Published Aug 3, 2004

While I didn’t vote for the Governator, I was not unhappy to see him take office. A change was clearly needed in Sacramento; the state’s problems were getting larger, and no creative ideas were percolating up to solve them. It seemed the entire culture in our “cow-town” capital was broken.

Not that I approved of the strategy the Republicans pursued to “fix” things. Having passed up a perfectly good opportunity to beat Gray Davis a year earlier, by running an unelectable sleazy businessman instead of a respected big-city mayor, they chose to mount an off-cycle challenge. This gave the party the chance to run a comparative unknown, get some fresh blood — a good thing — but it also meant that, if Schwarzenegger got elected, he could not bring any new majority in on his coattails. While Schwarzenegger had a mandate, it did not replace any mandate a Tom Burton or Sheila Kuehl or even Ken Maddox had at their election. Why would a Senator or Assemblyperson, duly elected by his or her constituents and probably posessing a safe seat, think that Schwarzenegger’s off-cycle election will effect him or her in a year or in four years, so long as he or she continues to bring home the bacon?

So the Governator approached things with a false mandate. Then he behaved as if he had a real mandate, promising things to cities that he simply didn’t have the constitutional powers to provide; Schwarzenegger assumed that the Legislature would snap to, because of his massive popularity. Legislators had, only a few years ago, redistricted themselves so that their seats were safe, so with no need to fear the Governor, and challenged on their home turf, they moved to their old negotiating tricks.

So we’ve ended up where we are: nowhere. We haven’t cut the budget, we haven’t cut borrowing, we haven’t even raised taxes to cover our expenses. We’re behind what other states are doing to fix their deficits, and we’re behind even after the state Republicans managed to get their guy in the statehouse through skullduggery. Frankly, since Gray Davis at least knew how Sacramento worked, I have a hard time believing that we would’ve ended up with an outcome any worse than this had he stayed in office; certainly Cruz Bustamante, as a member of the Legislature, would have had an easier time building a compromise solution (rather than calling our elected officials “girly-men”).

It will be interesting to see where we get from this drama. Certainly a state with deficits, a do-nothing government, and no investment in education, health care or infrastructure is neither good for the little guy nor good for business. We can only hope that, in a few years, Meathead gives us a few useful alternatives, because the Governator appears to have lead us down the very same path everyone else had already taken us down.

1 Comment

Well he did come up with the idea of offing animals sent to the pound within 3 days. That would have saved us a few dollars. If only the damn liberals didn’t like their pets!