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A Bad Day for the Banana Slug

August 31, 1988

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ Gov. George Deukmejian on Tuesday vetoed a bill to make the banana slug the state mollusk, leaving a troop of Blue Birds singing the blues.

Deukmejian explained in his veto message that the slug isn’t Californian enough and that its reputation just doesn’t fit with California’s image.

But members of the Redwood City Blue Birds say the governor’s grasp of mollusk lore is a bit slippery.

Deukmejian said the species was first identified in Oregon and ranges as far north as Alaska, so it’s not a true-blue Californian.

Besides, the yellowish mollusk has an image that isn’t befitting the Golden State, he said. He suggested that native California fauna such as the pismo clam, the black abalone, the red abalone or the turban shell would make a better choice.

″If there is a need to designate a state mollusk, it would be more appropriate to select one that is indigenous to California and perhaps one that is more representative of the international reputation that California enjoys,″ Deukmejian said.

The Blue Birds who sponsored the campaign and the bill’s author said the governor was all wet.

Four of five types of banana slug are native to California, said Janice Hopcraft, an aide to Assemblyman Bryon Sher. Hopcraft and her co-workers wore yellow armbands Tuesday to mark the bill’s demise.

″I think basically the banana slug has gotten a bad rap,″ she said. ″They’re obviously easy to look down upon, and they do have some odd habits. Perhaps the governor looked too much at that and not their good side.

″As far as its representative qualities, it’s absolutely a unique example of the diversity of California’s wildlife.″

″Yeah, he didn’t know all the facts,″ said 9-year-old Susanna Farley, whose Blue Bird troop worked six weeks on the bill.

″I feel really bad that he vetoed it,″ said her friend, Grace Moses, also 9. ″I mean, why did he have to do that? He didn’t know anything about it. I hope he watched the news about it.″

Hopcraft said the veto is a disappointing end for the bill’s young supporters.

″I think this is basically the ultimate lesson for the Dynamite Blue Birds and Camp Fire kids, that not all things have a happy ending.″

Gubernatorial vetoes can be overturned by two-thirds majorities in the Assembly and Senate, but Assembly Republicans have vowed to block any attempts to override Deukmejian’s vetoes.

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