assemblyman, Howard Thelen. Tom Dooley came back to
Sacramento, went back to work for the analyst's office, and was
interested in politics but could not become involved at a partisan
A supervisor's election came up, and Tom asked a friend,
Eugene Gualco who had worked in the Legislative Analyst's
Office, if he would run for supervisor because Tom wanted to run
a campaign. Gualco said, 'Yes, fll run." Tom ran his campaign;
Gene Gualco was elected supervisor. From there he was elected
to the assembly. He ran for Congress, lost, and is now a judge,
appointed by [Governor Edmund G., Sr.] Pat Brown.
LABERGE: How do you think that nonpartisan feeling is maintained?
SAMUEL: It has to be maintained. The nonpartisan stance of that office, is
one of the reasons you have the Assembly Office of Research.
The legislature, when it wants to get truly partisan, sets up its
own partisan-type operations. The office survived because of
Alan Post. If it hadn't been for Post, I'm not too sure the
analyst's office would still be here. Post became an institution
and he would not let the office become partisan. He outlasted a
lot of the legislative leaders. At one time [Assemblyman] Willie
Brown tried to do away with the analyst's office and it was nip-
and-tuck, but the office survived because of Post's political
LABERGE: What was it like to work for Alan Post?
SAMUEL: Alan Post was a poor administrator. I would say the office
functioned at about 40 percent of its capabilities. But there was
not a smarter person in Sacramento, intellectually. One of the
theories was that Post wanted the personnel in the office to have
a low profile, and he would be the front man. He was amazing.
He could pick up a bill, be briefed in five minutes, then walk out
and make a presentation to the committee better than the person
who briefed him. He had a meek and mild appearance and was
as hard as nails. As I say, if it hadn't been for Alan Post I don't
think the office would have survived the way it has.
LABERGE: It sounds like he had a great deal of respect from everybody he
SAMUEL: Yes. As I say, the office could have functioned more efficiently.
But on balance, Post did a marvelous job.
LABERGE: How much were you involved in research, and how often was
your office asked to research things for the legislature?
SAMUEL: All the time. In those days there would be a legislative request
to "Do this kind of study, do that kind of study, give us a report."
Those were ongoing studies. The office had a great deal of
respect because it was nonpartisan, and when those requests were
made, everyone knew the office had no axes to grind.
LABERGE: Can you give me an example of one study you were asked to do,
or any that were memorable?
SAMUEL: Probably the one I was most known for was the garbage study.
There were complaints received that a great deal of waste was
going on at the various prisons, at various state mental hospitals.
LABERGE: Part of your Department of Mental Hygiene?
SAMUEL: Yes, part of Mental Hygiene. So I sat down with my supervisor
and we had to conjure up some way of doing a food study.
Finally he said, "The only way to do it is to find out how much
food they are cooking, how many people they are cooking for,
and how much is thrown away!"
So that summer I visited every state mental hospital in
California, arriving at about 6:00, 6:30 in the morning,
unannounced; found out what the menus for the day were, what
the population was, how many people the kitchens were cooking
for; and then, at the end of the breakfast and luncheon meals,
would measure the garbage that was thrown in the garbage can
by each hospital ward.
LABERGE: Measure by inches?
SAMUEL: No, by volume. By checking each garbage can after a meal, it
was easy to determine the exact amount of food being thrown
As it turned out, for example, one of the hospitals with a
population of, we'll say 3,000 patients, was cooking enough food
to feed 5,000 patients, and over half the food was winding up in
garbage cans. We went to the committee with the
recommendation to reduce the food budget by a portion of the
amount being wasted.
LABERGE: Which committee was this?
SAMUEL: These were budget subcommittees of the Senate Finance
Committee and the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.
SAMUEL: It first appeared on the senate side, and the recommendation was
that the mental hygiene food budget be cut a certain amount
because they were buying and cooking too much food. Also, we
were recommending that certain types of food which were not
particularly popular should either not be cooked or, if they were
cooked, they should be prepared in smaller quantities.
When I went before the senate, [Senator Stephen] Steve
Teale, who was chairman of the subcommittee, was very partial
toward the Department of Mental Hygiene and very close to the
chief hospital business administrator, Andy Robertson, who made
the statement that "this is something that only exists in the mind
of Bruce Samuel." The recommendation was quickly ignored.
When we got to the assembly side, Robertson said "There is
some validity to what he says and we want to make some
changes." Several years later, I was told the big change that was
made was to install garbage disposals on all the units.
LABERGE: My gosh. Do you think that's because Steve Teale was
SAMUEL: Well, you've obviously heard of Steve Teale.
SAMUEL: Steve Teale was close to Andy Robertson, and that
recommendation just wasn't going to go anywhere, and nothing
was ever said. It was just that "this just exists in the mind of
Bruce Samuel," and it was forgotten about.
Whereas on the assembly side it was different. The
committee I went before, I believe [Assemblyman Nicholas] Nick
Petris, who's very liberal, was on that committee. That
committee was far more sympathetic to the recommendation.
What they were concerned about was, what kind of food are the
patients getting? Are they in fact being fed properly? So at that
point the department said, "He's probably right. Some of our
procedures should be changed, and we're going to make some
changes." Which, as a matter of fact, they did, but the ultimate
change was garbage disposals on the units. It was a standing
joke for many years: "the analyst who measures the garbage."
[Laughter] Probably not one of my more memorable
LABERGE: Any other studies like that?
SAMUEL: Oh, well, we did a lot of studies on treatment
effectiveness. ... A lot of the studies were in a very serious vein.
The use of drugs, the use of shock therapy, etc. Of course, the
problem is you're getting into a medical area, and for a
nonmedical person to raise questions about the professional
judgment of physicians is often ridiculed.
And then at that time the whole movement started for
community treatment. They began realizing that they were
institutionalizing too many people; there were better approaches.
So now the population is way down in the state mental hospitals.
L\BERGE: How did you feel later, because of this experience when Reagan
did either close a lot of the hospitals or ...
SAMUEL: I think we were treating too many people in the hospitals. And
of course, Reagan was not nearly as conservative as he's made
out to be.
L\BERGE: How much contact did you have, say, with Governor [Edmund
G.] Brown [Sr.] during this time, or did your office have with the
SAMUEL: The Legislative Analyst's Office, had no direct contact with the
governor because the job of the analyst's office is to challenge the
executive branch, to keep the executive branch honest, to make
recommendations on its programs and procedures. It's a devil's
advocate position. The Legislative Analyst's Office was created
back in 1939, I believe, because of a fight with [Governor]
[End Tape 1, Side A]
[Begin Tape 1, Side B]
L\BERGE: OK, we were talking about the beginning of the Legislative
SAMUEL: Yes. I was saying that it was a reaction by the legislature to get
back at the governor.
L\BERGE: Did you have dealings then with the Department of Finance?
SAMUEL: Oh, yes, we worked closely with the Department of Finance.
Prior to my going with the analyst's office, the Department of
Finance held its own budget hearings with each department. In
the early days, the legislative analyst used to sit in on those
budget hearings along with the Department of Finance. That has
changed over the years.
The whole budget process has changed. When I was in the
analyst's office, you'd go before a three-member senate
subcommittee for a public hearing on the department's budget
request. In the budget hearing the Department of Finance would
support the agency's budget request. The senate subcommittee
would then take every request under submission. At a later date
the three senators would meet in the chairman's office along with
representatives from the analyst's office and Department of
Finance. They would sit behind closed doors and make their
decisions. It was not unusual for Finance to say, "Well, Senator,
actually, the department doesn't need that." You would find the
Department of Finance sitting behind closed doors and going
along with budget cuts that publicly they opposed. The senators
would just sit there behind closed doors and go through each
department's budget, and that would be it.
LABERGE: And that doesn't happen any more, do you think?
SAMUEL: It can't happen. Everything's done publicly.
LABERGE: That's right.
SAMUEL: Then the budget would go to the full committee. The
subcommittee budget recommendations would be adopted in both
houses. Then you'd wind up in conference.
The Conference Committee would meet behind closed doors
and rewrite much of the state budget. The Conference
Committee consisted of three legislators from each house who
would meet privately behind closed doors. The legislative analyst
and the Department of Finance would be called in on occasion.
Today, the Conference Committee cannot rewrite the
budget. Each house takes action. When there's a difference in
each house's action-if one house says the department gets twenty
dollars and the other house says the department gets thirty
dollars-the Conference Committee must make a judgment
between twenty dollars and thirty dollars, only in that range. In
the old days the Conference Committee could ignore what their
budget committees had done and rewrite the entire budget, which
was often done.
LABERGE: How much did you get together with the Joint Budget
Committee, which I understood was part of the . . .
SAMUEL: The Joint Budget Committee. ... I don't know how many
members it has. Let's say it has twenty members, or fourteen.
It's an even number.
LABERGE: Yes, I thought it was seven from each.
SAMUEL: Is it seven from each? Seven from each house. The assembly
speaker appoints seven members from the assembly to be on the
committee and the Senate Rules Committee appoints seven
senators to be on the Joint Committee. That Joint Committee is
then responsible for overseeing the Legislative Analyst's Office. In
theory, the job of that committee is to select the legislative
analyst, who in turn hires the staff. In practice, the decision on
the legislative analyst is made by the leadership of both houses.
The speaker and the [president] pro tern decide who is going to
be the legislative analyst after hearing recommendations from the
Budget Committee. The Budget Committee itself, as a legislative
committee, really doesn't do too much. The office is left to the
legislative analyst to run.
LABERGE: I noticed that when you were there, one of the members was
[Assemblyman James] Jim Mills, and I wonder if that's when you
first got to know him, or maybe . . .
SAMUEL: I hadn't even heard of Jim Mills then.
LABERGE: OK. And I guess they didn't have much to do when Alan Post
was there because. ... I mean, they didn't have to keep hiring a
new legislative analyst.
SAMUEL: No. Although let me back up, because the chairman of the
Budget Committee in those days was [Senator] George Miller
[Jr.], who had a fair amount of influence on the office. The
office, of course, is politically responsive to leadership, but again,
it is independent and nonpartisan. In the old days, individual
members could contact the legislative analyst and say . . .
In the old days, any legislator could write to the legislative
analyst and request a study, and it would be done. I believe it's
completely different these days. The study request probably goes
now to the Joint. . . . Perhaps the Legislative Committee gets it,
I'm not sure, but they're screened. Requests for studies are not
done automatically the way they were in the old days. It's much
more of a formalized process. Individual members do not have
the same access to the office as they did in the old days.
LABERGE: Do you think they need it now because they have more of their
own staff, or do you think that's part of the change?
SAMUEL: I think what's happened is the size of the government has gotten
so large, the analyst's responsibilities have increased greatly, plus
each house has its own internal staff that can handle a lot of the
requests that in those days used to go to the analyst's office.
Their Offices of Research do a lot of what the analyst's office
used to do for individual members. Just the size of the state
budget has increased the number of requests that are made for
various studies and reports.
Also, the auditor general has become more active.
LABERGE: On balance, how would you judge the effectiveness of the office?
SAMUEL: It all depends. The recommendations can often be used as an
excuse to do something. In certain areas they carry a great deal
of weight. In highly charged political areas, it's a political
On the nuts and bolts of the state budget, the things that
are generally boring to most people, a great deal of weight. Also
a great deal of weight on legislation which is of a technical
nature and where there aren't a lot of the so-called heavyweights
involved. In those areas, an objective analysis generally
determines the decision. So overall, it is effective.
LABERGE: Why do you think Willie Brown at one time wanted to do away
SAMUEL: Because he couldn't control it. That office had a different agenda
than he had.
LABERGE: Maybe he wanted to control the information?
SAMUEL: Willie would come from a very liberal point of view. The
analyst's office is middle-of-the-road to conservative. The
Legislative Analyst's Office traditionally had been viewed as a
senate office. That's probably the basic reason. And again, I
think the reason for that is the office by nature is somewhat
conservative and the senate has always been a much more
conservative body, so the office philosophically would naturally
tilt more toward the senate than the assembly.
LABERGE: Any interesting people you worked with? Like you were saying
that's where you met [Phillip] Phil Schott or other people?
SAMUEL: My first boss was a character out of a Damon Runyon story. Is
this the kind of thing we go into?
SAMUEL: His name was Fred Lewe. I was ushered in to be introduced to
my new boss who was sitting behind his desk, a character right
out of Guvs and Dolls in a gray suit with big, wide stripes; sort
of a knit T-shirt with a little string tie; a big head; and a little
pencil mustache on a face that looked like a horse. That was
Fred Lewe, who was always a little bit at odds with Alan Post
because many had thought Fred Lewe was going to be the
legislative analyst. They were surprised when Alan Post got it
instead of Fred Lewe. Fred was a hard drinker, a wild man, and
a carouser, but very bright and extremely articulate.
LABERGE: So was he deputy?
SAMUEL: He was in charge of the section where I worked. [Telephone
rings] He's one of the world's unforgettable characters. In those
days, the analyst's office was known for its cast of characters. It
was a smaller office with a bunch of carousers, hard drinkers, and
late workers. I remember Alan Post walked into my office around
midnight one night and said, "I remember when I had the mental
hygiene budget. I did it in six hours one night." But over the
years, the office has grown to a staff of over a hundred now. In
the early days it started at fifteen or so and it grew and grew and
LABERGE: How did you get from there to the consumer counsel?
SAMUEL: I first interviewed for a job with the state Chamber of Commerce.
LABERGE: Because you were looking for a change?
SAMUEL: Yes, I was looking for a change. I had the interview and I knew
the job wasn't for me, and I mentioned it to a friend of mine in
the analyst's office who went and interviewed for the job, and he
got it. I'm going to backtrack and jump ahead here. At the same
time, he had mentioned to me that there was a job with the
consumer counsel. I went down and I interviewed for that job.
LABERGE: Did you know anything about the consumer counsel?
SAMUEL: The only thing I knew was that the legislature didn't like it too
much. It was always a very controversial office. But in any
event, I interviewed for the job anyway, and many months later I
got the job with the consumer counsel. At the same time I got
the job at the consumer counsel, my friend had gone off to work
for the state Chamber. He then. . . . Let's see, let me backtrack
on this. Well, we'll come back to that instead.
LABERGE: You can tell it now. Because we may forget it later.
SAMUEL: Well, let's see. When I was in the Consumer Counsel Office,
toward the end, about 1966, we were looking for a new
information officer and wound up interviewing Mel Morris, who
was the consultant to the Assembly Transportation Committee.
Mel was our first choice, but he turned the job down.
In the meantime, my friend Chuck Smithers, who took the
job that I interviewed for, that I had told him about with the
state Chamber, he had gone on to work for Cal Tax, the
California Taxpayers Association. He walked into my office one
day and said, "My information officer just died. Do you know
anyone who'd be interested in being Cal Tax's information officer?
I know you've been interviewing." I said, "Our first choice was
Mel Morris. I think you should talk to Mel."
So Chuck went over, interviewed Mel Morris, and hired
him. Mel left the Transportation Committee because there had
been a change of leadership and his boss had gone over to the
senate. He didn't know if he was going to be able to keep his
job with the committee; he had no idea.
So Reagan was elected governor, and on January 11, 1967
I got a letter asking me to resign no later than January 12. I did
a very foolish thing, because the letter was signed by someone I
had never heard of. It was signed by [Michael] Mike Deaver, and
I threw the letter away, not because I was upset but because I
felt the letter should be signed by Reagan. It was a letter I
should have kept.
I was up in the capitol cafeteria the following week, and
Mel Morris said, "What are you going to do?" I said, "I'm looking
for work." He said, "The job I had with the Assembly
Transportation Committee, I think [Assemblyman] John Foran
may get the committee." Mel Morris then talked to John Foran
about me and arranged for him to interview me. Mel said,
"When John Foran interviews you, he doesn't know if he's going
to get the Transportation Committee. He'll bring up that he's
also interviewing for an administrative assistant. Tell him you
want the Transportation Committee job."
So I interviewed with John, and he said, "I may get the
Transportation Committee. Would you be interested?" I said yes.
He got the committee, and hired me.
It all comes full circle, doesn't it?
That's right. It all comes full circle. That's how I wound up with
the Transportation Committee. And I was called into the
speaker's office and was told they authorized my being hired by
Foran and, as his staff person, I was to be very careful and watch
to be sure that [Assemblyman Edwin] Ed Z'berg, who was
chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, did not steal
subject matter from the Transportation Committee. Z'berg was
known as being very aggressive and Foran was a new chairman.
They weren't sure what direction Foran would take, and they
wanted to be sure that Z'berg did not steal subject matter from
the Transportation Committee.
LABERGE: So was that part of your job to watch out for that?
SAMUEL: That was part of my job.
L\BERGE: Let's back up and talk about the consumer counsel for a little bit.
When you interviewed for that job, who did you interview with?
SAMUEL: Helen Nelson interviewed me. Helen Nelson was a liberal Alan
Post. Helen was a person before her time; she would do
marvelously well today. I think she made things possible for a
lot of professional women. She was exceptionally bright.
LABERGE: Our office has an oral history 1 with her, which I just read last
weekend. She was one of the first women . . .
SAMUEL: She was the first woman.
LABERGE: The first woman?
SAMUEL: What happened was, when Pat Brown. . . . This is all
secondhand, of course. When Pat Brown ran for governor, there
was a George Brunn, a man who ultimately became a judge. He
was an attorney from Berkeley. Brunn told Pat Brown, "One of
the things you've got to do, Pat, is you've got to have a plank to
run [on]. You should have a consumer counsel. And that
became one of his campaign promises, a consumer counsel. After
Brown was elected, he appointed Helen Nelson consumer counsel.
One thing Brown can never be forgiven for is Helen Nelson
was appointed consumer counsel and told nothing. She was
never briefed, it was never explained to her how the legislature
1. Helen Nelson, "The First Consumer Counsel in California," an oral history
conducted in 1979 by Julie Shearer in "Pat Brown: Friends and Campaigners,"
Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California,
operates. She was left to her own devices, and very early on did
some things that made it impossible for her to get along with the
legislature. She was destined to have difficulties because she was
opposing so many special interests. And she wasn't told such
things as, "If you're going to oppose an author's bill, you must
tell him in advance."
Finally, she was called aside by Vince Kennedy. In telling
the story, Helen would say, "You know, I hate the old guy, the
old fox. But I also admire and like him." Vince Kennedy was
one of the most powerful lobbyists in Sacramento. He
represented the California Retailers Association for years, a real
power in Sacramento. According to Helen, Vince called her aside
one day and said, "Helen, you and I are always going to disagree.
We're never going to be on the same side. But if you're going to
work in Sacramento, here are the rules of the legislature. Here's
how it works."
She said Vince gave her a real education, but unfortunately
it was too late. After that, she understood what the problems
were. But again, being the first woman, it was an impossible
situation she was in, which was made worse by the fact that the
governor's office really did not know how to deal with her, did
not know how to use her properly, didn't adequately prepare her
for the job. All things considered, she did a remarkable job. Just
a brilliant woman.
She essentially had to create the program.
She had to create the program.
When she hired you, what were you going to be doing?
SAMUEL: I was going to be helping her develop a legislative program and
defend her budget. The office had come under a lot of criticism
from the Legislative Analyst's Office. It recommended that her
budget be cut, and I'm sure the principal reason for hiring me
was to somehow blunt that. At the time, she had an attorney in
the office, [Vincent] Vince MacKenzie.
I was hired as a field representative. Later that year, the
budget committees of both houses eliminated my position. On
the Friday night following this action, my wife and I had invited
Vince MacKenzie and his wife to our house for dinner. He was
the attorney in the Consumer Counsel's Office. The evening they
came over to dinner was the day the Conference Committee
Report came out. For some reason, Vince MacKenzie's position