Chapter Seven Legislative Fraternity/Family When I was there the legislature was predominately a male macho organization, not unlike the fraternity crowd in college. Freedom from home environment, the special title, being with a number of the 'select', encouraged a feeling of superiority--like maybe it was hard for them to do wrong. Like Greek Letter Fraternity people, there was a tendency toward self-congratulation. They believed they were better than ordinary people--not unlike the bat in B'Ann's poem, who says: To Be a Bat is Something ... and implies that if you aren't one you're Nothing. When I went to Sacramento in 1967 there'd never been a female in the Senate and only 3 out of the 80 members of the Assembly were women, and 2 out of these 3 were elected when I was. (At the time of this writing, in 2004, there are _ women in the California Assembly and__ in the Senate.) pic ONE Most legislators spend over half their time at the State Capitol, away from their families somewhat like young college students away from home and its restraining habits. I don't mean to say they acted just like 18 year olds, but, left to themselves for social or recreational activities, they tended to revert to type. Two male weaknesses predominated: getting carried away with either sex or hooch. Burton: when you learn how to beat the system as it exists you become reluctant to change the rules. Being alone away from home did bring about a partial reversion in me to one youthful habit--sometimes drinking too much. When I was at UC Berkeley and in military service getting drunk was by many of us looked on as a positive good --a thing to do in and of itself, not just to enhance other pleasures. I can remember in 1941 thwarting the purpose of the existing law which in order to inhibit drinking in college prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages within two miles of the campus. We'd run out of booze at five minutes to 2 AM. With bars and liquor stores closing at 2 the only thing for us to do was pile in a car and drive like hell down College Avenue to the Black and White Liquor Store, located just beyond the 2 mile limit. Four of us were flying high; the car owner drove standing up in the front seat of his top- down convertible with me with my foot on the gas and two others wildly yelling obscenities from the rear seat. We got our booze; we didn't get killed (or kill anyone else). We were lucky. (Why do we brag about how Bad we were?) For my birthday celebration in 1974, Janet got a group of friends and our kids together for dinner at the Jalisco restaurant in Napa. It was a fun party. I had several drinks before dinner and 2 or 3 glasses of wine with it. I had to leave at 8:30 to get to a speaking engagement a few miles from the restaurant. Janet was taking home our other car. As I drove the 3 or 4 miles to the restaurant, I remember telling myself, "I've had a fair amount to drink and I could be a little fuzzy. I've got to be really careful and collect my thoughts because I don't want the drinking to show." I gave no thought whatsoever to the fact that I was driving on a public highway breaking the law. The same mental/physical state (diminished capacity) which reduced my confidence in myself as a speaker, also made driving an illegal act which had the potential to do far greater harm political and human than a slurred word or illogically-expressed thought before the Napa chapter of the Sierra Club. When I got there a discussion was going on and I had plenty of time to collect my thoughts and actually sober up a bit before I had to speak. I was lucky again. Less than a year later, on Valentine's Day in 1975, I attended a dinner meeting in Vallejo. Although a much longer affair, it was similar to my birthday party in its festive mood, and my consumption of alcoholic beverages was about the same. This time I wasn't so lucky. On the way home I wasn't thinking about giving speeches or anything else in particular. I was stopped by the California Highway Patrol. They said I was swaying back and forth in my lane and would I please get out of the car and do a couple of tests for them. I became instantly scared as hell but there wasn't anything to do but comply. I walked the straight line and touched my nose pretty well, but my balance was off with my eyes shut, and the officer said my eyes did not react normally to certain tests. Anyhow they arrested and handcuffed me for Driving Under the Influence--"drunk driving", and took me to the sheriff's office where a breathalizer test confirmed their opinion. It showed my blood alcohol to be .113, with a .10 then being the maximum standard in use. A deputy sheriff who lived near us happened to be working that night. He took me home in an hour or so. By then I was tired but sober. No one was home. Jane and Peter were visting friends, and Janet was in the hospital receiving treatment for a temporary non- threatening illness. I set the alarm for 6:30 AM, because I knew word of my arrest would spread rapidly and the press would be after me and I needed to be prepared. 2 The next morning it didn't take me long to make the decision. I remembered the volume of adverse publicity some of my colleagues had gotten in protesting innocence. An original flurry in the press on arrest, another on entry of plea, another when trial date was set and finally continuous headlines throughout the trial. Regardless of the verdict they were the losers. Besides that, I had had enough to drink to make me a less safe driver, and admitting it was honest, and it would be a heck of a lot easier for me to handle personally than trying to continually and falsely protest innocence. I got on the phone and called Janet, Jill, and Mike Gage. They all agreed with me. Janet and Jill were also very supportive, telling me they loved me and were proud of me. This made it a lot easier. The rest of the story is pretty well told in the 3/9/75 clipping from The Vacaville Reporter. I had made the right decision and making it hadn't been too hard. It wasn't quite so easy to live with as I had thought because I was ashamed of myself--a lot. I was wrong, but essentially I liked myself enough "to forgive myself". Support from family and frieds was very helpful. In retrospect now I'm less ashamed--but I'm a reformed drinker now. Guilt based on others' opinions of me--getting caught and publically humiliated--may have predominated, in my feelings at the time. pic 3 The job of being a legislator presented more than I could possibly do, 365 days a year. It was hard to do justice to the job and be a good husband and father too. I often felt 'on the horns of a dilemna.' Home was a little over an hour from the Capitol. If I didn't drive home nights that I could, I felt guilty, and when I was at home I sometimes felt guilty that I wasn't working on legislative business. Most nights I just preferred to come home and so I did, though it was often 8, 9, or 10 PM that I'd get there--only to leave the next morning at 6, 7, or 8. If I couldn't make it home I called and said hello on the telephone and I got pretty good at talking to Janet this way and sharing things, but it didn't work very well with the rest of the family. And it didn't really give her the support a father ought to give the whole family. I was a partially absent father and spouse, sort of living a single life within marriage. It was for the birds personally, and it's a significant problem for government, because men and women with strong family ties and values should be able to represent the public and have their homelife too. All the state decision makers shouldn't have to be single, or divorced, or doing (as I was) their job at the expense of a vital connection with the human beings who furnish the lifeblood of their spirit. Despite my major job preoccupation, I was still a father and husband in the Dunlap family. In a sense I grew up in that family. Janet and I were 23 when we were married, and 26 26 when Jill (our oldest) was born, and we both really matured raising our four kids. Growing up with Janet, and our kids, is the greatest thing I've done in my life so far. I couldn't have enjoyed or functioned in politics as I did, if I hadn't had a family. 'Politics', and 'the family', were divided, but united (the two worlds came together in campaigning, for one thing). Without my family experience I wouldn't have been the same person--I wouldn't have cared so much about other people--I wouldn't have been as broad visioned or patient a person myself--who knows if I would have had the inclination (or the guts) to go out and become a State Senator. As part of me, the family was always there, at the Capitol. Though for me they were there, for them, in Napa, I usually wasn't. They got special trips and vicarious kicks, but most of the fun in doing was mine. pics 4, 5, 6, and 7 Lobbyists trying to get on my good side would sometimes praise the 'beautiful wine country' and say they wished they lived there. I thought it was a beautiful place too, but I preferred it (a preference not shared by many) when it was known for the State Mental Hospital and prunes, instead of the Silverado Country Club and fine wines. Those who read me well, seeing the group picture (4 kids, 2 St. Bernards, Janet and me) on my desk, would say "my you have a fine family, John!" My pride triggered, I'd agree and if asked, I'd talk about them willingly. pic 8 David and I have had countless discussions about the inter-relation of family and politics, while getting this book together, and we were having one recently in a car on the way to Santa Rosa. Janet, half asleep in the backseat, came to and began recalling the time the whole family rode in a convertible in the V.I.P. section of a Fairfield parade. Jill at this time was 17, David 15, Peter 8 and Jane 5. Ordinarily, an office holder or candidate rode in an open car maybe with a carnation in his buttonhole and waved to the crowd. Those of us fortunate enough to have good looking families who were willing to act as trained seals, made the candidate's car a family affair. "Find some paper and write this down, Daddy," David said--he was driving, en route to Santa Rosa while Janet and I recalled the Fairfield parade. I found an old envelope in the glove compartment and scribbled down the following description: David is on the floor in the backseat, blowing up DUNLAP FOR ASSEMBLY balloons. He hands them to Peter, who jumps out and passes them out to the crowd. Jill sits in the front seat with the driver, looking beautiful. John, Janie, and Janet sit on the top of the backseat--the idea is to wave and smile and it works for a while until Janie starts resenting Peter's getting to pass out balloons--the parents think she's too young, and tell her 'No.' So she sits between them with her arms folded tightly and her lower lip sticking out of a red defiant face. Without changing their own smiles a fraction, the parents whisper to her tenderly, you're supposed to smile, honey. She becomes more rigid. Still without changing their pleasant faces, they tell her that if she doesn't smile, she will be spanked on the spot. Her response is a smile directly dead ahead like someone is pulling up the corners of her mouth with strings. It's so phony, it's hilarious. Jane was a cute lively blond headed girl. Her hair was so blond that when she swam in the summertime it took on a greenish tinge from the chlorine in the pool. We had fun together. I remember I used to hold both her hands in mine while she kicked her feet up and did a somersault--we talked about keeping doing this once a week and even when she was a grownup we'd be able to do it. I don't remember at what age we quit. Though usually lively and agreeable, Janie had a mind of her own. At one of my fundraising dinners the family was introduced and stood up at their seats. Janie, 7 years old, drew her feet under her and stepped from her chair right out onto the middle of the banquet table. She clasped her hands above her head like a prizefighter, and turned and bowed to one side, then the other, grinning. She was every inch a little girl--in blue dress, white lacy-trim socks, and black patent Mary Janes. It was brazen but she got away with it because she was little and cute--another couple of years and it might've been revolting. The crowd loved it. I sat there and chuckled self-consciously. A few years later when Jane was interviewed by the paper in high school they asked her how she liked being a Senator's daughter. She said, "I like it fine, except everybody thinks we're rich." From age 8 to 18 Janie was a game helper, always willing to do crazy things that might've embarrassed some kids. Together we rode a tandem bike in parades, and paddled a canoe on the Russian River to help promote campaigns. When she was littler she and her friend Erin got a kick out of visiting me at the Capitol. They drove my secretaries a bit goofy and generally raised hell. They were too young for necking in the park but that's about all they missed. One night at about 11, I had just finished a committee meeting and was slowly walking down a long wide corridor on the 4th floor. I heard a sound like handmade box scooters on rollerskate wheels. When I came to a turn in the hall, there came Jane and Erin bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, self-propelled at high speed on stenographer's chairs. I could tell from the looks on their faces they hadn't intended to get caught. They slowed when they saw me but didn't stop. I just said in a loud voice, "OK, put those goddamn chairs back where they belong and let's go home." Once in the car they were asleep in 10 minutes, after an exciting 15 hours at the Capitol. Peter's presence at the Capitol was much less of a strain on my secretarial staff, who were always a little extra tired after Jane had spent the day there. He sometimes was an actual help and delivered messages, or, if he was there with Jane, took her to breakfast, to the State Fair; took responsibility for her when he was only 12. My first memory of Peter and politics was a mad drive from Napa to West Sacramento in 1960 with him in Janet's protective arms. We were late in getting there for a little league opening game parade during my unsuccessful 1960 Senate campaign. Peter was about 2 and when we finally got into the parade, he enjoyed every minute of it. Seeing the crowd his eyes lit up, and he waved to them like they were his friends. I got a kick out of it too. It was my first parade as a candidate. Peter enjoyed the limelight. I remember him at another of my fundraiser dinners in Vallejo. He was about 10 years old, little for his age. His face was round and smooth, and his eyes were bright blue and absorbtive--you could tell he was really taking things in. He looked cute as a bug's ear, in long pants, coat and tie. When I introduced the family and he stood up to take his bow, he got such a big hand and liked it so much he did't want to sit down. find pic Another memory I have is of Pete at age 13, still a very little kid, shaking hands with Big Ben Davidson, a 6' 10" 275 pound Oakland Raider. The Raiders were at the Capitol entertaining the legislature with films of games and a few actual team members. Pete also got to miss school and go along on a McGovern campaign trip through the mother lode cities of Jackson, Angel's Camp, and Sonora. Accompanying us were Assemblywoman March Fong (who went on to become California Secretary of State), actor Dennis Weaver from the TV show 'McCloud', and George McGovern's son-in-law. In the weeks afterward, when Peter heard the name Dennis Weaver, he used to say "He's my friend." A month later when I had an extra ticket to a McGovern dinner at one of the big hotels in San Francisco, I took Peter. He didn't get to sit at the head table but he really was excited to see me there with Willie Brown, McGovern, Warren Beatty, and Shirley MacLaine. So Peter in '72 became a real McGovern fan. I'm sure he picked some of it up from me. McGovern was one of the few candidates for anything, about whom I was gung ho (Adlai Stevenson was the other main one). Peter produced for McGovern. The morning of the primary he got up at 4:30 and took off on his bike and put doorknob hangers on a whole precinct before people went to work. Though Peter and I made a good connection through McGovern, my job got in the way of hikes, sports--things I had done more with David, (who was 7 years older) when I had had more time (when David was little). Most of my Senator/parent conflict and guilt involved failures to do things like play baseball, but my drunk driving incident was a straight negative act. Pete was a high school senior at the time and when I asked how it affected him, I got the answer I wanted. He said yes it was embarrassing, but that generally he felt pride at my being a politician. David, on the other hand, claims he wasn't bothered by the thought of me in handcuffs (while being, though, as he says, no less proud of my political strivings.) Sometimes my kids worked for me in my campaigns at slave wages. (I didn't want to be accused of lavishing campaign funds on family members.) Peter did this willingly and darn well at age 18, though I think he sometimes thought I should listen harder to his advice. Peter would have had me be more of a pro and pull in my horns in order to get re-elected. Perhaps he was right. My eldest daughter, Jill, became part of the "Brain Trust" in 1972, when she was in law school. During vacation that year she, my administrative assistant John Harrington, and I, set up my campaign. In subsequent elections she continued to play a major part in developing campaign strategy as well as working like hell. The concerns of the "Brain Trust" were not only how to get Dunlap re-elected, but policy decisions on the job of being a legislator. Since way back in the early sixties as a young teenager, she'd done door-to-door work. But as time went by I trusted her judgement more and more. I'd always given lip service to women's rights, but Jill's articulate, emotional but well-reasoned arguments, made the issue far more real to me. I began to realize that my attitude toward women's rights had been a little patronizing; that our society and law had overemphasized the difference between men and women, putting both in unfair positions. I realized we weren't just playing games, that there was something definite to gain for everybody. Jill and Janet helped me realize that 'women's rights' wasn't just something I should be for as a matter of fairness--it was a vitally important issue for the world. Jill was charged, sure of what she was saying. Her emotion got to me and made me listen. Jill became a lawyer and got a job working for the State Water Resources Control Board, and finally was appointed the lawyer member of the board. This was a prestigous fairly well paid job, particularly for a young kid. (She was 32.) While working on my 1978 campagn she got to know a newspaperman and a year later they were married and now have two of Janet's and my four grandchildren. Peter and his wife Margaret are parents of two more. I suppose if I were still running for office, and taking political family photos, I could substitute four live grandchildren for our two dead St. Bernards. Everything I did with or without the family had potential campaign significance, and I seldom neglected to consider this. Backpack trips, a train trek to Seattle, things I did with the family, made their way into my weekly newspaper columns. photocopy of column Although many times the campaign or publicity aspect may have been minor, it was still there. I used the family as a political tool. In the Assembly I had to run for reelection every two years. As soon as one campaign was over the next was imminent, and 'out of season' campaigning (trying to stay in the public eye at all times) was always going on. The theory was, if publicity wasn't bad, it was good. Alene Angelo, a Napa office secretary (I had district offices in both Napa and Solano counties as an assemblyman), arranged one simple publicity gimmick which made the local papers. When I came into the office in the morning she handed me a bouquet of carnations, which upon arrival of the News Chronicle photographer, I handed back to her in commemoration of "National Secretaries Week". "I got them on special for $1.99, John--don't worry about it," Alene told me. This was one of those cases where the caption under the photo doesn't tell the whole story. Wouldn't it have been interesting if it had related the straight truth instead: "Assemblyman Dunlap poses with flowers his secretary bought for him to give her as a publicity stunt." news photo In 1966 I judged a women's hatmaking contest at the Officer's Club at Mare Island Navy Yard. Having to choose only one winner among 50 contestants wasn't good but having my picture in the paper with the winner was. cartoon collage: Beetle Bailey standing next to Blondie who is wearing grand fruit hat. My favorite publicity photo, however, was one where I was the winning Capitol contestant at UC Davis' Cowmilking Contest 3 years out of 4. (The contest was actually held on the Capitol grounds.) milking cow photo 'In season' direct campaigning involves more of the same playing for attention. It's not necessarily phony (it depends on the situation). And, if you believe in yourself at all, you can get a real charge out of it. It's one of the few opportunities you have to sell the most exciting product imaginable, yourself. Presentation of issues tended toward the superficial, and some stunts like the Cowmaking or Hatmilking contests were out- and-out phony, and sexist besides, but everybody did things like this, and I didn't always take time to figure out a new and more honest way to get elected. Speaking to groups and individuals I tried to tell the whole truth and really educate, but with a half million people in a Senate district, you've got to recognize that most voters are reached by mail, radio, TV, or newspaper ads. At first I was actually eager to learn the new language--Sloganeering: Saying just enough to put yourself on the side of the angels, without being so specifc you paint yourself into a corner. Candidates' brochures are all filled with sloganeering and mine were not exceptions to this rule. All this superficiality also costs a tremendous amount of money. My campaigns cost from a low of $8,000 in 1970 to a later high of over $300,000 .* Before the primary back in 1966 Janet and I rang and knocked at 4900 households. Door to door work is a mixed bag. It's physically conditioning, and the candidate gets an idea of different neigborhoods and how people live, but you want to cover as much ground as you can as fast as you can, so the ideal approach is to ring or knock, smile and be sincere and say a few words, and then be off to the next house. Once in a while somebody wants to talk, and even less often, a genuine exchange takes place. Usually the minute I rang the doorbell, I'd scribble on one of my brochures, "Sorry to have missed you" and sign my name. Then if nobody came to the door I'd ring once more and leave the brochure if the door wasn't opened or I didn't hear somebody walking around. If someone appeared I'd introduce myself, hand them an unmarked flyer, smile, and say, "I hope you'll remember me election day." Once, in my 1966 campaign, my manager told me we needed a couple of good sign locations on Jameson Canyon Road, between Napa and Fairfield. He said as I drove by I should ask farmers in that area if we could put signs up on their barns. This was ________________ *See Appendix Seven for a list of my overall campaign expenditures(sorry: appendices still TB ADDED). hard for me to ask but I set aside an hour one day to stop and make 4 or 5 calls. My first three went fast. The first not home, the second, 'sure, glad to help out' and the third, emphatically No, 'not for you or any other Democrat'. The fourth call was a humdinger. It took almost an hour along with the rest of my energy for such activities. The farmer/owner, a man of about 55, was at home. I stated my business and he said, "Oh yeah, you're John F. Dunlap the attorney-at-law. I know you! Do you remember me, lawyer Dunlap?" I had a slight feeling of recognition. Somewhere, somehow, I knew him, but no clear memory came. Under my breath I cursed my campaign manager for not finding out the names of people instead of just describing their barns. I admitted I didn't know his name and apologized. He said, "I didn't think you remembered me. I went to see you in your law office 13 years ago. You wrote me a nasty letter trying to collect an account I had with a hardware company. I tried to point out the problems I had with your client and you didn't listen, you just sat there behind your desk like a bigshot attorney. You treated me like dirt. You even kept your feet up on the desk all the time I was talking to you." I listened to this irate farmer a long time and I apologized several times and said I was young and arrogant then and I hoped I had changed. I hoped he'd taught me a lesson, and I wouldn't blame him for not putting up my sign. I guess he believed I was sincere because he said, "OK, you leave me a couple of your signs and I'll see what I can do." I looked for them several times over the next 10 days and I finally saw them up. Later in some of my legislative offices I arranged my desk so it wouldn't be a shield--I put it against the wall and worked with my back to the room. When visitors called I turned around. Sometimes I had a low coffee table between us and put my feet up on it, but I tried to remember to tell my guest to put his or her feet up too. Campaigning can gain you glory but also, when you're out seeking the 'public eye', you have more opportunities to embarrass yourself. You need to be able to give yourself permission (modern psych. vernacular) to make an ass of yourself. (One of Reagan's greatest assets was an ability to laugh at himself.) In 1972 I fortunately had a very weak opponent and spent most of my campaign-time working for George McGovern for president. One night, I was meeting with the Solano Democratic Central Committee plotting McGovern strategy. Someone said, "OK, for McGovern, John, but what about your campaign?" I hadn't been thinking about it at all and replied, "I'm just going to run around the district exposing myself to my constituents." My response drew laughter. This slip could've really been embarrassing before the Hogan High P.T.A. or Mt. George Mother's Club. Stage presence, and a feeling of being at home anywhere, is a real asset to a campaigner. I remember seeing Joe Alioto, former San Francisco mayor, speak to a Democratic State Central Committee lunch meeting in a medium sized hotel diningroom in San Francisco. There were two large pillars partially obscuring the speakers' table from good sized segments of the audience. The first two speakers dodged back and forth trying to develop rapport with those listening. When it came Alioto's turn he just excused himself to the head table, and walked around into the middle of the dining area and gave his speech standing in the middle of the room, turning in a very tight circle around and around as he spoke. I don't have any idea what he said but it was a personal win. He had as much attention as if he'd been a gypsy violinist playing to us. For a quick uptake in a campaign interview I'll have to give the blue ribbon to former assemblyman and former congressman, and present Senator, John Burton, also of San Francisco. Back in 1968 John was losing a special election to the State Senate to Milton Marks and was being interviewed on a bay area radio station. After the usual questions about the fairness of the campaign and a concession statement by Burton, the reporter asked, "And now, Mr. Burton, what do you wish for Senator Marks?" Burton did a quick doubletake, "What do I wish?"--and breaking into song: FIND BURTON PIC plus melodic graphics It was a great response to a stupid question. I guess the station editor recognized the folly of the question because in subsequent broadcasts of the interview later that night, the question and the bluebirds were missing. No matter how clever you are in what you do or say, the media has the last word in reporting it to the public.