PPA 297:
California Executive Fellowship Program Seminar

Fall, 1998


Professor Ted Lascher
3035 Business Building
(916)278-4864 (office)
(530)758-5687 (home--no calls after 8:00 p.m.)


Meeting time and place:
Wednesdays, 9-11 a.m.
Business 3035




This seminar is intended to provide an analytical perspective on the administrative and policy processes in which you are engaging. It is hoped that this will assist you both in understanding issues related to your placements (by linking theory with practice), and in putting the entire Fellowship year in context.

The seminar is divided into six sections. In the fall we will focus on the electoral context for state government, including the potential impact of the November election. We will also consider "skills that every Fellow should have." In the spring we will concentrate upon gubernatorial transitions, life within executive agencies, the ethics of government service, and possible executive branch reforms. The last few meetings in the spring will be devoted to seminar paper presentations.



The term "seminar" is accurate. While I will guide the conversation, summarize points and draw lessons, the bulk of class time will be devoted to general discussion of course topics. Case studies (e.g. from Harvard University's Kennedy

School of Government, or KSG) will be used to help focus attention on concrete situations that illustrate key topics. Each of you also will gain insights from your own work, and I expect that you will share them.

I have included specific discussion questions in the syllabus. These questions are intended to help guide your reading and preparation.



Over the years we have learned that Fellows encounter issues, concerns, and interests that are not well encompassed by the syllabus established at the beginning of the year. To accommodate this tendency, approximately every four weeks the seminar will be reserved for the "open forum." I will not prepare any specific topics or readings for these days. Instead, I will assign small groups of Fellows to meet and plan an agenda. Appropriate class sessions might center on the following:

o Discussion of placement related issues/concerns (e.g.Fellows' relations with mentors and career employees; overview of major Fellows' placement projects);

o Presentations and/or debates on topical policy issues (outside speakers might be engaged for this purpose);

o Discussion of career planning (e.g. strategies for obtaining post-Fellowship employment in the executive branch; analysis of options for further graduate level education);

o Professional development (e.g. issues facing women in state management); and

o Field trips to supplement those conducted during the orientation period.

I will be glad to meet with the assigned Fellows to offer suggestions, recommend readings, etc. However, it will remain the Fellows' responsibility to identify appropriate background materials, and plan and guide the open forum sessions.



We will generally follow the CSUS academic calendar, except that we will meet in January, 1999 while the University is on semester break. The Christmas/New Year break is scheduled for the last two weeks of December, and the spring break is scheduled for the first full week in April. Additionally we may not meet during one week in early May, depending on the schedule for the Executive Fellowship selection committee.



Most of the required readings will be contained in a course reader available from the Center for California Studies. I have deliberately tried to emphasize high quality readings, while keeping the page requirements very manageable. Accordingly, I expect that at each seminar meeting Fellows will have completed the required readings, which usually will not be more than a couple of journal articles.



The seminar is a required part of the Executive Fellowship experience. Consistent attendance at seminar meetings is expected. Mentors are aware of this requirement, and have been instructed to ensure that Wednesday mornings are free for Fellows to attend the seminar.

Nevertheless, it is quite possible that on rare occasions Fellows will need to miss a seminar meeting because of unavoidable conflicts with other work needs (e.g. the need to be out of Sacramento to make a presentation on a topic directly related to one's placement). We expect this will happen no more than two times. Any Fellow who finds it necessary to miss a seminar meeting should clear it first with me. Missing more than two seminar meetings without prior clearance will result in a lowered class participation grade, a salary dock, and a possible administrative review of the Fellow's status.



The main written assignment will be a seminar paper, due at the end of spring. The seminar paper should 1) evaluate how state public policy might best address a particular problem, and/or 2) analyze why decision makers chose a particular policy option or specific policy implementation strategy (and not some other option/strategy). Depending on the specific topic, it may also be possible to do a mostly descriptive case study, and combine that with analysis of the implications of that case study. Except in rare circumstances, I would anticipate that seminar papers will relate to Fellows' placements. A final paper prospectus will be due in early January. I also strongly recommend (but do not require) that Fellows provide me with a rough draft of their papers by the spring break.

In addition, there will be three short individual written assignments, one in the fall and two in the spring. There also will be a fall group project.

This seminar will be graded, with the grading scale similar to that which is generally used in graduate public policy and administration programs (for such courses, grades of below B- are usually considered failing).

Deadlines for assignments are specified in the syllabus, and are to be taken seriously. If someone is unable to meet the deadline for placement or other reasons, arrangements should be made with me prior to the due date. Non-excused late assignments will be penalized.

Final course grades will be determined in accordance with the following weighting scheme.

Final paper     30%
Class participation(including work for "open forums"     25%
Group project     10%
Short papers     30%(10% each)
Prospectus     5%




The aim of this section is to consider how electoral politics influence the actions of executive branch actors. Key issues include the way members of the general public make decisions, and the messages that should (and should not) be read into election results.

October 14: What Moves Voters?


John R. Zaller, "Monica Lewinsky's Contribution to Political Science," PS: Political Science and Politics
31 (1998), pp. 182-189

Paul S. Hernson and Clyde Wilcox, "The 1996 Presidential Election: A Tale of a Campaign That Didn't Seem to Matter," in Larry J. Sabato, ed., Toward the Millennium: The Elections of 1996 (Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1997), pp. 121-142

Discussion Questions

1. So... what does the Monica Lewinsky affair (pun intended) tell us about what moves public opinion?
2. What key factors influenced President Clinton's reelection victory in 1996?
3. Facing complicated choices, how do voters simplify their decisions?

October 21: What Key Factors Influence Gubernatorial Races?


Bruce E. Cain, "Lessons from the Inside Revisited," in Gerald C. Lubenow, ed., California Votes: The 1994 Governor's Race (Berkeley: Institute of Governmental Studies, 1995), pp. 241-262

Bruce E. Cain, "Lessons from the Inside," in Gerald C. Lubenow, ed., California Votes: The 1990 Governor's Race (Berkeley: Institute of Governmental Studies, 1991), pp. 201-217

Discussion Questions

1. In what ways was the 1994 gubernatorial election different from the previous election? In what ways was it similar?
2. How was Pete Wilson able to emerge victorious from a seemingly difficult position in early 1994?
3. In what ways does the general election for California's governorship differ from the general election for the U.S. presidency?

October 28

Short written assignment on election implications due


Republican National Committee, Republican Contract with America, typescript, 1994

Alfred J. Tuchfarber, Stephen E. Bennett, Andrew E.Smith, Erich W. Rademacher, "The Republican Tidal Wave of 1994: Testing Hypotheses About Realignment, Restructuring, and Rebellion," PS: Political Science and Politics 28 (1995), pp. 689-696

Nelson W. Polsby and Aaron Wildavsky, Presidential Elections: Strategies of American Electoral Politics, 5th ed. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1980), pp. 273-279.


Come to the seminar prepared to discuss your assignment.

November 4: Election Post-Mortem

Guest Speakers

To be announced

Readings and Discussion

Come to the seminar having read about election results in the Sacramento Bee or elsewhere, and prepared to discuss their implications.

November 11

Open Forum


I assume that at some point Fellows are likely to be asked to write memos, draft longer reports, find data, work in groups, and make oral presentations. This section aims at enhancing your skills in these areas.

November 18: Finding and Using Social Science Data

We will meet at CSUS on this day; the specific location will be announced.

Web Sites to Visit

Come to class having perused the web sites for the Social Science Data Base Archive (SSDBA) at CSU Los Angeles,and the Inter-University Consortium on Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan:


Ted Lascher, "The Moderately Skilled Layperson's Guide to Using the CSU System's Social Science Databases," typescript, 1998

Discussion Questions

1. What kind of social science data sets are widely available to people within the academic community?
2. How would you go about finding and obtaining a relevant social science data set?

November 25: Writing Memos

In Class Exercise

Critique/revision of a memo


Carol Trueblood and Donna Fenn, eds., The Hazards of Walkingand Other Memos from Your Bureaucrats (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982)

Discussion Questions

1. Why are so many memos so awful?
2. What can be done to improve memo-writing?

December 2: Writing Longer Pieces


Selection from 1997-98 Executive Fellows' seminar papers Robert Putnam, "The Strange Disappearance of Civic America,"The American Prospect (Winter 1996), pp. 34-48

Discussion Question

1. What makes for a strong Fellowship seminar paper?
2. Suppose we stipulate that Putnam's article is especially well presented. What makes it so?

December 9

Open Forum

December 16: Group Work/Making Presentations

Group Public Opinion Assignment Due


Come to class prepared to discuss your assignment.