Jerry Brown in Arizona? We tell him where to go

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Jerry Brown is on vacation this week, apparently in Arizona. And we have some ideas about what California’s governor-elect could, should and shouldn’t be doing there.

The details of this trip are hazy, and Brown’s office didn’t immediately respond to requests for clarification on Thursday and Friday morning. No doubt some people are perplexed that California’s new Democrat governor would take his holiday in a state that some liberal Californians are boycotting over its stance on undocumented immigrants.

But for many Californians and veteran Arizona visitors, there’s a simpler question here: You’re about to become head of a conflict-riven household that’s about $25 billion in debt. Shouldn’t you be in Las Vegas?

But no. If it were still 1977, we’d suspect that the once-and-future governor was in Sedona, clinging to the back of a Pink Jeep as it rambles toward an alleged energy vortex (and that had better be clean energy). Or maybe he’d be in the hinterlands near Flagstaff, sprawled on the roof at one of those sky-watchers’ B&Bs, where the moonbeams come streaming down bright as day.


And come to think of it, doesn’t Linda Ronstadt have family in Arizona?

But the governor-elect is married to somebody else now. And after all those years traveling the world, running Oakland and prosecuting bad guys as the state attorney general, he’s surely a different sort of tourist than he used to be.

In fact, maybe he’s holed up at the nearest hotel to Arizona’s Capitol, seeking inspiration through detailed study of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s handling of border issues.

OK, maybe not.


But the 72-year-old futurist could be at Arcosanti, enjoying the incomplete utopian creations of a dreamer even more senior than he. Italian architect Paolo Soleri, born in 1919, started work in 1970 on that community of the future, about 70 miles north of Phoenix. That was four years before Brown’s first run for governor. And now? The project is less than 5% complete, but it has way less debt than California.

Brown could be down in Bisbee, prospecting for copper by day, passing his nights in an old Airstream trailer.

He could be learning ayurvedic food preparation with the masters at the Zen Wellness center in Sun City West.

Or maybe, more inclined to action than contemplation, he’s standing atop the Hualapai Indians’ glass Skywalk platform at Grand Canyon West, wishing he could throw Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over the edge.

Along similar but less life-threatening lines, perhaps Brown is checking out the specifications of the Biosphere II dome, north of Tucson, which could make a fine confinement area for a deadlocked Legislature. Or he might be pacing the old O.K. Corral in Tombstone (“the town too tough to die”), channeling the spirit of Wyatt Earp and wondering what caliber weaponry the state’s Republican leadership favors.

Maybe Brown is searching for new ways to stretch Californians’ tax dollars, such as exporting convicts to cheaper, privately run, for-profit prisons in Arizona. Oh, wait.

Or maybe we’re wrong about all of this. Maybe Brown just took a hike down the Grand Canyon the way so many Arizona visitors do, then heard the news that California’s budget crisis is already much worse than people were saying it was two weeks ago.Then maybe  he reached bottom and discovered that the lodge and campground at Supai Village are closed for the season.

Picture him there now, soaking in the cool waters of Havasu Falls, staring up at those red canyon walls, trying mightily not to think of cascading red ink, waiting for spring.