Looking back

Nov 18, 2010

With the Schwarzenegger governorship in its final weeks, Capitol Weekly takes a look at the highs and lows of a remarkable seven years. 


From John Howard and Anthony York: "Schwarzenegger moved swiftly to clear out some of the partisan underbrush left from the Davis administration. He won a repeal of a bill that allowed undocumented workers to receive drivers’ licenses. He worked with Wesson and John Burton to place a $15 billion package of deficit-reduction bonds on the March 2004 ballot. He used the threat of an initiative to extract concessions from Democrats to overhaul the state's workers' compensation system."

Though the state was racked with multi-billion dollar deficits, it seemed for a time that there was hope in post-dot-com-bust California. Democrats and Republicans seemed to be working together to solve the state's problems, led by the most unlikely of politicians."


"But those early victories created a false impression of how easy it would be to extract victories in the world of Sacramento politics. And as California reporters looked behind the show biz curtain, troubles loomed on the political horizon."


Meanwhile, CW's Malcolm Maclachlan examined the governor's lengthy environmental record and found mixed reviews.


"But Democratic legislators and some environmentalists tell a more nuanced story, one filled with the kinds of fights and disagreements that always come with the legislative process."

"On the one hand, they praised a governor who stuck his neck out, publicly championed environmental causes and did some of his best work on the nitty-gritty issues that don’t always get much attention."

"On the other hand, they say the story behind the scenes was not always what it seemed — especially when it comes to the policy areas that Schwarzenegger has claimed as his major accomplishments."


CW wasn't alone assessing the governor's record. The L.A. Times' George Skelton also took a whack at it.


"Many critics may quibble that 21/2 stars is too generous. But Schwarzenegger deserves credit for a solid finish on the following sorely needed reforms:

Open primary and independent redistricting systems. Paired together, they should lead to the election of some pragmatic legislators, who could become a moderating influence on the currently polarized Capitol..."

"He stumbled over his own sound bites right out of the gate, made some bad missteps and never recovered."

"First mistake: demagoguing the vehicle license fee — the so-called car tax — during his initial election campaign. "Outrageous," he asserted of Davis' raising of the fee back to its historic level after it had been temporarily cut in good times."


Cleaning up some odds and ends from the gubernatorial campaign, we see that Nicandra Diaz Santillan -- remember her? -- is going to get $5,500 in back wages, reports Joe Rodriguez of the Mercury News.


"Ending an ordeal that may have doomed her race for governor, Meg Whitman on Wednesday agreed to pay her former maid back wages of $5,500, an amount dwarfed by the political fallout created when the illegal-immigrant housekeeper came out of the shadows to accuse the billionaire of cheating her."


"The settlement emerged after lawyers haggled for nearly three hours at the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement in downtown San Jose. Both parties met afterward with news reporters on the sidewalk, issuing completely opposite readings of the entire affair."


Also from the campaign trail: The medical pot industry is closely watching the outcome of the state attorney general's race.


"As Steve Cooley and Kamala Harris sweat out the ballot counting to determine California's next attorney general, perhaps no one is more anxious than advocates for medical marijuana shops."


"Within the state medical marijuana industry, Cooley, the Los Angeles County district attorney, is widely perceived as pot persona non grata. It isn't just Cooley's aggressive prosecutions of alleged abuses in Los Angeles dispensaries that stir medical marijuana activists. There are also his persistent declarations that he considers medical pot dispensaries to be illegal retail sales outlets."


The seemingly endless demands for tuition increases at the University of California and the California State University are drawing strong opposition from the general public, according to a new survey.


From Carla Rivera at the L.A. Times: "A strong majority of Californians are concerned about steep tuition hikes at the University of California and California State University, according to a report released late Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California."


"In addition, more respondents favored increasing their own taxes than raising students fees."


"The findings are part of a statewide public survey that also found broad support for increasing state funding of higher education, combined with concern that education costs are keeping many qualified students from attending college."


And finally, we look into our Grand Theft Auto file and find the case of the forgotten police car that went missing for three weeks -- and the officers didn't even know it. 


"Millcreek police officers took five unmarked police vehicles to Pittsburgh for a week of SWAT training. But in what Millcreek Police Chief Thomas Carlotti called "a perfect storm of mix-ups,'' they only returned with four of them."


"It wasn't until three weeks later, when Pittsburgh police called about the car left in a motel parking lot, that Millcreek police realized a 2006 unmarked white Ford Crown Victoria had been left behind, Carlotti said."


"Carlotti said he took disciplinary action against two officers responsible for the oversight, but citing personnel reasons, he declined to identify them or cite the type of discipline. He did say they kept their jobs."



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