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Friday, March 5, 2010

Fired State Official Warns Schwarzenegger Peons: 'Don't Think. Don't Speak.'

Posted By on Fri, Mar 5, 2010 at 4:30 PM

click to enlarge I'm not leavin' 'til I get my piece said...
  • I'm not leavin' 'til I get my piece said...
State bureaucrats Friday nudged forward a plan to sell two Civic Center-area government buildings to private investors. Today the hiring of bond counsel to advise the state on certain aspects of the deal was approved.

But this decision did not come about before everyone was made to listen unsmilingly to a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-style speech from an official who'd been fired, ostensibly for attempting to block

the sale.

As reported earlier, Casper until Wednesday afternoon sat

on the three-person San Francisco State Building Authority. But he was abruptly dismissed last week

after voicing objections to a state plan to raise $2

billion by selling 11 state-owned structures, including San Francisco's PUC and Supreme Court Buildings. This

financial practice -- in which the state would lease back the buildings

from future buyers -- is akin to taking out a massive loan. While California

would certainly lose scads of money in the long-term, the cash-poor

state would get an infusion in the short-term.

In his pivotal speech before the U.S. Senate in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Jimmy Stewart noted that the body had attempted to railroad him back where he came from.

"Well, I guess the gentlemen are in a pretty tall hurry to get me out of

here," Stewart's character, Jefferson Smith, said. "...I'm quite willing to go, sir, when they vote it that way

-- but before that happens I've got a few things I want to say to this

body. I tried to say them once before, and I got stopped colder than a

mackerel. Well, I'd like to get them said this time, sir. And as a

matter of fact, I'm not going to leave this body until I do get them

said."

In his speech before the San Francisco State Building Authority Friday, Don Casper likewise noted the state's haste in getting rid of him after he spoke up against what he believed was inappropriate government action.

'I could only assume I was replaced because I spoke about the

sell-off to the press," said former Casper, who was sacked Thursday after SF Weekly reported on his opposition to the deal.

Casper told the bureaucrats assembled in basement hearing room in the California

Supreme Court building at 455 Golden Gate Avenue about his service

since 1993 on the obscure authority, which oversees financing of that

building and another one at 505 Van Ness Avenue.

He told them about his reasons for opposing the buildings sale to

private investors, including his belief that a new private landlord

might compromise the independence of the courts and state regulatory

agencies housed within.

And then he offered a word of advice to the

Authority member who replaced him, Mike DeNunzio, who happened to have

been Casper's long-time friend and political protege (Denunzio voted

in favor of the bond-counsel measure, essentially putting his

imprimatur on the sale.)

"First,

don't think," Casper said to DeNunzio and the state bureaucrats

flanking him. "Second, if you think, don't speak up. Third, if you

think and you speak up, don't be surprised."

Jimmy Stewart, for his part, told fictional U.S. Senate colleagues: "The people of my state need permanent relief from crooked men riding their backs."

"This," Casper said when we gave him a ride back to his Financial District law office following his speech, was "a Mr. Smith leaves Washington moment."

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