Twenty-eight years before Mitt Romney had to seek "binders full of women" for jobs in Massachusetts state government, California's Governor Jerry Brown was appointing women to high positions in the biggest state government in the country. I know because I was one of them.
And Jerry didn't need no stinkin' binders to identify qualified women. Nor did he need to ask women's groups to identify them. He personally knew, all on his own, who the qualified women were.
No sooner was he sworn in than he immediately appointed Rose Bird as Secretary of Agriculture. Within the same week he appointed Claire Dedrich as Secretary of Resources and Adriana Gianturko to head CalTrans, the largest state highway system in the country. These three women held control of most of the land and water of California (including its coastal waters), its enormous agricultural industry, and its might freeway and bridge system. These sure were no sissy "lady-like" jobs!
And within two years Brown elevated Rose Bird to be Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court!
These women tackled tough stuff head on. While Secretary of Agriculture, Rose ended the violence and strikes in the agribusiness fields by creating the Farm Labor Relations Act, a crowning achievement for Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers. Like Cesar, Rose was in constant danger for her life, not just from agribusiness hired thugs but also from the Teamsters who wanted control of farm workers. She didn't care. "Let's go take square dance lessons," she said to me.
Claire went up against the tough guys by seeking to protect the dwindling redwood forests from clear-cut logging. The lumberjacks came roaring into Sacramento in their monster trucks and hung her in effigy in front of the state capitol. I watched it all with her from her office window. "Should we go out and serve them coffee?" I quipped. She smiled, though wanly.
Adrianna earned the unrelenting hatred and attacks of the auto industry, the highway workers, the mighty Operating Engineers, and the City of Los Angeles for trying to embue the state's massive freeway building with some kind of environmental good sense.
Where are they now?
Adrianna is apparently still alive somewhere, but Rose and Claire have been dead for years and years. I miss them. The four of us could have had a good laugh and a few drinks over Mitt Romney's "binders full of women".
We'd all have the same question for Mitt, paraphrasing Big Bill Clinton: "Where you been, boy, these past forty years since the Woman's Movement?"
And where the hell were you, Mitt, in the twenty-eight years between Jerry Brown's women appointees and you becoming governor of Massachusetts?
Sitting around for decades with a binder over your head?
Hey, Mitt boy! You got a binder full of tax returns you should share with us?