, has only two, according to data supplied by Deukmejian’s office.
After being told of the difference, Pomona Mayor Donna Smith said: “I would say that Pomona is definitely under-represented as far as the governor’s appointments.” She said Pomona, with a large, ethnically diverse and low-income population, “would love to be represented and have our voice heard.”
Back in Long Beach, barber Boulding, who has a picture of himself with the governor hanging in his shop, said he encourages critics to drop by the shop for a chat with Deukmejian. “He listens real thoroughly to people’s ideas,” Boulding said.
Times staff writer Ralph Frammolino contributed to this story.