Ex-Legislator Nolan May Be a Crook, but He’s Not a Gambler

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THE BIG HOUSE: Former Assemblyman Pat Nolan--known around the Dublin federal prison grounds as inmate No. 06833-097--is looking pretty smart these days for copping a guilty plea rather than face the uncertainty of a jury verdict.

As you’ll recall, Nolan was to stand trial with state Sen. Frank Hill (R-Whittier) on political corruption charges for accepting payments from an undercover FBI agent who was ostensibly seeking favorable legislation.

Hill decided to fight the charges in court--and, last week, lost--while Nolan cut his liabilities early in February by agreeing to a 33-month prison sentence. Now he can rest assured that the gamble paid off, while his colleague faces the possibility of six years in prison.


At any rate, the Glendale Republican is apparently well on his way to achieving one of the goals he set for himself while incarcerated: He’s lost 20 pounds from his burly frame. He’s also reportedly received a promotion in his job assignment and now drives a street sweeper through the prison complex.

Nolan may be gone from the Legislature, but he hasn’t been forgotten. Current lawmakers keep in touch. And the other day, Nolan ran into his old adversary, Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco), who was visiting one of his law firm’s clients at the prison. Reports are that they exchanged curt pleasantries in a not-so-friendly tone.


CSUN BOUND?: With speculation being one of the Capitol’s top sports, folks are wondering what state Sen. Gary Hart (D-Santa Barbara) intends for a career next year.

Hart, who said he will not run again, hoping to spend more time with his family, is well regarded as a longtime advocate for education, so most people expect he will sign up with a respected institution after his term ends in December.

Among the possibilities mentioned is a post with Cal State Northridge, which reportedly floated the idea of recruiting Hart as an adviser. Bruce Erickson, CSUN’s director of public relations, did not rule out casual or exploratory contact with the senator. But such a proposal never reached the university president’s office, Erickson said, “and it definitely would have come to this level if there was any serious discussion.”

As for Hart, he said he is not entertaining offers, at least not until September, largely because he wants to avoid getting caught up in a conflict of interest should an important vote affecting prospective suitors arise.


“I’ve basically put all considerations of future employment off until after the legislative session is over,” Hart said. Regarding CSUN, the senator was tight-lipped: “I don’t want to comment on whether they’ve contacted me.”


AHEAD OF THE HYPE: Even before the tragic death of Nicole Simpson brought new attention to the problem of domestic violence, legislative approaches to detecting and preventing spousal abuse were in the works.

Last year, for example, Assemblywoman Barbara Friedman (D-North Hollywood) ushered through a law that requires hospitals and clinics to set up programs for identifying victims of domestic violence. Beginning in September, the statute also requires doctors, nurses and other health professionals to be trained to help recognize such abuse.

Friedman, who joined numerous lawmakers at a press conference this week to trumpet the need for more legislation, says 89% of doctors surveyed feel uncomfortable questioning patients about injuries resulting from spousal abuse. “All they are treating is the symptoms and not the problem,” she said.

At the same time, Friedman said, more progress is needed, particularly in the San Fernando Valley, where there is currently no long-term transitional housing available for battered women.


FLIP-FLOP: Refreshed from a spiritual sojourn in South Dakota, where he accompanied his Canadian wife as she rediscovered her Sioux roots, a rested state Sen. Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica) is settling back into the Capitol routine.


Unlike some other wanna-bes recovering from losses in the June primary, Hayden is said to be upbeat after his failed gubernatorial nomination bid. He is gearing up to challenge the governor and Legislature over the state budget deficit and is on the lookout for new state government “scandals” to unveil.

In the meantime, Hayden takes credit for spurring a $1.6-million refund that GTE California Inc. decided to give its customers in a flip-flop that followed an outcry from the senator’s office.

After hearing from unhappy customers, Hayden wrote a letter to GTE, taking the company to task for retroactively billing customers extra fees for calls made on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. It seems that someone at GTE had mistakenly given customers the discounted holiday rate, and the company was trying to collect the regular fees after the fact.

The mistake was especially costly to GTE because the day of celebration was Jan. 17, the day of the Northridge quake. Phone volume was high, as people made calls to see if family and friends were OK.

But Larry Cox, state manager of public affairs for GTE, said Hayden is misguided if he thinks his letter--which pointed to apparent violations of Public Utilities Commission rules--prompted the company to change its mind.

“We had customers call us up and say, ‘You didn’t charge us enough on those toll calls,’ ” Cox said. “We took our cue from the customers.”


Happens all the time.


WHACK, WHACK: Assemblyman Mickey Conroy (R-Orange) isn’t the only legislator to have been inspired by a swat on the behind as a young man.

Count among his soul mates freshman Assemblyman James Rogan, the Glendale Republican who won Pat Nolan’s old seat in a special election.

Rogan explained why he signed on as a co-author to Conroy’s controversial bill to subject youthful graffiti vandals to as many as 10 paddle strokes. As a teen, Rogan--like Conroy--was on the receiving end of a paddling that made him a believer in its value as a deterrent.

After getting caught in the school bathroom with a cigarette, Rogan recalled, “I got that swat and it had an impact.”

A former judge in Glendale Municipal Court, Rogan is frustrated with traditional graffiti-fighting tools. “Franklin Roosevelt said 60 years ago, ‘Try something. If it doesn’t work, try something again.’ What we’ve been doing isn’t working.”