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Spring 2001

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The scope of what he can accomplish became clear last spring when Welinsky, browsing through legislative Web sites, picked up bad news. Earlier in January, Gov. Gray Davis had given a major boost to UC by building into his budget proposal a 12.1-percent, $328-million state general-fund increase. The Senate's budget subcommittee had approved the same level of funding. But the Assembly subcommittee had slashed $180 million off of its version, funds that were slated for Davis' future California Institutes for Science and Innovation (see "Small Science," page 26) and the teaching hospitals. The effect would be crippling, especially on Davis' plan to fund three institutes that would explore new technologies that would give California a scientific edge and propel it economically into the 21st century.

"We had major, major cuts that we were fighting hard to have restored," recalls Stephen Arditti '64, J.D. '67, UC assistant vice president and director of State Governmental Relations. The timing was critical. The budget conference committee was trying to wind up its work on a compromise version by the weekend.

Welinsky knew he had only four or five days before it would be all over. After urgent calls and faxes to and from university officials to get up to speed on the losses UC would sustain, the advocate knew what had to be done: One of his closest friends happened to be throwing a fund-raiser for Speaker Hertzberg in San Diego the very next day. Welinsky knew he had to be there.

"I knew I was going to get two shots at Hertzberg," Welinsky said. First, there was a reception for 200 people, followed by a more intimate dinner for 75 to 80 movers and shakers.

Equipped with hastily faxed one-page fact sheets and summaries to bolster his argument, Welinsky drove to San Diego, walked into the reception and immediately spotted an ally: an alum wearing a Cal tie. Taking the stranger aside, Welinsky briefed him on their desperate mission. "With the two of us, it would be easier to focus Hertzberg's attention on the issue," Welinsky strategized, and block out intruders trying to wiggle into their conversation.

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