State Treasurer shows
By Kelly Feser Eells
California State Treasurer Phil
Angelides gave such a lively talk Monday night it all but charmed
the blazers off his young audience: The Thacher School student
Though everyone politely kept their jackets on, the Thacher alumnus'
"state of the state" presentation clearly won over
a new generation of constituents - if not some of his old teachers'
"In 1965, when his dad and he sent an application to Thacher
School," said Headmaster Michael Mulligan, "his father
wrote that Mr. Angelides, then 13, would like to go to Harvard
University and would like to enter politics. Well, he did both,
and has had a life of both private and public service. As a successful
and innovative businessman, he's taken a lead role in helping
to finance education in this state, and as a Democratic leader,
he is supportive of public education 100 percent."
Mulligan also noted that the state's head fiduciary has "worked
hard to protect the environment for corporate reform, and he
represents the best of that statement I've said often about Thacher,
that we're responsible for (and influences on) far beyond our
boundaries, and that we're a private school with a public purpose.
His life is the embodiment of that public purpose, and our school,
our country, and this state is much stronger because of the work
of Mr. Angelides. And he will be running for governor in 2006."
After thanking Mulligan for the warm welcome and "official
announcement of my candidacy," Angelides joked, "I
don't remember having been on this campus before and speaking
to the entire student body So, there's hope. I couldn't win
an election (here), student council, school prefect, nothing."
Smiling at the reporters in the audience, he added, "Don't
write that. Let's just say my classmates didn't appreciate my
Angelides then introduced aide, Mike Roth, "who has one
of the best jobs in the state. He gets to travel with me all
over the state, and I'm always easy to get along with, never
temperamental," again prompting the audience's laughter.
"I'm staying at the Ojai Valley Inn; he's staying at the
Best Western. But let the record reflect that I'm paying personally;
the state's not."
After Harvard, Angelides worked for Gov. Jerry Brown, working
to create programs to build low-income housing, finding that,
"as a young person in state service, I could make a difference.
I also found that, as a young person involved in my community,
whether it was doing charitable work and raising money for emergency
housing shelters or helping people live independently, as a private
citizen I could make a difference.
"I'm as proud of anything I did in the private sector as
I am with those actions that come with my title as state treasurer
of California, and of being in charge of investing $300 billion
in the global economy," said Angelides, who, as a real estate
developer involved in the New Urbanist Movement in the 1980s,
helped design communities "with a real sense of community.
Tree-lined streets, front porches, real 'walkability,' better
access to transit - to really have us grow in ways that were
sustainable and environmentally smart."
Acknowledging his success in the private sector, Angelides said,
"I'm a deep believer that you can do well financially and
by society; the two are not mutually exclusive. The 'wealth generators,'
people who increase wealth as a whole, whether it's developing
products that change the nature of the way we live, developing
new technologies that move our society forward, creating businesses
that provide good jobs, are essential to a healthy, free enterprise
Angelides explained that his job as treasurer may be broken down
into three primary areas of responsibility: investor, banker,
"I sit on the boards of our two state pension funds and
I invest the state's investment pool - we invest $300 billion
in the global economy and are invested in 60 countries, in everything
from high tech (industries) to real estate in the Far East -
and with my job as treasurer comes a tremendous obligation to
make sure I'm investing money to ensure that the pensioners get
paid their pensions, but also a great opportunity to use money
wisely to advance strength in our economy and society.
"In my role as (investor and) trustee for the state's pension
funds, I've been able to stand up as a representative of one
of the largest shareholder blocks in America, to ask for and
demand greater corporate responsibility. I don't know how many
of you watched the saga of Richard Grasso, the former head of
the New York Stock Exchange, who paid himself $188 million (per
year) just for showing up to work each morning. This was a guy
who, I think, was part of a dangerous trend in this country,"
representing the separation between the "very few"
who do well and "the masses. And as treasurer of the State
of California, one of the largest investors that participate
in the NYSE, I led the charge to force his resignation.
"As the state's banker, it falls to me to finance the state's
great public works - transportation, university expansion, water
projects, acquisition of parklands - and, in any given year,
I'll borrow $20 billion on Wall Street to finance the great public
works that this state needs to sustain itself."
Angelides went on to explain that, in recent years, "I have,
unfortunately, been called on to borrow more and more just to
cover and paper over the state's deficit. I'm a big believer
in what I call 'good debt,' which is when you scrape and borrow
to send your kid to college or buy a house so your family can
see equity appreciation, and 'bad debt,' which is borrowing beyond
your means. And, again unfortunately, I've been required to seek
too much of this, what is, essentially, credit card debt the
last few years, because the state spends more than it takes in."
The third part of his job, he continued is, "I'm a lender.
I lend money for health clinics in urban communities; (we) run
a small business loan program that's given opportunity to a lot
- this year, hopefully, helping up to 1,000 small businesses,
with an emphasis on women and minorities, who are the future
and majority in California - pollution cleanup, and essentially
lending funds for (projects of) good purpose."
With respect to prevailing and anticipated challenges, "I
know you read the news," Angelides smiled, "but aren't
allowed to watch TV during the week, which is something I'm going
to take up with the headmaster."
Prompting cheers, applause and yet another round of laughter,
he added, "I think that any participant in the 21st century
has to watch the Fox news channel to know what's really going
Angelides concluded, "We must, as a society, focus like
a laser on education, particularly the education of the workforce
of the 21st century, so as to create skilled workers who can
compete for the high quality jobs. We need to make sure our kids
can read and write,
experiment with charter schools, whatever it takes. We also need
to invest in the public fabric and support small businesses,
partner with the small business person," recognizing that,
to do so, "we need to work strip away stupid and/or restrictive
Asked to elaborate on his views on education, Angelides said,
"I don't wildly support charter schools, but I'm willing
to experiment. I'm a Democrat - but also a Progressive - who
believes in merit pay, and in the accountability of both kids
and adults. The reality is, the richer, suburban schools get
the higher quality teachers. We need to create more incentives
for teachers in inner city schools. I tend to favor more local
control and, while I do believe in state standards, we should
let the (individual) schools decide how best to get there."
And his opinion on Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger?
"Well, for my part, I intend to work with the governor-elect
when I think he's right and, hopefully, work with him on issues
where I think he's wrong. If anything's to come from this recall,
let's hope it's an end to brain-dead politics and puts and end
to (partisan) recriminations.
"As I said before, he has a huge task before him. Change
doesn't happen with one individual, even if that individual was
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