During a recent conversation about Proposition 16, PG&E’s latest effort to block hometown energy initiatives, I thought about Bill Bennett, the late Marin County pol who served on the state Public Utilities Commission and later on the state Board of Equalization.  Anytime he thought the public interest was under attack, the feisty Bennett happily made life difficult for the utility companies and other corporate interests. Bennett was funny and irreverent and never shy about sharing his opinions – a happy convergence for a young political reporter. He would have relished this year’s fight against Proposition 16 because he believed it was government’s job to protect taxpayers and consumers.

This morning, Bennett’s name popped up again, this time in a tribute from the veteran Sacramento Bee political columnist Dan Walters, who recalls Bennett as “a one-man political SWAT team.”

Walters concludes with words that serve to remind us what California used to be: “(Bennett) joins an ever-lengthening list of recently deceased figures who made California a much-admired political laboratory in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s – before the state became a dysfunctional global laughingstock.”

You can read Walters’ column by clicking here.