34 years ago, I was one of three people from around the US selected to come to California to help revamp California’s hazardous waste management program for the Governor Deukmejian Administration. We joined a dedicated group of about 300 people who had started the program under the former Governor, Jerry Brown, and his Democrat Administration. I think it is a bit ironic that Jerry Brown is again governor. Go figure!
We were told that Deukmejian wanted to outdo Brown on environmental issues. I found this to be a remarkable position, especially because Brown was a renown environmental advocate and Deukmejian, was what was back then, a conservative Republican. Nevertheless, he did encourage and support us in building the program up and establishing a number of nationally recognized, environmental programs in hazardous waste management.
What we built became the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and when I left after 5 years, we had grown to about 1100 people. It was a major investment of resources for the State and I was very proud of the results that all of us had achieved in such a short time.
During those early years of the program, I and my staff hired a number of geologists and hydrologist (along with engineers, air specialists, chemists, toxicologists and others) who had the skills and abilities to assess and interpret data to evaluate various hazardous waste issues we were charged with addressing. One of those we hired was a up and coming geologist who was working for the Water Board and had been selected by the USEPA to conduct a nation-wide assessment of groundwater issues at hazardous waste sites.
Today, after decades of dedicated service, that geologist, now running his own group of geologists and hydrologist for one of DTSC’s regional offices, had his retirement party. Brian had reached out to Mary Margaret and I recently and invited us to attend his retirement farewell.
What a joy it was for us to attend, see and share in the warmth and appreciation that his staff and others, who had worked with Brian over the years, demonstrated. Additionally, we got to meet Brian’s wife, Marlene.
Brian had asked a friend of his to provide the entertainment during the luncheon. He was a magician who had been invited to the White House to perform for the Clinton, Bush and Obama Administrations. I was fortunate to be sitting right next to him during his performance and I must admit that his “slight of hand” fooled me completely. He was very good!
After the party, Mary Margaret and I made arraignments to get together with Brian and Marlene before we leave the Bay Area in early January. At that time, we will have a chance to talk more and catch up after all of these years.