Personnel Profile: Frank Russo

[B]Could you explain what the Progress Report is and what you do there?[/B]

I put a page of the best material I can up every day and try to put some things up that aren’t in the mainstream media. [I] read about 15 papers online and put links up to articles on them, as well, including editorials and other articles that I think people would be interested in at least knowing about.

[B]Are there any issues you enjoy more than others?[/B]

Anything that has to do with California public policy and politics. In this age of consolidation and shorter attention spans, there’s a lot of material I put up on the site that people can’t find, at least [not] in as much detail as they can on my site.

[B]What do you think of Capitol Weekly?[/B]

It’s great, it’s taken the place in many ways of the California Journal, which I used to read for decades when that was coming out. You know I worked up here both in the ’70s and in the ’80s and know how important California state government is.

A lot of people are focused on the mess back in Washington, D.C., or on the war in Iraq and they just don’t have a clue as to the stuff that goes on here that affects peoples lives on a daily basis and how important it is, that’s the gap that I’m trying to fill.

[B]What did you do with the state back in the ’70s and ’80s?[/B]

Right after law school in the ’70s I was administrative assistant to an Assembly member, Terry Goggin, and was able to write a number of bills that Jerry Brown signed into law back when the democrats had a two-thirds majority in both houses. A good friend of mine said “Frank, before you become bolden to these people you ought to go out and practice law so you have a career to fall back on.” I ended up practicing law for 26 years, with another two years that I spent working in the late ’80s as legal counsel to the speaker under Willie Brown.
Any good Willie Brown stories?[/B]

None that I can say. None that I can talk about. There were a lot of interesting things going on at the time that I worked for Willie: The gang of five was going on and I was there when the tort-reform compromise was made on a napkin. I had to put the bills together to make that become the law itself.
What attracts you to California politics as opposed to national issues?[/B]

It’s under-covered. For a state this large, which is like a nation-state and is one of the top 10 economies of the world, the largest state in the union, there’s really relatively little daily content that people read if they read just one newspaper or even if they read the Capitol Weekly on a once-a-week basis. I think it’s under-covered as to all the things that the state does that are really significant for people.

[B]What do you do in your free time?[/B]

I don’t have any free time. I put this up every day. My wife has said that the computer is the other woman in our family. I have a young son and we have a lot of good family time together. He does a mean imitation of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

[B]Did you always want to get into politics or was there some other field you were interested in?[/B]

I started political science and I worked on campaigns in probably half a dozen or more states. I’m interested in the politics of things but I’m also interested in the public policy–the two go side-by-side. I’d like to help educate people, maybe raise some things on the agenda. I certainly can’t set the agenda all by myself but I enjoy putting this [the Progress Report] up every day.

[B]Would you say you’re a rooter for the underdogs?

[B]Why is that?[/B]

Must have been the early education I got from the nuns.

[B]If you were a tree who would your favorite Beatle be?[/B]

Paul. I am a big Beatles fan. I could be any one of them on any given day.

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