Written by Aaron Read
Published Issue: Winter 2008
It is possible when you see the rain hitting the stones and the leaves piling up near the names that you forget the Capitol Park tributes to Bob Moretti and Ken Maddy memorialize two extraordinary figures in California history.
Bob Moretti never had a restful moment.
A fiery, inspiring, dark-haired, dark-eyed, athletic man, he was elected Speaker of the Assembly at a time when term limits was a fantastical idea and ambitious, lifetime politicians ran the building.
Willie Brown remembered him in writing as a brother.
Those who served with Moretti in the Legislature considered him the quintessential leader. His marks for integrity might be matched, but they can never be exceeded. A strong liberal, born in Detroit, and representing North Hollywood, he was also a favorite barbecuing partner of Ronald Reagan. He gave up the Speakership to run for governor, a race that was ultimately won by Jerry Brown.
One story has him walking into the office of a newly elected legislator and sweeping all of the papers from the desk. “Politics,” he said, “is about people.”
Ken Maddy was quieter, a sportsman, calm, graceful and respected by politicians from both parties. He was a leading California Republican legislator for more than a decade, and almost managed to garner his party’s nomination for governor.
There is an institute set aside in Maddy’s name for teaching young people the importance of public service. There is a scholarship in Moretti’s name that has made it easier for hundreds of young people to attend college.
The Democrat Moretti did not support the Republican Maddy when he first ran for the Assembly. Moretti was Speaker. Maddy won anyway.
Moretti met Maddy in the hallway of the Capitol after the election. They shook hands. Moretti said his refusal to support him was not personal. He asked Maddy if he played tennis.
Maddy said that he was not a tennis player. He was a golfer. They shook hands again and went their separate ways.
Maddy walked back toward his office. When he arrived just minutes later, his secretary was excited.
“The Speaker just called,” she said. “You have a tennis lesson at 7 a.m. tomorrow morning.”
Maddy and Moretti lived full lives, although each died young. Legions of friends remain.
from bottom left, clockwise: Aaron Read with Maddy during the Governor’s ‘78 race; Maddy in the asseMbly; Moretti typing and former majority leader Jack Fenton helping; Moretti playing hoops.