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Full text of "Stephen W. Downey : California water and power attorney : oral history transcirpt / and related material, 1956-1957"

University of California General Library/Berkeley 
Regional Cultural History Project 



Stephen W. Downey 
STEPHEN W. DOWNEY: CALIFORNIA WATER AND POWER ATTORNEY 



An Interview Conducted By 
Willa Klug Baum 



Berkeley 
1957 



V -( V. 







Stephen rf. Downey, middle 1930 's, 



All uses of this manuscript are covered by an agreement 
between the Regents of the University of California and 
Stephen W. Downey, dated May 13 1957* The manuscript 
is hereby made available for research purposes. All 
literary rights in the manuscript, including the 
exclusive right to publish, are reserved to the General 
Library of the University of California at Berkeley. 
No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication 
except by written permission of the Librarian of the 
University of California at Berkeley. 



INTRODUCTION 

Since 1909, Stephen W. Downey has been engaged in legal 
vork in Sacramento. Beginning primarily as a oersonal injury and 
criminal lawyer, he advanced through a series of positions with 
various public districts concerned with water and electric power 
to eminence as one of the leading water attorneys in the state. 
His work with public districts brought him into issues involving 
public vs. private water interests, the relations between local 
districts and the state and federal governments, and public dis 
tricts vs. public utilities. And because water is at the heart 
of California's economy, Sacramento is the capital of the state, 
and his brother, Sheridan Downey, was United Sties Senator from 
California, Stephen Downey, though essentially nonpartisan, was 
close to state politics. 

Mr. Downey, sliftht, white-haired, quick-moving, was 71 
years old at the time the following interviews were tape-recorded 
in his large office in the law firm of Downey, Brand, Seymour & 
Rohwer located in downtown Sacramento. Though still actively en 
gaged in his law practice, he took time out for six recording 
sessions from October 195>6 to January 1957. A quiet-spoken, friendly 
man, his gentle modesty almost belied his high reputation until 
one became aware of the keen mind behind his unexpected humor and 
easy speech. 



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In one letter regarding the then-proposed interview 
he wrote, "I do not have enough imagination to think anything 
in my life is of historic value to California. I have foivr 
children and eighteen grandchildren that are my only claim to 
immorality (sic)." Perhaps a part of his influence also lies 
in his conciliatory nature, his insistence on giving all his 
associates their due credit, and his unwillingness to say a bad 
word about anyone. 

This series on interviews was tape-recorded and edited 
by Willa Baum as oart of the work of the Regional Cultural His 
tory Project, directed by Corinne L. Gilb. Associate Justice 
Jesse W. Carter of the California Supreme Court recommended Mr. 
Downey as an able participant in much of the major water and 
power litigation in California. 

Willa Baum 

University of California Library, Berkeley 
Regional Cvltvral History Project 

May 3, 1957 



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TABLE OP CONTENTS 

INTRODUCTION 

BIOGRAPHICAL ! 

1. Parents and Childhood 1 

2. University of Michigan Law School 9 

3. First Job An Attorney with Devlin and Devlin 17 
k* Private PracticeIn Partnership with John P. Pullen 23 

5. Entrance Into Water Work 27 

6. Reorganization of the Firm 30 

7. Marriage and a Family 3! 
CALIFORNIA STATE BOARD OF RECLAMATION 37 

1. Formation of the Sacramento-San Joequin Drainage 
District 37 

2. Efi'orts to Get Federal Funds for Flood Control \2 

3. Refinancing the Assessments 53 
k Duties of the Board of Reclamation 65 

MERCED IRRIGATION DISTRICT 80 

1. Legal Cases 80 

2. Refinancing the District 9lj. 
MADERA IRRIGATION DISTRICT 105 

1. Killer and Lux vs. Madera Irrigation District, 1933 10f> 

2. Negotiations to sell Friant Dam Site to the 

United States 108 

3. The 160-Acre Limitation and the Bureau of Reclamation 111 
IRRIGATION DISTRICTS ASSOCIATION 117 












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SACRAMENTO MUNICIPAL UTILITY DISTRICT 123 

1. Formation of the Sacramento Municipal Utility 

District to Provide Water 123 

2. First Bond Issue 126 

3. Bond Validation 133 
Ij.. Valuation Proceedings Before the Railroad Commission 137 

5. Negotiations to Purchase Power from the Central 

Valley Project li|8 

6. Management of SKUD 155 

7. Hydroelectric Development on the American River 161 
RECLAMATION DISTRICTS WORK 166 

1. Present Problems of Reclamation Districts 166 

2. Reclamation District 108 171 

3. Reclamation District Assessments 175 

l|. Comparison Between Irrigation Districts and Reclamation 

Districts 180 

5. Refinancing Problems of Irrigation Districts and 

Reclamation Districts 186 

AMERICAN RIVER FLOOD CONTROL DISTRICT ACT 1927 193 

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA IRRIGATION DISTRICT AND TULE LAKE 

IRRIGATION DISTRICT 197 

SACRAMENTO PORT DISTRICT 202 

COMMENTS ON THE CALIFORNIA WATER DEPARTMENT 206 

SACRAMENTO RIVER WATER RIGHTS 211 

COKl-SNTS ON THE LEGAL PROFESSION 220 

1. State Bar Examination 

2. The State Bar 223 

3. Loyalty Oath for Attorneys 

if.. Ethical Problems 227 



5. Appointments of Judges 23lj 

6. Trials 238 

7. Stephen W. Downey's Most Significant Cases 21^7 

8. Office Organization of Downey, Brand, Seymour 

and Rohwer 2lj.9 

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9. Charity Work 263 

COMMENTS ON POLITICS 266 

1. A Supporter of Hiram Johnson 266 

2. Sheridan Downey, United States Senator 267 

3. Contact with California Governors 279 

i|_. United States Senators Thomas Kuchel and William 

Knowland 283 

CIVIC WORK 289 

APPENDIX 296 

1. Further Biographical Information 296 

a. Childhood in Leramie 296 

b. Children 30i|. 

2. List of Major Cases for the Reclamation Board 307 

3. Kr. Downey's Three Most Significant Cases 308 

PARTIAL INDEX 311 

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BIOGRAPHICAL 
Parents and Childhood 

Downey: I was born In Laramie, Wyoming, in 1886. My 
father was Stephen W. Downey. He was from 
Maryland. There were six men in the office 
studying law and three went in the Union Army 
and three into the Confederate Army. He was a 
private and became a colonel in the Union Army. 
Then he came to Wyoming in 186? and settled there. 

Baura: Why did your father come to Wyoming? 

Downey: I don't know. I think he was always an adventurer 
at heart and Wyoming was the frontier. It may 
have been due to other reasons I don't know about. 
He was in the office of Col. Thomas of Maryland 
at that time. Thomas was a controversial figure. 
He was one of the men who favored the Radicals 
when they were trying to patch up the Civil War. 
Strange to say, Thomas was very much a Radical. 
I don't know whether father didn't agree with him 
or what it was, but anyway he came out west. He 
was a visionary, pie in the sky. 



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Baum: Did he intend to continue aa an attorney in 
Wyoming? 

Downey: Yes, but of course, getting out there he immediately 
began to get into prospecting, gold mining. I 
think he put down the first oil well ever put down 
in Wyoming. Nobody believed there was oil there 
then. It wasn't until long after Father's death 
that they ever found any. That was the type of 
man he was. He wasn't very cautious and conserva 
tive or shrewd. He was a dreamer and a poet. 
Mother was born in England. Father was of Irish 
extraction and Mother was Welsh. Mother came to 
Wyoming from England, across the prairie by prairie 
schooner, fought the Indians, or at least ran 
away from the Indians to keep from fighting them, 

Bsum: What was her father's occupation? 

Downey: I don't know much about him. Her father was Welsh. 
Mother's mother was converted to Mormonisra and 
came out from England to Join the Mormon Church in 
Salt Lake City. It was wild then. Mother was 
Just a baby in arms. Apparently her mother didn't 
like the Mormon Church at that time. She didn't 



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like polygamy. She became an apostate and was 
driven to Idaho and then to Wyoming where she 
settled with ray mother. Of course, the Mormom 
Church then was very different than it Is now. 
Mother and Father were married in Laramie; we 
had a big family. There were twelve of us. I 
lived in Wyoming until I went to college. Father 
was quite prominent in the state. He was supposed 
to b e a lawyer but he thought it was more alluring 
to get out and find gold. He never found any. 
Did he go in for business ventures or did he go 
out prospecting himself? 

He prospected. They found a vein there, a very 
famous vein in that part of the country called the 
Centennial Vein, in 18?6, the year of the centennial. 
It seemed to be a very rich vein of gold and silver. 
Actually they sold it for a very substantial sum and 
then the vein played out, a pocket. So Father re 
funded the money. They've never found that vein 
since. People are still looking for It. 






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He lost a lot of money in mining ventures. 
Mother was really the one in the family who kept 
things together and kept things going on. Father 

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was one of those men everyone loved. He didn't have 
a financial success. He had a very adventurous 
career. 

A thing we like to think about, he was the 
father of the University of Wyoming. That was 
located at Laramie. That's where we lived so all 
of us got an education for awhile anyway. I think 
probably Father is most known for that, although 
he did many things. 

I read that he was a delegate to Congress from 
Wyoming Territory. 

Yes, and to show you how visionary he was, he intro 
duced a bill and his supporting speech was in blank 
verse. There must he thousands of words there, there 
are some beautiful lines too. That created quite a 
sensation. Some of the papers made fun of him and 
some were quite serious about it, but there was a lot 
of publicity on it at that time. I wasn't born yet, 







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but I've read some of his clippings. The funny 
thing about it was that the bill itself was to make 
paintings of the life of our Savior at the national 
capital which now has been done, I think, to some 
degree, but nothing was done about it at that time. 

Mother was a woman of tremendous energy, and 
will power. Father had his financial troubles. 
Mother was quite a china painter. When conditions 
got too rough she'd paint china. I remember quite 
distinctly that Father was very sick before hia 
death and our financial troubles were heavy at that 
time. I remember Mother painting the china to pay 
the doctor's bill. We used to call her "the little 
Napoleon." 

Before your father's death, was the family poor, or 
well off? 

It depended on Father's fortunes. Very poor sometimes, 
undoubtedly. I never knew that. But generally we 
lived well, beyond our means, but we got along. It 
was a happy family. But Mother was always on the bit, 
you know, locking out for everything. She had to 






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be frugal. 

Baum: How many brothers and sisters did you have? 

Downey: There were four boys and there were six girls. Then 
there were two half sisters. Father was married 
twice. His first wife died right after the Civil 
War before he came out to Wyoming. And Mother took 
over these two, she raised them all, so she had 
twelve. 

Baum: Where did you come in this order? 

Downey: I was ninth. I was pretty well down the line. 

And then Father died and that left Mother with the 
whole family to take cere of. I was only sixteen 
and I had three sisters younger than I. One of them 
was only about two years old and the other was about 
four or five years old. 

Baum: Then who supported the family? 

Downey: Oh, Mother. Well, I had an older brother who was 

then in partnership with Father in the law business 
and I had an older sister. She was a brilliant girl. 
She was teaching at the University of Wyoming. She 
became the head of the Psychological Department there. 



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She really had a brilliant record in science and 
literature. She was starred in Who's Who JLn Science 
and wrote articles in the Encyclopedia Britannica. 
She inherited Father's mastery of words. 

They were earning money and all of us began to 
help. I used to have some cows and sell milk; I made 
money with milk. Everybody did a little work. 
Mother was the leader all the time, she carried the 
banner . 

Baum: What were the schools like in Laramie? 

Downey: Like any other country schools. We had the big, red 
brick schoolhouse, the only school there. After we 
got through high school, we could take preparatory 
work at the University and then do collegiate work 
at the University. In my case I went through the 
public school and did preparatory work at the Univer 
sity and for a short time in the collegiate depart 
ment. I didn't graduate from the University. I 
wanted to get out and be doing something. I could 
get admitted to the law school at the University of 
Michigan without having my college degree. 



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At school we had a lot of contacts and a lot of 
fun with the other boys. 

In the summer we got out and did work on the 
ranches. Almost from the time I was able to do it, 
I was engaged in some kind of outdoor work in the 
summertime. Sometimes surveying, sometimes tie 
plant work, sometimes cattle. They had a big tie 
plant there . 

Baum: Railroad ties? 

Downey: Yes. We'd pickle the ties. 

The University of Wyoming had a museum where 
they stored the fossils that were dug up around there 
That was a great country for paleontologists. Three 
summers I dug up brontosaurus, some little bones and 
a good many of the larger bones. I remember we got 
so much a month. We'd camp out. There was a quarry 
where we were uncovering the bones of these animals. 
We'd take them up in plaster of Paris casts and haul 
them down by horse to the University. There are some 
very famous specimens there. That had the lure of 
adventure, uncovering these fossils. 



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University of Michigan Law School 

Baton: Why did you decide to be an attorney? 

Downey: Well, Sheridan and I both liked the speaking and all 
the things that we thought went with the law. 

Baum: Sounds like you visualized yourself as a trial lawyer? 

Downey: Exactly. My idea was to be a trial lawyer. 

Baum: Why did you select the University of Michigan? 

Downey: In those days Harvard a nd Michigan were outstanding. 

Baum: Had your oldest brother gone to Michigan? 

Downey: No, he stayed right there in Laramie, went into 
Father's office and picked it up from there. 

And Sheridan and I wanted to get out and see 
the world by that time. We knew we had to get some 
where away from Laramie and Michigan had a preat lure 
to us because of the football team and because it 
was an outstanding legal institution. So we both de 
cided to go there together and we did. 

We had to do a little work on the outside to 
get some money to help Mother out. We paid most of 
our own expenses. So Mother wanted to know how much 
we were paying for board and lodging. "Why, I can 



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take the whole family back there and give them an 
education for that." And she did. She came back 
and we paid her then. That brought the opportunity 
to my sisters to attend the University at Ann Arbor. 

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We called that "Mother's Hergira." I don't remember 

if she stayed there a year or two years. 
Baum: What kind of work did you and your brother do to 

support yourselves there? 
Downey: I think I did surveying work and this fossil work 

in the summertime. We loved to work on the ranches 

near Laramie. 
Baum: What sort of an education did you get in the law 

school at Michigan? 
Downey: Purely legal. 
Baum: You had no outside classes? 
Downey: Well, football practice, and we'd go to the football 

games . 

Baum: I take it you were very interested in athletics. 
Downey: Oh, I was, I was tremendously interested. Of course, 

we did a lot of the outside collegiate work at the 

University. We were having a fight there about the 






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control of athletics. So I went on the Athletic 
Board of Control. Non-fraternity men generally did 
not get elected. That was quite an election. Those 
posts are very much coveted. When I got t-irough 
with that the regents weren't satisfied with our 
handling of the athletic situation so they fired us 
all. But I had a lot of fun there. 

Baum: Were you active in student affairs? 

Downey: Yes. 

Baum: Did you have to do as much homework as the legal 
students seem to now? 

Downey: It was plenty hard, all right. I think we did, but 
there were a lot of the college activities that more 
or less centered around the work you were doing and 
the professional courses. There was the debating 
society, toastmasters' club, the barristers' club. 
There were a lot of them. 

Baum: Did you participate in all these things? 

Downey: I tried to. 

Baum: And your brother also? 

Downey: I think so. I say he and I went together. As a 






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matter of feet he was in the class ahead of me. 
But we lived together in the same building. Yes, 
I'd say he participated about the same extent as I 
did. We had the Rocky Mountain Club. 

Baum: Did you have a chance to join any fraternities or 
social organizations at Michigan? 

Downey: Many social organizations, but that was another 

thing, I was one of these anti-fraternity guys there. 
I was always kind of a Bolshevik. There was a fight 
at the University of Michigan at that time between 
the independents and the fraternity men. So I was 
what they called "a barbarian," an independent. 
Those things don't mean a thing in the world to me 
now. So I didn't join a fraternity. 

Baum: Do you feel that was a loss to ycu in contacts? 

Downey: No, I don't think so. I think my contacts were very, 
very rich. I've never been able to go back to 
Michigan for any of the reunions, but those friend 
ships were very dear. 

Baum: In your law school training did you have any 






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practical training? 

Downey: None at all. I think we had one moot case, that's 
all. 

Baum: You didn't do any outside work in law offices? 

Downey: No, I was too busy wanting to get out in the country 
to work on some matter where I could get some money. 
No. I should have done that. 

Baum: I was wondering what you thought of your son's train 
ing. He's a recent attorney. 

Downey: He certainly came into this office and had no trouble 
at all like I had when I began. He's a graduate of 
Stanford. I think that's probably due to better 
training now. I think I knew the fundamental princi 
ples of law, constitutional limitations, for example. 

Baum: How valuable did you think that was to you later on, 
your fundamental principles? 

Downey: Oh, very valuable. When you got into the cases 

that involved more important questions, it was highly 
important to have that background. I'm sure I got 
along very well after I got through some of the rou 
tine of a law office. I liked any case that presented 






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a big problem, I enjoyed the principles of law in 
volved. I had a lot of theoretic training in 
Michigan. 

Baum: Did it take you very long to learn those routine 
things? How long until you were valuable? 

Downey: I think I became valuable in about a year. But I 
think I had less practical experience than most 
young boys had. In Laramie you didn't know much 
about business. 

Baum: Were there any professors at the University of 
Michigan who especially impressed you? 

Downey: Yes. I was very close to Professor Bates, I think 
he acted as the president of the university later. 
He was the dean of the law school too, I know. 

There were a number of earlier distinguished 
Michigan men who were not there at that time. Cooley 
was one of the great legal authorities and we studied 
his work on taxation and the Constitution and other 
things . 

I had a professor of elocution, Professor 








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Trueblood. I always liked him. He conditioned 
me in elecution. We always thought It was quite 
a Joke. At that time I was one of the varsity de 
baters. Sheridan was too. 

Baum: Were the students interested in politics or social 
issues? 

Downey: Yes. I think every man attending law school had an 
Idea he had to get into politics. 

Baum: Did they Join student political clubs? 

Downey: Yes. They liked to run for class offices, you know. 
We used to think we had to be politicians. 

Baum: On the campus? Campus politicians? 

Downey: Yes, campus politicians. 

Baura: Was there any interest in national politics? 

Downey: Yes, we ere very interested in that. We had a num 
ber of very distinguished speakers at our student 
forum and you could get in on that and meet them. 
You came into contact with a great many national 
celebrities at that time. Lincoln Steffens. William 
Jennings Bryan. Gompers, LaPollette, etc. You didn't 
know them well. Maybe talk to them at a meeting. 






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Downey: 



A cocktail affair. I don't remember if we had 
cocktails affairs then. We went to the saloons 
often enough. But you meet them, that's about all 
you can say. Of course, ycu're impressed sometimes 
by their speech. We had some very remarkable speeches 
there. One I remember of Bob LaPollette's. We 
were in all that more or less by reason of our con 
tact with the law school. 
Were you and your brother very close? 
Yes, we were very close. 









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First Job - An Attorney with Devlin and Devlin 
Downey: On rraduation from law school I was pioing to Nevada 
because I had been in Nevada surveying. I thought 
I might be United States senator there, among other 
things. 

Baum: You were an awfully young man tote thinking of be- 

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coming a senator. 

Downey: Yes. Thet didn't bother me then. I might have con 
sidered being President of the United States. I've 
learned a lot of things since I've gotten older, but 
let me say to you because you're a young woman, there's 
nothing like youth, energy. I don't like to get old. 
I haven't any philosophy for getting old. 

Baum: Age has the wisdoi , the know-how. 

Downey: Well, I sometimes wonder if we're as wise as we think 
we are. But the world was no bother to me at all at 
the time I graduated from college. 

Baum: Were you planning to set up your law practice in 

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Nevada? 
Downey: I was going to Goldfield, Nevada. I had been at 

Rhyolite and Bull Frog and Tonopah and Las Vegas-then- 



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you wouldn't believe it. Rhyolite is right on the 
Amargosa Desert near Death Valley. They are all 
of them pretty barren, but anyway there was a lure 
to them. I wouldn't want to go back there now any 
more than I'd want to go back to Wyoming. When you 
could get into anything you wanted besides getting 
stock in a gold mine, it waa well worthwhile. I 
just stayed there long enough to see that the country 
was broke. Then I managed to beat my way to California, 
partly by freight. 

Baum: Why did you choose California? 

Downey: It was on my way. I never had any intention of going 
to California originally. 

Baum: You had no friends here? 

Downey: I didn't know a soul in California. California wasn't 
too far from Nevada so I came to San Francisco. I 
hunted up one of my old class mates there and he said 
he'd heard somebody up in Sacramento was advertising 
for a lawyer. So Ij came to Sacramento and asked this 
man, Devlin, for a Job. The firm of Devlin and Devlin 
was the large firm then. 



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Bill Devlin, one of the members of the firm, 
was the man I talked to. He was a very nice fellow, 
rather pompus. He said, "Young man, what do you 
know about our titles here? What do you know about 
the Sutter title?" I didn't kncrw anything about 
titles. "Well, you've got to know some of these 
things." I said, "Well, I know about Constitutional 
limitations." 

He said, "Well, I'll tell you what I'll do. 
I'll give you fifty dollars a month. You can sit 
in that back room there." 

I said, "All right, but I want five dollars in ad 
vance." He said, "Well, you talk to the cashier out 
there and see if she'll give you five dollars." So 
that was that interview. 

I went out and talked to the cashier. There I 
was getting somewhere because she was a very pretty 
blonde girl and I thought I could talk to her all 
right. So I said, "I'd like five dollars in advance. 
Mr. Devlin said I cculd come into his office." She 
pulled out the drawer and gave me five dollars. 









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Baum: 

Downey: 

Baum: 

Downey: 



So then I sat In that back office for I don't 
know how long waiting for somebody to talk to me and 
nobody did. Then one Sunday Devlin came down and 
saw me and after that I had no worry about not work 
ing. But every raise I got there I really had to work 
for it. Seventy-five dollars a month, finally I got 
up to a hundred and twenty-five dollars a month and 
he said, "That's all. We don't go any higher then 
that." 

So then I went out by myself. I had the satis 
faction a few years later of having him come to me 
and offer me a partnership with him going in on a 
combination of two firms. By that time, I preferred 
my own work. 

You said that when you took this first job you didn't 
know anything about law. How did you learn? 
Matters kept coming to you and you had to learn. 
Did you sit in that back room and read old cases? 
I couldn't even read cases. I have to laugh. In 
attaching property there are certain things you have 
to execute right away and there's always a summary 
proceeding. You have to do it right away, somebody's 



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in a hurray to get somebody's property attached be 
fore they can take it away. So shortly after they 
had begun to give me some work there, somebody came 
into the office one Saturday morning and wanted an 
attachment. There was nobody there on a Saturday 
morning, just myself. Heavens, I didn't know what 
to do about an attachment, but I got out a lot of 
forms that were there. Of course, I tcok the case. 






I noticed the forms read that "whereas 



Judge of the Superior Court, has set his hand and 
seal." It isn't a paper to be signed by the Judge 
at all, it's a paper to be signed by the clerk of 

the ccurt, it just says "in witness thereof " 

It's a ridiculous thing, but it's the way those 
forms are made out. So I got all these papers to 
gether and went over to see the judge and asked him 
to sign the paper. He said, "Why, I don't sign that 
paper." I said, "Well, it says here..." All I 
knew was what it said on the form, (laughter) Of 
course, he had a right to get irritated about that, 
but he signed it in the blank there. He and I 



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talked about that years later. So that's the way 

it went. 
Baum: What kind of Jobs did you handle when you were 

working for Devlin and Devlin? 
Downey: Devlin and Devlin had a v ery big practice even 

for those days. I got just the work they got. 

Estates. I did a great deal of corporate work at 

that time. I assisted them in a greet many trials. 

I helped Bob Devlin get out a new edition of 

Devlin on Deeds. 












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Private Practice In Partnership with John P. Pullen 
Downey: Then I opened up practice with John P. Fallen in 

1911 about June. We had a lot of fun practicing 

law. 

Baum: What was his background? 
Downey: He was from Auburn. He later became Presiding 

Justice of the District Court of Appeals. A man 

with a wonderful personality. Everyone liked Jack 

Pullen. He had been raised in the state and he had 

some contacts here. He was -'aised and went to school 

in Auburn. 

The two of us got out and we got business all 

right. 

Baum: Was he a young man about your age? 
Downey: No, he was a little older than I, not much. 

Close enough so we were pals. 

Baum: And he had worked for Devlin and Devlin too? 
Downey: No, he had worked for some other firm here. We 

went into partnership and then my brother came 

along later, in 19l I think. 

The cases we got were the cases a young lawyer 

gets if you have a lot of energy and not much money. 






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Baum: 
Downey: 



We started out with a bank account of fifty dollars 
Shortly after, the bank called up and fortunately 
they got Pullen on the phone instead of me and 
said, "Your account is overdrawn." He said, "My 
goodness, I must have made a mistake in addition 
or subtraction." (laughter) Well, we had many 
such cases of mistakes in addition or subtraction. 

We didn't have any books in those days. If 
some money came in, we put It in the old safe 
that Jack's father left him and if you wanted some 
money you'd go to the safe and take out a dollar or 
two ( if you could find them) and put down an 
I.O.U. and by and by the box got all filled up 
with I.C.I. 's and then we'd sit down some Saturday 
afternoon and I'd find an I.O.U. he gave for $5 
and he'd find one I gave for $5 and we'd cancel 
them and throw them away. Finally, we'd get 
tired of that and go out and have a beer. 

We were just two young lawyers, two kids. 

What kind of work came in for you? 

I* 

Most anything. We had to kind of stimulate it a 
little bit. We had a few damage cases that a young 



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Baum: 
Downey: 

Baum: 
Downey: 



lawyer can usually get if he wants to try the 
case. They weren't automobile cases. They 
were cases involving master and servant. You can 
get them and then if you settle them for good 
prices or if you try them and g et good results 
you get some more of them. 

We got along. It was a rather inferior grade 
law business. We said if we ever got hard up one 
of us would go out and work and the other would 
stay and practice law and the man \4io worked would 
support the firm, but we never had to do that, 
Then, of course, things got better, we g ot more 
business. 

Then came the war. 
Did the war help your business? 

Well, I went in right from the start, I went right 
to the first officers' training camp in May 191?. 
Did Mr. Pullen go in or did he keep up the firm? 
He couldn't pass the physical. Then, when I got 
gack from the war, Sheridan had come into the 
firm by that time and things were pretty well 



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Entrance into Water Work 

Baum: I wondered how you got started on water law. 

Downey: When I was in Devlin's office they had a preat 

deal of work involvinp reclamation districts. That 
was "fighting the wolves," as we used to say, fight 
ing the flood waters. I got interested in that there, 
Way back about the time I left that office I was 
looking to the Reclamation Board having a lawyer to 
represent them at that time. I just thought that 
would be nice work to have. 

Baum: Had you specialized in water within Devlin and 
Devlin's office? 

Downey: No, I didn't really know anything about water then, 
they had no water work and I had none until we got 
to our very difficult flood control projects. After 
I got with the Reclamation Board I did that work, 
of course, and that became, not quite a speciality, 
although it certainly tock a lot of my time. Then, 
having worked there for a number of years, and I 
think I made a success of that, especially in getting 
the relief that was given to us by the federal 





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government on flood control, they asked me to come 
to Merced. That was real water work. Riparian 
right cases, drainage cases. I became at that time 
more and more... I don't want to say I was a special 
ist, I don't think I am now. But from my work at 
Merced came a 11 these other matters involving water 
and I branched out. It's so heavy now I can't even 
follow it. 

Baum: Do you think you went into water because of chance, 

or was it from an interest? 

Downey: Certainly as far as the Reclamation Board was con 
cerned, I went with the board because I liked what 
they were doing. Really, the development of the 
flood control project here in this valley and the 
story that goes with it of the hydraulic mining 
and all those things, that was certainly one of 
the big public enterprises of that lime. When I 
found I could get to act for t he board I was very 
glad to get the appointment. 

Baum: When you described your early interest in law it 

sounded to me like you thought of yourself as a 
criminal lawyer. 



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29 



Downey: We did a lot of crininal work. When ray brother 
went In with us, he was a v ery brilliant trial 
lawyer, no body better if he had stuck to it. 
He tried many criminal cases and I tried a number 
too. They weren't the criminal cases you get now 
so much, they were cases generally rather sensational 
in nature, attracting a lot of attention. We tried 
a number of those cases, which was excellent ex 
perience for trial work. I don't, of course, try 
any criminal cases now and haven't for a number of 
years. When I got to the Reclamation Board the 
number of cases in the Appellate Court was so great 
it took most of my time, I won't say all of it, 
but certainly a lot of it, arguing cases on appeal. 

Baum: Did you enjoy this criminal trial work? 

Downey: Oh, I loved it. We had two or three rather sen 
sational cases. I remember one, a woman shot her 
lover. That was real dramatic. Another one, a 

' 

young sailor shot his foster father. Those were 

+ v : * rir-RsT 
wild cases. I had a number of them. Sheridan had 

a great many and he loved that kind of work at that 
time. 



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Reorganization of the Firm 

Baum: What was John Pullen 1 s part in the firm? 

Downey: There were John Pullen, (Jack), Sheridan, and I. 
Downey, Pullen & Downey. I went to war and that 
left Jack Pullen without anybody here, and Sheridan. 
Sheridan got more and more into criminal work, 
being associated with another lawyer here. They 
had a big practice and he was making money but he 
didn't like the way he was making it. Then Jack 
Pullen, by the time I got back from war he decided 
he wanted to go on the bench. So we had him ap 
pointed Superior Judge and then later on there was 
a vacancy on the District Court of Appeal and he 
made the run and was elected presiding justice. 
He was the type of man everybody loved. Wonderful 
man. So that botched up that firm and Sheridan, 
he then v. as out buying ranches and farms and or 
chards and ev6rything he could buy on mortgages, 

Baum: By this time both of them were out of the firm? 

Downey: Well, that came just a little later as far as 
Sheridan was concerned. Jack was on the bench 



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for a whjle and I was so financially Involved 
on some of Sheridan's paper I had to get out too. 
So anyway we consolidated our firm with Dunn and 
Brand--they were an established firm hereand 
we took into that firm Harry B. Seymour* That 
was in 1926. The result was this firm, Downey, 
Brand, Seymour, & Rohwer, although that changed 
a number of times through the years* 

Baum: What were the advantages of consolidating? 

Downey: Primarily, as far as I was concerned, I had to get 
a new start here. I can't tell you how much money 
1 owed. A lot. To banks. Sheridan would sign 
my name on them. He was very, very generous, but 
he had no sense of business. So I had to make a 
fresh start. 

Mr. Brand's partner had died and he wanted 
to make some kind of a reorganization and we just 
consolidated our two firms and went together. 
Sheridan has never come b ack t o the law business*. 
Marriage and a Family 

Baum: When did you get married? 

Downey: About 1913 my first marriage. 



cc 



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. otf oari I ' - > lo acrioa no 

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bn.e et5ri innil baclBlXdBctsa na 

TjiieH ntll 
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oBff^ rf !e t if- t ircmy93 ,bn- 

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ari I ^beniaonoo eew I e IB*! EJB t^IiiQffltti? 
janom rlouin w>- ^ Ile^ cMruao I o tedfe wan s 

..tol A &9wo 

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a 93iBm od- bsri I 08 .asoniaurf lo anae on bar! art 



9; belb barf lontfT oq e'bnaia .iM 

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d amiil owct r wo becfablloenco 

wsl sry os cf a nabiiodS 

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32 



Baum: 
Downey: 

Baum: 
Downey: 
Baum: 
Downey: 



Baum: 

Downey: 

Baum: 



Downey: 

Baum: 

Downey: 












How did you meet your wife? 

She was my stenographer. White I was in France 

she died in the flu epidemic. 

And you had children by that time? 

Two children. 

When were they born? 

Stephen, my youngest bojt was one year old when I 

went to Prance in 1916. The other boy, Jack, was 

about two. 

Was your wife from Sacramento, a local girl? 

No, she was from Iowa. 

You mentioned before that when your wife died while 

you were away at the war, your sister came to take 

care of your two children. 

Then I remarried. 

Whet was your wife's maiden name? 

Per sis Mclntire. She was working in the State 

Library at that time, when I met her. Her 

mother and father had come out here. They were 

staunch Vermonters. We had many a sword to cross, 

you know, on the political campaigns. 



tw ii/o Y .. - bib woH 

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^arict -^d atnh- '. $d trn^ bnA 

owT 

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I narfw bio TR^Y ano sew jgocf cfessruroY ^m t ao 

t 3fo3t t^otf narf^o srfT ,dl^l' nJt 9o'nan r I at *new 

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Vliip, IBOO! e t o*n9meio9& ^rorrl eliw IMO^ aW 

flwol wotl BBW erle t oM 

el.Ww b&lb sIJtw II;CY aerfw cfBri^ woled benoi^neffr woY 
ocf entso led-ete i;,c^ ,i3W etftf cfe Y^WB ei^w 

.netblli lo e-reo 

.baiitemdi I no 
tan nabiem s'alj. v BBV 

titfrrc-, . nloM 

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s ari aV ; . ',te 

laolrfilcq ertrf no t wcrol i 



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Baum: 
Downey: 



Downey: 



Baum: 



What was her father's occupation? 

Her father was a kind of real estate nan and 

Interested In mines and so forth. He had the 

adventurer In him too, but not exactly the same 

way my father had He was more conservative. 

Very scholarly. Should have been a college pro 

fessor. 

My wife herself was a graduate of Abbott 
Academy. That's a girls' school near Boston* 
She came out here shortly after her graduation. 
Did she continue to work after you were married? 
No. She continued t o work, but not in the same 
line. She took over the two boys* Then we followed 
up with two more, both girls. There was plenty to 
do. Most of the time she was at home taking care 
of the children. Pretty soon they all grew up, 
sent to college, then Jack came in here with me. 
Stephen went into the army, and is now a colonel, 
and the girls got married. And now they are pretty 
busy too. One of them has five children a nd another 
four. Jack has eight. 
Did your wife have time to be in on woman's club 



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3 natrr ectatfae Isei lo sew 

ericf bad aH *rltfiol oe bn a.t 

3xa tfon cfucf ooc al 

evl^evncaeaoo atom cow aH .beii terfdel 
ciq 93Xoo a naacf avBri 



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He -a IOOHDB 'eliig B s'cfarlT 



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elils riiod ,iom owd- /i^iw 
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t if weig lie YJ* nooa ^^.t9 r i 
art rWJtw elan' nl arces jfoaL ns; . ulloo otf 
,l9j:olco B won el bits ^apia sricf ocfnl tfnew 

S.s^ j-oj, aliig *>rtt boa 
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cfwlo a'nejJiow no nl 9d ctf einlct avsri sllw rrirc ' 






:^am 









Downey: 

Baum: 
Downey: 



Baum: 
Downey: 



Baum: 



activities or anything like that? 
Ighe never did a g reat deal of that* She Is very 
sociably inclined, but not a clubwoman* 
Was her family Democratic? 

Her parents were Republicans from Vermont. When 
my brother ran as a Democrat for United States 
Senator, that was a hard problem for the Mclntlres. 
Finally they voted ft>r him. At least, they told 
me they did. They said they'd never done that be 
fore In their lives, they voted for a Democrat and 
that took a lot of soul searching for them. They 
were living with us right at t hat time, for quite 
a number of years. 

And is your wife a Republican or a Democrat? 
Well, I thought she was a Democrat. Of course she 
supported my brother. But I think she renlgged 
a little bit the last campaign. I am pretty sure 
she voted for Eisenhower in November, and I think 
she did In the election before that. But I still 
think she's good material f or t he Democrats* 
What are your hobbies? What do you do with your 
spare time? 






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aaJ-e- el dvenoc es oet nexl^oicf 

.aatlctnlo arirf -ic'l irtald'otq fitarl e sew 
blod 1 t ctaoel *A niri icftbe^O 

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bru> ; tol beJov Y 3ri * issvil nle^ct ni etol 

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f ioTt tafliJM 1 igri ;r cte *rl$J:i sw rid'lw ^nlvll eiew 

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eria estuoo 10 .^aioomad a ;:ew erie 
arfe >fnlrld- I 

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I tfjoQ .^erid 1 snolaef noi*oalo rtl blft aria 

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rirfiw ob JJOY cb ^eriW ?eaic r ffoc[ 100^; eta cteriW 

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35 



Downey: Well, I used to ride horseback a good deal. The 
children all rode horseback. It was a family 
affair for us. Stephen was quite a polo player and 
steeplechaser. I had a number of accidents. I 
broke pretty near everything. It was the only time 
I was ever laid up. I broke my head and I broke ay 
back and I broke my collarbone. So finally they 
said, "We're not going to pay any more accident 
damages for horseback riding, 11 and they cancelled 
my accident policy, so I quit riding. 

But the whole family rode. It was the topic 
of conversation at the table everyday. 

Baum: Did you keep up any of your other athletics? 

Downey: Well, I have done a good deal of walking. I don't 
play golf, though. I played tennis up to a number 
of years ago. Now, when I get out it's generally 
walking. But I used to walk seven or eight miles 
in a day, and I'd take long we Iks in the summertime. 
We used to walk every summer from here up to Lake 
Tahoe, then around the lake, Jack Pullen and myself. 
I don't do that anymore. 

Baum: Did you have time to join any service clubs? 








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Downey: Oh, I belong to Rotary, and the Sutter Club and 
Grange, but I haven't been a joiner. 

Baum: You said your father spent a lot of time reading. 
Was that a hobby with your family too? 

Downey: I used to do a great deal of reading, but the last 
few years there's too much television on. 































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CALIFORNIA STATE BOARD OP RECLAMATION 

Formation of the Sacramento-San Joaquin 
Drainage District 

Baum: Getting back to your legal career in water work, I 
think you went to the Reclamation Board in 1923 as 
their attorney. 

Downey: Yes, I'm quite sure it was 1923 

Baum: I wonder if you could fill me in a little bit on 
the background of the Reclamation Board and the 
Sacramento-San Joaquin Drainage District before 
that date. 

Downey: The reason for the formation of the Reclamation 

Board was the devastating floods that had occurred 
in 190? and 1909. The 1907 flood was the one we 
call our "project flood", that's the flood according 
to which we have made all our plans. 

Baum: That was the biggest one? 

Downey: There certainly was a bigger one of the Feather 

River last winter and there have been from time to 
time in certain sections of the river floods that 
exceeded it, but we think of the 1907 flood as the 
"project flood." We all think that way back in 1862 



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there was still a bigper flood, but accurate records 
are not available. 

Baum: Were you here in 1909T 

Downey: Yes, I had Just come out to California. I went to 
work in the law office where they were dealing with 
many problems concerning the 1909 flood such as form 
ing reclamation districts, building the west levee 
of Sutter Butte, by pass Project Mumber 6 and the 
east levee of District Number lf>00, and steps that 
were being taken by the landowners to try to meet 
those flood conditions, etc. 

Then in 1910 the California Debris Commission, 
a misleading name because it is really a federal 
commission which had been set up way back in 1893 to 
take care of the damage done under hydraulic mining, 
rendered this report which aimed at setting up a 
coordinated plan that would take care of floods, re 
store the navigability of the river which had been 
damaged by hydraulic mining, and enable the lands to 
be reclaimed under conditions that the property owners 
could bear. That recommended that the work be done 








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at a cost of one -third to the state, and one-third 
to the federal government, and one -third to the 
property owners. It was estimated then at thirty- 
three million dollars. I hate to tell you how much 
it has cost since then. There had been a number of 
other projects discussed. There had been a project, 
the Dabney Plan, called the "main river project" 
under which from an engineer's point of view you 
Just take care of the floods in one way, through 
the river itself. Then, there was the "by-pass 
project", which was the "Orunsky project." Of course, 
the engineers had been working on this for a long 
time. This by-pass project contemplated that there 
would be passes which would really be auxiliary 
rivers and they would take care of the excess water 
under flood conditions. That was the plan finally 
approved by the California Debris Commission. 

The United States was interested in the naviga 
tion of the river although it's not an interstate 
river. 

Baum: That was the only thing the federal government was 
interested in in those days, wasn't it? 






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Downey: Well, we argued that there were lot* of other 

things that they should be Interested in, but they 
were primarily concerned with the navigation of the 
Sacramento River. The state was interested in that 
too. It was an important artery of commerce. 

'> '-* -? * * 

At that time there was no national policy re 
specting flood control. That came about in 1936. 

Baum: You say Devlin and Devlin were handling the 
reclamation district work, 

Downey: Yes, they had by far the biggest reclamation practice 
in the Sacramento Valley at that time. 

Baum: Did they have anything to do with the adoption of 
this report? 

Downey: Yes. But I wasn't up that high at that time. I 

was one of the privates, so to speak. That date of 
the report is 1910 and then Hiram Johnson called the 
legislature into special session in 1911 and the re 
port was approved by the state of California. 

Baum: Were you aware of any opposition at that time? 

Downey: No, not at that time. I think everybody in the state 
generally was for it. We ran into a lot of trouble 



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at a later time, but right at that time the state 
was for it, Johnson was for it, it seemed to be an 
answer to our very bad problem there. 

Then, the next step was for Congress to take 

- 

some action and that was trouble right away. 

Baum: Where did the Reclamation Board come in? 

Downey: They were created in 1913. They were set up, a 

small board to start with, for the purpose of carry 
ing out this report and also to ?, et some kind of a 
control agency that reclamation districts would 
have to follow. For example, one reclamation district 
would build a levee and its neighbor would build a 
higher levee. It was just like pushing the vagrants 
back and forth from one city to another. There was 
no overriding power. 

Baum: One levee would damage the neighboring lands? 

Downey: That's right. A levee on one side of the river would 
force the water onto the other side of the river. 
It was a very unhappy situation. 

The law at that time was that any man could re 
claim aralnst flood waters, they were wild wolves and 






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you shut them off if you could. If you shut them 
off onto somebody else's land, that was tough luck 
for them, but it was the law of self-preservation. 

Baum: Were the reclamation districts to be required to get 
an okey from the Reclamation Board? 

Downey: Yes, they couldn't raise their levees without going 
to the Reclamation Board. That's a l&ng, long story 
but today what the Reclamation Board generally does 

is to follow the adopted flood control plan in de- 

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termining whether people should be permitted to raise 

their levees at all. 

Efforts to Get Federal Funds for Flood Control 

In 1917 the Reclamation Board went back to 
Washington to try to get the United States to assume 
one -third of the costs of the plan. 
Baum: Did the board go back? 
Downey: Some of the members did. One very a ctlve member at 

that time was V. S. McClatchy, the brother of C. K. 

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McClatchy. They had a good deal of trouble in Wash 
ington and many of the details of that are unknown, 
but they finally succeeded in getting a bill through 






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Congress in which Congress assumed $5, 600,000. That 
was to be confined to opening the mouth of the river 
and the construction of wiers, assumed to be the 
navigation benefits. The total cost of the project 
was estimated at thirty-three million at that time, 
but the United States had no intention of assuming 
a third of that cost* 

Was this because they felt that part of that was not 
for navigation and therefore out of their realm? 
It undoubtedly was. There were two or three reports 
on that. One by the Board of Engineers of Rivers 
and Harbors set forth that the interests of the 
federal government was purely in the navigation end 
of it and that any contribution it made should be 
limited to the navigation feature. The board said 
that flood control was for Congress. 

That was no solution at all but there was one 
important thing about it. In passing that legislation 
in 191? Congress made it a part of the Mississippi 
Flood Control Bill. We had never been bracketed with 
the Mississippi and we always felt that we weren't 






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fairly treated. In fact, practically no rivers in 
the country were given any consideration at all, but 
the Mississippi had so much commerce and so many 
Congressmen and I have no doubt they had many reasons 
that weren't applicable in California. But the 
Mississippi Bill in 1917, Section One, dealt with 
the Mississippi and Section Two with the Sacramento. 
I had nothing to do with that but I knew about it. 
We are the only river bracketed with the Mississippi 
and we are now trying to get other things the 
Mississippi gets. 

The bill provided more for the Mississippi than 
for the Sacramento? 

Oh yes, we never got in on any such appropriations 
as that. Now we're trying to get the stabilization 
of our banks along the lines of the appropriations 
for the Mississippi and we haven't got that yet. 

Then, we thought we could work well with Major 
Grant, the grandson of the great Grant, a very, very 
fine man. He's now a major general. So we went to 
Congress and asked to have this plan resurveyed. 



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That was done and that work came to Grant. 
Baum: Was he on the California Debris Commission? 
Downey: Yes, he was the executive officer, what we called 

the District Engineer, in San Francisco at that 

time. Since, they have moved up here to Sacramento. 
Of course, our theory was that this whole 

thing had bogged down financially. The plan 

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was all right, but the costs were not divided 
properly. So we had to get this report from Grant. 
That involved all kinds of work. I was a kind of 
go-between there between the Reclamation Board and 
Grant. 

Baum: What sort of work? 

Downey: I suppose liason mainly, Just trying to get the 

view of the landowners and of the Reclamation Board 
before him. We had all kinds of figures showing 
that with what the landowners had put in in reclama 
tion districts on their own levees and with what they 
would be assessed, it was Just wiping them out. The 
whole valley faced bankruptcy. Whether we stated it 

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thought that way then and I still feel that way now. 

Baum: Was Major Grant's problem in this respect to come 
up with a favorable financial apportionment..,. 

Downey: That's what we wanted. 

Baura: It wasn't an engineering problem? 

Downey: There were some engineering problems, but not too 
difficult. Oh yes, he was a very good engineer. 
Well, in 1925, he came up with the Grant Report 
which is really the foundation of everything that has 
been done since, on our flood control project here 
in California. And he there were some changes he 
recommended but the big thing was that the federal 
government would assume a third of the cost. Then 
he went on to say that while the federal government 
should assume a third of the cost, they should keep 
very distinct the work that had to be done by the 
federal government so a s not to become involved in 
the financial problems of the Reclamation Board which 
were very heavy at that time. That has since been 
changed to a great degree. 

Then we went back to Washington. In fact, we 






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were there several times. We had to get the approval 
of the Flood Control Committee of Congress. 

Baum: Who went back? 

Downey: There were several of us, the chairman of the Recla 
mation Board, Al Spencer; Mr. Bernard A. Etcheverry, 
my dear friend, went back with us. 

Baum: He wasn't on the board? 

Downey: No. He had been engaged in the levying of these 
assessments. Colonel Barton, the manager of the 
board, and several others. We made a number of 
trips, I don't remember just how many. We were 
entertained very graciously by Mrs. Frederick Dent 
Grant, the mother of Major Grant, and I think as 
charming a woman as I've ever met. 

We finally got the matter heard before the 
Flood Control Committee of Congress and Charley Curry, 
our Congressman at that time, vouched for the bill. 
General Taylor, who was then the Chief of Engineers 
in Washington, testified very strongly against this 
legislation. That's almost disastrous as a rule 
because they follow the recommendations of the Chief 

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pretty largely. And Grant testified in favor of the 
report. That was a most unusual thing. Nobody, I 
think, could have done it and got by with it except 
Major Grant. He had a high reputation. The Board 
of Engineers of Rivers and Harbors had rather been 
against us too and that's almost fatal too, in these 
matters. They passed on all these projects. They 
rendered an opinion at first very much adverse to us. 
Then we went back there again and got them to hear us 
again and they still weren't for us, but they said 
something like this; it never had been the policy 
of the federal government to appropriate money for 
flood control and that if that was the intent of 
Congress, Congress should express that intent. In 
other words, they passed the buck back to Congress, 
which was better for us than turning us down as they 



first did. 






Baum: It seems strange to me that the Engineers wouldn't 

be glad to expand their operations into the area 
of flood control. 

Downey: Maybe they were, but they didn't want to make a 



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recommendation for an appropriation which was really 
in a seruie for flood control. They knew that once 
flood control was opened up as an obligation of the 
federal government all these rivers in the country 
would want flood control. And that helped us also 
when we came to Congress because there were a great 
many people there who wanted to get appropriations 
for some river in their own state. There was a lot 
of opposition to it too. But you can see it was 
really a question of national policy there and the 
Board of Engineers of Rivers and Harbors said, "We'd 
better leave that to Congress." 

When you made your request did you openly say this 
was for flood control or did you pretend it was for 
navigation? 

Well, we talked about hydraulic mining and said it 
was all due to hydraulic mining. As a matter of fact 
flood control and navigation tied in. 
The federal government had recognized its responsi 
bility for hydraulic mining. 
They hadn't stopped it until later. Yes, the state 






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courts let ut go on too, but the federal government 
just hadn't stopped it. That was the big thing. I 
talked hydraulic mining until I was blue in the face 
sometimes. 

Baum: That was the crux of your argument? 

Downey: Well, I would say that, and the fact that the land 
owners couldn't bear the costs of the assessments. 

I might say that we first went to the state 
legislature again and we said, "We went you to approve 
now this new Grant Report in which we affirmed just 
what you did in 1911." The legislation of 1911 wasn't 
anything near as strong as what we put to them in 
1925. We said, "Now, it's a very simple matter here. 
You just agree to put up your one-third of the cost 
and the federal government will put up its third of 
the cost. If we can convince Coolidge and all the 
congressmen from all over the United States that this 
is a good thing, you ought to approve it." And that 
was a hot fight too. 

We had sessions. The legislature met in a 
committee of the whole, both the Senate and the Rouse, 






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and we had a full opportunity to present our case 
and we got that legislation through. It was 
contingent on the federal government's acceptance 
though. 

Baum: Was the southern part of the state aeainst it? 

Downey: No, a s I remember there were very few dissenting 
votes In the legislature. We had a number of 
matters there that we had to work with the southern 
part of the state in connection with it. It wasn't 
near as hard in the state as it was in the federal 
government. 

Baum: Did getting the state to approve this require that 
you sort of trade votes for other projects in other 
parts of the state? 

Downey: We didn't on that particular matter, but there had 
been. There had been an appropriation made for 
three million dollars before this to assist in the 
financing of Assessment Number 6 and we then also 
voted for three million dollars for the southern 
part of the state. There's the usual amount of 
trading, but I don't remember any trade in connection 
with this matter, although there may have been in 



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Downey: 



their minds that maybe they'd want something 
sometime. 

Anyway, lots of people voted for it. I suppose 
they said, "Well, the federal government will never 
approve this." That was in 1925. 

The big fight came in Congress. We finally got 
thst through in 1928 and that also was a bill for 
the Mississippi and the Sacramento together. The 
way it reads is that Congress approves the Grant 
Report and such changes and recommendations as may 
be made. I don't think many members of Congress 
fully realized what they were getting into. They 
should have. There was no concealment at all. And 
Coolidge, of all men, approved it. 
Had he given you any support before that? 
No. He knew about the measure. Of course, Coolidge 
was not a man to approve anything like the expenditures 
that have been made in recent years. It was long be 
fore the days when you could go back to Washington 
and get money. I think ours was first big measure 






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of that kind as far as I know. And we didn't get 
an appropriation or anything very substantial at 
first. 

Baum: But the federal government had agreed to one-third? 

Downey: They had. There have been many, many changes since 
this was approved, generally in the way of getting 
more money or showing that the estimates were low. 
I don't know how much money has been poured into 
that project since that time but it's tremendous. 
The state then would always match the federal govern 
ment. Whether the landowners are bearing a full third 
of the cost now I don't know. But they've put in 
plenty of money and this saved their lives. 

Refinancing the Assessments 

Well, after we got this legislation what were 
we going to do with this money the federal government 
was going to give us? Theywere obligated to pay one 
half the cost of future levees which meant appropria 
tions from time to time, and that was all right. They 
were also to re turn, and this was in some respects the 
most amazing thing about this legislation, to the 






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state the money which the state had contributed 
for opening the mouth of the river fmnd the construc 
tion of weirs, which was a very substantial amount 
of money. The federal government had appropriated 
originally $5>600,000 for that and the state had 
matched that appropriation. That had to be returned 
to the state in the process of evening up these 
various costs. 

Then we had to determine what to 3o with that. 
I don't know of any case like that. . .You've heard 
about the Jackel in Kipling, something like "September 
was t he jackel born, a storm came in October. Such 
a storm as this, he said, I never can remember." 
(laughter) 
But to return money to the state, really for the pur- 



pose of refunding that money to the landowners was 
certainly unusual. Then we had to try to work out 
so a s to refinance these assessments and that was a 
headache, purely technical. Not very interesting, 
but it had to be done. 
Baum: In other words, you had to get this money from the 






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state applied to the assessments that were due from 
the landowners? 

Downey: Yes, and in the meantime some of the landowners had 
paid their a ssessments. You couldn't very well re 
fund them the money that way, not all of them anyway. 

Baum: Had many landowners lost their lands by this time be 
cause of assessments? 

Downey: Not while I was attorney for the Reclamation Board. 

Baum: You never foreclosed? 

Downey: No, I didn't. 

Baum: Were most of them in arrears? Delinquent? 

Downey: Well, the assessments hadn't gone quite that far. 
For example, in the Number 6 assessment, that had 
been very bitterly contested. They had to set up a 
special court of three Judges to hear those assessment 
objections. The feeling was so intense at that time. 
That required a lot of trial work in the Superior Court 
and then on appeal and then appeal to the Supreme Court. 
So the assessments hadn't actually gotten to the point 
where you could have foreclosed. 

Baum: Were individual assessments being contested, or the 








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whole right to assess the lands? 

Downey: Generally speaking the landowners Joined together 
and employed attorneys who represented most of the 
people who had any point to put up in the assessment. 
I had to defend the assessments, not a very nice 
thing to do. 

Baura: What was the objection? I know people don't like 
to pay assessments, but you can't use that in a 
court case. 

Downey: This applies on only one assessment, but the state 

had built the West Levee of the Sutter By-pass which 
brought the water in that area down into the Sutter 
By-pass. When thatves built originally by Reclama 
tion District 1^00 it was bitterly contested by the 
people on the other side of the by-pass. That's the 
famous case of Grey against Reclamation District 15>00, 
which held that lf>00 could build its own levee even 
though the effect was to throw the water over onto 
the east side of the by-pass. Then when the State 
Reclamation Board came into the picture it took over 
the West Levee of the Sutter By-pass and so the people 



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Downey: 



on the east side maintained that they were entitled 
to have a levee built on their side, which was ulti 
mately done, at the expense of the Board of Reclama 
tion. They had a lot of points there. Then the 
people on the west side said they were being over- 
assessed because the east side had a levee built 
without contribution from the people on the east side. 
There were hundreds of questions like that. There 
were individual cases too. 

By the time the Supreme Court got to it, they 
upheld the assessments, and then they began filing 
new suits to enjoin the collection. I rather favored 
them as long as I could. I had to fight the litiga 
tion and I did, but I knew that the United States 
and the State of California should take more of their 
share of the apportionment. 

Then you were in charge of fighting these suits for 
the Reclamation Board to collect the assessments 
which you felt were unfair? 

Etcheverry was my main witness on that. We went along 
together. Yes, the assessments were all approved in 






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the end, but not paid except a small amount. 

Baum: That must have been rather unpleasant for you. 

Downey: Well, it was unpleasant because my sympathy was 
with them, but I kept maintaining that the thing 
to do was to get this law changed so that the 
federal government and the state would contribute 
their share of the costs and we did that too. 

Baum: What other kinr's of work did you do for the 
Reclamation Board? 

Downey: Then we had to refinance all the assessments. A 

few of the people who had paid had paid in warrants. 
They had bought their w arrant s at a very substantial 
discount, fifty cents on the dollar. So it only 
cost them say fifty cents on the dollar to liquidate 
their assessment. That was quite a problem. In 
the end, where we refunded money that had been paid 
on the assessment, we only refunded what they had 
paid for their w arrant s. 

Baum: Wasn't it rather difficult to determine at what dis 
count they had purchased their warrants? 

Downey: We made them show it. They had to make an affidavit. 






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Downey) 



But I can say this about the litigation. I was 
almost constantly engaged for a number of years 
there in litigation in the State Supreme Court 
or the United States Supreme Court and frequently 
in the Superior Court. For a time my practice was 
almost entirely confined to the State Supreme Court. 
So many problems arose. 

Take this three million dollars appropriated 
by the state in aid of the Number 6 project. The 
state said it had to be applied in a certain way 
and we wanted to get legislation through to apply 
it some other way. So we had to fight the legisla 
ture to get that and we ran into tremendous opposi 
tion. We got that through the legislature and then 
we had to face all the litigation on that. 
How did you go about getting something through 
the legislature? 

We had a very good man, a farmer. There was no 
better man than he was in work of that kind. I 
don't want you to think I was doing all this. I 
certainly was not. We had men who knew how to lobby, 






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as they say, a bill through the legislature <r 
through Congress, good men, not professional 
lobbyists. 

Baum: Who was this farmer? 

Downey: His name was Bill Dwyer. He's also dead now. No 
better man ever lived. 

Bsum: He was an employee of the board? 
Downey: No, he was Just doing this because he felt much 
the same way about it as I did. He was a very 
outstanding man. There were lots and lots of 
people like that. I can't remember all of them. 
Just interested people or people you employed: 
I think they were all people who were interested 
in the sense that they were interested in the 
valley lands. Some of the people were hoping 
they wouldn't have to pay the assessment, of course, 
It was all fair enough* 

Baum: When the Sacramento and San Joaquin Drainage 

District was passed in 1913* did that a ct include 
the one -third, one -third, one -third arrangement? 

Downey: No, it Just created the drainage district. The 



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Downey: 



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Baum: 

Downey: 
Baum: 
Downey J 

Baum: 



1911 legislation anproved the third, third & 

third. 

But it didn't say specifically that the state 

wasgoing to pay its part of that? 

We didn't get that until 1925. As I remember, 

in 1911 it was just simply that the plan of the 

California Debris Commission was approved, which 

was 4t least a moral committment to pay a third 

of the cost. The 1925 legislation approving 

the Grant Report is very clear. 

That's where t he state finally admitted ai ob 






ligation to pay. 

Yes. 

I talked to Senator Herbert C. Jones. 

He was in the legislature at the time. What did 

he have to s ay? 

He felt that the landowners had no right to 

expect t he state to contribute to this, that they 

had agreed t o build these things which were to 

their own advantage, and that later on the state 

was rather taken fora ride. 



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Downey: I can see that that might be a viewpoint. I 
think he supported the bill. 

Beum: Yes, he did, 

Downey: I suppose that other people felt that way. I 
never felt that way about it. 

Baum: Did you feel thmt the state had really implied 
an obligation back in 1913? 

Downey: 1911 when they approved the plan. 

Baum: Then it wasn't Just a matter that the landowners 
couldn't pay, that they were financially unable 
to carry the burden? 

Downey: I felt that it was a fair division of the costs 
of this gigantic project. The project benefits 
the state, the federal government, and the 
property owner and a rough division is a third, 
a third, and a third. The state certainly assumes 
some obligation for floods and the United States 
assumes obligations for floods a nd f or navigability. 
I can see how somebody else might look at it 
differently, but of course, I know I'm right, 
(laughter) 








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Downey: 



Was the refinancing mainly carried on by the 
federal government returning money to the state 
and then the state picking up the warrants and 
assessments? 

The state would then repay the landowner who 
had paid his assessment, but they hadn't paid to 
a great extent. The Number 6 assessment, for 
example, was divided into flood control and re 
clamation benefits and they had made calls on the 
flood control benefits. Those, we regarded as the 
obligation of the state and the United States to 
take care of. 

I don't think there are many assessments left. 
There haven't been many paid because by the pro 
cess of refinancing we've taken care of them. 
The state gave us money to refinance too after 
the 192 legislation. I know the Number 2 assess 
ment was wiped out entirely and certainly most of 
the Number 6. 

Now the federal government pays the cost of 
all future levees, the entire cost, and the 











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Reclamation Board provides the rights of way and 
takes care of the utility changes. 

Baum: This is from the landowners? 

Downey: Nothing from the landowners, unless at some time 
they may be required by the Reclamation Board 
to put up the money for rights of way* Generally 
the board provides the rights of way. 

Baum: Through state appropriations? 

Downey: Yes. The whole thing is rather intricate. The 

Bau Reclamation Board started in by having the re 
clamation districts build these levees. Reclamation 
District 1500 built this West Levee. Then they 
immediately put in a claim to the Reclamation 
Board. That levee cost them several million 
dollars. The Reclamation Board allowed that. 
That was before I went on the board. Then I 
had to contest that In the Supreme Court because 
1 claimed they shouldn't do that. It was very 
complicated. 

Baum: Before 1923 when you came on was most of the 
construction done by local districts? 






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Baum: 

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Baum: 



Downey: 

Bauin: 

Downey: 



Baum: 



Not all of It, but most of the big construction. 
Then they would send! in a claim to the Reclamation 
Board, and you felt that was not a legal way? 
I Just didn't want to pay out the money at that 
time. Because it would come right back on the 
property owners anyway and I objected to the allow 
ance or interest. 

Then the Reclamation Board would have to assess 
the same property owners. 
That's right. 

Duties of the Board of Reclamation 
In 1923 when you came on the board there was a 
complete reshuffle of the board by Governor 






Richardson, 

There sure w as. 

Why was that? 

Part of it, I think, was the feeling that generally 

prevailed against the Reclamation Board, Part 

of it was politics. 

What was the feeling against the Reclamation 

Board? 



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Downey: In 1923? One of the things I think was the fact 
that people didn't want to have such money spent 
on the project. I don't know how I got on the 
board staff at that time. The whole board was 
changed. Richardson did a good deal of that whan 
he went in, made a lot of changes. I'm sure there 
was a general feeling against the Reclamation 
Board. There was a general feeling too when we 
all went in because the old board had their 
friends and it wes a very unceremonious way of 
getting rid of the board. He Just fired them. 

Baum: Yes, he fired thirty members of the staff and 
closed the San Francisco office. 

Downey; And they had their friends, too. The feeling was 
that he shouldn't have done it that way. They 
f ired t he attorney too, which wasn't very pleasant 
for me because I was a close friend of his. 

Baum: Oh, that was Frank Freeman. 

Downey: Yes. A very fine gentleman. 

Baum: You were a Democrat at the time and Richardson 

was a Republican. I wondered where you came in? 

Downey: I don't know? 



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Baum: 
Downey: 

Baum: 
Downey! 
Baum: 
Downey: 



Baum: 



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Baum: 



Downey: 



Were you a political supporter of his? 

No, not of Richardson. I was lukewarm about him. 

I don't know* 

Were you an active Democrat at that time? 

Not particularly. 

You weren't very political? 

Off and on through the years I have been. I 

wasn't at that time. I guess I told you that when 

Hiram Johnson and Theodore Roosevelt ran In 1912 

I was quite active as a Progressive, then shifted 

to a Democrat and am still a Democrat. 

Could you tell me a little bit about what the 

duties of the board were? How often did they meet? 

They met once a month, and we had special meetings. 

They meet twice a month now. 

Did the board members have to spend much time on 

their work outside of the meetings? 

Well, Peter Gadd did. He had energy. We realized 

later on he had his Ideas as to where his energy 

should be put. Certainly the chairman of the 

board put in quite a little time. No, I don't 



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think they put in too much time ordinarily. Most 

of the work was done by the staff. I thought 

I worked pretty hard at that time. 
Baum: In the 1920 'a the Central Valley Water and Power 

Act came up for the initiative vote three times. 

I wondered if the Reclamation Board took any stand 

on that. 
Downey: No. They certainly didn't take any action on that 

when I was with the Board. 
Baum: About how much of your practice was devoted to the 

Reclamation Board? 
Downey: Well, there was certainly a period there when we 

had all this litigation, when I was working on 

Congress, on Grant, that it took pretty near all 

my time. That was almost the bulk of my work for 

the entire time I was there, heavy work. 

Baum: Were you paid on a salary basis or a fee basis? 
Downey: No, I sent my bill. 
Baum: Did you feel that was more satisfactory to be on 

a fee basis? 
Downey: Doing that kind of work, it was. It was all very 












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big work. It involved very substantial sums of 
money and I wouldn't have wanted to be paid Just 
by the month. That three million dollar appro 
priation the state made was a continuing appro 
priation and of course, we were always worried 
about whether they would continue or cut down. 
There certainly were fights against it, 

Baum: Was that part of your Job, to see that the appro 
priation got through? 

Downey: It certainly was. All of the financial provisions 
were s o important to the board. I certainly 
followed that. Except for the engineering, I 
knew pretty well what was going on while I was 
there, and I've kept in touch with them ever since 
fairly well. I know Colonel Barton, the chief 
engineer. He was there all the time. He came in 
at the same time that Richardson fired the old 
board, and he'd come to me and I to him to g et 
information. 

Actually, when the bill was up before the 
legislature to transfer all my activities to the 



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attorney-general, I recommended it should be 
handled by the attorney-general and since that 
time it has been handled that way* 

Baum: Was that when you went out? About 1933? 

Downey: Yes, that's when I went out. I know, the man in 
the legislature who had perhaps the most to do 
with that wanted to know if I wanted to go out. 
By that time I was pretty well fed up on it. Heavy 
work. 

Baum: By this time was most of you practice devoted to 
water law? 

Downey: It's my recollection that I went down to Merced 
before I left the Reclamation Board. I was w 
still busy with my Reclamation Board work, but 
I think I was gradually getting to the more general 
water work. 

Baum: Do you handle any work f or t hem now? 

Downey: No. It all has to go to the attorney-general, 
but I do handle work for them in a private 
capacity, and Barton comes to me, and the chairman 
of the board. They've recently had claim-suits 






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filed against them for several million dollars 

rising out of the recent flood so you have to 

help them out if you can. They come to me and 

talk to me about those things, 
Baum: What were some of your major cases while you 

were with the Board, 
Downey: I've made a list of them. (The list is included 

in the Appendix) 
Baum: Just as a summing up, do you feel that the major 

impediment to this coordinated flood control 

construction was financial? 
Downey: I'm sure it was... I think the only thing that held 

it up before was lack of money. We need more 

money from the state and the federal government. 

That's the thing I'm working on now, and the 

attorneys f or t he board. 

We need all our banks stabilized. All the 

banks are more or Itss crumbling, caving, and 

it's a tremendous Job to stabilize them. They 

have to be reveted. It runs into fantastic sums. 

I've always maintained it's the obligation of the 



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federal government because It's the navigation 
end of the project. Barges use the river for 
navigation, we empty water into the river from 
Central Velley, Shasta. It all causes erosion of 
the banks. Unless the banks are completely 
stabilized they break down. They've never been 
completely stabilized and that's what we're trying 
to get the federal government to do now as part 
of our flood control project. They do assume some 
of this bank revetment on the Mississippi but 
they are very much afraid of assuming anything 
further on the bank revetment because of the tre 
mendous cost all over the United States* 

I know that in this Reclamation Board work 
I did a good job. I know that. But it's long 
past and gone now, water over the dam 
Was the Reclamation Board able t o do any work 
before 1917? 

The Reclamation Board was charged t o carry out 
this plan that had been approved. So they began 
to adopt assessments that were necessary to carry 





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out a certain part of the plan. For example, they 
levied an assessment over here in Sutter County and 
vicinity, the Sutter-Butte By-Pass Assessment 
Number 6, an eight million dollar assessment. It 
doesn't sound like much now, but it was an aw 
fully big assessment in those days. They were pro 
ceeding to carry out that assessment. There were 
other a ssessments in otherareas. They levied a 
general assessment to take care of the overhead. 

Baum: In other words, they levied an assessment for work 
in a certain area Just on that area rather than 
a general assessment over the whole district* 

Downey: Right. Now, we get to the point where I came on 
the board in 192 3, The Sacramento Val ley was in 
a frenzy. They had all of these assessments, some 
of which had been levied and some of which they 
were planning to levy and the lands couldn't a 
stand it. We were very much undeveloped at that 
time. 

What to do? Obviously, the fundamental defect 
was that the state and the federal government 



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weren't bearing their portion of the cost. The 
plan was all right. 



Was the state bearing one -third? 






They made some minor appropriations, but nothing 
like one -third of the cost. They made one appropria 
tion for three million dollars and there were others. 
Those just took care of little things, but it was 
very complicated because we had to credit those 

some way on these assessments* 

...... 

Why didn't the state bear its one-third? 

That's what we said. But, of course, they weren't 

going to put up any money until the federal govern- 

ment put up their third. 

It was in March or April of 1923 that this big 

shuffle came along and Peter Gadd was appointed as 



the secretary. Shortly after that there was an in 






vestigation as to whether he was using his influence 

improperly. 

Thatwas very embarrassing. He w as also my friend. 

He was the secretary of the Reclamation Board and 

he was easily the most influential member on the 

board. They all trusted him. He was undoubtedly 






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a good friend of theirs. After they began allowing 
these claims, Peter went to the attorney of Reclama 
tion District 1001 or the attorney went to him, and 
Peter told the attorney that he had a good claim 
against the Reclamation Board, similar to the claim 
Reclamation District l00 had had. Then he made a 
contract with District 1001 that he be paid a high 
percentage of whatever might be recovered on that 
claim from the Reclamation Board. He and the lawyer 
agreed on that. 

Baum: Charles Metteer. 

Downey: The engineer got the biggest part of the fee instead 
of the lawyer. That was a horrible thing. But I 
don't want to Joke about this deal. These warrants, 
after they are approved by the Reclamation Board- 
he puts in a claim for the 1001 levee and the warrants 
go to the State Controller and are then returned to 
the Reclamation Board. Ordinarily it takes quite a 
while toget those claims back, but he had the claims 
approved and then he went around after the meeting 
of the board and had them all signed by the individual 
members of the board--! t was necessary to get them 






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signed and then he gets those warrants back almost 
immediately and then he keeps his share of the 
warrants and turns back a very unsubstantial amount 
to District 1001. 

Well, Peter was my friend too. We've never 
spoken since that time. 

Baum: How did that come out? 

Downey: First the Reclamation Board investigated it and 

held that he shouldn't have done what he did. Then 
some of the landowners in District 1001 brought 
suit against him to require the return of these 
warrants, against him and the attorney, and they won 
that suit. He never got anything out of it. There 
were still a few warrants that he might have been 
entitled to as a reasonable fee. By that time the 
Board of Control had stopped payment on them and he 
never got a cent out of them as far as I know. He 
had actually resigned from the board at the time he 
got this claim through. 

Baum: That happened in November of 1923. I think he had 
been appointed secretary in March or April of 1923. 








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Downey: He was a fast worker. 

Baum: What were your duties in connection with this case? 

Downey: In the first place, he was my friend. I talked to 

him and told him he ought to turn back those warrants. 
He didn't see why. He'd done a good job, he said. 
He wasn't any more involved with t he board at that 
time, he said. Of course, we debated that. I said, 
"If you don't do it, it will put all the board in a 
terrible position. People will feel they shouldn't 
have paid that kind of a bill for collection of a 
claim if there wasn't something wrong with the claim. 
You think the claim was good and I think so too. 
But they'll never forgive the board for approving a 
claim like that where a man has to pay all that 
money to get it collected." I remember at our 
last conversation he said, "I won't give back the 
warrants." And he never did, but he loat them all. 

Baum: So you t rled to prevent this scandal. 

Downey: Oh yes. Then after that I had to go before the 

board and recommend that they take action. We had 
a hearing on that and I think I wrote the opinion 






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for the board in which they disavowed the warrants 
and recommended that the landowners in District 1001 
make suit to recover them. The board couldn't bring 
that suit. 

Baum: An unfortunate occurrence. 

Downey: We had come back from the service together. Our 
wives knew each other. 

Baum: What are the qualifications that a governor looks 
for in a board member? 

Downey: Well, they've had good men, awfully good men. They 
try to get a certain representation for all the 
differnet sections of the state that are interested 
in the work of reclamation. They have now, for ex 
ample, one man from Stockton, a couple men from 
down the river here, one man from Yuba City, one from 
Gridley, one from Sacramento. They divide up the 
representation so as to get people who are interested 
in reclamation. 

Baum: Are they mainly landowners who are involved? 

Downey: Their people mostly are people who are rather sub 
stantial landowners. They are unhappy now because 






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of all these claims that are being filed against 
them as a result of the flood. 















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WORK FOR THE MERCED IRRIGATION DISTRICT 
Legal Cases 

Baura: I think you said you went to Merced about 192?. 

Downey: It must have been about 192?. 

Baum: What did you do with your practice up here? 

Downey: I didn't live down there. I'd get up about four 

o'clock in the morning and drive down there, be there 
about seven or eight o'clock and then I'd stay there 
the ^ay and drive back that night or the next morn 
ing. Much of that work was right here in the office, 
you see. Then, when I'd try a case I'd have to go 
down there. I didn't have anything to do with the 
organization of the Merced Irrigation District. The 
district had been organized, had voted bonds, and 
the building of the dam had been pretty well com 
pleted and the power house. Then everything kind of 
got into a mess. They brought all this water down 
to areas in Merced County that hadn't had water be 
fore and there was not adequate drainage and that 
created a high ground water condition and they had 
lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit. Things were 






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getting a little hot then. 

Baum: Was that why you went to Merced, to handle the 
Merced Irrigation District affairs? 

Downey: Yes, it must have been right after the irrigation 

season of 192?, which was the first irrigation sea 
son they had after the dam. I was really called 
down there. 

They had a very able man at Merced, Al Cowell, 
in charge of the legal end of the district, but 
he wan't particularly a fighter. Part of this was 
not his fault and part of it was. When they re 
located the Yoseraite Valley Railroad that cost a 
lot of money and he was held responsible for that. 
He shouldn't have been responsible for that, but 
the people held him that way. They had all these 
riparian claims coming up and they were afraid that 
he wouldn't fight them. So I went down there to 
succeed him, and I never had a finer friend than 
Al Cowell. A fine man. 

Baum: Did you have a reputation as a fighter by this time? 

Downey: I think I had more of a reputation then than I've 






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ever had since. I loved these fights then. I 
don't like them now. 

Baum: Had you already specialized in water law by this 
time? 

Downey: No, I really hadn't. I'd worked with the Reclamation 
Board, but there we were trying to get rid of water. 
Suddenly I was called down to the San Joaquin Valley 
and right away one of the big problems was getting 
water to the people who wanted it. They'd had the 
old Crocker-Huffman Land and Water Company, which 
had operated as a public utility and sold water, and 
in the late summer there wasn't any water to speak 
of. Out of that came the desire to form an irrigation 
district and impound the water for use in the summer 
time. 

There were so many problems at that time. There 
was too much water arising from the release of water 
from the dam without the necessary drainage, practically 
no drainage at all to speak of. The problem had to 
be worked out to keep the lands from high ground 
water conditions and ruination of the fruit lands. 






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Then there was the problem of handling the water... 
it was new all t^he way around. It was like up 
setting an ant heap, the ants ran everywhere. 

Bauir: What were the major causes of these lawsuits? 

Downey: A great many people wanted to get water and there 

wasn't enough water to satisfy everybody. And there 
were riparian rights suits, which were tremendous. 
In those days a public agency just went up the river 
and built their dam and that resulted in adversing 
the riparian owners down below. They got by with 
that to a very considerable extent. The Miller and 
Lux people brought suits on the San Joaquin prior 
to my connection with the Merced District. They 
entered into contract with the Southern California 
Edison Company. 

But people were becoming more and more aware of 
their riparian rights and we had a great many riparian 
right suits. They brought what we called inverse 
condemnation. They were trying to recover damages 
for taking water by the Merced Irrigation District. 
They had lost their right to an injunction because 









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they had waited too long. 

I remember one case, the Stevlnson people, 
who were large landowners, they had a suit pending 
against us for several million dollars, which we 
finally settled by giving them some of our spill 
water. There were suits brought that would have 
bankrupted the district, and of course people were 
becoming worried about that. I had to take over all 
those cases. 

Baum: Did you take most of those cases into court or did 
you try to settle them outside? 

Downey: They all started in court. One case there, the 

Collier case, a rather celebrated case, went clear 
through the trial. Most of those cases were very, 
very vigorously prosecuted and the Collier people 
said, "We have this beautiful ranch here on the Mer 
ced River. The water used to come up every winter a nd 
overflow our lands, sweeten the lands, kill the pests, 
and now you've taken it away from us." That was a 
forerunner of the constitutional amendment which 
came in in 1928 and helped those cases very much. 
But this Collier case resulted before the amendment 



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was passed. They wanted half a million dollars be 
cause they claimed the ranch had been ruined. It 
was very ably and very vigorously prosecuted. I 
remember, we argued it about Thanksgiving, Just 
before the Big Game. We managed to see the Big 
Game, but I didn't know whatwas going to happen in 
that case, and strange to say, I was thinking not 
of the game but of the case. 

What we offered to do, and this was a novel 
feature, a rule that would have been applied had 
it not been for the constitutional amendment which 
eliminated the necessity for it, we said, "We haven't 
taken all your water. We'll guarantee to give you 
eighteen second feet of water forever, whenever you 
want it..." They said that was like stealing a 
steer and offering back a piece of the hind quarter. 
In the end the jury had to apply this rule, that 
if we had damaged their property we had to pay for 
it, but the only damage was the difference between 
what they would have gotten in a state of nature and 
what we offered to give them, and they got nothing, 








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Baum: 
Downey! 






not a dollar. 

It was quite a case. Edward F. Treadwell, who 
handled many of those cases, handled the case against 
us. We didn't know what would happen to us on that 
case. That could pretty nearly have ruined us right 
there, that one piece of property. 

They didn't want the water? They wanted the money? 
They wanted the money. They were willing to take 
eighteen second-feet of water, but they claimed that 
in a state of nature they got several thousand acre- 
feet and they didn't want to take less than that. 
As a matter of fact, it was really a practical appli 
cation of the constitution amendment, although that 
hadn't gone into effect at that time. The amendment 
says that they are only entitled to a reasonable 
amount of water by reasonable methods of diversion 
and eighteen second -feet of water would have taken 
care of their ranch if they'd put in pumps. If they'd 
put in the pumo,that would have cost them fifty 
thousand dollars, but they didn't try the case on that 
theory and they didn't get a thing. 






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Baum: I'd like to ask you about the Hermlnghaus case and 
the resulting constitutional amendment. I think 
that was in 1926. 

Downey: Let's see. I was with the Reclamation Board in 
1926. The constitutional amendment was in 1928. 
I was very interested, but I didn't participate 
then like I do right now, for example, on this 
counties of origin water that they're going to have 
a dispute about pretty soon. But I knew about it 
and talked to Peck and Tread well about it frequently 
and those other men who were interested in it. 
And was very much interested in the constitutional 
amendment which was the outcome. 

Baum: Were a lot of the cases you tried at Merced arising 
out of this Herminghaus decision? 

Downey: Those riparian right cases were. 

Baum: You mentioned E. P. Treadwell. Was he in favor 
of this 1928 amendment? 

Downey: I don't think he was. He may have been on the state 
wide committee on that, but I'm: not sure. 

Baum: He was a Miller and Lux attorney. 






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Downey: He was a Miller and Lux attorney for a great many 

yeera. He did an immense volume of water work down 
in the San Joaquin Valley. Of course, he was the 
attorney in the Herminghaus case itself. He's 
written a book, The Cattle King. It isn't as good 
as it should be or as good as Treadwell could be 
just to talk with you. But he had a great lot of 
experience in those kinds of matters. 

Baum: And you and he were in many cases on opposite sides? 

Downey: Always on opposite sides. I don't think I was ever 
on the same side. 

Baum: What did Treadwell look like? 

Downey: He was a tall man, rather sparsely built, a strong 
face, and a lot of experience in water law. 

Baum: Was he a man you could negotiate with, or did you 
have to fight it out? 

Downey: Not at first you couldn't, but as the years went 
by and he began to get a little older, yes. He 
represented Collier in that Collier case and accord 
ing to him we did make a proposition of settlement 
I know we did --and according to him his people wouldn't 






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take it. He recommended it, maybe. I don't know. 
He would have been much better to have taken an 
compromise. 

But after that Collier case, which was the 
most bitter fight we had there, I think we should 
have been held for some damages, but we weren't 
held for any. After the c ase was all over, one of 
the jurors, a big six foot six man, met me on the 
street and shook me by the hand and said, "By God, 
this irrigation district's got a lawyer. 11 (laughter) 
That was a gross overstatement and not deserved, 
but the feeling of the people was that they were 
letting the irrigation district be cornered by all 
kinds of devices and money taken out of them. I 
was suppossed to get them away from that and we had 
tremendous luck in all these cases. Incidentally, 
the same Collier juror, when asked how the jury came 

to find arainst the plaintiff, said," By God, Nol 
It ain't right." A Solomon judgment, I thought. 
Baum: Why do you think most of these cases were won by 
the district? Was that because the jurors were 
prejudiced in favor of the district? 






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Downey: Well, I think we had the public sentiment although 
irrigation district residents were not eligible for 
the jury. It was a matter, however, of presenting 
them the facts. 

The San Joaquin Light and Power Company arranged 
right at the inception to buy the power from the 
district. Th"t was in order to prevent paralleling, 
as they had done in Modesto. Pretty soon we got 
into a fight with them as to whether they were 
taking as much power as we could generate at that 
time. They said, "Well, we don't have to take above 
2^,000 kilowatts," I brought suit on that myself 
against the San Joaquin Light and Power and we re 
covered there. That made a difference of about 
two million dollars to the district. 

Baum: They didn't want all your power? 

Downey: No, they had originally taken the power because 

they didn't want to have the district parallel their 

system. Then we began to get peak loads and they 
could get that very cheap from us, unless they were 
obligated to buy it. The contract provided that we 



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would build a plant of 2,000 kilowatts capacity, and 
then they'd get the dump power much cheaper. We 
sued them though for all of it and we got it, up 
to 32,750 kilowatts as I remember. 

Baura: Were most of these in jury trials? 

Downey: No, they werent. That one was a Jury trial. There 
were a great many court trials involving not so 
much money as those two cases. 

Baum: Was there any agitation among the district people 
to take over the distribution system? 

Downey: I think there probably was, Mrs. Baum, but that 

part of the fight was over when I got there. Prom 
time to time people used to say to me, "We ought 
to set aside that contract a nd build our own system." 
I learned about that sort of thing when I came to 
S.M.U.D. 

The Lyman Hoag case was a court case because it was 
an equity case. That was a case to compel the dis 
trict to put in a lot of drainage. Again, you can't 
do all those things in a day. It costs a lot of 
money. We found by experience that the best way of 






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handling that drainage situation was the drainage 
wells. 

Every one of these cases, Mrs. Baum, were 
tough cases. I couldn't try those cases any more. 
They were war. 

In that case the district had employed Jim 
Peck who was an outstanding water lawyer. That was 
before my connection with the district. The dis 
trict was being sued and it would be calamity if 
the suit was successful. It was a case involving 
months and months of steady work, the technique of 
it. They just got well into the trial of the case, 
maybe two or three days before the end, and Peck 
turned around and sued the district personally for 
the same cause of action. Well, he hadn't any alibi 
for that. Of course, the community was Infuriated. 

I didn't know anything about the case. I hadn't 
handled it at all, didn't know about the facts or 
underlying principles of it, but the directors Just 
called him up and fired him like that. Then they 






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called me up in Sacramento and told me to come right 
down and take over the case, which I did. It was a 
tough case. That went to the Supreme Court too. 
We won. 

I think for s everal years of my life when I 
was representing the Reclamation Board and the Mer 
ced Irrigation District my practice was practically 
confined to cases that went to the Supreme Court. 

Baum: All this legal work was quite expensive. I was 
wondering if the voters in the district resented 
this expenditure of funds. 

Downey: Well, I didn't charge as much then as I do now. 

(laughter) I'm sure I did that work very reasonably 
and that's another reason they kind of liked it. 
I could have charged more and would now if they 
celled on me to do it. 

Baum: Were you popular with the district voters? 

Downey: I think I was. 

Baum: I know sometimes attorneys aren't popular. 

Downey: I think I was. But how does any man know? 








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Refinancing the District 

Downey: That leads up to another thing. We ran into 
the agricultural depression and we ran into these 
short power years, a year when we'd get |95>000 
from our plant which should yield over $500,000 a 
year. Those things combined, and the fact that the 
whole set-up of an irrigation district was wrong 
for the period of time we had then. People couldn't 
pay their assessments and when one person couldn't 
pay that went onto the rest of the land and 
pyramided. It just couldn't be worked out. So we 
realized soon that we we v e going to go into default. 
We couldn't possibly meet our obligations. I 
didn't feel competent to work that out. 

They got a very outstanding lawyer to handle 
their negotiations on refinancing. He was a very 
good lawyer, he understood that business. But 
there again, after he got into it, he had no con 
ception of the difficulties of the farmers down 
there. They were rapidly going to disaster. 



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Baum: Who was that? 

Downey: Max Thelen. A very good friend of mine, by the 
way. But he didn't under stand the fanning point 
of view on a thing like that. 

Well, I worked with him. He was very gracious 
to me. He didn't want to handle the Imw end of it 
at all. They finally drew up a plan to refinance 
the district which contemplated some reduction 
in the interest, but ultimate payment of all the 
principle. But it was Just one of those things 
that couldn't be solved without a complete change 
that nobody at that time would consider. 

Baum: Did Thelen think this was feasible? 

Downey: I think everybody did. The bondholders all thought 
it was feasible. There was a big bondholders' 
committee at that t ime. They realized the district 
was in trouble, but they thought it could be 
refinanced. 

Well, everybody thought this couldba carried 
out without any reduction in the principle at 
that time. Max did very excellent work on that, 






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Baura: 

Downey: 
Baum: 

Downey: 



Baum: 



but it was just one of those things that was im 
possible to do. Eventually they wanted to have 
me take that over, which I didn't feel competent 
to do. That came at a time when conditions had 
changed, the depression was on, Roosevelt had gone 
in as president, the National Bankruptcy Law had 
been passed by Congress, held unconstitutional 
by the United States Supreme Court and then later 
re-enacted and held constitutional. The Recon 
struction Finance Corporation had been authorized 
to make loans to some of these districts that 
were very distressed. 

Wasn't it back in 1933 when these refinancing 
negotiations began? 
Yes. 

I noted that Max Thelen and Franklin P. Nutting 
were engaged in negotiations. 
Nutting's name doesn't ring a bell. But Max 
dropped out before we got to this refinancing 
end of it, 
Oh, he dropped out? Then you had the Benedict 



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report made up. 

Downey: Yes, and that's quite a milestone. By the Giannini 
Foundation. 

Baum: What was the purpose of the Benedict report? 

Downey: I think that was started when Max was still there 
and he undoubtedly helped in arranging that. The 
trouble was that nobody could tell what was the 
ability of the landowners to pay. Finally Dr. 
Benedict agreed to make this report. I don't 
think that was finished until long after Max was 
not there. That report is a scientific report, 
very ably done. Dr. Benedict testified for me 
in the case which finally resulted in approval 
of the refinancing plan. I think without his 
testimony I couldn't have won that case. That 
was in the U.S. Court and subsequently went to the 
United States Circuit Court of Appeals and Supreme 
Court. We had to show that the amount that was 
compromised in this settlement was the amount 
equivalent to the a billty of the landowners 
to pay. The only way you could prove it, I 






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believed and still believe, was by testimony of 
this kind. 

Baum: Then the problem was that the bondholders didn't 

believe that the fanners were as poor as they were? 

Downey: That's true. Then gradually began to see our 
problem, I think. Finally we got to the point 
where there was a big group of holdouts on the 
bondholders' committee that wouldn't acquiesce 
in this plan. We had to get their consent in 
order to file a petition in bankruptcy under the 
Municipal Bankruptcy Act. So we decided to hold 
a referendum among the bondholders themselves. 
Do you remember how many were on that committee? 

Baum: It was a huge committee. 

Downey: And men of means. So we held this referendum. The 
big thing I did, if I did anything there, was 
in getting them to submit it t o a referendum of 
their own people. We sent out ballots to deter 
mine if they were irifavor of this plan or not* 
We waged a political campaign at that time the 
likes of which you've never seen. We had to bring 



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Baum: 
Downey: 



Baum: 
Downey: 



Baum: 



arguments to bear on the bondholders and the com 
mittee to make them feel that they should accept 
this 1$ bond in place of what they already had, 
and there was a cut of about eight million dollars 
in the principle as I remember. 

In the end to our amazement we got the bond 
holders' committee to vote in favor of this plan. 
There were still about eight or ten holdouts that 
never did come in. 

What kind of persuasion did you use? 
I don't know. It must have been pretty good. We 
knew we were right and could show even the bond 
holders. We're still fighting with some of those 
people right now. I Just closed up one case. 
Some of the holdouts? 

Yes. They wouldn't even take their money when 
it went into court. When we got this decree of 
court under which they had to accept these bonds, 
they wouldn't take the money and we had to get an 
order of the court compelling them to take the 
money. 
Did you send them copies of the Benedict report? 



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Downey: 
Baum: 

Downey: 



Baum: 



Downey: 



Oh yes, 

And use printed material in your campaign, or 
did you contact them personally? 
Well, it was both ways. The committee was re 
presented by George Herrington, an outstanding 
lawyer of San Francisco. He thoroughly understood 
the situation. As a matter of fact, we retained 
him to assist in the trial of the action when it 
finally came up. This we could do after the 
referendum. He was representing the bondholders' 
committee, but we retained him tote there because 
he was so very, very good. As he said, he'd been 
in every refinancing plan in California involving 
irrigation districts and he knew Just what he 
was talking about. I have a talk here that he 
delivered at the time of the argument which I 
consider very fine which I'll give to you. It 
explains the picture very clearly. 
Was he chiefly a bondholders' representative in 
all these California cases? 



Yes, he was a bondholders' representative, but 



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Baum: 



Downey! 

Baum: 



he was a very constructive man. Anyway, by 
that time we had much litigation. There were suits 
in state courts to compel us to pay the bonds, 
matters pending before the legislature wherein 
we tried to change the law. Of course, the Mun 
icipal Bankruptcy Act had only recently been up 
held. Hell was poppin 1 all the way around. 

In the end we prevailed. I think that's 
true of every case I had there. I don't claim 
credit for them. 

But I must say this, my relations with Max 
were always very, very pleasant. I've always had 
the highest regard for him. 

Wv"l S 

I read a speech by Dr. Benedict, this was before 
the negotiations were completed, and I think he 
said there had been too many negotiators and that 
was one of the troubles. This was before Mr. 
Thelen was out of it. 

There were lots of people trying to negotiate. 
I think they shuffled it down to just Mr. Thelen 
and got rid of the other negotiators. 



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Downey: 



Baton: 



Downey: 



That's true. And Max 1 appointment as negotiator 
met with great approval at that time. It wasn't 
his fault the plan failed, it Just wasn.'t in the 
cards to carry out that plan. 

That wes in 1933. I don't think any districts had 
cut their principle then, as they did later. 
No, the bondholders weren't used to that at that 
time. Of course, after that came the terrible 
depression and everything kept going down and 
down. The one thing that saved us was the fact 
that they had made money available for loans 
by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and we 
got one of the first loans there under that law. 
Mr. H.P. Sargent, the secretary, and I went 
back to Washington. Kind of a laughable thing, 
two boys from the country. He was a Maine boy, 
very much of a country boy, a splendid man. We 
went there and we just went up to the office of 
the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and told 
them we wanted a loan of several million dollars. 
They were expecting us t o come there and contact 
the congressmen and contact the senators and 



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Baum: 

Downey: 
Baum: 

Downey: 



work on them, so to speak. We didn't know, we 
Just went there. They laughed about that after 
wards but we got the loan. I thlnkwe got one of 
the first substantial loans to distressed irriga- 
tlon districts and one of the biggest ones. 

Then, you see, we had to work out this bond 
act cutting down the principle. Then we had to 
arrange with the bondholders' committee to accept 
it. Under the Municipal Bankruptcy Act you have 
to get a certain percentage of your creditors to 
accept* Then we filed the action and we had to 
prove our case, which to a very substantial degree 
was proved by the Benedict report. 
I'd like to ask. Was one of the holdouts J. 
Rupert Mason? 

On yes. One of the holdouts of the holdouts. 
It seems like whenever there's a holdout in an 
irrigation district, he's it. 
Oh, he did. Quite a group of the irrigation 
districts refinanced at the same time and he 
was in all of them. He kept me f ilk d up with 




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literature. He asked me about sending literature 
to the bondholders. He always sent me a Christmas 
card. He had the point of view of the bondholder. 
At the same time, he must have realized that people 
couldn't pay those obligations. Some of those 
bondholders Just figured they'd hold on long enough 
and they'd get their money. In some of these 
districts they did. They didn't get one penny in 
Merced, except what everybody got. They figured 
by and by they'd pay them off Just to get rid of 
them. 

In some of these irrigation districts the 
fortunes were varied. In some cases they didn't 
get the settlement proposed, in some cases they 
were reversed, but on the whole they worked out 
pretty well. 









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WORK FOR THE MADERA IRRIGATION DISTRICT 
Miller and Lux vs. Madera Irrigation District, 1933 

Baum: Then when did you go to Madera? 

Downey: Well, I didn't go to Madera like I did to Merced. 

Baum: You were in Merced for a long time. 

Downey: Yes. I can't tell you when I left Merced. I 
must have been there about ten years or so, 
quite a block out of my life, 

Treadwell brought a suit against the Madera 
Irrigation District t o determine the water rights 
on the San Joaquin River, of which most all were 
held by Miller and Lux and the public utility 
which they owned. It involved practically all 
the water in the San Joaquin River. It was tried 
for months * 

I was with Milton Farmer at that time re 
presenting the Madera Irrigation District. That 
decision was kind of a classic in water law, the 
decision by Judge Haines. It didn't go to the 
upper courts. 

Baum: This Miller and Lux vs. the Madere Irrigation 
District was 1933. id you think the judgment 
Judge Haines rendered was a fair one? 



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106 



Downey: Yes, very able. It was about that thick. 

Baum: Were all of the parties satisfied? 

Downey: Nobody appealed. Yes, I thought it was very fair. 
We came out of it very well, Madera District. He 
certainly cut down on some of the rights of the 
Miller and Lux people. Tree dwell wasn't happy 
about that, but he had a very logical mind and 
I think he accepted it... they figured they couldn't 
reverse it anyway. We didn't want to go up any 
higher, 

Baum: How did Judge Raines come to his decision? 

Downey: Well, he's a bachelor and a great worker. I 

can only say that was the only case I ever tried 
before him. He'd get the daily transcript. The 
transcript would be out by seven o'clock. He'd 
take it up t o his rooms and read that transcript 
all the rest of the night. It was a long case, 
very dreary engineering. Then he'd come down 
to the court in the morning and he'd tay, 
"Gentlemen, have you any corrections to make in 
the transcript of yesterday?" Most of us hadn't 



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Baura: 



Downey: 



even read it. We'd say, "Why no, Your Honor." 
"Well, the court makes the following corrections." 
Then he'd read off a long list of corrections he'd 
made in that transcript. He was a terrific worker. 
Then he had digested all this engineering material 
himself? 

Yes, he had. As Tresdwell said, and coming from 
Treadwell, that's a good deal, at the conclusion 
of the evidence he said, "Your Honor knows much 
more about this case than any of us lawyers here." 
And that was true, he did. Then he took the case 
under advisement and by and by, it wasn't too long 
either, most people would have taken several years 
to decide that case, he sent word that he was going 
to decide the case and he wanted all the attorneys 
to be in court. So we all came to court and he made 
us sit there while he read his decision. A big 
volume. I think it took him two days to read it. 
I talked to Chief Justice Gibson about him being 
on the Supreme Court, he ought to be. I never knew 
a man to understand a case better than he did. But 






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106 



apparently he had some idiosyncrasies that people 
didn't like, I don't know. Hard to work with maybe. 
I never thought that. He was very agreeable. He 
always knew what the case was about. He was ahead 
of you all the time, which was very unusual in a 
judge. 

He's a Judge In San Diego. He was called in to 
try this case. I've often wondered if he is still 
living. He was pretty well along in years at that 
tirre. I haven't ever seen him since that case. 

Baum: Have you ever been involved in any other cases that 
concerned adjudication of water rights? Where the 
judge made the decision like that? 

Downey: I've never known any Judge who could pass on all the 
engineering matters that he did. There probably 
have been. I don't recollect. 

Negotiations to Sell Friant Dam Site to the United States 
Yes, but my contacts with Madera were not as close 
as they were at Merced. I worked for them for a 
period of years and finally gave it un for many rea 
sons. 






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At that time the Madera people had the Friant 
site, which has subsequently gone to the United 
States, and they had filed notice of appropriations. 
The theory was originally that they were going to 
carry out this project themselves, what is now the 
Friant feature of the Central Valley Project. They 
couldn't do it, of course, the expense wss too great. 
Then the state came in and was going to take over 
Friant. The state at that time intended to put 
through the Central Valley Project. That's about 
where I appeared in the picture. 

The state negotiated with us, Madera,for the 
purchase of Friant dam site, that's a wonderful dam 
site, and the appropriations there. Then the United 
States took it over and we negotiated with the 
United States for some time about the sale of the 
Friant dam site and these water properties. In the 
end the United States bought I've forgotten what the 
consideration was--and they also agreed to build the 
Madera Canal which was going to be used to serve 
Madera. That was done while I was still there. 






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Baum: And you carried on those negotiations? 

Downey: Yes, with the State and the United States I did. 

Where we finally got into trouble, and that's still 
in litigation to this day, is whether the contract 
the United States finally offered the people of Ma- 
dera on water was a proper contract. . .160 acre 
limitation you know. But I dropped out of it. It 
took too much time, was a long way off, and many 
other things were unpleasant about it. That's one 
of the reasons I got out of it. They had a board 
of directors that was determined to sign any contract 
and they had some other people who wanted to negotiate 
further. It was very, very unpleasant in the end and 
I finally got out. Right now the case is in the State 
Supreme Court as to whether they can force this 160 
acre limitation on them. I don't know what's going 
to happen in that case. 

Baum: Were you in favor of negotiating further? 

Downey: Well, it reached a point down there where the members 
of the board wanted a ction, they wanted water, and 
they were determined they were going to get it no 






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Baum: 
Downey: 



matter whet they had to sign. I don't say I was 
opposed to that. They had to make up their own 
minds. There was a risk negotiating that we might 
not get anywhere, might kill the whole deal. No, 
I don't think I had any particular stand on that. 
It was up to the directors. 
The 160-Acre Limitation and the Bureau of Reclamation 

This whole 160-acre limitation thing is con 
fusing for so many reasons. I don't know how 
they're ever going to enforce it; I don't know how 
they're ever going to repeal it. It's absurd in 
some respects. Then, Sheridan is wildly opposed. 
I've tried to keep out of that pretty much. 
You felt that the farmers were against it, most of 
them? 

Certainly many of them were. The smaller farmers 
were probably in favor of it. It's one of those 
fighting issues, you know. 

It was a fighting issue within the district? 
Yes, even then. There were people who had considerably 
more than 160 acres who were in the district and they 






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had paid their assessments sometimes for years on 
the theory that they were going to get water and now 
they were going to be excluded from the district 
if they couldn't get water. Well, you can see all 
the problems there, 

Baum: But you didn't take any stand? 

Downey: I didn't down there. Ore reason for that, as far as 
Sheridan was concerned, our relations were too close. 
I was very careful about that. And I don't even 
know now what I'd do about that if I were in Congress, 

Baum: Then I take it you didn't agree completely with 
Sheridan? 

Downey: Well, Sheridan was my brother, you know. 

Baum: How did he get started on this? 

Downey: I don't know. People aaid, "You got him started on 
this." That isn't true. I may have expressed an 
opinion at one time, although I'm not clear about it, 
that the 160-acre limitation was an absurd thing, but 
that wouldn't set Sheridan off. He'd make up his own 
mind on that and he did. He became obsessed by what 
he believed was injustice as injustice always upset 
him. 








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Baura: 



Downey: 



Baum: 
Downey: 

Baum: 



Downey: 
Baum: 



Did he have close friends who were affected adversely 

by this thing? 

No, I think Just the principle of it went against 

his grain. Sheridan, of course, was essentially a 

liberal in all his views. But he placed himself 

right in opposition to all the people he'd worked 

with, the old age pension group, the C.I.O, the 

labor unions. When he got to that he never backed 

up a bit. He still feels the same wav about it. 

If he came in here right now, he'd be off, intense, 

perhaps almost irrational. Maybe he's right, I 

don't know. 

Well, at least he sticks to his principles. 

That he does, through thick and thin. Have you seen 

his book, They Would Rule the Valley? 

Yes, I have. 

I think it was in 19i|-l that Madera was informed that 

the acreage limitation applied to their properties 

and they passed a resolution against it. 

Yes, they opposed it. 

Were you their attorney at that time? 






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Downey: No, not at that time. I kept out of that very, very 
deliberately because Sheridan at that time was fight 
ing the 160-acre limitation. 

Baura: I know Harry Barnes, executive -secretary of the Madera 
Irrigation District, has come out in favor not in 
favor of the acreage limitation but of accepting 
federal operation of the Central Valley Project. 

Downey: I haven't been in contact with Harry in recent years. 
I was very closely in contact with him for many years 
there. A very, very able man and a very fine man of 
integrity. They don't make them any finer thaji 
Harry Barnes. He's been doing some consulting work 
outside of Madera. I hear from him at Christmas. 

Baum: I wanted to ask you what you thought about the 
Bureau of Reclamation in California? 

Downey: Well, of course Sheridan was biased very much against 
the Reclamation Bureau under Roosevelt. He thought 
everybody there was either a Communist or a fellow- 
traveler, and there were some people who were cer 
tainly liberal, to say It mildly. I can't even 
talk to him about the Reclamation Bureau, he gets 



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mad. Mad at me for even talking to him about it. 

Baum: Sheridan didn't feel the Reclamation Bureau was so 
bad before, say 1933. 

Downey: No, I think his animosity toward the Reclamation 
Bureau was after he was back in Washington. He 
really wasn't calm about that, although there was 
much in what he had to say, I think. Of course 
Mike Straus, he was Commissioner of Reclamation, 
he didn't like Mike. 

Baum: Personally, or his policies? 

Downey: I think he didn't like his policies. Sheridan was 
one of those men, if he dislikes you he dislikes 
you on all grounds. 

Baum: Well, what did you think of the personnel? 

Downey: There certainly were some very able and liberal people, 
to put it possibly without exaggeration. There were 
a number of people there I think who were influenced 
by Communism. At least, to some extent I think their 
views were affected. I don't think anything like 
what Sheridan thinks. Of course, they're much more 
conservative now under Eisenhower. Dickie Boke, who 



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was the Regional Director here, under Truman and 
Roosevelt, we didn't know Just exactly what to think 
about him. I liked him personally. The new man, 
Spencer, is undoubtedly very conservative, a high- 
grade engineer. 

Baum: Did you think Boke ' s policies were detrimental to 
the Central Valley Project? 

Downey: I wouldn't want to say that. There were certainly 

some things he did that were rather peculiar. Sheri 
dan would have no use for Dickie Boke at all. He 
thought he was Communist, or pretty close to that. 
There were some people there my goodness, I get in 
to all that stuff. All the fellow-travelers and 
Communists and that stuff. There were a lot of them 
in Washington. I don't think many Democrats were. 
I know I wasn't and I don't know who was, but Sheridan 
tells me some of the wildest stories there about how 
they tried to get him and how they tried to get LaFol- 
lette and LaPollette committed suicide and Harry Dex 
ter White and so forth. That's all just talk as far 
as I'm concerned, but after all Sheridan saw them oper 
ating in Washington and on himself. I didn't. 






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IRRIGATION DISTRICTS ASSOCIATION 
Baum: Are you associated with the Irrigation Districts 

Association? 

Downey: I was. I haven't attended any of their meetings for 
a good many years. 

That's a very powerful organization. I used to 
attend those meetings regularly. They make studies 
relating to the various problems confronting irriga 
tion districts and water problems, do good work, 
have very good men on their committees. I was on 
some of those committees at one time. 

They have a great deal of influence on legisla 
tion and properly so. You can call it lobbying if 
you like. They have Bob Durbrow now, it used to be 
Walter Wagner, come up to the sessions of the legisla 
ture. The association studies these measures and some 
of them they are for and some of them they are against, 
When I used to go there I think whatever they were 
for generally went through, they passed many measures. 
I don't think they get 100# now, but they get a very 
good percent of what they are for and kill many things 
they are against. They follow the legislation very 



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carefully. Of course, they know what they want. 
They are all men who have given a great deal of 
thought to these matters. They are a strong organi 
zation and I think they're a good organization. 

Baum: Did you work with them when A. L. Cowell was their 
attorney? 

Downey: Yes, I worked with Al for many, many years. He was 
the attorney for Merced when I went there. He's 
not living now. 

Baum: I understand he used to do all the legislative work 
for the Irrigation Districts Association. 

Downey: He did a lot of it. And Walter Wagner, who I think 
at that time was secretary, did a lot of it. And 
Bob Durbrow is doing it now. They have a meeting 
of the association here in Sacramento about March 
and they go over all this legislation and again you 
get the democratic reflection of ideas and sentiments, 
They have an executive committee that may take a good 
deal of interest in them. It's more centralized now 
than it was in Al Cowell 's day, but Al was one of 
those very fine men, a very able man. 






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Baum: Did you know Wagner well? 

Downey: Yes, I knew him quite well too. 

Baum: What kind of a man was he? 

Downey: Well, he was much more the promoter type. He un 
doubtedly was largely responsible for the organiza 
tion of the Merced District and then he later went 
with I.D.A. He was an able man and he devoted a lot 
of time to that association. He could be a little 
autocratic in what he'd order and what he wouldn't, 
but actually he was a good man. 

Baum: Did you feel there was any change in policy when he 
died and Durbrow took over? 

Downey: No, I wouldn't say so. 

Baum: You felt it was Just the same? 

Downey: The Irrigation Districts Association, they're aggressive 
and of course they were very s trong supporters of 
my brother Sheridan in connection with the 160-acre 
limitation and his fight on the Reclamation Bureau. 
But I think they've been a very, very good organiza 
tion and the State Engineers have always worked with 
them. Harvey Banks works with them now. Hyatt used 






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to work with them, Edmonston, all those people. 
Baum: I know they are now aeainst the 160-acre limitetion. 
Downey: Oh, very strongly. 
Baum: I wondered if they were in Wagner's day. Of course, 

it wasn't an issue... 
Downey: I can't remember any time when they weren't against 

it, if their attention was directed to It at all. 

You see, there are so many men in these irrigation 

districts that had more than 160 acres. I think 

they're practically unanimous, as far as I know, the 

association. Individual farmers may feel differently 

about it. 
Baum: Did they take any stand on public distribution of 

power? 
Downey: Yes, they were very rtrongly for public distribution 

of power and the Irrigation Districts Act was amended 

somewhere in there so as to give irrigation districts 

the right... 

Baum: Was that Modesto? 

Downey: Probably Modesto. They were the bell-wether on that. 

They certainly always supported that es far as I know, 



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Baum: Somebody told me that they had switched over later. 
During Wagner's time they had been for Modesto ac 
quiring their own distribution system and after that 
the I.D.A. had sort of teken the other point of view. 

Downey: Well, I'll say this, there's quite a strong influence 
in the I.D.A. among certain people there who are 
public utility minded. They certainly are not as 
radical about it now as they were in the earlier 
days. I suppose if you'd take a vote now there 
might be a good many people opposed to it, I don't 
know. 

Baum: Hasn't SMUD just joined recently? 

Downey: I don't know. 

Baum: I just wndered if SMUD had any influence on the 
I.D.A. in that respect. 

.Downey: I dr.n't think so. Certainly I haven't known about 
it. I hear of those things if there's anything very 
controversial about it. 

Well, McCaffery, the manager, he doesn't want to get 
into the public controversial issues, he's running 
his business and doing a good job of it. When he has 






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to slap knuckles of the P.O. & E. or they want to 
slap his, they do it, but they don't get into any 
thing unless it's warrented right in connection with 
some particular question they are interested in. 












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SACRAMENTO MUNICIPAL UTILITY DISTRICT 

Formation of the Sacramento Municipal Utility 
District to Provide Water 

Baum: In 1921 the Municipal Utility District Act was passed 
and I understand that that was in good part due to 
Louis Bartlett. He was mayor of Berkeley at that 
time and he was trying to organize the Best Bay 
Municipal Utility District. 

Downey: I didn't handle the actual formation of our district, 
but I'm sure Louis Bartlett was active there, as he 
was in so many of those matters. 

Baum: Did you know Mr. Bartlett at that time? 

Downey: Yes, I did. He was rather socialistic in his outlook, 
you know. He was very much interested in. these 
various organizations and I have no doubt that he did 
have something to do with the formation of the district, 

I might say that the district was originally or 
ganized to provide clear water for the City of Sacra 
mento, Silver Creek water, but it changed later on 

to a power district. Thet came later in 1932. 

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Baum: Oh, it started out as water? 

Downey: That west he theory of it at first. They submitted 






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some water propositions but they didn't carry. 

Then, at the time the bonds were approved, 1933 

the Central Valley Project was being talked about 

and they knew there would be power from Central Valley, 

So then they submitted this issue for twelve million 

dollars for power. 

Baum: Then you feel that the idea of going into the electric 
business didn't come up until the Central Valley 
Project? 

Downey: I don't think it did, Mrs. Baum. I wasn't active 
with the district at that time. I was employed 
immediately after the bonds had been carried. In 
fact, I was active after the approval of the bond 
issue. Up to that time it's my recollection that it 
was only concerned with water. 

Baum: And they didn't get their water? 

Downey: No, that was turned down. 

Baum: Then why did the voters vote for the district in the 
first place? 

Downey: Well, it takes a two-thirds vote to get the bonds. 
There was some feeling that the water project was 
unnecessary, we thought we had lots of vater in the 






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river, bringing it down from Silver Creek would be 
a very expensive thing. There was some question 
about whether the engineering was sound. I might 
just tell you that there was a good deal of feeling 
that Bert Given, who was then the engineer for the 
district, was rather extravagent. He was a fine 
man. And P.G. & E. didn't want us to get into the 
water business at that time. In fact, they didn't 
want us to get into any kind of a business. 

Baum: Back in 1923? 

Downey: Even as far back as that. 

Baum: Was there any idea that the Sacramento Municipal 

Utility District would get into electric power back 
in 1923? 

Downey: Perhaps, but of course, the P.G. & E. always surmised 
that these districts, once they get going, they go 
from one business into another. 

Baum: Well, I caji see why the P.G. & E. was against any 
further development of municipal power. 

Downey: And this particular section is pretty much the heart 
of the P.G. & E. system. When you take the load out 
that is supplied by SMDD here. But on the water end 



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of it, it was more just a vague fear of what might 
happen if they once got into the water business. 
The city was already in the water business. 
First Bond Issue 

Baum: What was the impetus for SMUD to -get into the 
electric business? 

Downey: There were several things. One was Central Valley. 

Baum: Was there any particular dissatisfaction with the 
P.G. & E. at that time? 

Downey: Only the dissatisfaction that is pretty common with 
respect to all public utilities. Public utilities 
are never loved. The idea was that when Central Valley 
came in power would be pretty generally very, very 
low and it could be acquired at that price. I might 
add that there was another plan that was considered 
under which the utility district would get one of 
those PWA grants. Then the P.G. & E. would take the 
water and sell us the power. One of those things 
they are advocating in connection with Trinity, they'd 
control the power in the final analysis. 

Ickes was then Secretary of the Interior and he 
was a tough man to deal with anyway. I knew because 






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I had a number of contacts with him. We didn't 
particularly want to do anything like that anyway 
so it just gradually evolved around to a straight 
power issue. Knowing that there were no generating 
facilities, we'd just have to either take over the 
system of the P.G. & E. or we'd have to build our 
own, it was left entirely up to the voters at the 
time of election. That is, twelve million dollars 
to acquire and/or construct. 

Baum: You weren't interested in generating power at that 
time. It was just distribution? 

Downey: Well, we talked about it, and it was talked about in 
connection with this Ickes grant. And of course the 
P.G. & E. was very anxious to have us go in on some 
thing like that. They were willing to buy the power 
from us, but they wanted essential control before 
they got through with it. 

B aum: They wanted to distribute it? 

Downey: Just like they talk about buying the falling water 
at Trinity now. They have to follow through these 
things, I guess, but I've never seen them want to 
give up their control. Except they do make contracts. 



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They tried to make a contract with the Merced Irriga 
tion District, that was then the San Joaquin Light 
and Power Company, under which it wouldn't be our 
power plant in the sense that we understand it now. 
They're alert to their own interests. 

Baum: Were any particular groups pushing this power issue, 
like the Sacramento Bee? 

Downey: Oh, the Sacramento Bee always. They've always 

favored that policy, ever since C. K. was there. 
They supported the bond issue very, very strongly 
with all that progressiveness the Sacramento Bee is 
noted for. They are a power politically here. I've 
been their consulting attorney on a number of things, 
C. K. in his will laid down the principles they were 
to follow through on public ownership and they 
followed right through with that. The Bee was un 
doubtedly the strongest single factor on the bond 
issue. 

There were several organizations. The Grange 
undoubtedly was supporting it and several of the 
public ownership organizations. 

Baum: Were there any individuals who were especially 



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strongly in favor of it? 

Downey: There were quite a number of individuals. I wouldn't 
know just which ones to single out. Albert Elkus 
was president of the board and he was very much of a 
public ownership man. He had been mayor of Sacramento, 
He was very strong for the water project in the first 
place. Of course, George Sehlmeyer, the Grange man. 
All of those organizations that are more or less 
commonly supporting public ownership, they were quite 
active. 

Baum: Then the board of directors of the utility district 
favored going into electric power strongly at the 
time? 

Downey: At the time they finally submitted that issue, they 

figured they couldn't be successful in the water pro 
ject and they figured power was the thing to do. 

Baum: They felt they had to do something? 

Downey: Well, that's probably true too. 

Baum: I noticed that just about the time the bond issue 
went through Elkus was succeeded by Royal Miller. 

Downey: Yes, and Royal Miller since that time has been the 
chairman. It's a funny thing. I think Royal 



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originally had the idea that he'd better take over 
this district to keep it from running wild. There 
were lots of people there, you know, who were afraid 
of the district going wild. 

Baum: He was more conservative than Elkus? 

Downey: Essentially he's a very conservative man. He and I 
have had many a controversy politically, he being 
a Republican and I a Democrat. He didn't like 
Roosevelt, he didn't like the liberal policies. But, 
like all men who get into a thing, he believes in 
SMUD. He's almost fanatic on the subject. Even the 
Republicans can be wrong. 

Originally some people were worried about .just 
what this Frankenstein might do, but I don't think 
that any of us, and I do include myself, realized how 
big it could become. Some people said the labor 
unions were going to take it over and they never did. 
We've been very careful on our labor relations there 
and Royal Miller has been very helpful in that respect. 
Of course the labor group favored very much the bond 
issue. I think all labor unions favor public owner 
ship. The city took over the buses here just recently 






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and the labor unions were very strongly for that. 
I suppose some of them thought they would get very 
much better treatment. Well, the treatment of the 
laborers there, the staff, the workers, has been ex 
cellent. A good retirement system. It's been very 
well done, but they haven't run away with it. Some 
people thought the labor unions would Just demand 
anything they want for compensation and get it, but 
there's been no difficulty of that kind. 

Baum: There was a time, I think about 193^-f when there was 
a little trouble with the labor unions. I think 
Royal Miller refused to make a contract with the In 
ternational Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. 

Downey: I think that's true. I'd forgotten that. I think 
the labor policy is very sane. 

Baum: Civil service type, isn't it? 

Downey: Yes. 

Baum: In this election of 1933 when you got the bonds voted, 
did you take any part in the election itself? 

Downey: Well, I was for the bonds. 

Baum: Did you do any campaigning? 

Downey: No. In fact, I knew what was coming to me so I kept... 



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they told me at one time they wanted me to act for 
SMUT) when it went into the water business. I was in 
no oosition to do it then anyway, so I passed it off. 
"Wait until we get those power bonds." Well, I was 
employed almost immediately after the bonds were 
carried, 

Baum: I understand P.O. & E. put up a terrific fight against 
the bonds, 

Downey: That they did. 

Baum: And there was an investigation and it was found they 
spent $26,000, I think. 

Downey: It was a lot of money. They couldn't get publicity 
unless they issued letters or things of that kind. 
They had ways of spending money. They know how to 
spend money too. 

Baum: It was Senator Garrison who requested the investiga 
tion. 

Downey: He was in the legislature. 

Baum: I was wondering if you had any contact with him at 
that time? 

Downey: No, I have no recollection of any... I know Garrison, 
have been in touch with him from time to time, but I 



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have no recollection of having talked to him about 
that. 

Bond Validation 

Baum: Then you came into the picture with the bond valida 
tion fight. 

Downey: Yes, almost immediately we filed a bond validation 
suit. You don't expect those suits to be contested 
unless there's something really questionable about 
what's been done. But this was contested, and un 
doubtedly the man who contested it and his attorney 
were paid by the P.G. & E. I'm satisfied of that. 
You couldn't prove it. Bond validation suits are 
generally brought, kind of a proceeding in rem, 
but that was contested. 

Baum: You knew it would be, didn't you? 

Downey: Well, we didn't know. The defenses were rather absurd 
defenses, it seemed to me. They were technical de 
fenses. Somebody had evidently worked that up, I 
t ink, from the standpoint of the P.G. & E. and un- 
doubledly retained an attorney who contested the suit. 
Judge Olney came in leter on. He was a very fine man 
too. I respected and admired him. But that case, 



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there was no defense really and we validated our bonds, 

Baum: You worked on that with Mr. Shinn. 

Downey: Yes, I must mention Bob Shinn 's name. Bob was the 
attorney for the district at the time of its forma 
tion, and had been for many years. When I was 
approached on this matter I told them I couldn't 
possibly go ahead unless they still continued to re 
tain Bob Shinn. He was rather an older man at that 
time, a very, very loyal man. A good lawyer too. 
So I went in. Really, Bob was the attorney and I 
was .just the consulting attorney. That went on for 
a year or so until after Bob's death. I can't re 
member when he died. I'm sure it was well before 
we had the decision of the Railroad Comrfission on 
the evaluation. But he wasn't able to do very much. 

Baum: Then he handled the formation of the district. 

Downey: Yes, he did. 

Baum: And you carried the bond validation? 

Downey: Yes, I don't think Bob ever had much to do with the 
bonds. He was associated with me, our names appear 
together. 

Baum: I was wondering what his background was. 






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Downey: There were two Shinns who came to Scaramento, Bob 

and another brother, A. L. Shinn, the older brother, 
had a large practice here, an effective lawyer. Bob 
was a little more sluggish and he didn't have so 
much business and he wes very glad, I think, to get 
tiiis retainer of SMUD. It didn't take too much of 
his time, and yet it gave him a living. He did 
good work, though, he wes a good man. But he was 
pretty well out of the picture, I'^n pretty sure, be 
fore we got into any of the really complicated bond 
matters. 

Baura: Was Judge Olney the attorney for P.G. & E. through 
all this? 

Downey: He represented the P.G. & E. when it came to the 
litigation attempting to enjoin the bonds and I 
think he took the appeal to the Supreme Court on 
the bond validation suit. He appealed that from 
the judgment validating the bonds. All these cases 
go to the Supreme Court practically. 

Baum: Had you worked with Judge Olney before? 

Downey: Yes, I worked with him many, many yesrs off and on. 

I'm working with him right now, not Olney because he's 





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dead, but his firm. Sometimes with them and sometimes 
against them, I was trying to recollect whether I 
had any cases at or about this time with Olney. I 
don't remember that I did. I had a number of cases 
afterwards. 

Baum: Did he usually in these cases represent the private 
company? 

Downey: Yes, he did in that case. 

Baum: Was that the side he usually took? 

Downey: I don't know. He was a man of high ethical standards. 
His son, you know, is an Assistant Attorney-General 
of the United States now. A very, very fine man. 
Their ideals were of the highest and their standards 
were of the highest and they're good lawyers too. 

Baum: I know they handled a lot of the water cases in this 
sts te . 

Downey: They did and I'm trying to recollect I don't think 
they had any particuls r feeling one way or the other 
about public ownership. They represented the P. G. 
& E. in a number of matters. 

Baum: Thomas J. Straub was associated with them. 

Downey: Yes, Tom Straub was then the counsel for the P.G. & E., 






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another very old and dear friend of mine. He end 
I went to Ann Arbor together. We had some wild 
old fights. I never was on the same side as Tom. 

Baton: Then you did have at least one friend here who'd 
gone to school with you. 

Downey: Oh, we were friends all right. Friendly enemies too. 
Of course Tom, that was hla business. He was the 
regular. . .P. G. & E. attorney. He finally became 
their chief counsel and is now retired. 
Valuation Proceedings Before the Railroad Commission 

Baum: Weren't you pretty sure you were going to win these 
cases against P. G. & E.? 

Downey: On the bond issue, yes. I don't think they had any 
ground to contest the bonds at all. But you never 
know because those cases go through various courts 
and finally end up in some form in the United States 
Supreme Court and you never know Just what will 
happen. But I thought we'd win them. 

But the most difficult of all was to get a 
valuation on the P.G. & E. properties from the 
Railroad Commission. The amount, of course, would 
determine whether we could take the property or not 





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because we only had twelve million dollars in bonds 
and it was quite possible the valuation would be 
fixed at a price we couldn't afford to pay. I wasn't 
at all sure of that until we got our judgment. In 
the meantime the cese had dragged along so long that 
they had additions and betterments we had to pay for 
too. In the end we had to sell our bonds at a pre 
mium to get enough money to satisfy the award of the 
Utility Commission. 

Baum: That valuation dragged on from 1938 to 19i^2 and then 
the P.G. & E. contested the right of the Railroad 
Commission to condemn in court. I appealed the evalua 
tion case because I thought maybe the Supreme Court 
would not allow them to include certain elements that 
I didn't think should be included. The Supreme Court 
refused to interfere with that. Then we had to file 
a suit here in Superior Court to condemn the property 
because the valuation of the Commission doesn't 
determine our right to take the property. It merely 
determines what we'll pay for it if we do take it. 
That case was very hotly contested too by the P.G. 4 E. 
and that went to appeal in the District Court of Appeals, 






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Baum: 
Downey: 

Baum: 
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In the end we won that too. But those cases were 
all more or less touch and go, although I never had 
any doubt as far as some of the cases were concerned 
that we would win them. 

Then we sued them after all this was all over, 
under a statute that provides that if any public 
utility unsuccessfully attempts to enjoin the sale 
of public ownership bonds you can recover the cost 
and expenses. Well, we didn't get all the costs and 
exoenses by a long ways, but we got quite a lot of 
it. That went to the Supreme Court too and then to 
the United States Supreme Court on the grounds that 
was class legislation. 

I was going to a sk you if you'd gotten any money back. 
We got quite a little bit of it back. That hurt 
them, that they had to pay some of our expenses. 
This valuation proceedings that dragged on and on, 
how did you go about... was most of this private 
negotiation? 

No, there were hearings before the Railroad Commission, 
They are deadly dreary. One of the engineers said, 
"There's no romance or sex appeal there." He was 



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dead right. How much man power to dig a post hole? 
All of the most dreary forma of appraisal entered 
into the reporductlon cost new of this system and 
the historical cost. 

A great deal of this work was done in the field 
by the engineers of the Corr-nission and by our engineers 
We had some good engineers by that time. 

I don't think there's been any case like that 
in magnitude since our proceeding was brought. 

Beum: Were there any attempts made to negotiate a selling 
price with P.G. & E.? 

Downey: No, we never got anywhere on that. 

Baum: They wouldn't negotiate at all? 

Downey: They wanted their system. 

Baum: Someone had told me that most of these public utility 
companies were willing to sell out if they could get 
a good enough price. You don't think that was true? 

Downey: Just take North Sacramento for example. When I went 
in on that I thought we could negotiate a settlement 
right away because the people were willing to pay a 
good price and they had the bonds to pay them. They 
didn't want to talk to us at all about that. I've 






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never seen any of these public utilities that want 
to sell. 

Baum: You think when they fight they really fight, it's 
not just a show to raise the price? 

Downey: It's always been true with me, I know. 

Baum: Franck Havenner was on the Railroad Commission. 

Downey: Oh yes, and Franck was one of our best friends there. 

Baum: And Richard Sachse. 

Downey: Yes, he was strong. . .both Havenner and Sachse dis 
sented from the opinion of the Railroad Commission. 
We were satisfied with it way down deep, but we did 
think maybe we could get by without the allowance 
that had been made for going concern value and the 
good will factor and so forth. 

Baum: Oh, was that the difference? I know they thought 
you were paying too much money and I wondered what 
was the difference there. 

Downey: They adopted our argument there. We thought so much 
of it that we took it to the Supreme Court. Sachse 
was a Culbert Olson appointee and he was very strong 
for public ownership. A very good man too. He must 
have been-he was on our side. 






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Baum: Do you feel most of the other commission members were 
against public ownership? 

Downey: Well, I wouldn't e;o that strong. I think they were 
inclined to look at it more with an open mind, more 
of the private utilities point of view. No, I think 
they were all good, sincere men. 

Baum: People have said that many of the member of the Rail 
road Commission are sort of henchmen of the P.G. & E. 

Downey: You take a commission like that that has such enor 
mous power over public utilities, there's always the 
attempt by public utilities to acquire outstanding 
influence there. There have been men on the commission 
--I don't say any of these men were that type because 
I don't think they were over the years who have be 
come rather public utility minded. Today, with Peter 
Mitchell there, he's not that type at all. In fact, 
I think his feelings have always favored public owner 
ship, and he's fair. Take Dick Middlestaat, who's 
retired now, same type. 

There was one man went on the commission and 
shortly after being on the commission he resigned to 
take a high position in the P.O. & E. That was one 



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of Warren's appointees. Earl told me that he was 
very unhappy about that and I f m sure he was. I 
don't think he was dishonest, I think he made a big 
mistake in doing that. 

Baum: That's the kind of fact that is cited when they say 
the Railroad Commission is for the P.G. &; E. 

Downey: The P.G. & E. doesn't overlook a bet on those kind 
of things. They like to b e friendly to the men who 
control their destiny, so to speak. It's a power 
ful organization. 

Baum: It certainly is. 

Downey: I was talking to the chief engineer the other 

day. I took him to lunch. I was talking about several 
of the people from P.G. & E. whom I have known and 
been friendly with for many years. I told him that 
some of my best friends had been there and I said, 
"I like them. I respect them. I've fought with them 
all my life. Most of my work has been in opposition 
to the P.G. & E." We had a very nice little conversa 
tion. He said, "Well, you're right about it. They're 
all fine men, but of course they're loyal to the 
P.G. & E." That is true. But I like them, I respect 



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them, and I look out for them because they know 
their business. 

Baum: Well, the fact that you're friends probably makes 

it possible for you to c arry on better negotiations. 

Downey: I think so. I have a number of matters with them 
right now. I'm representing the Hearst Company, 
this big Wintoon Ranch on the McCloud River, almost 
like San Simion. The P.G. & E. and one other pub 
lic utility are trying to acquire their water rights. 
We conduct those negotiations in a friendly way. 
But I have to know what I'm doing because they certain 
ly do. 

If I have had any success, and I don't say I 
have, the personal element doesn't enter into it at 
all. I can fight about some issue or some thing 
that I'm trying to do, but the personality, I can en 
tirely overlook the personality. As I say, I like 
these people, find them fine men. 

Baum: Don't you feel that it helps for you to be friends? 

Downey: Yes, I think it does, without giving anything at all. 
Because you respect their motives too. 

Baum: Did you feel this valuation, I think it was $11,632,000 
was fair? P.G. & E. asked you for $18,000,000 to start 
with. 






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Downey: Yes, I think it was fair although we would have liked 
to get it even lower than that. But we were satis 
fied with it. 

Baura: You fought that through with Martin McDonough. 

Downey: I had a lawyer with me. That was one of the condi 
tions under which I took the employment, a man by 
the name of Marshall Taylor. He gave all his time 
to it and worked with me and helped me very, very 
much. Just before we got to the decision of the 
Comnission, he left and went down to the southern 
part of the state. We had to get somebody right away. 
We Just had to take a man, take a chance on him. 
Martin had been with the Legislative Counsel Bureau. 
We just took him by guess. That was after the Rail 
road proceedings were pretty well over, just before 
we got into the court proceeding. And Martin was a 
find. We hit the jackpot. He's become something of 
a protege of mine. I have to say something about 
Martin. My wife says, "What does Martin say about 
this. What does Martin say about that?" (laughter.) 
He's a very fine young man. He kind of saw the 
glamour in these water matters and he's taken it up. 






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I've had to throw him many, many cases just to save 
myself and he's done a wonderful job. He's a comer. 
He became house attorney for SMUD for a number 
of years. T hen he gfve that up to get into the field 
of water law. Right now, when we have all these 
hearings up before the State Water Rights Board, he's 
carrying them on. He's an engineer as well as a 
lawyer. I think he's the best man in the state on 
water now. 

Baum: And he hadn't been water when you got him? 

Downey: No. He'd been with the Legislative Counsel Bureau, 
drafting legislation. All fine training. But I had 
no idea we'd ever get hold of a man like that. He's 
now become indispensable. 

Baum: So it was really this case that set him on the road 
of water law. 

Downey: Yes. Right after that we took possession of the 

property he bacame the house attorney and on the legal 
end of things he took hold wonderfully well. He con 
sulted with me from time to time, now I with him. 
Now he's back there doing consulting work that I 
formerly did. An outstanding young fellow. 









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Baum: All the wMle you were fighting these cases, did 

that take all you r time or were you able to carry 
on the rest of your practice? 

Downey: I did other work, but it certainly. . .during the time 
we had those injunction cases and proceedings before 
the Railroad Commission, it didn't take all my time 
but it certainly took 90$ of it. And I worked longer 
hours then than I do now. 

Baum: And that was all on a fee basts or a retainer? 

Downey: Both. I'd bill them. It was kln<? of fnnny. Things 
were a little mixed up, there was no organization at 
that time. So way back at the inception of the pro 
ceedings before the Railroad Commission decision, the 
directors passed a resolution that I was to approve 
all expenditures of any kind. For awhile I was the 
whole show. I don't think at that time that anybody 
thought the valuation would come out satisfactorily. 

I had to laugh. McCaffrey, the manager gives 
a little annual party and we have a few drinks. He's 
quite a.*. I wouldn't say martinet, but he's very 
strict on the affairs of the organization. So I said 
I wanted him to hear a resolution that was oassed by 









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the directors at one time and I got a copy of this 
resolution where they had authorized me to approve 
everything that was spent and whatever I said was 
all right. That was before he came there. He 
came to the district after we got started on the 
Railroad Commission case. 

Negotiations to Purchase Power 
from the Central Valley Project 

Baura: SMTD began operations on the first day of 19lj.7. 

Downey: Yes, we had a little ceremony over there at the 
court. The Judge signed the order that the 
appellate court had approved. 

Baum: Did SMtID purchase power from P.G. & E? 

Downey: Yes, we had no generating facilities and Central 
Valley power was being pretty largely bought... 
P.G. & E. had contracts on that. It wasn't ready for 
sale to us yet. Our purchase of Central Valley 
Power came later. Over the opposition of P.G. &E. 

Baum: Was part of your Job to negotiate a rate with 
P.G. & E. for these first power purchases? 

Downey: I think they had a contract rate there that we 

accepted. Shortly after that they made an attempt 
to revise all their rates, including ours. We 






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had a fight with them on that. That was another 
proceeding before the Railroad Commission. They 
raised many rates, but not ours. The Commission 
held that they were bound by the contract Ihey 
had already made with us. Then came the opportunity 

to buy Central Valley power, 
Baum: Before that they'd lowered their rate because 

Roseville had just signed to take Central Valley 
power and I think P.G. &.E. came out a few days 
later with a revised schedule of rates that was 
considerably lower, 

Downey: I think they did reduce those rates to some extent. 

Baum: In 1952 the P.G. * E. and the Central Valley 
both began to negotiate with SMUD in competition 
with each other. 

Downey: That was true. The P.G. & E. was very upset when 
we signed our contract with the United States. Of 
course, they would be because they couldn't give 
us a rate like that. As I remember, McCaffrey wrote 
to them and to the federal government and asked for 
offers. The P.G. & E. and the United States were 
to submit their offers at a certain time. What 



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finally happened there, I don't recollect. In 
the meantime we got this offer from the United 
States and it was much better than the P.G. & E. 
offer. They wanted to continue to negotiate. 
Norman Sutherland, the manager of the P.G. & E., 
was most unhappy. But there were so many things 
about that contract in addition to the price that 
were favorable to t he district, we just couldn't 
negotiate any longer with the P.G. & E. on that. 

Baum: I understand that there was a lot of opposition 
in the California legislature against SMUD taking 
the contract with the United States. 

Downey: There was opposition everywhere. The Republicans, 
some of them anyway, didn't think we ought to make 
a contract with the United States when we could 
make a c ontract w ith P.G. & E. Lots of people 
felt that same way about it 

Baum: What reasons did they give? 

Downey: Oh well, it was socialistic, you know. 

Baum: It seems to me that you had asked for competitive 
bids and then you accepted the lowest bid, which 
is good business. . 



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Downey: We had. Aside from that, it was obvious that it 
WPS to our interest to meke this deal. Then, 
the Eisenhoser administration came in and the 
whole thing was hung up again because lots of the 
people in Washington didn't like it. I don't 
think the Assistant Secretary of the Interior liked 
it either. We had the fight pll over again in 
Washington. We had hearings before Congress on 
it. I rather credit Knowland with actually finally 
getting the signature in Washington of the Secretary 
of the Interior on our contract. I really give 
him credit for that. He never said that, but I 
think he interceded with the Secretary of the 
Interior on that himself. 

Baum: I would rather have expected Knowland to be 
against this. 

Downey: No, Knowland is conservative, but I've always found 
him very, very helpful and right in these matters. 
I think he's the man who finally pulled the card 
out of his sleeve on that one. Kuchel helped. 

Baum: One of the factors in the opposition to this SMUD 






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contract was that the rates were too low and that 
with these low rates it would not be possible for 
California to purchase the Central Valley Project. 

Downey: That wes one of the thing they talked about 
all right. 

Banm: Wasn't KnowQand for California purchasing the 
Central Valley Project? 

Downey: I don't know, I doubt it. Well, they never really 
got to the point where it was really a clear 
issue in Congress. Knowland probably did favor 
that, but this other would only be a detail of 
that. Whether we could buy Central Valley or not 
would depend on a lot of other things. 

Beum: Yes, except that a higher rate would permit 

California to pay off the bill and a lower rate 
would make it impossible . 

Downey: Lots of the people who favored that purchase were 
very much opposed to the contract, there's no 
question about that. T hey had innumerable con 
ferences about that and never did finally get 
down to anything you could call an issue on it. 



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Baum: Has SMUD taken any position on whether the State 
should purchase the Central Valley Project? 

Downey: No, except we want our contract honored. 

Baum: Do you have any opinions as to whether it would 

be better for the State or the federal government 
to operate it? 

Downey: It never looked to me like California could do 

it. One of the things was people like my brother 
who wanted to do away with the 160-acres limit 
ation. It would have done that, but it never 
looked feasible to me at all. 

Baum: Too big a financial undertaking? 

Downey: Too big, and why you'd give up the financing we 
were getting from the federal government, throw 
all that on the state itself, I could never see. 
I never took any particular stand on it because 
it never was clear to me just what they were 
going to do 

I talked t hat over with Earl Warren many 
times. I think he looked at it like I did. Warren, 
he's a very sane man. He was a good governor too, 






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as he's now making a great Chief Justice. 

Eaum: Getting back to SMTJD, did you feel that the 
contract you were able to negotiate in 195^4- 
as good as the one in 1952? 

Downey: With the Central Valley Project? 

Baum: Yes, with the Eisenhower administration. 

Downey: It was the same contract finally. They okayed 
it. We had a hard time of it. We finally met 
over there at the Secretary of the Interior's 
office with Knowland and Kuchel, all the top 
brass. Knowland told me in advance what the result 
was going to be. That was just a nip and tuck for 
a long time. We didn't know what we'd have to do. 
We were going into court if the Eisenhower admin 
istration turned it down, but we didn't have to do 
it. 

But it is my own private feeling that Knowland 
was the man responsible for it. Kuchel worked on 
it too, both worked on it, and they helped us a 
great deal. 



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Management of SMUD 

Baum: You've mentioned Royal Miller, the president of 
the board of directors, who came in at the same 
tij SMUD went into the power business, 

Downey: Yes, he's still president. He's retired from 

business now. He doesn't have much to do except 
to carry on his interest in SMUD. He 's been a 
tremendous power of strength. He's got a good 
business point of view. 

Baum: What was his business? 

Downey: He was an automobile man, had Dodge and Plymouth 
cars for many years. A man of great ability and 
great energy. He has made a wonderful president. 

I might say that the thing that has really 
made SMUD successful had been management. Royal 
Miller on the board of directors and there are 
other men there that followed with him. He's 
been the chairman and the man who has really 
spoken. And James E. McCaffrey, the manager. The 
whole staff, they have a v ery, very able and out 
standing staff. There has been no attempt on the 
part of the directors to take over tthe management 



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of the thing. It has been c arried Just where it 
should be by McCaffrey, with the assistance of 
Royal Miller on policies. That has been the really 
successful thing about it. 

Soemtimes I worry a little about what might 
happen if you get in a board that's trying to 
work politics or something except to distribute 
power. That has never happened yet. We have a 
good board. 

Baum: At the time Royal Miller replaced Elkus, was this 
an attempt to keep SMUD conservative and going 
along sound business principles? 

Downey: Well, I don't think Royal ever did it quite that 
way. But he thought they'd better watch this 
district here which was obviously getting more 
and more strength as t ime went by and which when 
it once got into the power business with the 
great block of power we have here, it could really 
do many, many things. 

Baum: When they have a election for members of the board.. 

Downey: I think we elected two directors this year. Royal 
was one of them and Ted Labhard was another. 



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There's an alternating system. 

Baton: What kind of campaigns do they make? Is there 

a lot of competition to be on the board? 

Downey: There hasn't been. That has been one of the things 
that has been good too. There's been practically 
no contest for directors there for years. The 
same men have served there for a number of years, 
headed by Royal since Albert Elkus retired. 

Baum: I was wondering if P.O. & E. tries to get men 

elected to the board who might be against expansion, 

Downey: Not that I know of, and I think I would know about 
it. 

Baum: You don't think they've enteredtiie campaign. 

Downey: No, I don't think they have. They might at any 

time, but with the Bee here, a militant paper like 
that, it can spot things if there's any trouble. 

Baum: Have they ever tried to influence the board members. 

Downey: I think not. They know all of us and they know it 
>ould be a very hard thing to do in that wss. No, 
I think they've played the game square all right. 

Baum: Are the businessmen who run for the board... is 

that a good position for a man to take? Does it 





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have prestige or any advantage? 

Downey: It's quite a responsibility. They don't pay much. 
The only man who's paid is the manager and the 
staff. It doesn't take too much time. Like 
everything else, it grows a bit. They're certainly 
going to get into a lot of new problems on this 
hydroelectric development when they get to that 
point. 

Baum: Are businessmen eager to s erve on the board or do 
they try to get away? 

Downey: There's been no particular demand for that stall. 
The same men have just kind of held on and there's 
been no particular objection to them and so it's 
gone through the years. 

Baum: w hat sort of a man is James McCaffrey? 

Downey: McCaffrey is not a public ownership man in the 
sense that so many of these men are crusaders. 
He was a administrator and an executive himself. 
He just runs this a good deal like any good 
executive would run a business. He has none of 
that emotionalism that you sometimes find with 
a public agency organization, including probably 
ray own. He's not that type. He's a very able 
administrative man. 



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With the help of Royal Miller who has a lot 
of business savy and Royal Miller's ability to 
work with his board, it's been a great success. 
There canbe no question about that, I'm very fond 
of both those men as you probably understand, 

Baum: Has SMUD taken any part in promoting public power 
for other districts? 

Downey: Well, I don't think they have. They're sympath 
etic, of course. They certainly haven't taken 
any position against it. McCaffrey's quite a 
fellow to just run his own business. That's 
why he's so successful at it, 

Baum: Are the rates SMUD charges a s low as possible or 
do you try to make enough of a profit to have 
money for further construction and so on? 

Downey: They've cut t heir rates, but at th same time 
McCaffrey's conservative and he plows a lot of 
money back into construction, T nere i 3 been an 
immense amount of that by reason of the extensions 
here. 

Baura: Do you have equal rates for household consumption 
and industrial consumption? 



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Downey: I suppose the rates are different. 

Baum: Well, yes, of course they are, but sometimes you 

can try to encourage industrial consumption by 
lowering their rates and then charging it onto 
the householders. 

Downey: I don't think they're doing it now. Maybe they 
should. That's one of my problems on the Port 
District here because we've got to build up some 
industries here. Maybe I'll be fighting SMUD 
on that some time. 

Baum: Then you don't think there's a policy of trying 

to subsidize industrial use of power. 

Dcwney: Not to my knowledge, 

Baura: Now the city handles the water and the utility 

district handles the electricity? 

Downey: The itility district has been under a great d eal 
of pressure to take overtiie water too, but they 
are very much opposed to it. We have a very 
excellent water service here in Sacramento. We 
have no meters, we get ample water. I think 
people are rather satisfied w ith our water system 
now although there are people who keep maintaining 



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that that should be taken over by SMUD. But 
McCaffrey is very violentl^ opposed to it. He 
doesn't want to get into the water business and 
thinks it would not be a good thing to do. 

Hydroelectric Development on the American River 

Baum: That brings us up to the problem of the American 
River development. First there was a contract 
made with P. G. & E. for firming power. 

Downey: Yes, we have that contract right now. 

Baum: Rather than building your own steam plant. 

Downey: ..e thought at one time we'd build a steam plant. 
We've got to firm up the power because it's just 
being exhausted. We contemplated building our 
own steam plant. Well, there were many economic 
objections to that. We had tried to get through 
the legislature in past years legislation for 
revenue bonds. Never got it through, largely 
through the opposition, I think, of P. G. & E. 
They're a power on that. So the first thing we did 
was to enter into negotiations with P. G. & E.. 
under which they agreed to firm up our power when 
we needed it and then they also agreed not to 
oppose legislation which would give authority to issue 






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revenue bonds based on hydro-power. Then that 
legislation went through at t he last session of 
the legislature. 

Baum: Was that sort of a trade? You traded a contract 

with P.G. & E. for them not to oppose your revenue 
bonds? 

Downey: Well, I wouldn't wnat to call it that, although 
both factors undoubtedly entered into it. We 
did want t o get hydroelectric power. We wanted 
revenue bonds if we could get them. If we couldn't 
get them on the basis of steam power we wanted 
hydroelectric power. Anyway, we entered into this 
contract and t hey amid they wouldn't oppose our 
legislation and they didn't. They were true. I 
wouldn't say there was an exact agreement between 
the parties, but undoubtedly those things all 
entered into it. 

Then we get the legislation. Then we take 
proceedings for the issuance of eighty-seven 
million dollars in bonds. 

Baum: Which are revenue bonds. 

Downey: Revenue bonds only, based on hydroelectric power. 



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Nothing on stear plant. Those carried 8 to 1. Again, 
the Bee was one of the factors there on that vote. 
Then we have to bring litigation there. That's not 
the P.G. & E. at all. That's Just litigation to es 
tablish our right to issue these bonds. We've got a 
decision in that. Now, the next step is to get our 
power and water permit so we'll be able to construct 
our project and power license. 

The proceedings are going on now on the issuance 
of our permit and Martin McDonough is handling that 
himself and doing a good job of it. We're trying 
to get simply our power permit now and then we'll 
sell our bonds if we can get our power permit and 
license. Then all the other questions involving the 
water rights on the American River, which are complex, 
will have to be heard. I don't know when that's 
going to end. I'm glad Martin's doing that now. 

Baum: Why do you think P.G. & E. objected to your building 
a steam plant but not to a hydroelectric plant? 

Downey: I can't answer that. I don't know. I never thought 
they would. There's some reason there. Maybe they 
think we'll make a failure of our hydroelectric power. 








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It costs a lot of money. I wish I did know. 

Baum: You don't contemplate them entering any sort of 

litigation against your American River project later 
on? 

Downey: Well, Mrs. Baum, now you're asking a hot question. 

We haven't thought so and I don't think so now. But 
when the State Water Board was in session last Thurs 
day, suddenly it seemed that the P.G. & E. were pro 
testing our power application. The air was hot. I 
wasn't there at the time, but I had the word very 
fast that it was time to get on .the bail. Well, it 
ended in an adjournment until Wednesday, day after 
tomorrow. Today McCaffrey is meeting with the 
P.G. & E. They're going to talk over this thing. 
I don't think they're going to fight it, but it could 
be . 

Baum: If you get your American River development all com 
pleted, will you still need to buy firming power from 
P.G. & E.? 

Downey: It's possible, and we're hoping to get some more 

power from the United States, Trinity. Of course, 
the P.G. & E. is trying to get the falling water there 






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And we're beginning to think about atomic power too, 
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RECLAMATION DISTRICT WORK 
Present Problems of Reclamation Districts 

Baum: I would like to ask you about your work with recla 
mation districts. Do you think reclamation districts 
are a dying institution? 
Downey: No, I wouldn't say that. 

You asked in this letter about what reclamation 
districts do now. Well, like driving an automobile, 
there's a constant correction you have to make. New 
work has to be done. Maintenance work has to be done. 
That goes on all the time. It's not like when they 
were reclaiming the Sutter Basin land, that was the 
Armour project. That was a fight, a battle all the 
time until those levees were built. Litigation, 
sometimes shotguns that weren't used. That's over 
now* 

You take the Sutter Basin Reclamation District, 
that Reclamation District 15?00, they still have plenty 
to do and I'm engaged right now in some law suits 
they have brought. Those changes are constant. 

But certainly as far as reclamation districts 
are concerned, much of the groundwork has been done. 
But they're not dying by any means. 



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Baum: What kind of work have you, as an attorney for all 
these reclamation districts, been involved in? 

Downey: Let me mention what some of the reclamation districts 
are that I represent. There's Reclamation District 
10014-, 1500, 108,999, the West Side Levee District, 
the Knights Landing Ridge Drainage District, oh, 
there are probably a dozen more of those districts. 
I'm in constant touch with them and they have their 
problems. 

Baum: And you attend their meetings? 

Downey: Not all of them, but a greet many of them. 

Baum: How often do they meet? 

Downey: Take District 108, I'm thinking of that now because 
they meet Friday of this week. They meet every 
month. The Sacramento River West Side Levee District 
meets every other month. I have to attend those 
meetings . 

Baum: If you attend all the meetings of these districts 

you represent, doesn't that take up most of your time? 

Downey: It takes a lot of time. I don't attend as many of 

them as I used to, but it does take time. There are 
always problems that come up. 






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Baum: I was wondering how much of your time the reclamation 
and irrigation district work takes now. 

Downey: I would say about twenty-five percent of my time. 

Baura: Is that mainly on a retainer? 

Downey: Generally I'm on a retainer. 

Baura: Can you give me some examples of the kind of problems 
you deal with in your work with reclamation districts? 

Downey: Yes. In district 1002, there's a question of drainage, 
a very important question. Certain lands get drain 
age and certain lands do not get enough. So the 
lands that are not getting satisfactory drainage want 
to have some drainage plan adopted by the district 
that will drain their lands, and the trustees, don't 
want to spend that money. Then you are confronted 
by the question as to whether you bring law suit 
and try to work it out by lawsuit, or whether to 
change the personnel of the board and put in your own 
people. That's the democratic way of doing things. 
That's just one of the current problems, not too 
big either. They are now considering whether they'll 
bring proceedings to call an election of trustees. 
I have to advise with them as to what they should do 






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Dcwney: 



because I'm representing that group of landowners who 

want the drainage. I have to see that the election 

is properly called and held, I have to attend the 

election. 

Do you represent the district? 

Not in this matter. 

Now, in Reclamation District 108 not so long ago 
we had quite a revolution. I do represent the district 
there. Some of the landowners were dissatisfied with 
the way that certain things were being done and they 
called an election, and they elected a new board. 
Then there were problems on advising the new board. 
Sometimes we get thrown out. In this particular dis 
trict I didn't. In District 15>00 we are trying to 
recover market value for 5, 000 acres of delinquent 
land that were sold at auction. 

Well, there are constant problems. You see, in 
a reclamation district they vote according to assessed 
valuation, that is, every landowner has one vote for 
e-yery dollsr of assessed value, and so the large land 
owners control the district. Of course, very often 
what the large landowners want, the smaller landowners 






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don't, but the large landowners can generally control 
the board. In District 108 the district is largely 
controlled by a very few landowners, but nevertheless 
the small landowners have some power. They can 
cumulate their votes. In the 1500 district, the old 
Sutter Basin project, one landowner has the most votes, 
but other landowners generally combine to elect trus 
tees who don't work with him. In that particular dis 
trict we have a fight right now. 

Ba mi: Is the main conflict usually over whether to do some 
contruction or not? 

Downey: That's all involved, but so far as the flood control 
project is concerned, and that's the one that pretty 
well dominates whatever work may be done on construc 
tion, the Army Engineers do the work required in 
construction of new levees or raising heights of old 
levees or setting the levee back, that's all coordinated 
in the interests of flood control and the Reclamation 
Board has to furnish the rights of way. Generally 
they call on the districts to provide rights of way 
if the districts are interested in having the work 
done. So what you have to do when that situation 






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Baum: 



Downey! 



Baum: 
Downey: 



arises. . .well, right now it does arise in two or three 
of these districts. The Army Engineers want to do 
some work, the Reclamation Board wants the rights of 
way and they are very anxious to have us help them 
by securing the rights of way for them. We have 
that question up right now where in a couple of the 
districts they are not entirely satisfied with the 
work that was being done. So by a process of com 
promise, discussion, sometimes free for all meetings-- 
we haven't had many of them for a long time. We 
reach decisions. 

What sort of differences come up between the large 
landowners and the small landowners? 
Very often the large landowners want things done for 
their interest and the small landowners don't want 
them done. It means assessments, it may mean 
assessments . 

Say, a particular drainage project? 
Yes. Or it might be drainage or many other things. 

Reclamation District 108 

Another problem is 108 which had a lot of money 
which w got by reason of the fact that we took over 






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delinquent lands and became quite rich, when prices 
went up. We had nearly 20,000 acres which had been 
sold to the district for delinquency out of an area" 
of perhaps f>0,000 acres, nearly half the land. We 
were in desperate shape. But conditions got better, 
the depression was over, and then we found that we 
had acquired title to about 8,000 acres of very 
valuable rice land, the cream. We accumulated several 
million dollars. Then the legislature wanted us to 
sell it and we had a big fight about that. We 
didn't want to sell it. 

Baum: These lands ere tax free, aren't they, when they are 
owned by the district? 

Downey: Yes, the state wanted it restored to the tax rolls. 
Some of the legislators thought it was socialistic 
for the district to hold that land. Anyway, that 
problem is over. The legislature has finally decided 
we don't have to sell that land so long as we pay 
an amount equivalent to what the taxes would be on it 
to the county. 

But there's a lot of money. We farm that land 
and there's a lot of income. Of course, there's 






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Baum: 
Downey: 



Baum: 



Downey: 



Baum: 
Downey: 



always a conflict where you spend money. Some of 

the smaller landowners want it spent on their 

property, some of the larger landowners want it spent 

on their property. We spent it recently a little too 

fest, I think. Others wanted to hold it as a reserve. 

You spent it all? 

No, not all. We're getting to the point whe~e we 

wonder if we shouldn't stop and figure a little bit. 

We've probably got a half a million dollars left 

right now. We continue to get income from that land. 

Of course, it's a been a good expenditure, not just 

for the big landowner. 

What percentage of the land in that district is 

owned by the district? 

There's about 8,000 acres andthe district contains 

50,000 acres, so that's substantial, but it's not 

a big percentage. 

Why didn't the board of trustees want to sell the land? 

Here they are farming the property. The income is 

tax free and if they sell it that would simply mean 

it would go off their rolls and you conldn't begin 

to get the value because the purchaser would hsve to 

pay taxes. 






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Baum: But now you have to pay the taxes anyhow? 

Downey: The district doesn't pay any taxes. Well, we pay an 
amount equivalent to what the county would have 
assessed this property for, but that is very small 
compered to what you would pay for income taxes. 

Baum: Oh, the income tax is what you save. 

Downey: And that would be very heavy. 

Baum: And the fact that the district owns this land reduces 
the assessments on the other landowners. Is that 
right? 

Downey: Yes, as a matter of fact, we have, and I think we 

are the only district in the state that has, we pay 
nothing for maintenance because the money derived 
from farming our own property pays what would other 
wise be an operation and maintenance charge against 
the landowners. I guess probably there may be some 
other district in that good position, I don't know. 
We've had no maintenance assessments for many years. 

Baum: You don't feel this is sort of a Socialistic trend 
to have districts own property like this? 

Downey: I had one senator in the State legislature who main 
tained this whole thing was socialistic and he was 






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determined that we'd have to pay taxes on it. No, 
I don't think it's socialistic, but what do you mean 
by socialistic? I remember when I was a boy in 
college they used to say that I was socialistic. 

Baum: I suppose you are accused of that working for SMTD too. 

Downey: Oh yes, SMUD is said to be socialistic, so many good 
things are said to be socialistic. 

Reclamation District Assessments 
You could cite instance after Instance where 
the reclamation districts now have problems they 
have to meet and things they have to do. There was 
one little district that was out near the H Street 
Bridge, near the American River. The theory was 
that when Folsom Dam was built we would have flood 
control on the American River, that is to say, 
Polsom would take care of the flood control on that 
land and dispense or reduce the by-pass. As a 
matter of fact we've got to have both flood control 
and the by-pass and we've got to have some levees. 
This is a small district, a valuable district, right 
near the City of Sacramento. They have problems 
necessary in order to build these levees and maintain 










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Baum: 



Downey: 



them. The Army Engineers will build the lfvees,but 
the maintenence is very heavy. So we're trying to 
work out some plan there under which the cost of 
maintaining those levees can be spread over a much 
greater area, either by consolidating with the 
American River Flood Control District, or by forming 
some kind of a maintenance project the state will 
take over. The Reclamation Board can form a main 
tenance project and spread the cost over a big area 
and ver^ much reduce what would otherwise be almost 
confiscatory as to certain of the smaller landowners 
in this district I'm speaking of. 
Aren't the assessments in a reclamation district 
based on the value of the construction to the particu 
lar area of land? 

Generally in the past they have been spread on a basis 
of benefit. Recently there has been a law, there are 
some limits to it, but the law provides for maintenance 
assessments, which also were levied in accordance with 
benefits, to b e based on ad valorem assessments of 
lands in the district. In that particular district 
that's been a very good thing because it would hardly 








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pay to levy a benefit assessment against all these 
lands. It costs money to levy all these assessments, 
money for engineers and lawyers and a lot of other 
costs. So they do levy an assessment now for main 
tenance based on the ad valorem value of the property 
as shown by the taxes. Thet hasn't been used to a 
great extent but is being more and more commonly 
used. 

Baum: Spreading the assessment under the old system must 
have been very expensive. 

Downey: It ran into a lot of money. The common practice was 
let's say, take the Reclamation Boerd, it was the 
same situation. We had one assessment we figured would 
cost eight million dollars, estimated that as the 
cost. As a matter of fact these estimates were near 
ly always exceeded. I imagine in that case it ran 
up to twenty million, I don't know. Then you call 
in assessors. In this case we used Etcheverry, who 
was the professor of irrigation and drainage at the 
University, a dear friend of mine who has recently 
died, ajid two other men. They determined how much 
each piece of land within the area benefitted by 






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this improvement would pay. Having gotten that far 
then YOU think you can't make these calls two or 
three times a year so you bond the whole thing, issue 
bonds, and that's a lot of work and involves a lot 
of legal and other problems. That's what we've done 
in this particular assessment I speak of, but of 
course everything blew up before we got to the point 
of calling this assessment because we got aid from 
Congress. But it costs money, you bet. Attorneys 
have to live and engineers have to live. 

Baum: In the financing of these reclamation districts, 
originally they issued warrants . 

Downey: Yes, sometimes they issued warrants without ever 
levying an assessment. The theory was this, that 
whenever they had determined to levy an assessment 
they could issue warrants and then later on when the 
assessment was levied and the money had been paid, 
they could take up the warrants. There was some 
pretty frenzied financing because the contractors 
would come in and bid on the work and they would 
add a lot to their contract because they were getting 
only paper at great big discounts to negotiate and 



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that is one of the reasons this work cost so much, 
Now, as far as any district I'm interested in is 
concerned, we don't issue any warrants until after 
we have made arrangements for the assessments and 
perhaps for the issuance of bonds to avoid that 
thing and I'm sure it's been helpful. But in the 
old days they were so anxious toget things underway 
and get things going and it was very essential that 
they did too, 

Baum: Do you feel the issuance of warrants in the old 
days was inadequately controlled? 

Downey: I think it certainly added a great deal of cost onto 
the cost of reclamation. In one district I acted 
for some of the warrantholders, (which I generally 
don't do, I don't like to represent the warrant 
holder or bondholder) I had to represent the bond 
holders, that is to say, the people who actually got 
the bonds and who in turn had taken the warrants 

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from the contractors, and there was a big differential 
there, they took them for more than was represented 
by useful work. What happened was that people wouldn't 
pay. Of course, you can go through court and try to 






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make them pay, but that's not a nice thing for a 
big agency representing a lot of landowners. More 
over, sometimes your heart's not in your work. But 
in that particular case we finally reached a settle 
ment under which the bonds were taken care of. 

Baum: Did you settle for part payment? 

Downey: Yes, it was for about fifty cents on the dollar as 
I recollect. 

Comparison between Irrigation Districts and 

Reclamation Districts 

Baum: I've heard reclamation districts criticized for not 

having sufficient control over the board of trustees. 

Downey: Well, it's certainly the larger landowners of reclama 
tion districts who control the trustees. Sometimes 
they're more interested in their own particular land 
than anything else. In an irrigation district every 
registered landowner has a right to vote so the con 
trol is not in the bigger landowners. On the issuance 
and certification of their bonds, that requires the 

assent of the District's Securities Commission to 

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certify bonds. Yes, there is much more control in an 
irrigation district. The control of reclamation 
districts, andthere are other types of districts, 






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through a vote of the assessed valuation is very 
questionable in many cases. But as a rule attain 
I'll say this, the larger landowners are interested 
in a safe district. But I've had my fights. 

Baum: Do you think the irrigation district method of one 
vote per landowner is better? 

Downey: I think the irrigation district control is very much 
more democratic and I have found in my representation 
of irrigation districts, there are exceptions, I 
have found the trustees very fine... A meeting of 
the board of trustees of an irrigation district is 
a good deal like a town hall meeting. If there's any 
very important issues all the landowners are there 
to express themselves in no uncertain terms. A 
reclamation district can be quite different. But in 
the main now, I think the reclamation districts are 
necessary for the development of lands in the Sacra 
mento Valley. That's more particularly where they 
flourish. 

Baum: I've heard that the trustees sometimes engage in 

speculation with the warrants and bonds and enrich 
themselves to the detriment of the public. Have you 
found this to be true? 



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Downey: No. There probably are cases where that Is true. 

Very often people will come to me contemplating the 
organization of some district. What law shall we 
operate under? That's the first question. They 
have to crnsider whether they want the control in 
the hands of the large landowners or whether they 
want it in the hands of the registered voters. All 
those things require analysis, depending on what the 
particular problem is. 

But I'll say this now, I think the reclamation 
districts were probably essential in the earlier 
days here. I think they did a great work. They made 
mistakes, at times they spent too much money, but 
they have written a lot of the history of California 
which might not have been written if all the landowners 
had an equal share in the operation of the district. 
I've represented many of these reclamation districts, 
and a good many irrigation districts too. I certainly 
enjoyed my work with irrigation districts, 

I talked to you about Merced. That was a great 
district, they were great people, and I think the 
directors were great men. They were a little uncouth. 



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Baum: 
Downey: 



They could swear at the landowners and the landowners 
could swear at them, but I think they did a great 
work. When we came to refinancing I think they did 
a great work too. I told you about this juror in 
one of my cases who was one of the farmers down there 
who said, "By God, no, it ain't right." And he got 
what was right too. They could be pretty tough, but 
they were good. I've always liked those meetings. 
They were big, big problems and they were handled, 
I think, fairly. Sometimes we had to argue with 
them about certain things that were done, but I think 
it was a very creditable, democratic organization. 
Again, your irrigation districts, at least the ones 
I'm representing now, they have problems but nothing 
like we had in Merced in those hectic days. 
Every one is financially solvent now, aren't they? 
Oh, that's a tremendous advantage. Take for example 
the East Contra Costa district, I've represented 
many years. We have this problem. They have always 
gotten their water out of the San Joaquin River, a 
very, very valuable right and their records are per 
fect. Now Central Valley comes in and from now on 






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they don't get the water from the San Joaquin River, 
they get the water from the stored water from Shasta. 
Are they losing their rights or are they not? I have 
to see that thev don't lose it. It's a problem. 
They are getting a substitute supply of stored water. 
And they want it free. 

Well, they have an appropriative right which is 
superior to ajiy rights of Central Valley. That's 
one of our problems in connection with water rights 
on the Sacramento River. But are they being a^ versed, 
is the Central Valley taking away the water which 
they had from the San Joaquin River by a new source 
of supply? True, they give them a substitute supply, 
but are they getting a right to that? I guess 
it's impossible to go through life and not have our 
oroblems, whether they're reclamation districts or 
irrigation districts or just personal. 
Some reclamation districts like the one you mentioned 
that was organized by the Armour interests to reclaim 
large areas of land... did you find that most of the 
reclamation districts were formed by a group of 
people who wanted to reclaim land or just by landholders 






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who were already there? 

Downey: Of course, Armour, that was a vast real estate 
project of his and after he got it reclaimed he 
couldn't sell the land. Later they've sold a 
great deal of it. It was rather common for big 
landowners who were interested in the reclamation 
of big areas of land to organize a reclamation 
district. You take Reclamation District lOOlj. up 
near Colusa, originally a big group of landowners 
owned most of that land and then they formed the 
district and they controlled the board. I don't 
know, I suppose that control has passed now in 
reference to that particular district, but it 
was very common to do that. 

It was common in the irrigation districts too. 
Take Merced. The Crocker-Huffman Land and Water 
Company, that was a big public utility, they 
certainly provided what was needed, promotion, to 
get this district organized. 

Baum: Considering that it was large landowners or large 
real estate enterprises that started these things, 
perhaps there wouldn't have been such a great 
development of the Sacramento and San Joaquin 



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valleys If they'd left it to small landowners. 
Downey: That's true. They had the organization and the 
know-how to organized these things and generally 
they put up money too. I don't know if Crocker- 
Huffman put up money on that or not, but the result 
was that after they got the district then the 
district bought their system and they made money 
on that. I don't say unfairly or that too much 
was paid. But they were ridding themselves of 
a very great problem in supplying these people 
with water and they got rid of their system which 
became the start of the Merced Irrigation District. 

Refinancing Problems of Irrigation 
Districts and Reclamation Districts 

Baum: There was a commission, the California Irrigation 

and Reclamation Financing and Refinancing Commission, 
established which studied the problems of irrigation 
and reclamation districts and issued a series of 
recommendations for new legislation in 1931* 
Fred Kiesel was one of the members. 

Downey: He was the president of the California National 
Bank. He's dead now. He was a financial power 
until those banks busted in 1933. 



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Baum: 
Downey! 
Baum: 



Most of the work on that commission was done 
by Harmon Bonte. I know him quite well. He was 
the consultant for the California Irrigation 
and Reclamation Financing and Refinancing Commis 
sion. If there was legislation that grew out of 
this I don't know what that legislation was... well 
there's a lot of legislation through the years. We 
had one when I was with the Merced Irrigation 
District where we limited the assessments to what 
the lend could pay. That's what some of my good 
friends called the "Downey law". The assessment 
would be approved by this commission andtiiat it 
should not exceed the ability of the lands to pay. 
That was very bitterly fought by bondholders and 
gradually faded out of the picture because of 
the fact that the districts were ultimately re 
financed, that is, Merced was. 
Does this Law still exist on the books? 
No, I don't think so. 

One of the recommendations of this commission was 
that the district be permitted to operate or lease 
delinquent lands that they had taken over. 



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188 



Downey: I remember that legislation. 

Baum: That's what your District 108 did was to take over 
the delinquent lands and operate them* 

Downey: That's true. In the irrigation districts it was 
made so that the district could assign, as I 
remember, even the collector* deed. Some of those 
things were done at the request of the Reconstruction 
Finance Corporation which was loaning money to 
these districts. 

There's similar legislation respecting 
reclamation districts. We take over the property 
when it's delinquent for a year, that's the re 
clamation district, 

Baum: But then you operate it, or lease it? 

Downey: Yes, we operate it. We get a deed afterthe period 
of redemption has expired andttien that's our own, 
Just like we did in 108 with those 8,000 acres of 
rice lands. 

Baum: What happened to the lands before the district 
had the right to take the deed or operate it? 

Downey: That was always every difficult t^ing. The land 
would be delinquent, the taxes wouldn't be paid 
within the period of time of the legal limit. 



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During the period of time before the district was 
entitled to the deed you had the problem of getting 
the landowner out of possession. He'd frequently 
stay there. Then you had the question as to whether 

If you did get the land and farm it, all the 
proceeds would go to the bondholders. That pre 
sented every difficult problem. In any event, so 
far as reclamation districts are concerned, they 
took a deed when the period of redemption, one year, 
had expired, that was their property. In Irrigation 
districts it?s three years for redemption. 

Baum: And after that the original landowner has no claim 
to the 3and? 

Downey: Not after the deed is made. First they assign 

collector's deeds, or they take collector's deeds 
in favor of the district. Later on (three years) 
they take a deed to the land Itself and the redemption 
period Is gone. In 1933 there was a statute passed 
prohibiting the trustees of a reclamation district 
from selling the lands they had acquired to anyone 
but the former owner. That was declared uncon 
stitutional, I think. 

Baum: Yes, That was a case you were Involved in, wasn't 







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it? 

Downey: Yes, that was one of those measures that was passed 
by the legislature to alleviate the troubles arising 
from the depression, to try to keep the original 
landowner in possession. That was one of the problems 
always, to keep the men there farming land and keep 
ing it in production if possible. If not in produc 
tion, farm lands go bad very rapidly. 

Baum: I was wondering if you thought that was a fair thing 
to do to only permit the former owner to repurchase 
the land, or should it be sold to anyone? 

Downey: I thought that was a fair thing. I was very much 

in favor of that legislation. You just couldn't help., 
you know, your sympathies were with the landowner. 
On the other hand, the courts had to consider that 
the bondholders had rights and if the landowner could 
go right into possession and use the land, why, of 
course, the bondholder or the creditor wouldn't get 
the return. There was a lot of that legislation dur 
ing the depression which just turned the rights of 
the bondholders upside down. Genera lly I was on that 
side and sometimes I prevailed and sometimes I didn't. 






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In the case you mention the law was held unconstitu 
tional. 

Baum: In most of the reclamation districts you've been in 
that had delinquent lands, when those were finally 
returned to private ownership did they go back to 
the former landowners or to somebody else? 

Downey: Generally to the former landowners. 

Baum: Was that a policy of the districts? 

Downey: Well, they had the right to sell lands and very 

often, very commonly, they wanted to sell them to 
the original landowners. They wanted to keep the 
landowner right in possession of the property and 
sometimes they'd give him a break. Yes, generally 
that is right. 

Baum: That they returned to the original landowner? 

Downey: That required sometimes a little finesse. 

Baum: Yes, I should imagine most of those landowners would 
be broke and unable to repurchase their land until 
they had something to work with. 

Downey: Sometimes they got a little better terms. I don't 
know, looking back on the depression, (black as the 
war, I wouldn't go through a depression again if I 



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192 



help it), there were many things done, there 
was a lot of sharpshooting on behalf of the security 
holders, there was a lot of cutting corners on the 
part of the district. We all wanted the landowners 
to stay on the land. In fact, I always felt that 
nothing could be successfully worked out unless you 
kept the farmers on the land. 

Baum: Were there any efforts, by members of the boards of 
trustees maybe, to get the lands themselves? 

Downey: Not in any district I represented. I had occasion 

when I've had to say "You can't do that." Of course, 
they're disqualified to purchase land themselves, if 
they're one of the trustees of the district. There 
have been cases when I've had to say "You can't do it, 
By God, no, it ain't right." 












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AMERICAN RIVER FLOOD CONTROL DISTRICT ACT - 192? 

Baum: You said you drafted the American River Flood Control 
District Act back in 192?. 

Downey: 192? or 1928. A.S I remember that, we had a big flood 
in North Sacramento. I think that was the flood of 
1929, maybe 1928, right around in there. They had 
to do something about flood control in North Sacramen 
to so we got a special act through the legislature, I 
handled that, organizing the American River Flood 
Control District which is still functioning, operated 
very successfully too. I still act for them. There's 
one thing in that act that's rather different, we have 
the zone method of assessments. Thst is, they adopted 
a plan common to all these districts and then they 
levied an assessment and then the assessment was spread 
by the assessors, again Etcheverry, by zones. There 

were certain reasons why that was necessary. The 
City of North Sacramento would take a certain percent 
age of the costs and some other area would take a 
portion of the costs. We hari to go to the Supreme 
Court on that toget that approved. That was a very 
necessary improvement. 







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Generally speaking, we had the support of all 
the landowners except a few who didn't want to get 
into the district, didn't want to pay us assessments. 
They were excluded from the district, we kept them out. 
We issued bonds and sold them to the State Department 
of Finance. It was a good deal except they got too 
high a rate of interest. Did you know Al Heron, 
Director of Finance under Young. I worked with him. 
An able man. He's now with Schwabacher-Frey, I think, 
or maybe with Crown -Zellerbach. He ran a good bargain 
for the state, but we were desperate, we had to sell 
those bonds. Thst was during the depression and no 
body would buy our bonds. We gave him 6$. I wish 
I could get some of those bonds now and I wish I had 
some money to buy them. They won't sell them now. 
They're a good bond. The City of Sacramento is one 
of the zones. Of course their credit is very, very 
high. When the depression came, and it was colossal, 
I knew these districts very well. I knew which ones 
would eventually pay out without any question and 
which were going to be temporarily embarrassed and 
which were going to take losses as the Merced District 






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195 



did. But I had people offering bonds to me at prices 
that were just horrifying. They'd offer to sell their 
bonds without any interest or at 50$ of the principal. 

Baum: You were representing the districts? 

Downey: I was representing the district. I couldn't do any 
of that work. It would have been the easiest thing 
in the world to make several fortunes if you had a 
few dollars to put down on bonds like that because 
now you can't get those bonds at anywhere near the 
rate stipulated in the bond or... you see, they're tax 
free. When I think of what was offered to me and the 
temptation I resisted. I might have been a millionaire 
Well, anyway, I'm not. But that was just common, 

Baum: Did you feel that you had to not purchase those bonds 
because you represented the district? 

Downey: Well, I don't knrw whether I should have or not. I 
suppose I could have. There wasn't any reason why I 
shouldn't have the bonds in if I could at a cheap 
figure. It tended to peg the price anyway. I didn't 
feel I ought to deal in the securities of districts 
I was representing. Maybe I should have. 

Baum: The trustees are not allowed to deal In the securities, 
are they? 






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Downey: I think they were In the same position. If they 

wanted to buy a bond I don't know why they couldn't, 
if they could get the bond cheap. They couldn't on 
the original sale of the bond, but after the sale had 
been made and the bond had passed into private owner 
ship, I would certeinly have advised them to keep away 
from it, but I don't know if it would have been un 
ethical. Certainly it wouldn't have been illegal to 
buy a bond. But the one thing I did think about, I 
was fighting with the bondholders all that time and 
I didn't want them to think that I was trying to run 
down the value of their securities. Anyway, I 
didn't have very much money at that time. I didn't 
do it anyway. 












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CENTRAL CALIFORNIA IRRIGATION DISTRICT AND 
TULE LAKE IRRIGATION DISTRICT 

Baum: It must have been quite a little battle to get the 
Central California Irrigation District organized. 

Downey: I must say, most of my important matters have been 
battles. That's one where I worked with C. Ray 
Robinson. Ray is the attorney in Merced who now 
represents the Merced Irrigation District. He and 
I worked together for a great many years. He's the 
man you read about a good deal in the papers, these 
big lawsuits against Miller and Lux. He does a lot 
of things, generally with big money. 

Baum: This district was against Miller and Lux, wasn't it? 

Downey: It really wa. What we did, we wanted to take control 
of the public utility system that supplies water to 
people around Merced and Fresno and Stanislaus County. 
Of course, that was opposed by Miller and Lux and the 
people who controlled that corporation. That was rather 
a rich corporation. 

Baum: Why did the landowners want to take control themselves? 

Downey: They thought they could get the water much cheaper. 

Baum: They thought the rates were too high? 



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198 



Downey: They had many, many controversies before the Public 
Utilities Commission as to these rates. I had been 
more or less involved in some of these matters. I 
spoke to you about the San Joaquin Water Storage Dis 
trict where I represented the people who got water 
from that system. Nothing ever came of that. 

Baum: Was this the same system? Was this a previous attempt. 

Downey: There was this system which was owned by Miller and 
Lux, at least at that time. They supplied this very 
large area of land, I think it was the biggest water 
public utility in the state at that time. If not the 
biggest, certainly one of the biggest. And it was 
wealthy. And there were innumerable controversies 
between the landowners under that system and the com 
pany. The San Joaquin Canal Company. Ray Robinson 
then carried on that fight for a great many years 
acting for the landowners under that system, the con 
sumers. They had many fights. Ray is a good promoter 
and he conceived the idea of organizing a district and 
taking over the whole system by purchase from Miller 
and Lux. So he got me to help him on the organization 
of the district. 






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Baum: 
Downey) 



Baum: 

Downey: 

Baum: 



That was a fight. We organized an irrigation 
district, and then we included all the land in the 
irrigation district. We had to go through court, we 
went through the appellate court on that. Finally 
the organization was upheld. 

Then Ray took over the matter of trying to make 
a deal with the company under which the company would 
sell the system to the district. He finally did, much 
to my surprise. I don't think anyone would have done 
it except Ray. He's a forceful fellow. He has a way 
of stampeding people. I think the district paid 
about four million dollars. Something like that. 
That's right. %,200,000. 

The district paid that for the system and I think gave 
them bonds of the district. Since that time I've done 
nothing on that and I haven't seen Ray Robinson for 
some time, but I think the district is getting along 
very well. 

I think that district was organized in 19!?1 and I 
understand the vote was by a very slim margin. 
Yes, Miller and Lux fought it very, very herd. 
I wondered what kind of propaganda you used and what 
kind they used. 



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200 



Downey: We'd tell them they'd own that system and that again 
would ^e tax free, wouldn't have to nay taxes on 
the properties. They can operate the system much 
better than a lot of landowners who are more or less 
nonresident and don't care anything about the trouble 
they put to the dirt farmer. They said they were 
doing much better than we could ever do. There's a 
files of that stuff somewhere on the propaganda that 
was put out. That was a good lob. I did do most 
of the work on the organization of the district, 
but Ray handled the rest of that. 

Baum: Did you do mostly legal work, or did you get out... 

Downey: No, I didn't do any of the propaganda work, except 
I advised. We had a publicity man I had to advise 
with on the paper articles and that sort of thing. 

Mrs. Baum, these things seem so kind of 
trivial to me now, but they didn't at the time. 
Life was still quite an adventure to me at that time, 
law practice, though it's getting gradually more 
commonplace as I get older. 

Baum: Can you tell me about the Tule Lake Irrigation District? 

Downey: That's one I've almost forgotten about. All I did 





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Baum: 
Downey : 



there was form that district In 1951. I don't 
know how they're getting along, I think all right. 

Well, that really wag Just one of those big 
reclamation projects and it was necessary, in order 
to get the thing on some kind of a buslnes stoasis, 
to form an irrigation district. 
Were there any problems involved? 
I think there w ere a lot of them but I can't 
remember what they were now. Only technical pro 
blems. 






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SACRAMENTO PORT DISTRICT 

Downey: There is one thing I omitted to tell you anything 
about. We have a district here to build a deep- 
water channel. We are in the process of building 
that channel now and it requires a lot of money 
from the federal government, it is dependent upon 
appropriations. It's a big public project. My 
son is doing all the work now. I just sit around 
here and take life easy. 

Baum: You represent the Port District? 

Downey: Yes, Right now we're condemning a great deal of 
land in order to build the project, I think the 
project was adopted by the federal government 
79th Congress, Second Session. It goes back to 
19ij-7 Then the Korean War came up and they stopped 
the appropriation and they've resumed them now, 

Baum: Have you had to go to Washington about that? 

Downey: I talked it over with Tom Kuchel and Bill Knowland, 
I haven't made any trips to Washington myself on 
that. The Port executive has. He's gone back 
to Washington every now and then, 

Baum: And are Knowland and Kuchel the ones who are pushing 
it in Washington? 






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Downey: Oh, very much, and John Moss, our Congressman, We 
have now a hearing on the budget. We've got two 
appropriations anyway. 

Baum: You mentioned that you felt there wasn't enough 
Industry here in Sacramento. 

Downey: That's right. They make a survey to determine 

benefits to costs. We didn't have enough industry. 
So much of our industry now is in the military 
field. If they should shut down it wouldn't be 
very nice. So we have been rather pressed to get 
more industry here in order to build up that 
benefit. We're still trying to get them and we 
expect to. Those questions are infinitely com 
plicated. Our rivers here are ideal sites for 
industry, which again brings up the problem of 
polluted water. They started to put a paper plant 
up at Red Bluff about a year ago and I represented 
the City and we had to fight that. We didn't 
want the water polluted. I fought the case through 
and they finally dropped it. 

Baura: And they're not polluting the water now? 

Downey: No. There's no industry here to speak of. But 






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it may break anytime. One of the men at the Water 
Pollution Board told me the other day that the 
thing may break like a bomb with ell kinds of 
industry* 

Baum: Why do you want a deep-water port here? 

Downey: It certainly would be very helpful in the rates. 
We could get terminal rates for one thing tfiich 
were taken away from us recently. It would 
undoubtedly be of tremendous benefit to have a 
big port here. 

p aum: Do you think that would bring industry here? 

Downey: It would bring industry. There are so many values 
that come from a port. The Stanford Research 
Department made a study of this thing a while ago. 
That was at the request of the Stockton Port. They 
didn't want us to have a port here. They have a 
port of their own which is Just now beginning to 
work. I don't think the research report was Just 
what we wanted but it hasn't hurt us in Congress 
yet although it was circula ted back there with a 
view of stopping our appropriation. But a port 
here, a deep-water channel, would be a shot in the 












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arm here, to all Northern California, all the 

counties, 
Baum: And you think the advantages would exceed the cost 

of building this thing? 
Downey: Well, the report of the Army Engineers showed 

that the benefits would exceed the cost, but the 

ratio is not as big as we thought it should be 

We can change that by getting more industries here* 
"aum: Congress wants you to g et the industry first, I 

suppose, and you may have to get the industry 

afterward. 
Downey: Well yes. 











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206 



Downey: 

Baum: 

Downey: 



Baum: 
Downey: 
Baum: 
Downey: 



Baum: 



COMMENTS ON THE CALIFORNIA WATER DEPARTMENT 

Do you think the Division of Water Resources has 

done as much toward the development of water in 

California as they might have, or should have? 

I think so. That's all taken over now by the new, 

reorganized Water Department. 

I understand that you were proposed as head of 

that new Water Department* 

If I was I didn't know it. Nothing very serious, 

No, I wouldn't have been competent to do that 

work. That requires an engineer. 

That's Harvey Banks. 

He's an able man. 

You weren't seriously considering the position? 

No. I wasn't. I couldn't have accepted it. It's 

not a lawyer's job. Harvey's got a terrific pro- 

lem there. He's a good man, and a young man, 

a man with great energy, and an ambitious man. A 

good engineer surrounded by good engineers. But 

he's got a problem nevertheless. 

Perhaps it requires en attorney more than an 

engineer. 



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Downey: Well, one of my friends from SKUD wanted that 

position. At least he said he would take it if 
it was offered to him. He had many qualities that 
he could have used very well there. He had the 
political point of view and it requires a politician 

too, but I think Harvey was tthe right choice for 
that. 

Baum: Is Harvey Banks a politician as well as an 
engineer? 

Downey: No, but he understands public relations. 

Baum: He would have to. And is he somewhat of an attorney 
on his own? 

Downey: Well, they get to be pretty good attorneys on 

water law. There are several men who work with 
him who are very, very good. 

Baum: '"'hat about the past? 15o you think in the past the 
State Engineers have been aggressive enough 
about having the state set the policy? 

Downey: Well, I never knew W.P. KcClure, except to speak 
to. I was very close to Ed Hyatt, both as the 
State Engineer and a s a friend. I was very fond 
of him. He was a man of great tact, he did a good 



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Job, Paul Bailey came in there. I knew him quite 
well. He did a good job. I think they've had 
good State Engineers. Then came Editions ton, 
Edmonston I was also very fond of, Edmonston 
could be very blunt at tiroes, but I think he did 
good work too, although the pressure of that work 
bore down on him a food deal. He'd had some injuries 
earlier in life. I haven't seen him for some 
time. He has been sick. 

No, I would say that Hyatt and Edmonston and 
to a lesser degree Paul Bailey, I don't'think 
he was there too long, I knew all those men 
intimately and they did fine work, I don't think 
anybody can do perfect work with all the problems 
and they're getting bigger and bigger. Harvey's 
just inheriting a lot of problems, I think as 
far as he's concerned the story is Just being 
written* 

One thing has been talked a bout a lot here in 
the last few years is the state taking over the 
Central Valley Project. That was undoubtedly very 
strongly favored by the Irrigation Districts 






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Association, some of the people who were key- 
figures there. The P.O. & E. wanted it. All the 
people who were opposed to the 160-acre limitation 
wanted it. Personally, I couldn't ever see how it 
would be possible to do that, the expense was 
tremendous. As long as the federal government is 
financing it and it is necessary that somebody 
does, I couldn't believe in the state taking it 
over. Warren agreed with me, I know that because 
I discussed it with him, 

Baum: Warren didn't take any special part in that state 
take-over. ., 

Downey: He did as he did in all matters. He was inter 
ested in getting such information as he could. He 
attended some of the hearings in Washington when 
the matter was discussed. I don't think anybody 
is thinking about that now. I know Clair Engle 
isn't. He's the head of the Insular Affairs 
Committee in the House of Representatives, 

Baura: Did Clair Engle favor state take-over? 

Downey: I'm sure he didn't. I've worked with Clair for 
many years. I'm very fond of Clair. He's an 








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SACRAMENTO RIVER WATER RIGHTS 
Baum: I had a few questions on Sacramento River water 

rights. 

Downey: There was a subcommittee of the Irrigation Com 
mittee of Congress, that's Glair Engle. He's 
now chairman of the Insular Affairs, that's the 
Irrigation committee of the Rouse of Representa 
tives. He's a very able man. He had a hearing out 
here of this committee. The principal purpose 
of that was to investigate the action that had 
been brought by the United States on the Santa 
Margarita River in Southern California. They 
brought a suit there to determine their water rights, 
At that time the Reclamation Bureau was Just a bout 
to commence a suit to determine the water rights 
on the Sacramento and American rivers, which would 
have been a colossal undertaking. When they 
brought that suit on the Santa Margarita River in 
the South it stirred up all kinds of feeling. Those 
cases are v ery technical and very difficult. 

So this committee of Congress came out to 
investigate that and then they held a hearing here 
to see what they were going to do on the Sacramento 






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River. That's the Reclamation Bureau, and everybody 
realized that sorre of that stored water from Central 
Valley has to^e used because there isn't enough of 
the natural flow. To determine what would have to 
be provided by the Reclamation Bureau and to what 
land required a determination of all the rights on 
the river. Of course the Santa Margarita River in 
the South is just peanuts compared to the Sacramento 
River. 

This is the report of Engle's committee. I'm 
giving you their own language here. They say that 
if the Reclamation Bureau brings a suit it will be a 
"monstrous lawsuit 1 * and shouldn't be done. You might 
be interested in this report. I've marked several 
spots. During the course of my testimony I said that, 
"25/6 of the large diverters on the Sacramento River 
control 90$ of the water above Sacramento and they 
are reclamation districts or big agencies represent 
ing thousands of other owners or diverters. We 
think an effort should be made to see if we can't work 
out something above Sacramento; that is to say, we 
want to see if we can't work this out by agreement. 
I would like to sit down, Mr. McDonough, my collegue, 



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and I and Mr. Hyatt, the ex-State Engineer, and 
work that out by agrees nt." 

Well, it hasn't been worked out yet and that was 
several years ago. But we have done a lot of construc 
tive work on it. We've worked in cooperation with 
the state, that was Bob Edmondston and now is Harvey 
Banks, who is the Director of Water, and with the 
Reclamation Bureau, and our organization, the Sacrs- 
Tiento River Water Association. 

What we've done among other things, we first had 
trial runs of the water from the Sacramento River to 
determine how much of that water each of these land 
owners up and down the valley required. That was 
quite an undertaking. Then we employed engineers and 
they recently rendered a report on how much water we 
have a legal right to, how much stored water we need 
to firm up our supply by storage and how much we think 
we can get, what we think we'll have to pay for it, 
how much water is needed for salinity control, and 
finally, what are we going to do about it. We have 
to negotiate with the Reclamation Bureau about that. 
Whether we're going to get anywhere on that I don't 
know. But I think so. 






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But you can see how difficult that is. Here's 
the report by our engineers. It's lust like a problem 
in higher mathematics. I can't even read it and under 
stand it without sitting down and really concentrating 
hard. 

Baum: This report is by the Sacramento River and Delta 
Water Association. 

Downey: Yes, that's the name of the association. 

Baum: Weren't there two associations, the Sacramento River 
Water Association and the Delta Association? 

Downey: There's this association which is concerned with the 

water rights on the river and there's another associa 
tion which I also represent that is concerned with 
the flood control, that's another name. And there's 
still a third association... 



Baum: Is that the California Central Valleys Flood Control 
Association? 

Downey: Yes, that's the one I've been working with Knowland 
on. 

There are a lot of other groups that have joined 
us. This is the controlling group on the water end 
of it. We had q-iite a number of landowners, largely 
from up the river, who were working with us but finally 






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decided they'd withdraw because they felt they could 
work it out better themselves. They're out of it now, 
but they're trying to work out their own problems. 

About all I could say about this is that there's 
a lot of work yet to be done to determine how much 
water we need to firm up our supply on the Sacramento 
River and the price. Eventually I would hope we'll 
get an agreement with the Reclamation Bureau but 
that's still in the distant future. All I can say 
about this job at the present time is that we have 
done a tremendous amount of constructive work. We 
have data now which couldn't have been obtained in 
a lawsuit without months and months of proceedings 
in court. 

We entered into an agreement right after we had 
this meeting with Engle. Parties to the "memorandum 
agreement" were Governor Warren, Ed Hyatt, who was 
working with us at that time, he was then retired 
as State Engineer, the Bureau of Reclamation, the 
Attorney-General, possibly some others, in which we 
set forth what we hoped to do. We're having a little 
trouble now as to whether the new Reclamation Bureau 
under Eisenhower is willing to conform to everything 






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Downey: 



Baum: 

Downey: 



that the old Reclamation Bureau set forth in that 
memorandum. 

Martin McDonough is working with me on that, 
doing his usual good work. 

T>o you expect this Upper Sacramento Valley Water 
Association that withdrew to enter the contest in 
competition with the lower Sacramento? 
Well, they don't always agree with the lower users 
of water on what we call the Delta. They think they 
are entitled to most of the water in the river and 
the Delta people think they are entitled to much 
of the river because they are riparian landowners 
and big users. The upper-river people are at 
present pretty much dominated by a man who is very 
partisan about these matters. He worked with us, 
but he has his own ideas about things and he prefers 
to work by himself. And he knows how to do things 
very well. 
Who's that? 

Charlie Lambert. He's a man who's been quite in 
fluential up in the upper valley. He's not too well, 
I think he's having some sickness. His son is working 






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there. He's an engineer. 

Mrs. Baum, I don't know. I was the man who 
said to the committee, n l think we can work this out. 
We'd like to." They took n?e at my word, as you'll 
see when you read this report. But I may be long 
buried before this thing is settled, if it ever is 
settled. 

It involves the problems of salinity control too, 
You see, a certain amount of water, I think roughly 
about i4.,000 second-feet, has to go down for salinity 
control and we always had assumed, and I think that's 
in our "memorandum agreement," that the United States 
will pay for salinity control. We have to figure 
this out, both on the theory that we may have to pay 
for that salinity control or we may not. 
Isn't much of the land that's being watered rice 
land? Rice takes a lot of water. 

A great deal of it is rice land up above. However, 
there is a lot of use of water upon rice land, but 
on the other hand there's a lot of return flow too. 
You take up on 108, their use of water is colossal, 
they're one of the rice-growing districts. But 









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much of that water gets back to the river. Their 
return flow is tremendous . But in the end we have 
to base all this on reasonable beneficial use. Some 
of those uses are undoubtedly beyond all reason, on 
the rice lands. 

Baum: That's what I was going to ask you. Did you think 

that you would be able to get enough water to continue 
these lands in their present uses or might there 
have to be a readjustment of use? 

Downey: No, we were figuring generally on their present uses. 
So far as all of our members are concerned, we've 
determined what they need. 

Baum: But do you think they can get it? 

Downey: That's the question. Of course they can get it, at 
a price, from Shasta. Of course, much of that water 
at Shasta has been committed already. 

Baum: So you're really in competition for the water, aside 
from the price, aren't you? 

Downey: Yes, in competition, although we contend that we 
have certain rights there. You and I have never 
talked about the counties-of-origin water and the 
areas-of-deficlencies and so forth, but we have also 



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Downey! 






made a very strong showing that when the Sacramento 
Valley voted for the Central Valley Project it was 
represented to them, and we have it from no less 
an authority than Secretary Krug, who was then the 
Secretary of Interior, that they were not going 
to take one bit of water away from us until all our 
rights had been satisfied, only the surplus. How 
much that's worth legally, I don't know. 
I've heard it prophesied that eventually all water 
will have to be allocated throughout the whole 
state on the basis of beneficial use and that that 
will mean a readjustment of agricultural production. 
That could be true. There was a suit brought a 
great many years ago by the City of Antioch (1920) 
to prevent so much of the water being taken out 
high up for rice. It was contended in that case 
that they had to even stop rice growing. The Supreme 
Court never passed on that except to say that it 
might be a matter to be considered sometime by the 
Legislature. But rice growing now is certainly one 
of our most important industries, no question about 
that, but it does pose problems. Water is the atomic 
bomb. 



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COMMENTS ON THE LEGAL PROFESSION 
State Bar Examination 

Baum: Would you like to get into the legal profession 
questions now? 

Downey: You can start on them. I would be as much interested 
in my answers as you are. 

Baum: We can start with your bar examination when you came 
to California. 

Downey: I didn't have to pass it, fortunately. I graduated 
from the University of Michigan and that admitted me 
to the Michip-an bar and the admission to the Michigan 
bar admitted me here. They don't do that anymore. 
They have one examination for attorneys from other 
states and one for the person being admitted for the 
first time. Many people who have practiced law in 
other states don't do the necessary studying for the 
bar exam and they fail and that hurts them. But, I 
think it's a good rule that they should be required 
to pass the examination of the state. 

Baum: Do you think the bar exam should be very difficult? 

Downey: Well, they are difficult. I don't know that they're 



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too difficult. I wouldn't want to try to pass one 
right now. There was a good deal of discussion many 
years ago as to whether we should require any bar 
examination. Chief Justice Beatty who was on the State 
Supreme Court, some years ago, took the position it 
is said, that anyone who wanted to practice law 
should have the right to without any examination, with 
out anything. 

Baum: Without even a diploma? 

Downey: No, he thought not. Thst's all changed now and I 
think in the main it's been for the better. There 
have been occasionally men I think who should have 
been admitted but weren't because they couldn't pass 
the examination. But if they want to pass they can 
take the examination again. All of the people I've 
been particularly interested in have always passed 
the examination. 

No, I think it's been a good thing. There were 
a number of attorneys a good many years ago who 
didn't know anything afrout law. When you go in to 
a lawyer you want sonebody to have at least some 
knowledge of the fundamentals. 



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Baum: Do you think there's an advantage to cutting down 
the competition, or the number of attorneys? 

Downey: I don't like that. Competition of course is pretty 
heavy. But I'm not worried about it. Right here 
in Sacramento the number of lawyers is increasing 
all the time. And they are very good lawyers. They 
show the training they've had. Many of them are 
very strong comoetitors. They don't bother you 
particularly, nevertheless, they are able men. They 
are young, you see. Thev have ability and energy. 

Baum: Then you don't think the difficult bar exam has cut 
down competition? 

Downey: Not for the older people, no, I don't. 

Baum: There's still plenty of competition. 

Downey: I don't know whether from an overall point of view 
more men ought to go into science and engineering 
like they are doing in Russia. Certainly all the 
young men I know here are very fine, outstanding men. 
There are a great many in the state departments, 
attorney-general's office. There are so many of them 
here I don't know all of them. I'm rather ashamed of 
myself. It used to be I'd know every lawyer here and 
know them by their first name. 



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Baum: 
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Baum: 
Downey: 






The State Bar 

Do you do much with the local bar association here? 
No, very little. 

Have you ever been active in bar association work? 
Well, going back a number of years, there was a 
very informal organization here. It's becoming a 
big organization now. I have served on some of 
those committees, but I don't even know what they 
were. The State Bar, of course, is becoming stronger 
all the time. 

Did you work, during the 1920' s, when the State Bar 
was trying to get established. 

No, I didn't work on that. I think I was a little 
indifferent to it at that time. I have to admit, 
now the State Bar has done a lot of good. 
You are on a State Bar committee now? 
Yes, the Committee on Procedural Reform. We are 
charged w^th getting certain constitutional amendments 
through the legislature. It's been approved by the 
State Bar, our report, and undoubtedly will appear 
in the legislature. 



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I was the chairman of a committee of the State 
Bar a short time ago and the committee was to dis 
cuss recent epochal decisions of the Supreme Court 
at our meeting at Yosemite. That was after Roosevelt 
had come in and the personnel of the Court had 
changed and there were many epochal decisions. Be 
ing the chairman, I selected as members of my 
committee the heads of the law department at Cali 
fornia, and Stanford and Hastings and one somewhere 
else. All were outstanding men. Then I asked them 
to prepare papers on these decisions. We had quite 
a meeting of it. I, being the presiding officer, 
started it off with some article that had lust been 
written by Roosevelt himself on what the Supreme 
Court had been doing and then they came in with all 
their comments. Sometimes it's an advantage to be 
chairman of a committee, you Just choose whom you 
want. It's an easy ride. 

Have you been particularly interested in any of the 
problems of the State Bar? 

Very little. Many lawyers put in a great deal of 
time on that. They make a campaign to be elected 
to the Board of Governors and they look forward to 




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being president of the State Bar. I wasn't particu 
larly interested in that sort of work. 

Baum: One of the things the bar was working on before there 
was a State Bar was a bill to prevent the practice 
of law by non-lawyers. That was in 1921. Were you 
active in that work? 

Downey: No. In fact, I wasn't interested in that sort of 
thing. I thought you'd get the work all right if 
you did good work. But there was a lot of feeling 
about that. I thought the feeling was somewhat 
exaggerated. 

Baum: You didn't feel it was a very serious problem? 

Downey: No, I didn't. Although they have accomplished 
something, undoubtedly. Your banks and trust 
companies, they are very c are ful what they do, title 
companies too. I liked the help I got from those 
people before they got to the point they couldn't 
give it. Undoubtedly the bar did some good, although 
I wasn't interested. 

Loyalty Oath for Attorneys 

Baum: I want to ask you what you think of the requirement 






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of young attorneys to answer whether they have ever 
been a member of the Communist Party or not? 

Downey: Of course, I don't like McCarthy, I don't like his 
witch hunting. Sheridan would argue with me that 
the country was being overrun with people who have 
been Communists and are Communists. Of course, they're 
dangerous, but I've always felt that if a man had 
been a member of a Communist cell and wasn't any 
longer a member, we shouldn't inquire into his past 
as a rule any more than they inquire into my past, 
except you. I don't like it. I supoose they have 
a right to ask that question of an attorney. If he's 
going to be an attorney he's going to be required lots 
of times to act in matters he may have already been 
a Communist with respect to. I attended a recent 
installation of a Superior Court judge and they read 
that new state oath that they have to take. 

Baum: Isn't the regular oath that you agree to do the duties 
of your office and to uphold the Constitution? 

Downey: Well, that's what it ought to be, to pledge allegiance 
to the Constitution of the United States and to the 
State of California, but this went much further. We 








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Baum: 
Downey: 



have to have those oaths taken by all of the members 
of the boards of directors of the various agencies 
and it startles you... I think I'm talking about 
English more than anvthing else, it seems so un 
necessary to repeat the thing over and over again 
like I am doing here. 

It took the man swearing in the judge that day, it 
seems to me, a couple of minutes or more just to 
read thst oath. I don't think there's anything 
wrong about it. 

Ethical Problems 

What do you consider reprehensible ethical practices? 
That's a big question. Some of them are very, very 
reprehensible. We had a case here not so long ago 
where some lawyer made a friend of an old man and 
then got the man to will all of his property to him. 
He did it very, very cleverly. The will was set 
aside and the lawyer was disbarred and was sent to 
the penitentiary. Those are just acts of a criminal, 
you know. There are such cases as that, but I think 
they are rather exceptional. 



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There ere some lawyers who violate confidential 
relations of a lawyer. They will take cases where 
there are conflicts. I don't think there are many 
of them. 

Certainly some lawyers overcharge which is unethical. 
Some of them will take trust money that comes and 
deposit it in their own account, which is unethical. 
All those things, of course, are frowned on by the 
bar. There's always a shading in all these things. 
I had an old woman come to me the other day, she's 
about 90 years old. She wanted me to make a will. 
I said, "How do you want your property to go." She 
said, "I want to leave it to you." I said, "Why, 
I couldn't do anything like that." She was offended 
about it. "Why, you're my friend. I look up to you." 
I couldn't and wouldn't do it, of course, but it 
just shows how sometimes these things are put up to 
you. I can see how people would have thought they 
ought to do it, it wouldn't be right to turn her down. 
I think sometimes where they do that they aren't do 
ing it maliciously or willfully, there is generally 






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some reason why they do it. 

I would think perhaps, if you're making a 
blanket indictment, I know some charges are too 
high. Probably some of mine ere too. Generally 
when I charge, it's a man of wealth well able to 
bear it. It's the little man who doesn't have the 
means, to do these things you feel is taken ad 
vantage of. 

Baum: How serious a breach do you think solicitation of 
business is? 

Downey: I don't like it. Yet araln, that's one of those 

things where you have a hard time drawing the line 
between what's right and what's wrong. There are 
many, many people who go on boards of directors 
expecting to get the legal business that comes, not 
directly solicited, but they think it will come to 
them if they're on the board. There's quite a lot 
of solicitation. The man who solicits the business, 
he won't be caught. You take solicitation of the 
job of receiver for some big corporation, nobody is 
going to know about that. He won't out and out apply 



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for the business, nevertheless, by indirect process 
he succeeds in getting that. 

Solicitation of business is commonly thought of 
as the solicitation for autOTobile cases or cases 
of that kind. That is very common now, very, very 
common. There are a number of lawyers I know who 
have their own runners -up. 

Baum: Do you think that's serious? 

Downey: Well, it's certainly not what is contemplated. I 
will say this though, most of those men are very 
skilful personal injury lawyers. I know one who 
has his own car and his own man and if a report 
comes through of an accident his man is out there 
signing up the witnesses and signing up the people 
who have been injured. He's probably more vigorous 
about that than most people. 

I had a woman, her husband had been killed on 
one of the railroads, what you would call a good case, 
she asked me to go out to the hospital. I did. She 
said, "We want you to take this case." I told her I 
would. A little later on another lawyer came out to 



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Baum: 
Downey: 



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the hospital. He began telling her what a wonderful 
lawyer he was. And he was too, he had very outstand 
ing men who do that sort of thing, witnesses and so 
on. He wanted her to sign this contract. She said, 
"Steve Downey is representing me." That shocked him 
because I was quite a friend of his. He immediately 
called me on the phone and said, "I'm awfully sorry 
about this. I didn't know you we^e in the case." 

But there's a lot of thet now and I suppose 
from a wholesale point of view that is probably the 
cardinal injury that is done. Sometimes those people 
overcharge. They are very commercial about it. They 
want their half. They will provide the witnesses. 
Certainly something should be done about that. 
Well, that is cause for disbarment, isn't it? 
Yes, if they can prove it. They've had two or three 
cases. That can be very bad, where you've got the 
number of personal injuries that come from the 
automobile now. 

I think some attorneys don't feel that's so bad, 
because the insurance comcanies are there on the 






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Downey: 



Baum: 
Downey: 



scene trvlng to get the prrson to settle right away. 
There's some truth in that too. Certainly most of 
these men I know of who do that thing are able men 
and I think they are very good trial lawyers. They 
do get pretty avaricious sometimes, but I think as a 
rule they know their case. I think sometimes they 
overcharge. You hate to see a lawyer trying to tear 

his client to oieces to get more money out of him. 
I would say that's the most unethical thing on a big 
scale, that affects a lot of men. 
What would you regard as unfair trial tactics? 
In any jury case, there can be a lot of unfair things 
done in the courtroom, if the judge will let you get 
by with them. I think all of us try to do that to a 

certain extent. 

I wouldn't call it unfair, although sometimes it could 
be. You might attempt to get before the jury some 
thing that you heve no right to get before them, more 
often the subtle suggestions you may make. Generally 
you can't get by the judge on those things. He'll 
cut you off. 



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Baum: 
Downey; 
Baum: 
Downey: 



Baum: 
Downey: 






There are e lot of other things that are done 
in court that are unfair, undoubtedly, and reprehen 
sible too, I haven't encountered much of that. 
I suppose it's before Juries that most of this goes on, 
Largely. 

What judicial ethics do you think are most important? 
Well, to decide a case in ^y favor, (laughter) 
I'te never known. ..I can't say thst, I have known of 
judges who have been charged with not only violation 
of Judicial ethics, but actually. . .one judge on the 
Supreme Court was forced out of office under Johnson, 
he was a crook, he took money. Of course, there's 
no argument about that, that's going too far. 

I think one of your questions was should the 
bar have the right to investigate the judiciary. 
To discipline the judges. 

No, I don't think they should. My contact with the 
judiciary here, they're all been very outstanding 
men. We have a fine bench here, and a fine bench 
in Northern California. San Francisco, I've heard 
things about them, some of the judges there, that 
don't sound complimentary, but in so fer as I've come 



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In contact with them, they've been all right. Certain 
ly the higher courts have been very fine, as far as 
I know. 

Baum: Then you feel thst there would be no need to discipline 
them? 

Downey: No, I don't think so. You've either got to s ee that 
they're disciplined by not being reelected if they 
come up for reelection, or you've got to recall them. 
But I think that's got tone left in the hands of the 
electorate or the appointing power. 
Appointment of Judges 

Baum: Do you think Judges should be elected or appointed? 

Downey: I would say the superior judges ought tobe elected. 
The method in the appellate courts is a good method 
now. When their term is up it goes on the ballot, 
"Shall so-and-so be retained?" I think it's all 
right. I was discussing this with Chief Justice 
Gibson the other day and I think he would incline 
toward the appointment of all judges. And he ' s a 
good man too, a very good man. 

Baum: Do you think the bar ought to have any part in con- 






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firming the nomination of a candidate for the bench? 
Downey: No, I do not think so. There is this committee that 

passes on judicial qualifications, I see no objection 

to that. 
Baum: I think the criticism is that the nomination actually 

has almost been made and it is very hard for the 

committee to say "No" at that point. 
Downey: That happened on the appointment of Max Ra^in to the 

Supreme Court by Olson. I recommended him to Olson, 

by the way. A very fine man. A little bit woosey, 

like some of the rest of us are probably, but a good 

man, an honest man. And the qualifications committee 

finally turned him down and that killed that aopoint- 

ment. 
Baum: As I understpnd it, Attorney General Earl Warren was 

the one who turned him down. 
Downey: I wouldn't be surprised. I never talked to Earl about 

that. I don't disagree with him in many respects. 
Baum: I was going to ask you if you agreed with Warren on 

that point. 
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236 



I knew Radin. I liked him very much. As I say, he 
was a little bit wobbley in some of his philosophy, 
but no more than I am. No, I never even mentioned 
it to Warren, but I did recommend Radin to Olson, 

Baum: What did you think of Olson's other appointments? 

Downey: All of the appointments that I knew anything about 

I thought were good. Phil Gibson, now cur Chief Jus' 
tice. Right here in this conntry. . .some of the men 
I recommended. Ray Coughlin on the Superior Bench 
makes an excellent judge. I recommended a number 
of them here locally. Paul Peek on the appellette 
court, an excellent man. 

Baum: He was one of the ones there was some controversy 
about. 

Downey: Yes, he hadn't done a lot of practicing, but he 
makes an excellent judge. 

Baum: You recommended Paul Peek? 

Downey: I recommended him. And I recommended Annette Adams, 
who was a very good justice. There was a lot of 
prejudice against her because she was a woman. A 
very fine woman. 









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There were a number of appointments he made which 
I thought were very good appointments. Culbert, 
he had faults, but I think his appointments, as far 
as I knew, were good. He may have made some that 
weren't good. 

Bauro: Did you approve of Warren's appointments? 

Downey: Always. Of course, I was prejudiced in favor of 
Warren. 

Baum: You probably helped recommend appointees. 

Downeyt I have spoken to him a number of times. I'm sure 
anybody I recommended was good. 

Baum: What kind of qualifications do you look for when 
you re commend a man as an apoointee to the bench? 

Downey: Well, depending on the appointment. If you're 

recommending a man to the Supreme Court, you want a 
man who can write an opinion and a man who has a 
rather clear conception of the law. If it's a man 
for some administrative office, it's a horse of a 
differest color. It depends on what it is. I think 
undoubtedly in some of these appointments you have 
personal feelings in connection with them. If you 






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Downey; 



know a man and like him, you are more inclined to 
recommend him. It would be awfully hard for me, if 
a man came to me and asked me to recommend him and 
I knew him and liked him, for me to say "No." That 
came up again and again with Sheridan's appointees. 

Trials 

Here was a question I thought you might want to 
think about. Can you state any general principles 
for the successful prosecution of a water right case? 
I've been thinking over some of the questions you 
sent. Generally speaking, the trial of any case, 
whether it's a water case or any case, I think involves 
much the same problems. Take a Jury case, for ex 
ample. A jury case, if properly tried, is like a 
work of art. You've got twelve men there and you've 
got to be pulling with them all the time. You have 
to make friends with them. You have to convince them 
of ycur sincerity. Now, the trial of a court case is 
different. There's the judge and he's primarily 
interested in legal problems. The jury is interested 
in factual problems. Both, however, can be swayed 






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Baum: 
Downey: 



by emotion. The coldest judges canbe influenced 
by prejudice, whatever it may be. 

Now, in a water right case, if it's a case in 
volving a trial before a jury most of them are not 

but take the riparian right cases we used to have 

We don't have so many of them now where some man 

is attempting to recover the value of his riparian 
land which he claims was taken from him. That is 
very much like any jury case. I think I told you 
about one of those cases I tried at Merced and I 
handled the jury and a juror said, "By God, no, 
it ain't right." That was jiist exactly a jury 
reaction. Or it might have been the other way. 

I would think those cases were very much like 
any other, even a criminal case, where some man is 
charged with a crime and where emotion and prejudice 
and all those things enter into it. 
How do you go about preparing for a case like that? 
There's always a certain amount of close preparation 
required in a water case. Take a riparian right case, 
to determine whether the land is riparian, to deter- 






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mine what the damage Is, if any, that had been done 
by the taking of it. It does require rather careful 
preparation on the engineering. I would think that 
for some of these water cases, they are really like 
working out a mathematical formula. Right now 
Martin Is doing this on the hearings on the American 
River before the new State Water Rights Board, try 
ing to determine what people are entitled to permits 
on the American River. That's ,1ust plain, hard, 
engineering and mathematical work. It's almost 
impossible for me to sit through those hearings, 
they are so prosey. Martin loves that, and he does 
a wonderful job too. 

I think if I were going to continue with all 
the water work that might come before me I'd take 
up engineering to get the background. Some of these 
things come naturally to some peoole. I try to keep 
away from as much of that as I can. 
Baum: There must be a lot of difference between trying a 

case before a jury and trying a case before a water- 
rights board or something like that. 









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Downey: Oh ves. A man who can try a jury trial, that's the 

height of artistry, I believe. There are twelve men, 
they come into the courtroom and you've got to get 
them on your side before you get through, but do it 
by having them believe in your sincerity. That's 
very different from a court case. 

Baum: In a .jury trial like that, how much denends on your 
artistry, as you say, and how much on preparation 
of your case? 

Downey: Other people may differ on this. I think it's the 
atmosphere you create. If you create an atmosphere 
in the courtroom that the jury thinks you are entitled 
to some relief. That seme thing is true of a personal 
injury case. You get in an automobile collision with 
some other car, everybody's seen it and willing to 
testify and is excited about it, the jury instinc 
tively may side with one or the other. You've got 
to get them to see your case. 

Well, in a water case like the Collier case 
down in Merced, that's a little different again. 
Here's a great public entprprise and they've taken 






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the water. The landowner claims they've taken his 
water and ruined his ranch. You can see the conflict 
ing play of human emotion on a thing like that. In 
this particular case they thought "No," they can't 
try to make the district pay a million dollars. 

Baura: I should think most of the people would have been on 
your side to begin with in that case. 

Downey: Well, I think they were. I was asking the court to 
adopt a rule of law that would be practically the 
same as the constitutional amendment which was sub 
sequently adopted. I couldn't find any authority 
for it. I had a very able opponent and he kept 
challenging me, "You say this is the law, show me 
any authority." The judge kept asking me. He wanted 
to hold with me on that, whether he would admit this 
evidence or not. That went along for several days 
with very emphatic arguments on both sides. Finally 
the judge said to me, "Mr. Downey, haven't you got a 
law to support what you're claiming here?" I quoted 
Rufus Choate, a great lawyer, who said "I don't 
know if there is a law or not, I've tried unsuccessfully 



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to find one, but if there isn't one, Your Honor 
might well be proud to be the first to declare so 
just a rule of law." And that got him, it really 
got him. He ruled with me on that point and that 
won the case, at least so far as getting the facts 
before the lury that I wanted. So there are all 
kinds of things, you know, that enter into it. 

Baum: Can you state anv principles for negotiation outside 
of court? 

Downey: Of course, I have my own views of that. If I can 
win a case, that's one thing, and then I have to 
try to convince the other attorney that he's going 
to lose the case and then try to make some deal with 
him. Maybe I'll make some concession in order to 
get him to agree. But very often attorneys don't 
know their cases and that always bothers you, where 
you know that you can establish your case, that you've 
got a case, but the other side doesn't examine into 
the case enough to know what their rights, or at 
least your rights, are, you don't get anywhere. 

Baum: You mean thet you have to be pretty sure that you can 
win? 










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"Downey: Thrt's right. Now, if I think that notwithstanding 
everything else, I may lose, then I take an entirely 
different point of view. Well, I'd better make a 
settlement here now and if I don't settle this case 
I'll lose and there'll be some .judgment against me 
or my client. So then I work from that end and I 
start hoping I'll work out a settlement and being 
willing to make concessions to bring about a settle 
ment. 

Of course, this pre-trial orocedure, it is 
hoped will bring about more settlements and there 
by relieve some of the congestion of the courts. 
There's a good deal of sense behind that. If both 
sides know their cases ysu can generally make the 
attorney who doesn't have the stronger side realize 
that he'll have to make some concession ,1ust to avoid 
litigation. Litigation costs money. This pre-trial 
work is recommended now, and we're going to follow 
it to the greatest extent we can. That has a tendency 
in being very, very helpful in working out negotia 
tions. The pre-trial is just now really being tried 




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on any outstanding scale. Of course, they've had 
it in the federal court for years. 

Baum: Then you start the pre-trial work and in establish 
ing your case in the pre-trial you have the basis 
for outside negotiations. 

Downey: Very frequently, if the pre-trial is properly pre 
sented. As I believe pre-trial should be conducted 
a man knows all about his case before he goes to 
court, the purpose is to find out how many of these 
things he contends for are admitted on the other 
side and how many are denied. How many can be ad 
mitted under legal sanction and how many can't. 

I've got a case now, a very important case, 
coming up shortly. If I can get the other counsel, 
there are eight or nine on the other side, to really 
work on that case and analyze what the proof is and 
willing to admit what I can clearly prove in the way 
of the record, we should work out a settlement in 
that case. Some of those attorneys on the other side 
don't want to do that. They'd rather wait until 
they get to trial. 

Baum: It sounds like in some of these cases the attorneys 






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haven't worked through the case before they start 
in the courts. 

Downey: Well, attorneys frequently don't do that. They don't 
really know what their case is until they get called 
into the courtroom. They may or they may not. Even 
then a good many of them will blunder through the 
case. As far as I'm concerned, the only thing I 
was ever able to do and to really accomplish results 
was to really know my case, all the facts, both sides, 
the other side and your side too. If all attorneys 
would do that it certainly would be very, very help 
ful in the way of getting rid of many of these cases. 

Baum: Would thst be called unethical conduct, to not have 
prepared your case? 

Downey: No, I wouldn't call it unethical conduct. Some of 
it is due to laziness, some to not being willing to 
face an issue, some of it lack of time. No, I don't 
think that's unethical. A great many attorneys do 
not prepare their case as they should. Probably I 
don't either, but I think I do. I think I know my 
facts before I go to court. That means knowing the 
fects against you as well as the facts for you. 



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21+7 



Stephen W. Downey's Most Significant Cases 
Baum: Here is another difficult question. Which do you 

consider your most significant cases? 
Downey: I've thought a good deal a^out that. There are a 

great many cases I have handled which certainly were 
important cases... a great manv cases I handled in 
the higher courts which involved important legal 
propositions. 

I want to give that a little more thought. I'll 
drop you a note abo ii .t that. I would say for one, 
I'd pick out the SMUD revaluation case. That was 
important and it's never been duplicated. It in 
volved very important factual questions, it involved 
very important questions of valuation, and it involved 
very many legal propositions. When I say that case, 
I refer not only to the proceedings before the Public 
Utility Commission, but also the proceedings in court. 

There are several Reclamation Board cases thst 
were essential to the flood-control relief from over 
assessment, and thev involved important legal ques 
tions before the Supreme Court. 



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Several of those Kerced cases. Take the case 
where we sued the San Joaquin Light and Power Company 
for the payment of the power down there. 

There was one insurance cese, representing the 
California Western States Life Insurance Company 
where we sued, practically the winning of that case 
for about a million dollars rehabilitated that com 
pany. It was in bad shape at that time. 

Let me think that over, 

(Mr. Downey later sent a letter outlining the three 
cases he felt were most significant. His letter 
is included in the appendix.) 

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Office Organization of Downey, Brand, 
Seymour, and Rohwer. 

Baum: You told how you brought other partners into the 
firm after John Pullen and your brother left. 
Did each partner specialize in a certain kind of 
work? 

Downey: No, I wouldn't say that, but all have high capacity 
for doing certain things. Mr. Brand, Clyde, we're 
not particularly interested in the same things, in 
the law. Clyde likes the business end of law. He's 
director in several corporations. I'm not director 
in any corporation. He's one of the directors of 
the Crocker-Anglo Bank and a director of Natomas 
and director of some other rather larre corporations 
including California Western States Life Insurance. 
That sort of work doesn't appeal to me. He likes 
business problems. I would say that he likes 
business better than he likes law and he's good at it. 
He understands the legal end of things that grow out 
of business and he lust naturally follows that line 
of work and does it well. It's not interesting to 



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to me, I kind of like this work that involves some 
quasi-public organization, some district. I like 
that and do that. 

My son has come into the firm in the last few 
years and he kind of likes the same work I like, so 
I shove rry work off on him as much as I can. Mr. 
Seymour likes the corporate work and estate work. 
He is a very able lawyer. 

We don't intentionally specialize in anything, 
but we like different kinds of work and just naturally 
gravitate to them. Our other partner, Mr. Rohwer, 
is a natural business-getter. He likes to get business 
and he does. 

I suppose I'm as near to a general specialization 
as anybody here and I'm trying now to get away from 
that to sosse degree. You specialize on water and it 
can drive you crazy because there's so much of it. 
That wasn't true a few years ago, but it's certainly 
true now. 

Baum: When some work comes in, does it come in to your firm 
or does it come in to an individual attorney in the 
firm? 



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Downey: Of course, if it's a weter matter or a matter involv 
ing so^e of these districts, it generally comes to 
me. I may have to get some of the assistants in the 
office to take of that, to help me. If it's a matter 
not involving water, it might be say probate, Mr. 
Brand loves that, and he has quite a number of peo 
ple who come to him on those matters. That come to 
him often. Occasionally he'll call on me or I'll 
call on him or on Mr. Seymour or Mr. Rohwer. or on 
my son. Some of these big firms, .just how they work 
these things. I've often wondered. Sometimes I 
get work I don't want to handle and I hate to call 
anybody else in to do it unless they are one of the 
assistants. They do have managers in some of these 
offices, but I don't know how it works. 

Baum: Do most firms handle a variety of work or do some 
firms specialize? 

Downey: Oh, I think so. You take the big firms in San 

Francisco, they have an all-around practice. Some 
times they'll come to me on some matters and some 
times I'll go to them. But they have a rather general 



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Baum: 
Downe y : 
Baum: 
Downey: 



Baum: 



practice. There are a number of men who specialize 
in tax work in all the big firms. 

We have a ^an on that, a certified public 
accountant and a lawyer. Thet requires a very high 
degree of specialization. He's one of our assistants, 
Very good man. But we first employed him because we 
wanted a man in the office here who could handle tax 
problems. He was both a certified public accountant 
and he had passed his bar examination. He comes in 
the office Just as one of the lawyers. Undoubtedly 
he will be a member of the firm. That's generally 
true, I hope, of a number of the other lawyers work 
ing here in the office. 
Do you employ engineers in y^ur work? 
Oh, very often. 

Do you employ them, or the district... 
Frequently I do myself. I've often said that if I 
were ten years younger I might get an office and em 
ploy four or five engineers to handle water-work. 
There's no limit to thet water-work. 
How do you select the young attorneys thatyou bring 
into your office? 






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Downey: Well, we generally take it up with the University 

of California or Stanford and get them to recommend 
men. We have two here in the office now who were 
highly recommended by the University of California. 
I think they were both on the California Law Review. 
That's always a good sign, you know. We have awfully 
good men here. 

Baum: I know your son is from Stanford. Do you try to get 
men from Stanford especially? 

Downey: Jack is a graduate from Stanford and he likes to 

see what the people at Stanford say about a man. We 
don't have any Stanford men here now. 

Baum: Then you take a good man from where ever he comes. 

Downey: That's right. 

Baum: Do you ever get them from out-of -state? 

Downey: No, I don't think we have. Prom time to time they've 
sent me some man from the University of Michigan 
to talk to me, but I don't think we've ever gotten a 
man. It's a big advantage to have gone to school 
right here in this state. He learns so much about 
the fundamental law that you need in California. I 
kind of regret I didn't go to school here, but I didn't 






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know I was coming to California when I went to school. 

Baum: What happens to these attorneys you employ? Do most 
of them stay with the firm or do they go into their 
own firms or government work? 

Downey: It depends. Some of them like to get out for themselves 
I rather think we're closely knit right now. I think 
the men in the office, they like us and we like them 
and they do very good work. Of course, like any or 
ganization, some people don't get along with other 
people. 

Baum: Do most of your men stay with you? 

Downey: Well, there heve been some who have gone. Clyde 

acts rather as the manager, somebody has to do that. 
He doesn't assign the work in that sense, but he 
knows what's going on in the office and takes care 
of the bills, all those things. 

Baum: What do you call these attorneys who work for you? 

Downey: I call them my assistants. I frequently have to call 
one of them in and I always introduce him as my 
assistant. 

Baum: I think they used to call them clerks. 



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Downey: Yes, clerks. I don't use that myself, but it is 

used, I know. In San Francisco they have the sen 
ior partners and the junior partners. Sometimes 
they introduce a man there as "one of my .lunior 
partners." 

Baum: I was wondering whether you had run into cases of 
conflicting interests among your clients? 

Downey: Well, you run into that all the time, Mrs. Baum. 

Many people have some claims to make against districts 
and they don't know that I'm disqualified. I tell 
them, "I can't take that. I represent the district, 
or the trustees or the directors." That's very, very 
conmon and sometimes embarrassing because people 
don't like you to say you can't take their case. 

Baum: What do you do? DO you recommend some other firm? 

Downey: Sometimes. Sometimes you say, "So-and-so is a good 
man, but you've got to make vour own choice." It 
may be somebody I'm very friendly with, you see. I 
don't know anything that's rr-ore common than that. 

Baum: Do you try to be on the same side usually in certain 
types of cases, like in an accident case do you try 



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tots on the olaintil'f side or the deferment side 
all the time? 

Downey: That again is a matter of just how you feel about it 
although insurance company attorneys generally act 
for defendants. I always take the plaintiff side. 
I'm sure that was due to the fact that when I first 
started to practice I always thought somebody was 
being wronged. Sheridan and I at that time had most 
of the plaintiffs' cases that arose. There weren't 
many automobile cases at that time. We had most of 
the cases where maybe the streetcar company or the 
P.G. & E. had killed or hurt somebody and we'd love 
to sue the P.G. & E. Generally speaking we were su*-~ 
ing the plaintiff was suing these big corporations 
or these rather rich people. I know now my philosophy 
was all wrong, but that's the way I thought then. 
Jack Pullen and I, we had a case where we sued practi 
cally all the important men in town. We were terribly 
enraged about that case. Some woman stubbed her toe 
on the sidewalk and got hurt so we sued all the council 
and everybody who had given bond, and they were 
rather wealthy men and their bond mn. We had so 






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Downeyt 



many defendants we practically couldn't handle it, 
there were too many things to be done. The funny 
thing about that case, during the interim before we 
came to trial, it never did come to trial, we sued 
the husband of the woman who got injured and this 
man fell in love with his nurse and his wife sued 
for alienation of affections and we never did get to 
the trial of the case. But that's the way those 
things went when we were young. 

What I'm trying to say is that in my training, 
I sued the big and important boys and I've never 
gotten away from that entirely. Now we have all 
these automobile cases and maybe the plaintiff is 
wrong and maybe the Defendant is wrong, but they 
are all together different because they are generally 
represented by insurance companies on the defendant 
end of it. 

Don't you represent the insurance companies, or 
your f ? rm? 

The insurance companies I speak about here are life 
insurance companies. California Western States Life 
Insurance Company, we are their consulting counsel. 



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Some of those cases are cases where the company is 
sued, maybe on a policy of life insurance, and we 
have to defend them. My son doesn't mind these cases, 
He likes them. He generally takes care of them. 

Baum: In water cases, you are generally on the public dis 

trict side? 

Downey: Generally. When I was a young man we used to say 

"Although the rich may not be always wrong, and the 
poor not always in the right, but God had made it 
right, that men should fight, The battle of the 
weak against the strong." That's the way I felt 
when I was a young man. 

Baum: Who do you think are the outstanding water attorneys 

in this region? 

Downey: You've heard me speak of Martin WcDonough very often. 
He's undoubtedly outstanding. There are other water 
attorneys here connected with some of the agencies, 
for example the Reclsmation Bureau. They have their 
own attorneys. There's John Bennett, Bill Burke, 
able men. They specialize in water work, but they 
represent the Bureau. There are a number of lawyers 
connected with the State Water Department who are 



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259 



outstanding men. 

There's a firm of Landis and Brody who are 
doing some of that work. Brody was the attorney 
for the Reclamation Bureau here a few years ago 
and has gone into private practice. There will be 
more, but there are not too many now. Occasionally 
a lawyer will get a matter involving water law, 
Phil Dryer, but I don't know many here. If you had 
a big water case I guess you'd talk to Martin or 
I would recommend him. 

Baum: What about these people who come to you and you 

can't take their case because you're on the other 
side? 

Downey: That's right, and a good many people come to me and 
I won't take anymore water cases if I can help it. 
I try to talk them out of it or I suggest somebody. 
I've suggested Landis and Brody in many cases. Of 
course, Martin, when he was just getting started in 
this thing I turned over a lot of matters to him. 
But he's got his own business now. You get to the 

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number in San Francisco who do that work. 

Beum: I know your work sometimes involves trying to pass 
legislation. 

Downey: Yes, we have to get that. Right now I have on ray 
desk two or three bills I have to look into to get 
legislation for the Port District or for Sl^TJD or 
some district. I don't like that work, but you 
have to do it sometimes. You find some laws that 
have been enacted aren't deer. You have to clear 
them up. I don't like to go up there and buttonhole 
legislators and try to get them to vote. During the 
time I was with the Reclamation Board we had many, 
many of these cases which required action by the 
legislature, but those were big cases end we'd have 
hearings before maybe the entire Assembly or the 
entire Senate, maybe a committee. I don't mind that. 
I don't like to work individually with a certain 
senator or assemblyman or congressman. 

Baum: You handle a lot of public district work that I think 
would automatically go into legislation. But do 
your partners also have that type of work in their 
work? 



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Downey: Not as much. Every lawyer once in awhile has some 
thing. I don't like to be a lobbyist. 

Now, you take some matter the Irrigation Dis 
tricts Association is interested in. They have a 
very able staff of men who do that kind of work and 
I can work with them. Sometimes you Just have to 
appear before committees there and testify. 

Baum: Do you have the type of client who comes to you with 
all his legal problems, much as a person would go to 
his family doctor? 

Downey: There are quite a number like that. 

Baum: Do you handle that type of client yourself or do you 
pass their work out in the firm? 

Downey: It depends on what it is. I generally talk to them 
and sometimes those problems can be more difficult 
than they look. Sometimes they involve a personal 
angle. I'll do them if I can or maybe I'll ask one 
of my assistants to do them. 

Baum: Would you recommend that each person have a family 
lawyer? 

Downey: Well, it's nice if you can clo it, if you've got enough 



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work to r equire it. Wr. Brand has a great many of 
those kind of people, 

Baum: What kind of work do you refuse to handle? 

Downey: I don't handle divorces or family troubles. There's 
an exception to all these things. Sometimes you 
have to, some old friend. They just want to talk 
to somebody. You're not trying a divorce case for 
them, you're not making a property settlement, but 
you have to talk to them. You'd be surprised how 
much of that sort of thing you do do in the course 
of a practice. And sometimes you have 'to get a 
divorce for somebody. Women, for example, are very 
dependent on somebody advising them in critical per 
iods Tike that, probably more so than a man. I have 
to be a father confessor often for somebody. 

Baum: You would handle a divorce case in some rare instances? 

Downey: A very rare instance. 

Baum: Do you handle crdminal cases? 

Downey: No more criminal cases. They are not as desirable 
as they used to be. But there's always the excep 
tion, you know. Somebody comes in and they have some 
particular problem and they may be able to put it up 






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to you in such a way that you feel like going ahead 
with it. 

Charity Work 

Baum: Do you take charity cases? 

Downey: Oh, we do a lot of that work. I don't call them 

charity cases. Somebody really needs somebody to do 
something for them, I've got quite a lot of that. 
My son recently organized the Legal Aid Society here 
and they do a lot of work of that kind. They have 
quite a staff of volunteer lawyers and they have a 
man who's there on a paid basis. They are supposed 
to only do work where it's required on account of the 
client being indigent, but that's becoming a big 
field now, or at least a lot of work. They also, 
I think, have a panel here that takes care of people 
at rather lower fees, they do the work without charg 
ing what they normally would charge. The Bar 
Association has a schedule of fees and sometimes I 
wouldn't even think of charging as much as that, 
but I'd rather not charge anything at all. 

Baum: Your vary your fee according to the person's ability 
to pay? 












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Downey: I don't have any standard fees I go by. 

Baum: In this Legal Aid Society work, who pays the expenses? 

Downey: You mean of the man who is employed? 

Baum: Yes. 

Downey: I think the Bar Association does that. 

Baum: And how much time does the average attorney volunteer? 

Downey: I think half a day a month or a day a month. I know 

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the office volunteer their services. Jack is in 
charge of that and I just know in general what he 
does. 

Baum: That's quite a problem for some people, those who 
need and cannot afford legal advice. How do you 
think that sho'/ild be handled? Do you think it should 
be done in a charity manner? 

Downey: I don't know that there is any other way to handle 
it. I think of some of the people I have acted for 
and never made them a charge. I wouldn't want to 
make them a charge. There's a woman, for example, 
who was our housekeeper for many years, a Danish 
woman. I wouldn't charge her ten cents for anything 
or her daughter. That same situation exists for 



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other lawyers. There's a lot of that work done that 
you don't hear anything about. 

Baum: You approve of the Legal Aid Society? 

Downey: The Leeal Aid Society is undoubtedly necessary. They 
try to sort out the people who can't afford to pay 
from those who can. Where a person has work to be 
done and can arrange with an attorney to pay on a 
contingency basis, even though they haven't got any 
thing, they arrange it that way I think. I'm sure 
they do a lot of work and I have no doubt it's work 



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COMMENTS ON POLITICS 
A Supporter of Hiram Johnson 

Downey: I supported Johnson for governor. I was in Devlin's 
office at that time and I was against the Southern 
Pacific anyway, although they were attorneys for the 
Southern Pacific. I supported him when he ran for 
vice-president with Roosevelt. I was a Progressive 
then and proudly wore a red bandana, a Bull-Mooser. 
And Johnson was helpful to me in my flood control 
measures in Washington. But when he turned on Wilson 
and the League of Nations, that was my last love of 
Johnson. 

Baum: So you didn't continue to support Johnson after that? 

Downey: I had nothing to do with him. Johnson was the worst 
hater the world has ever produced. I don't know how 
he could hate people as much as he could. 

Baum: Did you favor the League of Nations? 

Downey: Oh, very much so. 

Baum: How did you vote in 19214., between LaFollette and 
Coolidge and Davis? 

Downey: I voted for LaPollette. 



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Baum: In 1928 whom did you suoport? 

Downey: Al Smith. 

Baum: In 1932, before the election, in the primaries, I 

think California was split over Garner or Roosevelt. 

Downey: I had nothing to do with it. 

Baum: You weren't in state r>olitics? 

Downey: Only as I was dragged into it by Sheridan. That was 
before his election as Senator, wasn't it? But he 
was gunning after McAdoo right along there for some 
time before he ran against him. 

Baum: McAdoo was for Garner in 1932, I think. 

Downey: I don't know. 

Sheridan Downey, United States Senator 
You know, you really ought to be writing Sheridan's 
biography here. He was a genius pretty near, certainly 
a dreamer. We both left college about the same time 
and he went to Wvoming and became the district attorney 
there and I came out here. He wanted to make a fight 
in politics at that time, he went right into politics 
like a duck to water and as usual he took the big boys 
on. Senator Warren was senator from Wyoming at that 






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time and the state of Wvominr had everything. We 
had no population, but we had Warren and he got the 
goods. He was the chairman of the Appropriations 
Corririittee and he had another senator there from Wyo 
ming who was chairman of the Judiciary Committee, two 
of the big committees of the Senate. He was really 
a power in the United States Senate. Nobody could 
beat him. Couldn't contest the e]e ction with him. 
That was just Sheridan's meat in those days. He made 
a fight on Warren. He pretty near beat him, not 
qaite. Warren was elected. Sheridan by that time 
had to sell his stove and all his furniture to get 
enough to live on. That's the tvpe of man he was, 
an adventurer. So he said, "I'm through with politics, 
I don't want to have anything more to do with it." 
And he left there and came out here. 

Then he went in with me. That was later, after 
Jack Pullen and I had established our firm and Sheridan 
came in. He held his nose right to the grindstone 
and said, "I don't want any more politics." He was 
sort of disillusioned by some of the things that went 
on in Wyoming. So he practiced law and he practiced 








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hard. As I say, as a trial lawyer, he was an out 
standing man. 

Then, after a number of years, he began to get 
tired of that. He'd take on something and then he'd 
get tired of it. He didn't like some of these cases. 
He didn't know why he should fool around just defend 
ing men charged with crime and getting them off. So 
he decided to do something else. 

Baum: Did he specialize in criminal cases? 

Downey: Well, trial work. We both did, but he was particularly 
good in some of these cases, in fact in all the trial 
work. We worked very well together on the trial of 
a case. He liked to do the work involved in the 
examination of witnesses and the cross-examination; 
I liked to take care of the legal end of it. We had 
great success, I think. 

But anyway he said, "I'm tired of all this stuff. 
I'm going to quit this law business." He was dis- 
illusioned again. "I'm going out and make some money." 
He hadn't had any money since he'd left college, or 
even then. He said, "Anyone can make money. I'll 






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make a million dollars in a year, I'll bet you I will." 
So then he started out to make money. That went on 
and on and on. At that time there was no real estate 
ma rke t . 

Baum: This was in the 1920" s? 

Downey: I guess about that. It wasn't the era of the depress 
ion although it went into that. He didn't make a 
million dollars, but he lost probably two or three 
million. That's where I got complicated because I 
was on some of his obligations. 

So thet went on for a long time, until he was 
so badly busted that he never could be financially 
rehabilitated. Then he lost all interest in that, 
except he continued to pay what he could, and he 
still is paying right now. He wouldn't go through 
bankruptcy. 

Then he said, "I'm going into politics and re 
form the country." By that time I had gotten so in 
volved with him that I had to make another break. 
Of course, he went into politics and that's all he 
did for a number of years. You know the end of that, 
he finally got out. A novel could be written on some 
of those things. 



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Baum: Why was Sheridan selected to investigate the Rolph 
administration? Thst sort of out him into politics. 

Downey: I'm sure thpfs true. That was about the time when 
he was beginning to want to get into politics. He 
was a close friend of Senator Jack Inman. I think 
Inman conceived the idea of making this investigation 
and Sheridan acted as the attorney and did quite a 
job, as he alwavs could do when he was cross-examining 
people or carrying on that sort of thing. I've for 
gotten Just who he was investigating. He may not have 
known, he was just investigating. 

Baum: I think that's what made his reputation. 

Downey: That gave him a start, but what really got him going 
were these pensioners. 

Baum: Whet did you think of Townsend and the Ham and Egg 
plan? 

Downey: I didn't think mich of the plan. Of course, you 

admired Townsend. He's an idealist. I don't think 
he ever thought very clearly, but he certainly started 
the movement that's still with us. I believed and 
Sheridan did. 






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Baum: 
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Baum: 



Downey: 



What did you think of Upton Sinclair's EPIC? 
I donbted that too. There was a lot of fuzzy think 
ing at that time, mine included. There were a lot 
of things I liked about Upton and he and Sheridan 
had Tany contacts and finally ended up arm in arm 
for the governorship. 

Did you support Sinclair in that election? I think 
a lot of Democrats thought that was a little bit 
far-fetched and they didn't go along all the way. 
I don't think I voted for Upton. I voted for Sheridan 
and campaigned. I did a lot of work for him. 

I told you just a thumbnail sketch of Sheridan. 
He started in in politics and then got out of it and 
was driven out of Wyoming, so to speak. Then he got 
in to making a million dollers and all he did was 
accumulate debts for several million dollars. With 
a rising market, things might have been different. 
Then he got back into politics. He told me he was 
all through with politics after he left Wyoming. Then 
one day I was lying at home with a broken skull, one 
of my horseback accidents. I wasn't even supposed to 




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talk to anybody. Sheridan came In and he'd been 
somewhere, Arizona, and said, "I'm going to run 
for Congress." He hadn't been in politics in Cali 
fornia at all. I said, "Sheridan, that's quite a job." 
"No, I'm arranging now to get the hall." He got the 
auditorium. Of course, I was there at the auditorium. 
That was the opening of his campaign for congressman. 
He hadn't had any stste positions. 

Baum: That must have been in 1932. 

Downey: It must have been. He was defeated. He held this 

meeting down there. The auditorium seats about 5>000 
people. I think there were maybe 5>0 of us there, 
certainly not more. I was there. But that didn't 
daunt him a bit. He paid for hiring the auditorium 
too. He ran for Congress a couple of times and then 
he went up for the big stuff. Lieutenant-Governor 
and then senator. He went up fast when he went up, 

Baum: I was wondering how Sheridan got along with Johnson 
when he went to the Senate. 

Downey: When Sheridan went to the Senate, I'm sure Johnson 

was rather indifferent. In fact, most of the people 






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in the state, except the extreme pensioners, etc., 
were against Sheridan. He was elected largely on 
the Townsend vote. 

Baum: He heat McAdoo though. 

Downey: Yes, but ^cAdoo was pretty unpopular. It was a 
Democratic year, after the depression. Johnson 
is not the type who cared for anybody particularly 
except that he had some very warm friends. When 
Sheridan came there I think Johnson was rather in 
different to him. But they became rather close as 
time went by until Sheridan made a national broadcast 
answering Johnson on Roosevelt's third term. Johnson 
had made some nationwide broadcasts and P. D. Roose 
velt asked Sheridan to answer it, which he did and 
did well. Johnson never forgave him for that. That 
was a tyoical Johnson reaction. He hated Sheridan 
from that moment on and so bitterly, it was a horrible 
thing that a man could hate so much. But after Johnson's 
death Sheridan became very helpful to **rs. Johnson, 
and there was a period in there before Johnson broke 
down when I think he and Sheridan became rather close 
again. 






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Baum: Didn't Sheridan support Johnson for the Senate in the 
1920 's? 

Downey: I d?n't know. Those were the years when he wasn't 
in politics. 

Baum: Sheridan's appointees were for all kinds of Jobs, 
weren't they? 

Downey: Everything. Of course, they were largely presidential 
appointments, but generally they follow the recommenda 
tion of the Senator, although Sheridan's relations 
with Truman became rather strained before he finally 
Rfot out of there. They were very close when Truman 
went in as President. I recommended one man to 
Sheridan for aopointment as a judge, who was a Re 
publican. He was a good man and a very close friend 
of mine. Sheridan didn't want to recommend him, he 
wanted to recommend somebody else, but he finally did 
recommend him and he got the appointment. Truman 
made that apoointrnent. But after that all hell burst 
loose. The Central Committee met and they weren't 
going to have anybody appointed to these offices who 
wasn't a Democrat and they never did after that either, 



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at least under the Truman administration so far as I 
know. That created a controversy at that time. The 
funny thing about it was, he was a Republican and 
when Eisenhower came in he was about the only Republican 
available for a certain appointment, so he went on 
up, A wonderful man. 

Baum: When you recommended appointees. . .well, first of 
all, you chose men you knew. 

Downey: Not always, generally. In that particular case I 

did. But very often they came around to you, especially 
with Sheridan, because my relations with him were so 
affectionate. If anybody heard of any aopointment 
about to be made by the President, or where the 
United States Senator would have some say about it, 
they often came to me, "Would you recommend me to your 
brother." Most of those were solicited. In some 
cases, in this case I just mentioned I made the 
suggestion myself to Sheridan. 

Baum: Didn't that make you qiite a political power? 

Downey: People didn't knew about it. That's what worries me 
about some of these conferences I'm having with you. 







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You tell people and they'll soot you. No, it didn't. 
I think that was just a natural thing to go to 
Sheridan's brother. Sheridan and I were so very close 
Some of the solicitations were rather absurd, you 
know. Some did you some good and some didn't. 

Baum: Did you consider political problems in recommending 

these people, as to what groups they might be accept 
able to? 

Downey: I didn't, and I don't think Sheridan did. I give 

Sheridan credit for his nbrninatinns. The appointments 
that were made by his recommendation, I think, would 
stand up very, very high. Most of them were, even 
the appointment he made of the Director of the Income 
Tax Department, they tried to find something wrong 
with him but never succeeded. Of course, that's one 
place honesty is essential. The only thing you could 
ever say about that particular appointment was that 
he was very friendly with people and sometimes did 
things that he shouldn't have done. I don't mean 
anything corrupt, everything legal, but a public 
officer who likes people and wants to do things for 






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them sometimes goes too far. Even I find that 
difficulty and I'm not in public office and never 
would be in public office. That's one reason I wouldn't 
like to be. 

Baum: I wondered why Sheridan resigned from the Senate be 
fore the end of his term. 

Downey: You know he got sick there. Later on, you mean. 

Baum: Yes, 19^0. 

Downey: He didn't want to stop. He wanted to go on. I wanted 
him to get out of there for a great many reasons. He 
was overworked, he was sick, too much strain. We 
carried on long distance phone calls, and finally his 
wife, who agreed with me and his son, Sheridan Jr., 
we all ganged up on him and he agreed not to run. But 
then the actual resignation, I think, was done so that 
Nixon could get that priority. Sheridan likes 
Nixon and Nixon likes Sheridan. 

Baum: Then this was a personal friendship... 

Downey: Sheridan by that time didn't like Truman, he didn't 

like the Reclamation Bureau, he didn't like the powers 
there. He was happv that Nixon beat Helen Gahaghan 
Douglas. He didn't like her either. 



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Baum: How did you vote In that election? 

Downey: I didn't vote for Helen Gahaghan Douglas. I don't 
believe I voted for Nixon. I must have though, un 
less I didn't vote. Sheridan claimed when Nixon 
was investigating Hiss, that every member of every 
Communist cell in the United States was alerted and 
told to go out and reoort things that were derogatory 
to Nixon, some of them the truth and some not the 
truth. And that was where the bitter fight against 
Nixon began and has never ceased. Sheridan says the 
fight against Nixon is really an unjust attempt by 
the Communist Party to destroy him. 
Maybe Sheridan's feelings in so many matters arose 
from the attempts by the Communists in Washington to 
get him like they tried to get LaPollette. 
Contact With California Governors 

Downey: Let me say a word about the governors you ask about. 
I'm very careful what I say about the governors. 
I've had the confidence of some of the governors. 
RolphjMerriam, Young occasionally. Culbert Olson, 






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maybe, I don't know. He could be impulsive and ex 
plosive, you know. 

Baum: Were you the conservative influence on Olson? Keep 
him from getting too wild? 

Downey: No, I don't t^ink I was. Culbert--he was a man who 

could be very drastic. I talked or wrote to him about 
offices and appointments and things like that once 
in awhile. I talked to Warren mgjay, many times. I 
wouldn't use the dignified term "consult", but I 
talked to him about many, many matters. The set-up 
of many of his organizations like the Water Board, 
the Railroad Commission. Yes, I talked to him often. 
We were on a basis where we could talk to each other. 
I had the highest regerd for him. 

Baum: Did you ever come into contact with Clem Whitaker, 
who worked for Warren? 

Downey: No. 

Baum: What was the basis of your friendship since he's a 
Republican and you're a Democrat? 

Downey: I've know him for many years. He was interested in 






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Baum: 



Downey: 



our proceedings, this SMUD matter, before the Public 
Utilities Commission. He was then the Attorney- 
General. He wanted to talk over certain of the aspects 
of it. Then, when we got to this organization... 
The Sacramento Valley Water Users. There has to be 
some adiustTnent between the Reclamation Bureau and 
the owners of land along the Sacramento Hi-er and the 
American River as to what water is to be sold them 
from Shasta and the price, he was very much interested 
in that. We finally signed a memorandum agreement 
in an attempt to work that out. He signed that for 
the state. We talked that over. So many of these 
things. It was nothing just to call him up and walk 
over and talk to him a few minutes or go out to lunch 
with him. I'm very, very fond of Earl. 
You say he consulted you on appointments sometimes? 
What kind of qualifications did you recommend for 
people? 

Well, for example, when they first set up the Water 
Board he was interested in knowing who would make good 
men there and I gave him my views on that because I 






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was of course very familiar with the people who were 
active in water matters. 

Baum: Then was it primarily in water matters that you talked 
with him or were there a lot of other subjects? 

Downey: A lot of other things too. I talked to him particularly 
about t is fight with the University faculty, when 
they had this fipht on Communism, on the loyalty oath. 
Warren asked me to go on the University's Board of 
Regents. I couldn't take it at that time because 
I was so tied up. That was at the time they were hav 
ing that fight on Communistic activities and so forth. 
I didn't take it, I wish I had now. That's quite a 
Board. I would have liked to have been on it. 
I have decided views on the loyalty oath, and the 
funny thing about that was that the Regents asked me 
to take their case on that. I was on the opposite 
side, you know. I just told them "No." I was on the 
other side. 

Baum: You were against the loyalty oath? 

Downey: Yes, I was against the loyalty oath. I talked it 
over with some of the men there, the instructors. 



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Baum: 
Downey: 



They signed it, they .lust said, "Oh well, what the 
heck." It just seemed to me it went too far. I felt 
that if I was a professor I wouldn't take that oath 
either. I don't know why, except it seemed to me 
unnecessary to do it. 

But Warren, I did have very close contact with. 
He comes drifting into the office here occasionally 
when he comes away from Washington. It's quite some 
thing to see the Chief Justice of the United States 
walking into your office, "Hi." He's just that in 
formal. I have been not close at all with Governor 
Knight. I was very much afraid when he went in, but 
I think he's made a good governor. He got me on one 
of his committees now, the Citizens Committee on 
Water Problems. 

United States Senators Kuchel and Knowland 
Do you recommend appointees to Kuchel or Knowland? 
No, I don't think I have. I'm close to Tom Kuchel. 
I have written to Knowland about appointments, but 
I've never been soliticted by either of them to make 
recommendations . 






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Baum: 
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Baum: 
Downey: 



Baum: 

Downey: 

Baum: 

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Tom Kuchel Is a very friendly man. He's a 
fellow you can talk to freely. I don't think he's 
ever asked me my opinion about any apoointments. I'm 
sure Knowland hasn't, but I've made s ome recommenda 
tions to him which he didn't follow, I don't think. 
How did you become acquainted with Kuchel? 
Tom was here in Sacramento, he was Controller for 
many years. I knew him. I had a number of dealings 
with him when he first went to the Senate. He has 
always been very helpful. He didn't have the power 
Knowland has, but he was an asy man to work with. 
You supoorted Kuchel in 195^-, didn't you? 
Yes. I've supported Kuchel twice now. I'm fond of 
him. He's very warm, you know. Knowland, lots of 
people think, is rather cold. I haven't found him 
that way. But Kuchel is a human type. 
And he's done a lot of work for SMJD? Is that right? 
Yes, he has. And for our port. So has Knowland. 
Is that why you thought you should support Kuchel 



instead of . . .was it Yorty? In 

I think he's made a good senator. I never cared par 



ticularly for his opponents on the Democratic ticket. 






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Baum: How did you come to know Knowland? 

Downey: Here's the story. A number of years ago I was 

representing newspapers of California before the 
legislature and there was a law that had been en 
acted which forced the payment of a use tax. That 
was to take the place of a sales tax because they 
couldn't collect a sales tax where the goods were 
purchased out of the state. We finally fell to 
the fact that newsprint was within that law and 
was being taxed. Practically all the newsprint 
came from outside the state of California and that 
tax was a heavy burden. We didn't think it was 
fair for many reasons. So the newspaper people, 
being like all of us, didn't want to pay any more 
taxes than they had to. So they conceived the idea 
of amending the law to exempt newsprint from the 
tax. We had a very outstanding man who handled the 
legislation. The business was confided to him to 
get the bill through the legislature that would 
exempt newsprint from the use tax. I didn't have 
much to do with the lobbying for it. 






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Baum: This was done by another man in your firm? 

Downey: No, another man in the newspaper association. Any 
way, he handled the legislation and I sometimes con 
ferred with him. 

So he got the bill through t he legislature exempting 
the newsprint and that was quite a saving to the 
newspapers. 

Here's the point of the story. When the count 
was made of people voting for and against, there was 
only one man in the legislature that voted against 
it, and that was Knowland as I remember. I oauldn't 
help but admire the man because he just said, "No." 
He did it undoubtedly because he w as leaning over 
backward on a matter in which he was interested, his 
father owned the Oakland Tribune. So I had a secret 
admiration, although he was against my side of the 
case. He never knew it. I just met him, that was all. 

Years went by and I became very opposed to his 
foreign views. Finally, when I was in Europe one 
time, he was elected to the Senate. He became rapid 
ly a power. And the funny thing about it is, while 





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I've been against him on his foreign policies and 
on a good many of his domestic issues, the more I've 
seen of him the more I've come to like him and respect 
him. I admire his ability and courage. He's got great 
ability. He's got great energy, he's got infinite 
capacity for work. I've seen that a t a distance. 

So finally I became very closely associated with 
him in connection with this SMUD matter. That's 
another thing, I know he encountered bitter oooosition 
to what we wanted him to do a nd what he did do from 
the P.O. & E. I liked him for that, it took courage,. 
I think he's got the qualities of a statesman, though 
I don't agree with some of his views... and I'm beginning 
to waver on that too. He's made a number of speeches 
here that have been very impressive to me. I might 
become a Knowland man soonall the way, and vote for 
him for President, Democrat though I am. 

So anyway I've become very fond of Knowland. 
He knows I've been against him politically. One time 
he said to me, "If Eisenhower wins andwe elect the 
Congress, I'll be chairman of the Appropriations 















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288 



Committee." And he winked at me, knowing I was 
against Elsenhower. Well, he didn't win, I don't 
know what the story Is now. 
But he's a man. 

Baum: You say you offered him your support If he runs for 
governor? 

Downey: That's another question, maybe I'll support him for 
President. Arthur Krock has one of those gossipy 
articles on political matters in the New York Times 
and he has a big two column article on what is Know- 
land going to do. He thinks he's just maneuvering 

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to be in a strategic position to take off f or t he 
presidency in I960. Knowland said to me on a number 
of occasions. , ."you know people never believe what 

a nolitician tells them". .. speaking about Sheridan 

i "t 
retiring from the Senate, "I tell you, Sheridan is 

dead right. This thing kills you." Thatwas when I 
was back in Washington and Sheridan had re signed, and 
the way he works now is terrific. You go into his 
office about six o'clock and you might stand a chance 
of seeing him, he might be in there. The rest of the 
day he has all kinds of appointments with members of 
the cabinet and so forth. But he's on the job at 
six o'clock and at twelve at night. 



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CIVIC WORK 



Baum: I want to ask you about your civic organization work. 

Downey: I can give that to you very quickly. 

Baum: You told me about this interesting problem you had 
in the TJ.S.O. over the racial question. 

Downey: Yes, we had this interracial unit. I was president 
of the U.S.O. and there vas a lot of fighting about 
that, but we stood our ground and maintained this 
interracial unit. It was a great success, I believe. 
It was for all the races. The white people and all 
the other races went there and they seemed to get 
along well. Then we had another unit which we used 
just for the benefit of the white people and eventually 
we took all races into that too. There were a lot 
of soldiers out here, Negroes. You go into the 
interracial unit and the boys would be mingling together 
and getting along very nicely. 

I was the chairman of a fact-finding committee 
here, shortly after the war, on hospitals. Like every 
place else, our hospitals had been run down and we 



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Baum: 
Downey: 

Baum: 
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didn't have enough. As a result of that factual 
reiort on the necessity of getting additional hos 
pital facilities here, we had these drives for 
additional beds at the Sisters Hospital and at the 
Sutter Hospital. The Setter u ospital raised over 
two million dollars, I think, and the Sisters Hos- 
oltal raised about a million. We had adequate hos 
pital facilities at the time but now our growth 
is giving us trouble again. 

I didn't take much part in the campaign, but I 
t^ink my report. .. they call it the Downey report... 
was rather the fundamental basis. I've always been 
a little bit proud of that. 

You've also worked on Community Chest, haven't you? 
Yes, I was president of Comrunity Chest. That goes 
back a long ways. 

1933. 

And the Boy Scouts, you've been on that a long time. 
I was president of the Golden Empire Council of the 
Boy Scouts. That embraces several counties here in 
Northern California. I was always very fond of that 



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work. I'm still a trustee of the property and funds 
of the Boy Scouts, but for a number of years I put 
in a lot of time on that. 

You know, my life seems so unimportant. I've 
done some things in my life; nobody knows about them, 
thank goodness, (laughter) 

Baum: You were on the California Museum Association. 

Downey: Well, that wasn't much. They have the Crocker Art 
Gallery managed by this Museum Association, called 
the Crocker Art Board. I'm on that board. I recently 
resigned and they haven't accepted my resignation. 
I've been on that for a good many years. It is quite 
a museum. It isn't like some of the museums we saw 
in Europe, or even in Washington, but it's a good 
museum. 

Baum: And you were on the Sacramento County Probation 
Commission, 19i|7 to 19^0. 

Downey: I worked hard on that. They were having a reorganiza 
tion of the juvenile probation department. They had 
to get a new board and I went on it. That was finally 
worked out and I got out. Not very nice work. 

Baum: What? Juvenile delinquents? 



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Downey: Well, the problems of delinquency and all. The 

operations of juvenile halls, it's a little depress 
ing. But it has to be done. Getting rid of the 
probation officers in that office and setting up new 
ones. 

Baura: When was the work you did on the off-street parking 
revenue bonds? 

Downey: It would be a guess, probably four or five years ago. 
I was representing the City of Sacramento on that. 
We took this property for off-street parking. We had 
to condemn. ..there was a lot of opposition at that 
time, but we issued these revenue bonds. They are 
now making tiers, double-decking them. 

Baura: What was the opposition? 

Downey: A number of peonle had parking lots of their own and 
they didn't want to get into competition with the 
public. The usual thing. Some people thought it was 
socialistic for the city to go into that sort of thing, 
There was the opposition of a number of the property 
owners whose property we took. Some people claimed it 
was just a device of Breuners to get a parking area 
across from their store. But it worked out. 






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Baura: Was there any fear it wouldn't pay? 

Downey: Yes, a good many peoole thought It wouldn't pay, but 

the bonds have paid. In fact, we've accumulated 

enough from the bonds we sold before in income to 

handle this extra expense, although I haven't handled 

that. 
Baum: I would expect that the downtown merchants are now 

very pleased about it. 
Downey: Oh yes, I think everybody recognizes now that it's 

been a great success. 
Baum: Are you a member of the Chamber of Commerce of 

Sacramento? 

Downey: Yes, the firm is. 
Baum: Are you active in those affairs? 
Downey: No, not particularly. Oh, there are several affairs 

come up that you have to participate in, but I don't 

do too much of it. 
Baum: I notice that they appointed you as chairman for the 

Polsom Dam dedication. 
Downey: Yes. That's true. That was sponsored by the Chamber 

of Commerce. As a matter of fact, we had an election, 

I wouldn't serve unless I was elected. They called 



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together all the people v:ho were interested in water 
and then they elected me. I ^ot this award that tells 
the story. There wasn't much to tMs, except it was 
a lot of work. At the Chamber's annual dinner the 
other night they awarded me this. 

CITATION. ANNUAL PRESIDENT'S AWARD SACRAMENTO 
CITY- COUNTY CHAMBER OP COMMERCE 

"Stephen W. Downey, of Downey, Brand, Seymour & 
Rohwer, was Chairman of one of the most highly organized 
committees this Chamber has ever had in the 6l year 
history; to stage perhaps the largest event held in 
this area in many years. Because of the high acclaim 
he has earned as an authority on water problems, he 
was named Chairman of the Committee for the Dedication 
of Polsom Dam. Through this tremendous project this 
Chamber earned world-wide publicity from newsreel, 
television, newspaper and radio coverage. This 
Chamber received great recognition for a well executed 
day of events which took more than a year of planning 
by Mr. Downey's Committee and the co-ordinated activi 
ties of nearly 1,000 persons." 



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Baum: I see that you have been to Europe a couple of times. 

Downey: Oh my, yes. Had a good time too. The last trip was 
really for the purpose of going to Scandinavia. I 
wanted to see the welfare state. I loved Denmark 
and Norway. 

Baum: What was your interest in the welfare state? 

Doviney: I just wanted to see how they were operating. Den 
mark is certainly a welfare state. Well, all of them 
are, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Of course, many 
people who are opposed to them hope they will go 
broke pretty soon. But they were awfully nice. I 
like what they are doing for all the peoole. We are 
not in the class with them in many respects. Oh, 
I loved all the trip. England. Ireland where my 
ancestors came from. Switzerland. 









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APPENDIX 

Further Biographical Information . 
Childhood in Laramie 

Baum: How would you describe your mother's parents? 

Downey: I never knew my mother's father. I knew Mother's 
mother. She was kind of an adventurer too. She 
was still traveling around the world when she was 
eighty years old. We used to say she had gypsy 
blood. 

Baum: What did your mother look like? 

Downey: My youngest daughter looks just like Mother, small 
but wiry, wiry, chuck full of energy. She loved 
people and people loved her. She was always do 
ing something, she didn't know what it was to be 
quiet. But she told me she couldn't have taken 
care of her children unless she had a rest of about 
fifteen or twenty minutes at noon time. 

They tell the story that when she came through 
Chicago on the way to the University of Michigan she 
wanted the three girls to see the theater so she took 
the whole bunch of them to the theater, carrying all 
the things she was taking with her to Ann Arbor. 
That was Mother. 






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Baum: She must have been awfully busy just taking care of 
the family. 

Downey: She was. Of course, we were all born and reared right 
in Laramie, no hospitals. We had help generally. 
You could get help cheap in those days. But no 
toilets, washing day, baking day, ironing day. No 
electrical gadgets. 

Baum: Did you have a large house? 

Downey: A very lar.<?e house. Every once in awhile when 

another child would come into the world we'd put on 
another room. It was all on the ground floor. It 
was right in town. 

Baum: But you had a cow? 

Downey: Oh yes, we had two or three cows and a few horses. 

Baum: What did you think of the schools in Laramie? 
Did yoxi like grammar school? 

Downey: I don't know whether children are just supposed to say 
they don't like it and so they don't. No, I don't 
think I liked it. It was like going to Sunday School. 
I used to hate to go to Sunday school, at least I al 
ways thought that, but Mother cured me of that. 

Baum: Did you feel you got a good basic foundation in your 
elementary education? 









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Downey: Yes, I certainly did, just as I feel that the environ 
ment under which I was raised in Laramie was a good 
environment. We had lots of good times in Laramie, 
at school and in the home and playing football. I 
played on the University of Laramie football team. 
They didn't have much of a team then, now they do. 
Laramie was Just a country community right on 
the prairie, and it was cold there. Fifty below zero 
was nothing-rugged living. It might seem like it 
was a very dry life, but it wasn't. We had awfully 
good times. We'd go twenty miles out in the country 
and cook dinner, drown out gophers and hunt, very ad 
venturous. There were all the outdoor activities. 
Right within a few railes of Laramie you'd see a herd 
of several thousand antelope. 

Baum: Did you have lots of children to play with or just 
your family? 

Downey: Oh, there were lots of boys there and girls. 

Baum: Did you have a library in town? 

Downey: Oh, Father had lots of books. The whole family loved 
books. My father used to read a lot to the family. 
He had a beautiful voice. Maybe after dinner he'd 
sit down and read from the Iliad or the Odyssey. We 



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Baum: 
Downey: 



Baum: 
Downey ; 

Baum: 
Downey; 



enjoyed it. We weren't highbrows at all but there 
wasn't anything else to do. No movies, no radio, 
no TV. 

They'd have these literary clubs. Someone 
would come in with a oaper on Browning, someone with 
a paper on Tennyson. Nobody thought of going any 
where except out to see friends. And the blizzards- 
you could get lost between the house and the barn. 
Mother and Father and my oldest sister all had their 
own groups. I can remember many a night peeking 
around the door to hear somebody giving a paper. 
Bill Nye maybe. 
Were there any art groups? 

Ther^ orobably were. Mother painted paintings in 
addition to her painting china. She started going 
away every other year to Chicago to take lessons so 
as to keep up with her painting. But I don't have 
any recollections of any art groups. 
Did you have a theater or anything of that kind? 
There was a barn they called a theater and once in 
awhile somebody would come there. 

Did your parents participate in church activities? 
They were both strong Episcopalians. 



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Father was very active In the church and Mother too. 
They were then trying to build the cathedral at 
Laramie and they were having trouble getting money. 
They were building that cathedral during most of my 
youth. It was finally built, a very oretty little 
cathedral, built since I left Laramie. I don't re 
member any great many social activities in connection 
with the church, but there undoubtedly were. 

Baum: Were your parents very religious? 

Downey: Well, they were more religious than I am, I'm sorry 
to say. They never failed to go to church. I fail 
very often. We always started breakfast with the 
Lord's Prayer, the whole family. Everybody would 
kneel downand say the Lord's Prayer. That was a 
time when we'd play pranks. We had a dog there and 
he used to always go out in the kitchen when we were 
saying the Lord's Prayer and steal anything he could 
find in the way of meat. And we had grace said every 
meal. Those things don't happen in my house. 
They do happen at my childrens ' houses, but I've never 
heard them say the Lord's Prayer like that, kneeling 
down on the floor. 



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Baum: What haopened If you got caught olaying pranks? 

Downey: I always said we did get whipped once in awhile but 
Mother said she never whipped any of her children. 
Mother was a good disciplinarian. Father, I don't 
think he ever even reprimanded me, though he had 
quite a teraoer when he was aroused. We had very 
little of that in the home. 

Baum: Did your father take much charge of the children or 
was that your mother's Job? 

Downey: That was Mother's job. 

Baum: He must have been out of town a lot. 

Downey: Yes, he was a good deal, always coming home with 

presents. He used to olay with us some, football, 
baseball, but I think Mother was the disciplinarian. 
She was Napoleon. 

Mother retained that energy of hers until near 
the end of her life. After Father died she held the 
family together. Then my oldest sister died. She 
had kept Mother in touch with the world, which Mother 
loved so much. She loved life and activity. When 
her daughter, the first to go, went like that. 
Sheridan and I had left home and she never quite 






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recovered from that. She was nearly eighty when she 
died, but she bep;an to fail then. 

Baum: She must have been a lot younger than your father. 

Downey: Yes, she was. She was only eighteen when she married 
Father. Father must have been then about thirty-five. 

Baum: Did this big family of brothers and sisters get along 
well together or was there a lot of scrapping? 

Downey: Very little. We all lived there in Laramie very happi 
ly. Then the girls began to marry and branch out. 
Sheridan and I went to law school and to California 
later on. I can't remember anything except happiness. 

Baum: You say your motherwas so fond of your oldest sister. 
Do you think she preferred the girls? 

Downey: You see, the oldest sister never married. She was 
right home with Mother. She became very successful 
and rather famous in her scientific work. Finally 
she decided she'd take Mother around the world. Travel 
to Mother v;as lust one of those wonderful things that 
came to people rarely. My sister took her around the 
world and oh, how she counted on that trip. The 
funny thing was that my sister got horribly seasick 
and she was sick practically all the time, but Mother 












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on the other hand, very healthy and robust, she wasn't 

fazed at all. Poor June, my sister, couldn't see the 

things she wanted to see, but Mother had the time of 

her life. 

Baum: What businesses have your brothers gone into? 
Downey: My oldest brother, Corlet, practiced law. He went 

in with Father in Laramie. He died some years ago. 

He was quite an active man in the state, a Republican. 

They were all good Republicans, and Sheridan and I 

branched off to the Democratic Party. 
Baum: Oh, I just assumed your father was a Democrat from 

Maryland . 
Downey: I suppose that was the Civil War tradition. He was 

a strong Republican, delegate to many of the national 

conventions. 

I had another brother, he's also d ead now. He 

was the kind of a man who did everything. He was 

driving a horse drawn stage just before he died. 

The girls practically all married and left the 

state. As a matter of fact, there's no Downey in 

Laramie now. The girls married all over the country. 

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Downey 



to June, Norma. Norma early began to assume the 
burdens of the family. A domestic girl who loved 
children. She almost took as much care of me as 
my mother did. During World War I when my first 
wife died while I was In Prance, she Immediately came 
and took my children. Just successively through the 
family she would assume the burdens--they weren't 
burdens to herof raising all the children of my 
brothers and sisters. She just recently died. 
She was nearly eighty at that time. She certainly 
did her part, and she loved It. What a saint! 
The most selfless person I ever knew. 

Children 

Can you tell me a little more about your four 
children? 

John, my oldest son, is a member of the firm here 
with me. Stephen is a colonel in the army, teaching 
at the present time at the Army War College. My 
oldest daughter, Wendy (she named herself from Peter 
Pan, she didn't like the name we crave her), Is the 
wife of Henry Teichert, General Manager of A. Telch- 
ert Company, Contractors. The other daughter, Tink 



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(she called herself Peter Pan again), is the wife 
of Dr. Prank J. Boutin, orthopedic surgeon, 

All four of them went to Stanford. When my son 
Jack went to Stanford I thought he was doing a wise 
thing. He made his own decision, but I never discussed 
with him about going to Michigan. He was a fraternity 
man at Stanford. My other son was a fraternity man 
too. 

Stephen went to the New Mexico Military Academy, 
he was very strong for the military work. Then he 
went to Stanford and was comm' ssioned and went right 
into the regular army in 1939. That was the year 
they allowed a certain number of what they called 
"distinguished graduates in military work" to be placed 
in the regular army with the West Point Glass. Both 
boys were wounded in the war and cited for heroic 
conduct. 

Baum: What were your sons' undergraduate majors? 

Downey: Stephen was always interested in international rela 
tions and he was interested in law too and took the 
work in law. Now, he's been trying to arrange his 
work so that he can take a course at one of the 



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universities and get a degree In International re 
lations, but he's been too busy. I think John 
-najored in law right in his undergraduate years. 

Baum: And what did the girls take up? 

Downey: Well, poetry mostly for Wendy. She stayed after 
she graduated there and wrote a book in poetry. 
She was always that type. Tink was one of those 
practical kids. She would do things that would have 
some realistic result right in her own home. 

Baum: Did either of them work after they graduated? 

Downey: Wendy went into the Army, the WAGS, shortly after 
she rraduated and continued until almost the close 
of the war. Tink got married and her husband was 
in the army so t hey were right in the military life. 

Her husband went right to Walter Reed Hospital. She 
was there and then they came out and she began having 
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List of Major Cases for the Reclamation Board 

Sutter Butte By-Pass Assessment No. _6, 191 Cal. 650 
William Ash Co. , v. Reclamation Board. 266 T I.S. 89 
Reclamation District Nb. 1500 v Riley. 192 Cal. 



Sacramento and San Joaquin Drainage District v. Johnson, 
192 Cal. 211 

Sacramento and San Joaquin Drainage District v. Riley, 
19i|. Cal. 62IT 

We stern Assurance Company v. Sacramento and San Joaquin, 
72 Cal. App. 66 

. Joaquin Drainage District v. Superior 
Court, 196 Cal. klk 

Seufert v. Cook. 7!; Cal. App. 528 

Reclamation District No. 1 5.0.0 v. Reclamation Board, 
197 Cal. lj.82 

Sacramento and San Joaquin Drainage District v. Riley, 
199 Cal. 668~ 

Reclamation Board v. Riley. 208 Cal. 661 

Grant Report contained in Senate Document No. 23, 69th 
Congress, Second Session, (January 5, 1925) 
















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Mr. Downey's Three Most Significant Cases 

It is difficult to oick three cases out of many 
now buried in the past, but I'll take a chance and 
submit the following: 

1. West Coast Life Insurance Company v. Merced 

on District, 11U. Fed. 2d 6 54. 
(Cert, denied by IT. S. Supreme Court 331 
U.S. 718.) 

In this case Merced Irrigation District brought 
a proceeding in the Federal Court to have confirmed 
a plan of composition of Its indebtedness aggregat 
ing several million dollars under the Municipal 
Bankruptcy Act. The United States Supreme Court had 
first held this law unconstitutional and later re 
versed itself. Without a decree confirming the plan, 
refinancing of the District was impossible. In 
addition to the case itself, dozens of other collateral 
cases were pending wherein validity of the plan of 
composition was involved and also it was necessary 

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to carry on legislative, legal and financial matters 
in Washington. The primary question in the case was 
whether the plan of composition was fair, that is, 
whether lands in the District could pay in excess of 



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the bond is~ue contemplated by the plan. The District 
relied upon a scientific study and report made by 
the University of California Giannlni Foundation 
through Dr. Benedict based upon the examination of 
the taxpaying ability of the landowners. After elabor 
ate testimony and argument in both the lower and the 
upper courts, the plan was approved and subsequently 
the District was refinanced. 

2. Sacramento Municipal Utility District 
initiated proceedings before the California Railroad 
Commission, now Public Utilities Commission, leading 
to condemnation of the Pacific Gas and Electric Com 
pany's distribution system in Sacramento. This was to 
obtain valuation of the property desired to b e acquired. 

U4 CRC U67-516 

The opinion of the Railroad Commission is an 
outstanding authority. 

After determination of the value by the Commission, 
the second phase of condemnation was begun, namely, a 
proceeding in the Superior Court for a decree of con 
demnation. Many legal questions of great interest 
were involved. Judgment followed for the District, 



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followed by an appeal and judgment was affirmed. 

SMCTD v. P.G. fr. E., 72 Cal. App. 2d 638. 

3. Sacramento and San Joaquin Drainage District 
v. Riley. 199 Cal. 668, and particularly at page 68?, 
et seq. , is an outstanding authority covering the ex 
tent to which the State may by appropriation and 
otherwise aid in the accomplishment of the Flood Con 
trol Project. This case, together with In Re Sutter- 
Butte By-Pass Assessment No. >, 191 Cal. 650, 
American River Flood Control District v. Sweet, 2ll| 
Cal. 7?8 and the other cases cited by the Supreme 
Court in these cases, giv<~:s a good history of the 
Flood Control Project leading up to the approval by 
Congress of the Grant Report thus easing the burdens 
of the landowners. 






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PARTIAL INDEX TO DOWNEY MANUSCRIPT 



American River Flood Control District Act-192? 193-196, 

Antioch, City of 219 

Banks, Harvey 206, 213 

Barnes, Harry Hl| 

Bartlett, Louis 123 

Barton, Colonel Itf t 69 

Benedict, Dr. Murray 96-97, 309 

Boke, Dickie 116 

Bonte, Harmon 187 

Brand, Clyde E. 2l|9, 



California Irrigation and Reclamation Financing and 

Refinancing Comrission 186-188 

California State Bar 223 

California State Reclamation Board 56, 111;, 166, 21^.7, 30? 

California Water Department 206-210 

Cattle King 88 

Centenniel Vein 3 

Central California Irrigation District 197-200 

Central Velley Project lJj.8-15^, 208-210 

Civic Work 289 

C owe 11, Al 81, 118 

Curry, Charley lj.7 

Dabney Plan 39 

Devlin, Bill 18, 266 

Devlin on Deeds 22 

Douglas, Helen Gahaghan 279 



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312 

Downey, Brand, Seymour and Rohwer 2ij.9 

Downey, Corlet 303 

Downey, June 6-8 
Downey, Sheridan 30, 111-116, 267-279 

Downey, Stephen W. (Sr.) 1-8 

Dunn and Brand 31 

Durbrow, Bob 11? 

Dwyer, Bill 59-60 

East Contra Costa Irrigation District l83-l8t(. 

Edmondston, A. D. "Bob" 208 

Elkus, Albert 129-130 

Engle, Clair 209, 211 
Etcheverry, Bernard A. lj.7, 57, 177, 193 

Family of Stephen Downey 1-8, 296 

Farmer, Milton 105 

Folsom Dam dedication 293-2914- 

Freeman, Frank 66 

Friant Dam Site 108-110 

Gadd, Peter 67, 7*J- 

Given, Bert 125 

Grant, Mrs. Frederick Dent 1|7 

Grant, Major 1U)- 

Grant Report 50 

Grunsky Project 39 

Heine s, Judge 105-lo8 
Havenner, Frannk 












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313 

Herminghaus case 8? 

Heron, Al 191; 

Herrington, George 100 

Ickes, Harold 126-12? 

Inman, Senator Jack 271 

Irrigation District Association 117-122 

Johnson, Hiram lj.0, 266-273, 273-275 

Jones, Herbert C. 61 

Judges, appointment of 237-238 

Kiesel, Fred 186 

Knight, Governor Goodwin 283 

Knights Landing Ridge Drainage District 167 

Knowland, William I5l-llj., 202, 283-289 

Kuchel, Thomas 151-151;, 202, 283-289 

Lambert, Charlie 216 

Landis and Brody 259 

Laramie, Wyoming 1-8, 296-298 
Law, type of cases handled 

League of Nations 266 

Legal Aid Society 263 

Legal Profession 220-265 

Legal Study 9-16, 20-22 
Loyalty oaths 

McAdoo, William Gibbs 267, 271; 
McCaffrey, James E. 121-132, lltf, 155-159, 161 



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McClatchy, V. S. ij.2 
McDonough, Martin 2^0, llj.5, 216, 258 

Mclntire, Persia 32 

Mason, J. Rupert 103 
Merced Irrigation District 80-lOi;, 182-183, 185-187, 308 

.etteer, Charles 75 

Miller and Lux 86, 105, 198-200 

Miller, Royal 129-131, 155-159 

Nevada 17-18 

Nixon, Richard M. 278 

Nutting, Franklin P. 96 

Olney, Judge Warren 135-136 

Olson, Culbert 235-237, 279 
Pacific Gas and Electric Company 125, liL2-li|5, Ii*.8-l50, 161-165 

Peck, Jim 92 

Public Utilities Commission 137-ll|.3 

Pullen, John P. 23, 30 

Radin, Max 235 

Reclamation Districts - general comments 166-192 
Reclamation District 108 167, 169, 171-188, 217 

Reclamation District 999 167 

Reclamation District 1001 75 

Reclamation District 1002 168 

Reclamation District lOOlj. 167, 185 

Reclamation District 1500 56, 166, 169 

Reclamation District - West Side Levee 167 

Richardson, Governor 65 

Robinson, C. Ray 197 



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Rohwer, Otto 250, 251 

Sachse, Richard 1^1 
Sacramento BEE 128, 157, 163 
Sacramento Municipal Utility District 123-165, 2i).7, 309 

Sacramento Port District 202-205 

Sacramento River and Delta Water Association 2!lj. 

Sacramento River Water Rights 211-219 

Sacramento-San Joaquin Drainage District 31;, 5l 310 

Sargent, H. P. 102 

San Joaquin Light and Power Company 90 

Seymour, Harry B. 31, 250, 251 

Shinn, Bob 13^ 

Sinclair, Upton 2?2 

Spencer, Al lj 

Streub, Thomas 136-137 

Taylor, General lj.7 

Thelen, Max 9i|-97 

They Would Rule the Valley 113 

Thomas, Colonel 1 

Townsend, Ham and Egg Plan 271, 271; 

Treadwell, Edward P. 86-88, 105 

Trials - general comments 238 

Tule Lake Irrigation District 197 

United States Board of Engineers of Rivers and Harbors l8 
United States Bureau of Reclamation 109-116, 119-120, 215-216 






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United States California Debris Commission 38, 

United States Reconstruction Finance Corporation 102-103 

University of Michigan 9-16 

University of Wyoming 7-8 

Wagner, Walter H 8 

Warren, .Governor Earl 153, 209, 235, 280-283 

Water Rights cases 8lj. 





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U. C. BERKELEY LIBRARIES