It's A Slap of Reality

As draconian funding cuts kick in, mass layoffs shake California's legislature and reduce Willie Brown to tears

On the day that more than 600 legislative staffers lost their jobs, Speaker Willie Brown ascended the rostrum of the ornate, walnut-and-velvet California state assembly chamber and, with a trembling of his smartly tailored shoulders, broke down and wept. Veteran assemblymen who have known him for 25 years as a tough-minded political chieftain were amazed. "It's a tragedy that we have to let these people go," Brown sobbed. "This place will not be the same."

California's voters set the cuts in motion last November by narrowly passing Proposition 140, a ballot initiative that hit legislators with a double whammy: it not...

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