Debra Bowen should have revealed incapacitating depression earlier


Dan Walters, probably the preeminent reporter on California state politics, says Secretary of State Debra Bowen should have gone public about her crippling depression years ago. Instead, the Secretary of State’s office is a shamble. Nothing of substance has gotten done during her tenure. Bowen is now living in a dingy trailer park and not showing up for work much, saying she can conduct business just fine by phone, which is nonsensical. The head of an important California agency needs to be at work, going to meetings, overseeing projects, etc. Work like this cannot effectively be done by phone.

One can sympathize with Bowen’s illness, certainly, but if it was as debilitating as depicted, she should have owned up to it much earlier.

She won the office on a promise to improve its performance, but by many measures it has regressed. If she was incapable of doing her job, as the article implies, she should have done the honorable thing and resigned in favor of someone who could do it.

I agree. Bowen should have resigned long ago. If she worked for a corporation not the government, she would have been quickly replaced after it was clear there was a problem. Instead various lackeys and functionaries have been running interference and covering for her.

Bowen is currently making perky noises about how she has matters well in hand and actually managed to make it to work Monday. Yet progress on major projects has long been stalled.

In recent years, Bowen’s office has come under criticism for lackluster performance in various areas. Its aging campaign-finance disclosure system, Cal-Access, periodically grinds to a halt. Businesses have complained about filing delays. And an April report by The Pew Charitable Trusts ranked California 49th in election administration, citing its high rate of unreturned mail ballots and other factors.

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