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Straddling the fence sidecar style

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
January 13, 2006


Governor Schwarzenegger's motorcycle accident last week, where it was discovered he was driving without the required credentials and training, is the perfect analogy for the Schwarzenegger administration.

In this analogy, Arnold is Arnold, the motorcycle is his administration, the sidecar represents California, and his son Patrick represents Californians. The motorist that pulled in front of the Governor represents the random unknown. Roughly drawn, I know, but considering the spending spree just announced, completely fitting.

Bruised and battered Schwarzenegger has more than a split lip to worry about, yet he continues with the scripted one-liners, as if his son, who was riding in the motorcycle's sidecar, was never in danger. Continuing with the analogy, Californians, Patrick being one of them, are endangered by the Governor Schwarzenegger's reckless behavior.

I can't speak for other Californians. That would be presumptuous, right? With a population of more than 37 million, not counting tourists and undocumented residents, let me go on record as "being" so over Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was a bad actor. He is a bad Governor, soon to morph into a dirty politician. We have seen this script before.

Honestly, is he any different than Gray Davis?

Suffice it to say the Governator has been a colossal failure. Californians need only look at the outcome of Arnold's expensive special election, to see how out of touch with reality Arnold is with the majority of Californians. For further proof, voters should consider the gubernator's recently announced $125.6 billion budget for 2006. Schwarzenegger's plan has the state spending $6.4 billion more than it expects to receive as revenue for the fiscal year 2006-07.

Arnolds budget announcement comes less than a week after he unveiled his $222 million "Strategic Growth Plan" to widen freeways, expand prisons and rebuild levees that shouldn't have been built in the first place. That California cannot balance its budget as required by the state constitution, even in the best of economic times when state revenues have never been higher, is a disgrace that should not be compounded.

Call me conservative but proposing a $68 million bond seems reckless at a time of deficit spending and a preponderance of uncertain economic variables. Yes, California needs to over haul its aging and environmentally destructive infrastructure, that fact is not the question. But how it is done, and how fast, should be should be done in a future focused manner that takes into account oil prices, global warming, air quality, water resources, and long term sustainability.

Never a fan of Arnold, it does not surprise me in the least that Environmental protection is at the bottom of his budgetary priorities list. Also not surprising is the lack of mass transit spending aimed at the development of solar electric transit systems.

What happened to the Schwarzenegger campaign pledges during the special recall election of 2003 to cut deficit spending? Borrowing $6.4 million is hardly fiscally conservative, doing so as part of an election year "Strategic reelection plan" is crassly cynical, and does little more than pander to the problem he was elected to correct.

What happened to hydrogen economy touted by Schwarzenegger in the recall campaign? It seems empty rhetoric will be the legacy of the Schwarzenegger era. So many promises, so little time.

As the Governor revs up for re-election, it is obvious he knows it is going to an uphill fight. Under the cover of his announced budget and infrastructure development plan, the Schwarzenegger campaign announced that they had hired two political pit bulls to right his ship of state.

Susan Kennedy, Cabinet Secretary for his Democratic predecessor Gov. Gray Davis, was hired as his chief of staff following the democratic defeat of his ballot initiatives. The fact the she is a lesbian and a leader in the abortion rights movement have sent religious ideologues into a fit. To balance that political machination, Schwarzenegger has hired Republican operative Steve Schmidt to run his re-election campaign.

For those of you not in the know, Steve Schmidt is currently an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, serving as counselor and chief White House strategist for Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. In 2004, Steve Schmidt ran the war room for President Bush's re-election.

As Arnold continues to ride the fence playing the extremes against the middle, it's clear California is in for a very bumpy ride in 2006.

Just ask Patrick, sidecars are scary.

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