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Gov. Brown Confronts His Dreaded L-Word — Legacy — In New Profile

The cover of the April 2018 issue of California Sunday Magazine.
Carlos Chavarría
The cover of the April 2018 issue of California Sunday Magazine.
Gov. Brown Confronts His Dreaded L-Word — Legacy — In New Profile
Gov. Brown Confronts His Dreaded L-Word — Legacy — In New Profile GUEST: Andy Kroll, contributing writer, The California Sunday Magazine

Governor Brown has less than one year left in office and he is pushing hard for major projects he has wanted a long time. High-speed rail line from Los Angeles to San Francisco and a series of tunnel bringing water from the Delta to the rest of the state and if they get built either one will last for decades but Brown is notorious for here is his last year advocating for a cap and trade deal. >> So we do want to hear about some cockamamie knee legacy will be hear about. This is for you. >> Reporter and it the Kroll has a new profile in next month's Sunday magazine talking about his governing style and yes his legacy. It is called the last days of Jerry Brown. >> You make the point that Governor Pat Brown is known for his infrastructure projects including the state aqueduct but Jerry Brown and his first terms in the 70s didn't seem to have that same interest what is changed? >> Overtime Jerry Brown seems to have come to a realization that these big projects are sending sending out and last in even if he refutes the notion of legacy and says that governors are not remembered in the future governors are not remembered like precedents that project like this aqueduct that Pat Brown past or the master plan for higher education these things do last and leave a mark long past the life of the person who brought them into being so Jerry Brown like his father has come to the realization that these big projects are an important part of the job as a governor and something he has made a priority in his last term of office. >> Governor Brown has gotten more outspoken about those big projects and this week he said that criticism of his high-speed rail plan was bull. What do you make of that? >> I make that he has resolved the last year of his 16 years and this last year with will secure the future of these big projects, high-speed rail is chief among them. We have heard in his state of the state speech defending and I like high-speed rail and I want to have it in California this is something that has to get done for the future of the state not to mention for the future of dealing with climate change problems and inspiring other states to follow suit so these remarks are just another example of him putting his foot down and insisting that in the last year he is going to make a press for a big long lasting legacy producing project that are on his agenda. >> He is not necessarily known as a behind the scenes dealmaker but you have details about how he was able to get last year's cap and trade deal past and that goes against that. >> Yes in his first two terms in his 30s and 40s there were times when he seemed almost like an anti-politician. He talked about creative in action, he talked about an era of limits and the small is beautiful. He never gave the impression of a wheeling and dealing Lyndon Johnson style power broker a dealmaker. And yet in these last two terms that is very much who he has become and that is the story of the 2017 legislative victories that he had and the ones that I write about in my piece and what he is trying to do now where he burrowed down the details in the backroom negotiations with SP1 infrastructure bill and gas tax and cap and trade extensions and he is pulling loud lawmakers into the mansions, pulling out the bottles of vodka with from the Russian ambassador and doing whatever he needed to do to get these big pieces of legislation passed and as a dealmaker even as Johnny-come-lately he succeeded in getting those bills passed. >> Why does he hate to talk about legacy? >> To hear him tell it he will say that it is a new term that this is not something people asked Pat Brown about and they didn't ask Jerry Brown about but it is lazy journalistic shorthand and something that we journalists come up with to make sense of modern politics and he wants as he asked me he will say white can't you just look at the facts of what I have done and why can't you just say this is how politicians operate and the exercise of power and that's how it works. He is adverse to the notion of legacy and yet, he, it is a great subject because it teases out the way he thinks about these things. He is not your run-of-the-mill politician who will run with the question and go with the premise. He will debate and challenge and turn the question back on you and quibble with your word choice. He is singular in the way that he interacts with us and the media and how he challenges a lot of the things we take for granted. I have been speaking with Andy Kroll his article the last days of Jerry Brown is on the cover of the latest issue of the California Sunday magazine. Andy, thank you. >> Thank you pics

Gov. Jerry Brown has less than a year left in office and he’s pushing hard for some major projects he’s wanted for a long time: a high-speed rail line from Los Angeles to San Francisco and a series of tunnels that would transport water from the California Delta to the rest of the state. If they ever get built, either one would last for decades. But Brown is notorious for hating any focus on what his legacy could be.

“I’m not here about some cockamamie legacy that people talk about," Brown said last year before a California Senate committee. "I’m going to be dead. It’s for you.”

Reporter Andy Kroll wrote a new profile of Brown for the April issue of The California Sunday Magazine. In it, he looked at how Brown's governing style has evolved since his first term in the '70s and, yes, his legacy. Kroll noted that Brown was key in negotiating last year for a gas tax increase and cap-and-trade extension.


"Few have ever thought of Brown as a classic pol, the guy who charms and cajoles and cuts side deals to get bills passed," Kroll wrote. "He might never say so, but for the longest time, he saw himself as above back-slapping and palm-greasing. That was old-school, the kind of thing his dad would do."

Kroll joins KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday with more on "The Last Days of Jerry Brown."