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Inventory of the Patrick Johnston Papers, 1942-2000
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Patrick Johnston papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1942-2000
    Collection number: LP335
    Creator: Johnston, Patrick
    Extent: 38 cubic feet
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    Abstract: Patrick Johnston, Democrat, was a member of the California State Assembly from 1980-1990 and a State Senator from 1991-2000. The Patrick Johnston Papers consist of 38 cubic feet primarily representing Johnston's activities during his twenty years of service in the California State Legislature. The records contain Bill Files, 1981-2000; Subject Files, 1979-2000; Savings and Loan Law Regulation Files, 1973-1990; Delta Protection Files, 1970-1998; Insurance Files, 1982-1996; Japanese Redress Files, 1942-1946, 1980-1992; and Correspondence, 1980-1986.
    Physical location: California State Archives
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Several folders within the Savings and Loan Law Revision Files are restricted under the Public Records Act, California Government Code,sections 7929, 7927.005, 7924.300-7924.335, 7924, and 7923.600-7923.625 (formerly Gov. Code sections 6254 (d) (1,2,4) (f)). Three folders within the Insurance Files are restricted under the Public Records Act, California Government Code, sections 7929, 7927.005, 7924.300-7924.335, 7924, and 7923.600-7923.625 (formerly Gov. Code sections 6254 (d) (1,2,4) (f)). Several files within the Japanese Redress files are restricted under the Information Practices Act, sec. 1798.24.

    Publication Rights

    For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the California State Archives. Permission for reproduction or publication is given on behalf of the California State Archives as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility for possible infringement which may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives collections.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Patrick Johnston papers, LP335, California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

    Acquisition Information

    The deed of gift for the Patrick Johnston Papers was received by the California State Archives in November of 2000.


    Patrick Johnston, Democrat, was a member of the California State Assembly from 1980-1990 and a State Senator from 1991-2000. During Johnston's twenty-year career as a legislator, the periodic reapportionment of Assembly and Senate districts caused subtle changes in the counties and cities he represented. In 1980, Patrick Johnston was elected to the 26th California State Assembly district. During his first legislative session in office, 1981-1982, the 26th district included San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties. In 1983, the 26th district was changed limiting his representation to only San Joaquin County, the region he served during his tenure in the State Assembly. Elected to the Senate in 1990, Johnston entered office the following year representing the 5th district that included Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Mono, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Tuolumne, and Yolo counties. Senatorial redistricting limited Johnston's county representation and from 1993 to 2000, the 5th district included only Sacramento and San Joaquin counties. Throughout his career, Johnston primarily represented the cities of Sacramento, Tracy, and Stockton. For his legislative career, his district office and personal residence was in Stockton.
    A native Californian, Johnston was born in San Francisco on September 3, 1946. The eldest of three children, he attended school in California's Bay Area, attending preparatory school at St. Joseph's College in Mountain View. He continued his studies at St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park. Like many American college students of the 1960s, Patrick Johnston became intrigued with politics through the confrontation of such issues as the Vietnam War and Civil Rights while attending the Seminary. It was during this time that he became an active member of the Democratic Party. In 1966, he attended the California Democratic state convention in Sacramento and was included with a group of college students given the opportunity to meet with Governor Edmund G. "Pat" Brown. In 1968, Johnston obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from St. Patrick's Seminary, Menlo Park. After graduating from college, he worked as a clerk taking accident reports for the San Francisco Municipal Railway, and as a probation officer in San Francisco and Calaveras Counties. During this same period, he met and married Margaret Mary Nevin, who later became a lawyer specializing in family law. Together they raised their two children, P.J. and Christopher (Johnston Oral History, p. ii, 19-20, 22, 26; see related collections).
    By the early 1970s, Johnston had become a committed member of the Democratic Central Committee in Calaveras County, where he met John Garamendi. In 1972, Johnston was selected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Miami, pledged to George McGovern. The Calaveras Prospect, a local newspaper asked him to write a few articles chronicling his experience as a delegate at the convention. When he returned home from the convention, he left his job as a probation officer and went to work for the paper as a reporter covering local politics. Funds were short at the family owned paper and Johnston was laid off. Meanwhile his wife who had been commuting to Stockton to attend Humphries College had entered her last year of law school so they decided to move to Stockton. Utilizing his connections from seminary, Johnston began working for another community newspaper, the Catholic Monitor, but that too was short lived (Johnston Oral History, 26-28).
    In 1974, Johnston entered electoral politics when John Garamendi asked him to be his campaign manager in his run for California State Assembly. Garmendi won the assembly seat for the 7th district and in 1976, he was elected to the California State Senate representing the 13th district. Johnston continued to work for Garamendi, serving as his chief of staff from 1975 to 1980. In 1978, Johnston ran the northern California reelection campaign for Governor Jerry Brown (Johnston Oral History, 36-41, 69; and Resumes, Patrick Johnston Papers, LP335:474).
    In 1980, Patrick Johnston decided to leave his position as Garamendi's chief of staff and run for California State Assembly. Near the end of 1979, Democratic majority leader Howard Berman asked Leo McCarthy to step down from his position as Assembly Speaker. McCarthy refused and a fight for speakership ensued as both men began rallying support for the position. In 1980, Johnston was persuaded by various members of the Democratic Party who supported Leo McCarthy to run against the Democratic incumbent in his district, Carmen Perino, who was in support of Berman. Although Johnston had not thought about running for Assembly before, he decided this was a very opportune moment. He defeated Perino in the primary election (Johnston Oral History, 86-95).
    The November election was tense as early results declared Johnston the winner; then, later in the night, it was announced that his opponent, Republican Adrian Fondse, had actually won the election by 67 votes. One month later, after Fondse had been sworn into office, a recount showed that Johnston had won the election by thirty-five votes. The Republicans began to raise questions about election tampering and filed a lawsuit. Johnston proceeded to obtain an election certificate from the Secretary of State naming him the winner. With a Democratic majority in the Assembly, Johnston had the upper hand in gaining the votes needed to win the seat. In January 1981, after the Assembly debated the matter of the election on the floor, Johnston was sworn into office. When 49 previously uncounted votes were found in March of the same year, the count ordered by Assembly GOP Minority Leader Carol Hallett, revealed that Johnston had won by twenty-five votes. The Republicans knew they were fighting an uphill battle and the appellate court eventually threw out their lawsuit. Two months later, more uncounted votes surfaced but they were never counted. Democratic Secretary of State, March Fong Eu, who referred to the election mishap as "Votergate" announced that the votes had come in too late and the election had been decided (Johnston Oral History, 98-104; and Congratulatory Correspondence, 1980-1982, Patrick Johnston Papers, LP335:777).
    After this shaky start, Patrick Johnston established himself as a legislator who was willing and able to tackle controversial issues. In 1982, with the help of his legislative aide Priscilla Ouchida, he shepherded a bill that granted reparations to Japanese-Americans who were fired from their state civil service jobs during World War II. From 1987 to 1990 Johnston chaired the Assembly Finance and Insurance Committee. As a result, he was a leader in investigating the regulation of Savings and Loans Institutions in California during the time of the Lincoln Savings and Loan scandal.
    Once Johnston was elected to the Senate, he became a legislative leader on issues that addressed discrimination, the environment, and public safety. In the 1990s, he became a strong advocate of preventing discrimination connected to genetic testing and authored several bills that made it illegal for companies to discriminate against people whose genetic tests indicate that they are at greater risk of diseases such as cancer and diabetes. In 1992, he authored the Delta Protection Act, SB 1866 (Stats 1992, ch. 898), a bill that confronted the encroachment of the remaining open space in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The legislation created the Delta Protection Commission, a governing body that serves to regulate land use in the delta region. His Zero Tolerance legislation, SB 966 (Stats. 1995, ch. 972) required schools to expel anyone for bringing a knife, gun, or drugs on a public school campus. He also chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee for six years, one of the most powerful committees in the state legislature.
    According to the Assembly and Senate Final History books, 1981-2000, he served on the following committees, commissions, and boards:

    California State Assembly, 1980-1990

    • Standing Committees
    • Aging, 1981-1982
    • Agriculture, 1981-1982; 1987-1988
    • Education, 1981-1990
    • Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments, 1983-1984
    • * Chair, 1983-1984
    • Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials, 1985-1986
    • Finance and Insurance, 1987-1990
    • * Chair, 1987-1990
    • Governmental Efficiency and Consumer Protection, 1989-1990
    • Health, 1981-1982
    • Housing and Development, 1983-1984
    • Judiciary, 1983-1990
    • Natural Resources, 1983-1984
    • Public Employees and Retirement, 1983-1984
    • Revenue and Taxation, 1989-1990
    • Ways and Means, 1985-1986
    • Subcommittees
    • Educational Reform, 1981-1988
    • * Chair, 1983-1984
    • Health and Workers' Insurance, 1989-1990
    • Higher Education, 1989-1990
    • Medfly Eradication, 1981-1982
    • * Chair, 1981-1982
    • Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, 1981-1982
    • Savings and Loan Law Regulations, 1989-1990
    • * Chair, 1989-1990
    • Toxic Disaster Preparedness, 1985-1986
    • Toxics Budget Review, 1985-1986
    • Unemployment Insurance and Disability Insurance, 1987-1988
    • * Chair, 1987-1988
    • Workers' Compensation, 1987-1988
    • * Chair, 1987-1988
    • #3 of Ways and Means on Resources and Parks, 1985-1986
    • * Chair, 1985-1986
    • Select Committees
    • Aviation, 1981-1982
    • Child Abuse, 1983-1984
    • California Youth, 1981-1984
    • * Chair, 1981-1984
    • Economic Problems in Timber and Related Industries, 1983-1984
    • Insurance, 1985-1986
    • Office of State Treasurer, 1987-1990
    • Small Business, 1981-84
    • Joint Committees
    • Ad Hoc Educational Sunset Review Committee, 1981-1982
    • * Chair, 1981-1982
    • Special Committees, Boards, Commissions, and Councils
    • Advisory Commission on Special Education, 1985-1988
    • Advisory Health Council, 1981-1982
    • Arts, 1981-1982
    • California Advisory Council on Vocational Education, 1981-1982
    • California Advisory Council on Vocational Education and Technical Training, 1983-1984
    • Commission on the Status of Women, 1983-1984
    • Oversight Committee on GAIN Implementation, 1989-1990
    • State's Economy, 1989-1990
    • State Executive Steering Committee on Superconducting Super Collider, 1985-1988
    • Tort Liability, 1989-1990

    California State Senate, 1991-2000

    • Standing Committees
    • Agriculture and Water Resources, 1995-1998
    • Appropriations, 1991-2000
    • * Chair, 1993-1998
    • Banking, Commerce, and International Trade, 1991-1992
    • Constitutional Amendments, 1995-1996
    • Education, 1991-1992
    • Elections and Reapportionment, 1993-1994
    • Energy, Utilities, and Communications, 1997-1998
    • Energy and Public Utilities, 1991-1992
    • Finance, Investment, and International Trade, 1993-1994
    • Industrial Relations, 1991-1994
    • * Chair, 1991-1994
    • Insurance, 1993-2000
    • Insurance, Claims, and Corporations, 1991-1992
    • Local Government, 1995-2000
    • Natural Resources and Wildlife, 1991-2000
    • Public Employment and Retirement, 1991-1994
    • Public Safety, 1999-2000
    • Revenue and Taxation, 1999-2000
    • Transportation, 1993-1996
    • Subcommittees
    • Bonded Indebtedness and Methods of Financing, 1995-1996
    • Fiscal Oversight, 1997-2000
    • * Chair, 1997-2000
    • Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta Protection, 1991-1994
    • * Chair, 1991-1994
    • Nonadmitted Insurance, 1993-1994
    • * Chair, 1993-1994
    • Offshore Oil and Gas Development, 1993-1994
    • Select Committees
    • California's Business Climate, 1991-1994
    • California's Role in the World Trade Organization, 1999-2000
    • California's Wine Industry, 1995-1998
    • Capital Area Flood Protection, 1999-2000
    • Defense Base Closures, 1993-1994
    • Economic Development, 1997-2000
    • Genetics and Public Policy, 1995-2000
    • * Chair, 1995-2000
    • Horseracing, 1997-1998
    • Juvenile Justice, 1999-2000
    • Mobile and Manufactured Homes, 1995-1998
    • Planning for California's Growth, 1993-1994
    • Technological Crime and the Consumer, 1997-2000
    • * Chair, 1997-2000
    • Voting Practices and Procedures, 1993-1994
    • Workforce Preparation, 1995-1996
    • * Chair, 1995-1996
    • Joint Committees
    • Coordination of Public Policy Research, 1995-1998
    • Legislative Budget Committee, 1995-2000
    • Oversight on the State Library, 1993-1994
    • State's Economy, 1991-1992
    • Worker's Compensation, 1993-1996
    • Special Committees, Boards, Commissions and Councils
    • California Workforce Investment Board, 1999-2000
    • Job Training Coordinating Council, 1993-2000
    • Local Government Investments, 1995-1996
    • Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Protection Commission, 1993-2000
    • Welfare Reform, 1997-1998
    • Wildlife Conservation Board, 1993-2000
    Johnston left office in 2000 as a result of term limits.
    In 2000, he earned a Master of Arts degree from California State University, Sacramento in political representation and began serving as an advisor in the California Senate Fellows Program. Johnston also continued to work as a healthcare consultant and registered lobbyist. In 2001, he began teaching at the University of California, Berkeley and became the first Legislator in Residence at the college's Institute of Governmental Studies. On March 3, 2004, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his appointment to the California Bay Delta Authority. Johnston continues to reside in Stockton (Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Press Releases, March 3, 2004, http://www.governor.ca.gov).

    Scope and Content

    The Patrick Johnston Papers consist of 38 cubic feet primarily representing Johnston's activities during his twenty years of service in the California State Legislature. The records contain Bill Files, 1981-2000; Subject Files, 1979-2000; Savings and Loan Law Regulation Files, 1973-1990; Delta Protection Files, 1970-1998; Insurance Files, 1982-1996; Japanese Redress Files, 1942-1946, 1980-1992; and Correspondence, 1980-1986.
    The bill files represent records kept by Johnston and his staff on bills that he introduced. They offer insight into Johnston's interest in improving education, health care, insurance, benefits for workers, public safety, and savings and loan associations. Johnston's bill files also indicate his efforts in protecting the environment, as he was principally concerned in guarding agricultural farmland in his district from further urbanization. In addition, the files indicate his concerns about inequality as he made legislative efforts to protect individuals from various forms of discrimination. The subject files provide documentation of Johnston's careful attention to issues of concern in his district, the state, and his political party. They also provide additional information on his interests in relation to the various committees he served on as a legislator. Key issues such as education, agriculture, and energy are prominent subjects in these files.
    The Savings and Loan Law Regulation Files were created as a direct result of Johnston's service as Chairperson of the Assembly Finance and Insurance Subcommittee on Savings and Loan Law Regulations, 1989-1990. The files primarily contain information related to hearings held by the committee on the 1989 Lincoln Savings and Loan scandal, junk bond investments, and real estate speculation. Because of the hearings, Johnston authored AB 3643 of 1990; a comprehensive bill that increased regulation of state chartered savings and loan associations by restricting investments and lending, as well as, increasing civil and criminal penalties for violating Savings and Loan law. The Delta Protection Files contain a significant amount of data on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Information contained in these files enabled Johnston to author the Delta Protection Act of 1992. The files also consist of materials related to the Delta Protection Commission as they illustrate Johnston's continued involvement in delta related matters.
    The Insurance Files primarily contain background material on a wide array of insurance related subjects. Throughout Johnston's career in the legislature, he served on various committees that dealt with insurance matters. The files represent Johnston's on going interest in improving insurance through legal regulation. The Japanese Redress Files largely consist of papers created by the State Personnel Board between 1942 and 1946. The papers from the State Personnel Board were in two binders, obtained by Johnston's legislative assistant, Priscilla Ouchida, and used as background material to author AB 2710 of 1982. Enactment of this legislation made California the first state to grant Japanese-Americans redress for actions taken against them during World War II. The series also contains additional files created by Ouchida and Johnston that contain information related to the series of bills on Japanese Redress authored between1982 and 1992. The correspondence files, like the subject files, reflect Johnston's attention to concerns of his district, his constituents, and his party. Collectively, the series illustrate the legislative impact Patrick Johnston had on several important California issues throughout his twenty-year career in the state legislature.


    The Patrick Johnston Papers are organized into seven series: Bill Files, 1981-2000; Subject Files, 1979-2000; Savings and Loan Law Regulation Files, 1973-1990; Delta Protection Files, 1970-1998; Insurance Files, 1982-1996; Japanese Redress Files, 1942-1946, 1980-1992; and Correspondence, 1980-1986.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been associated with these materials in the Archives' automated public access system (currently in development, April 2004).


    Johnston, Patrick
    World War, 1939-1945 - - Reparations
    Japanese Americans - - Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945
    Savings and loan association failures - - Calif.
    Lincoln Savings and Loan Association
    Delta Region (Calif.)
    Water quality management - - California

    Related Material

    Patrick Johnston, Oral History Interview, Conducted 2002 and 2003 by Laura McCreery, Regional Oral History Office, University of California at Berkeley, for the California State Archives State Government Oral History Program, available at the California State Archives and several other repositories.