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Brown Appoints Dems To Enviroment, Employment Posts

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Jerry Brown delivers remarks after he was sworn in as the 39th governor of California on  January 3, 2011 in Sacramento. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Jerry Brown delivers remarks after he was sworn in as the 39th governor of California on January 3, 2011 in Sacramento. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SACRAMENTO (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday named his top cabinet members in key employment and environmental departments and appointed seven members to the state Board of Education.

All are Democrats, and several served in Brown’s previous administration as governor. All the nominees require state Senate confirmation.

Brown retained Mary Nichols as head of the California Air Resources Board, where she has served since 2007 under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Nichols, a former Clinton appointee to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has led the board as it seeks to implement California’s landmark global warming law. Her annual salary is $142,965.

Brown also named former state Assemblyman John Laird, a former mayor of Santa Cruz who recently lost a bid for the state Senate, as secretary of the California Resources Agency. The salary is $175,000.

Marty Morgenstern, a longtime labor activist who worked under Brown in the 1970s, was named secretary of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency. The salary is $142,965.

Brown also appointed Ronald Yank, a retired labor attorney who has represented California’s powerful prison guards union, as director of the Department of Personnel Administration. The salary is $175,000.

Brown has remained silent about many of the top officials who will guide his administration as he copes with a massive state budget deficit. Previously, Brown announced he is retaining Schwarzenegger finance director Ana Matosantos and named another former Brown staffer, Diana Dooley, as secretary of Health and Human Services.

Brown’s appointees to the state Board of Education are a blast from the past, and some are controversial. The board helps set statewide education policy, and its significance could increase under Brown as he is expected to eliminate the duplicative post of secretary of education.

Among them is former three-term Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig, a Brown appointee to the board from 1975 to 1983 who was convicted of conflict-of-interest charges in 1993 for using state Department of Education funds to finance his wife’s education project.

The felony charges were later reduced to misdemeanors, but Honig’s wife Nancy committed suicide in 1999, partly because of stress over the legal case, he said at the time.

Also named to the Board of Education were noted Stanford education professor Michael Kirst, a member from 1975 to 1982 who advised Brown on education during his recent gubernatorial campaign.

The other appointees are:

Patricia Rucker, a top lobbyist for the powerful California Teachers Association; former San Diego schools superintendent and education professor Carl Cohn; San Manuel Band of Indians chairman James Ramos; Bakersfield School District administrator Aida Molina; and Trish Boyd Williams, longtime executive director of EdSource, an education reform group.

Board members receive a $100 per diem for two-day board meetings held about six times a year.

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