Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi was the speaker at the October 2008 meeting, which focused on water science and policy. The title of his talk was “California’s Water Crisis: Innovative Solutions for an Innovative State”. He served in the State Assembly from 1974-1976 and in the State Senate from 1976-1990, including a term as Senate Majority Leader. He became California’s first elected Insurance Commissioner, serving from 1991-1995, then was appointed by President Bill Clinton as the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior from 1995-1998. He returned to the California Department of Insurance in 2003, after his reelection as Insurance Commissioner.
During his 14 years as a State Senator and two years in the Assembly, Garamendi chaired the Joint Committee on Science and Technology, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee, and served as the Senate Majority Leader. He authored laws that protected Lake Tahoe and Mono Lake, reformed health care delivery, established emergency medical services, created a work oriented welfare program, revised the State’s tax code, and developed a state agenda for economic competitiveness and scientific advancement. Additionally, he initiated a successful ballot proposition that provided $18 billion for mass transportation and highways and funded senior centers across the State. He was also instrumental in the creation of CCST.
As Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, he negotiated the Headwaters Forest Agreement, conducted the Cal-Fed water negotiations, and put an end to the dumping of nuclear wastes in the California Desert. Along with other key department deputies, he worked with Al Gore to prepare the American agenda for the Kyoto Climate Change Conference. He also advanced the protection of National Parks and negotiated the largest habitat conservation plans in the Western States. Reelected California’s Insurance Commissioner in 2002, he set about rebuilding the Department into the best consumer protection agency in the nation.
Garamendi is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard Business School, earning an MBA. A former Academic All-American football player and champion wrestler, he later volunteered and served in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia with his wife, Patti. They have six grown children and nine grandchildren.