By David Siders
dsiders@sacbee.com
Published: Monday, Nov. 22, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 1A

One of Gov.-elect Jerry Brown’s more specific post-election pronouncements was that he may not appoint a chief of staff.

The title “kind of conjures up, you know, Eisenhower’s Cabinet,” the 72-year-old former governor said the morning after the election, as if the Capitol had become a more title-conscious place since Brown was last governor, from 1975 to 1983.

In fact, Brown may be the first California governor to have used the term, referring to Gray Davis, the eventual governor, as his “executive assistant and chief of staff,” according to records reviewed by the California Research Bureau, a section of the California State Library.

And whatever he may now call the position, there is little reason to believe Brown will not install a de-facto chief or chiefs of staff. For a governor of the nation’s most populous state, it is almost unavoidable.

“Somebody’s got to be there to kind of manage the flow of information,” Tim Gage, a former state finance director who has provided advice to Brown’s transition team on budget-related matters, said in a panel discussion Wednesday. “Even if you’re going to have a transition, or an inaugural celebration that consists of juice and paper cups, somebody’s got to go buy the paper cups.”

Jack Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College, said, “You need somebody to handle the details. Obviously, he (Brown) knows California government as well as anyone alive. But it’s just a question of allocating time.”

Brown has said that not having a chief of staff could serve to flatten the administration. He would rely more on department heads and introduce a “little more humility” to the Governor’s Office, he said.

Brown spokesman Sterling Clifford said the shape of Brown’s administration has yet to be decided.

“He has not offered any jobs to anyone,” he said.

But if Brown does not designate a senior manager or managers, people will likely assume those roles, anyway, said Susan Kennedy, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s chief of staff.

There are “a thousand little decisions that are made every day,” she said, and “someone or some people will rise to the positions of responsibility for making those decisions.”

Some former governors, including Brown’s father, called those decision-makers executive secretaries or executive assistants.

Brown introduced “chief of staff” in Davis’ title. The first instance in which the designation could be found to stand alone was in 1985, during Gov. George Deukmejian’s administration, according to the Research Bureau.

Brown has not announced any appointments. That is at least in part because he is not yet certain how to structure his inner circle, according to people close to the transition.

But Brown already has demonstrated a dependency on senior advisers. In both his current office, attorney general, and in his transition, Brown relies heavily on Chief Deputy Attorney General Jim Humes, who is coordinating the transition and is likely to figure significantly in Brown’s administration.

“I’m not tightly scheduled,” Brown told The Bee before the election. “I really start the day, and things start, and I talk to, I call up Humes and I call up the lawyers here and we’ve got that lawsuit and this amicus brief. … I like to be available to stuff that needs to be worked on.”

Even regarding the state’s massive budget deficit, the matter to which Brown is paying the most personal attention, Brown has relied on an adviser, Tom Quinn, to meet with finance officials and to solicit advice from experts. These include Gage and another former state finance director, Michael Genest, who advised GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman during the campaign.

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