Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Return to Cali: A Preview

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Governor Schwarzenegger for helping ease Phoblog's transition back into state coverage and commentary by providing material for articles such as this one:

Sacramento -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, after campaigning as a reformer who would cast special interests out of the Capitol, smashed every fund-raising record in his first year in office with a $26.6 million haul that doubled the amount raised by former Gov. Gray Davis in his first year.

The vast majority of the money came from special interests deeply vested in the outcome of legislative and regulatory decisions in Sacramento, including financial companies, auto dealers and manufacturers and health care concerns. In some cases, the governor, who took office a year ago today, has taken positions that benefited his contributors.

For much of the year, Schwarzenegger used a legal loophole to raise sums greater than a state law's $21,200 limit. And in recent weeks, as a deadline approached to close that loophole, Schwarzenegger stepped up his acceptance of those donations, raking in individual contributions as high as $500,000.

"He's taken more money from special interests than anyone in this state ever has," said David Fink, a policy advocate at the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, which has been a vocal critic of the Schwarzenegger administration. "He hasn't changed the political culture in Sacramento. It's the status quo. He made everyone believe in him, that he wasn't the typical politician, and he's just like everyone else."
Now, before my R-side Capitol readers take issue with my selectively quoting from this Chron article, let me say, yeah, I'm leaving out the parts where the reporter says that the Governor has not always acted in the interests of some of his biggest donors. And, in fact, the part that I do select implies that he's more often than not gone the way of the check-writers, while later in the article, it clearly says:
Schwarzenegger's largest industry backers are real estate and development interests, and even critics of the administration are hard-pressed to find evidence that he has done anything in office to benefit that industry.

That's good. I applaud that. In fact, I've long been idealistically believed that representatives and executives can take money from whomever they want and not necessarily partake in the activity that would earn them the "sell-out" title. So good for Schwarzenegger.

But since his activities are focused on bypassing representative government and forcing policy change via ballot measures, I'm going to continue to hammer his fundrasing and policy choices. The article mentions the possibility of Schwarzenegger calling a special election to deal with redistricting reform. Regular readers know that redistricting reform is actually something of which I'm in favor, and a good example of a case where the initiative process is probably necessary because it saves electeds from pressing a button akin to pointing a revolver at their collective foot (not that the same idealistic side of me doesn't believe enough members would have the courage to vote for badly needed reform - but just to be safe . . . .).

Of course, if the measure is any way associated with Ted Costa, my yes vote will be a lot harder to win. There are people in the state I trust to write that law - and until I see them holding a pen and a map, I'm far from convinced.

Mmm, feels good to be back on the Cali soapbox. I may be rusty, but I should be back in fighting shape in no time.

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