SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown is famous for being unpredictable.
Lawmakers and lobbyists at the Capitol say they’re never quite sure whether he’ll sign or veto a bill. Brown also has a penchant for showing up at their offices along with his dog Sutter, and for keeping his own counsel about appearing at one of the dozens of events he gets invited to each week.
Journalists were surprised when the governor visited Bell Gardens on Tuesday to celebrate construction of a luxury hotel at the Bicycle Casino card room, off the 710 Freeway at Florence Avenue.
Brown hailed the $45-million-plus investment, saying it would create “hundreds of construction and permanent hospitality jobs.” He called it “another sign of the rebound of the California economy, especially in our smaller cities and communities taking the brunt of the downturn.”
Then, the governor riffed on differences between generations and the ways people make their living, addressing for a moment reporters.
“The newsies in the back wonder why the governor of California is coming to the opening of a poker club. I’ll tell you why,” he said. “I come from a long line of poker players. My grandfather had two poker clubs in San Francisco.
“As a matter of fact, my father was running for district attorney, and he told his father ‘to shut those damn clubs down.’ They were going to hurt his election. My father told me what his father told him — ‘You take care of your business, and I’ll take care of mine.’”
Turning back to the event, Brown noted that opening the 100-room hotel would be a boon for the 43,000 residents of the city, which has an unemployment rate of 16.3%.
Another upbeat economic sign
In yet another sign of a strengthening economy, investors last week snapped up more than $2 billion in California government bonds.
Demand far outstripped supplies as the treasury sold $2.28 billion in general obligation bonds. That disappointed some of the would-be buyers, who had placed $4.5 billion worth of orders.
“The strong demand for California bonds the market showed ... reflects continuing confidence in California’s improving fiscal picture,” state Treasurer Bill Lockyer said.
The sale turned out to be a good deal for taxpayers. The state saved $122 million in interest payments by selling some bonds to retire more costly debt.
Clean car push
Brown and the governors of seven other states agreed last week to put more than 3 million new zero-emission cars on the streets in the next dozen years. They’re drawing up a plan to promote clean cars, using battery-electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel-cell-electric propulsion.
“This is not just an agreement, but a serious and profoundly important commitment,” Brown said.
The other states were Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.