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Monday, November 15, 2004
Sacramento Bee 11-14-04
Gov. Schwarzenegger's first year: 12 defining moments
1. "Please bring me the broom ... we are here to clean house," Schwarzenegger says at a rally in Sacramento two days before his election, during which he pretended to play a guitar borrowed from a member of the band Twisted Sister. A year into office, he has yet to execute campaign promises to expand open government laws, limit campaign fund raising or curb the influence of special-interest groups, and he has raised millions of dollars more from corporate contributors than any of his predecessors.
2. On Nov. 17, 2003, the day he is sworn in as California's 38th governor, Schwarzenegger receives a hug from adviser Bonnie Reiss after rescinding the unpopular tripling of the state car tax, worth $4 billion a year to the battered state budget. He invokes emergency powers to pay cities and counties the money they are short as a result. Soon after, he repeals a law that was to have granted driver's licenses to undocumented workers. In his first year, the auto industry gives him more than $1 million in contributions. This fall, he vetoes a so-called Car Buyer's Bill of Rights opposed by the industry. But his appointees to the state Air Resources Board approve the nation's first restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions.
3. Being governor isn't enough. The former bodybuilding champion signs on as executive editor of Muscle & Fitness and Flex magazines and continues to run his annual "Arnold Classic" fitness competition in Columbus, Ohio, where he cheers after crowning Iris Kyle as overall winner of the Ms. International competition. While he used steroids during his own career, he now says doping is out of control and must be curbed. But he opposes federal regulation of the nutritional supplement industry, whose ads dominate industry magazines. This fall, he signs legislation limiting the supplements minors can buy but vetoes a measure banning industry sponsorship of youth sporting events.
4. To avoid having to raise taxes or inflict big cuts to programs, Schwarzenegger leads a bipartisan campaign to sell voters on a $15 billion bond deal in the March primary even as he promises he is cutting up the state's credit card. His come-from-behind success with Propositions 57 and 58 (the $15 billion bond and budget reserve requirement), his ability to raise millions nationally for his pet projects through his California Recovery Team, and his 65 percent approval rating in polls give him leverage over lawmakers through the spring and summer as he negotiates changes to workers' compensation law and the annual budget.
5. The Austrian-born governor's longtime affiliation with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Holocaust remembrance group in Los Angeles that helped him research his late father's history as a Nazi soldier during World War II, sends him to Israel in May to attend a ceremony for a future Center for Human Dignity and Museum of Tolerance. He also visits King Abdullah II in Jordan and visits American soldiers in Germany, where he jokes about wanting to run for president.
6. Despite his political leverage, Schwarzenegger finds his budget stalled through July by the Legislature. The Democrats in charge force him to roll back cuts to public education and social services. Republicans balk. Both parties are angry when he cuts side deals with local governments and Indian tribes. To woo his own party, he goes on the road, calling Democrats "girlie men" and threatening to campaign against them if they don't expedite a deal. A Democratic lobbyist announces plans to make "girlie man" bobblehead dolls featuring Schwarzenegger's likeness dressed in women's clothing.
7. A team of state workers tapped by the governor releases the California Performance Review over the summer. The 2,500-page plan to reorganize state government would gut one-third of the state's public boards and commissions and consolidate power under the executive branch. The report is criticized for being compiled behind closed doors with significant input from special interest groups including oil companies, computer firms and contractors who stand to gain from privatization. The governor maintains the recommendations were made independently of him and his advisers and says he needs months to study the ideas before deciding which to pursue.
8. In this anti-smoking state, the governor's stogie habit presents a problem. The creative but controversial solution: a furnished smoking tent paid for privately and erected in the open-air courtyard surrounded by executive office suites. Public health advocates complain, to no avail. The tent, off-limits to the public, becomes the "in" spot for deal making with lawmakers. When the governor's office is flooded during a freak September storm, the administration rejects suggestions the tent, or the sand and artificial grass that blocked drains underneath it, contributed in any way to the damage.
9. Schwarzenegger basks in the spotlight in August in a televised, prime-time address at the Republican National Convention in New York. Despite his ideological differences with President Bush, the governor gives the president a strong endorsement, which he later jokes led his wife Maria Shriver, who does not support Bush, to withhold sex for two weeks as punishment. The convention crowd goes wild for Schwarzenegger, and by October, a congressional hearing is held on whether the Constitution should be amended to allow longtime naturalized citizens like Schwarzenegger to run for president. Polls show California voters oppose the idea, though.
10. Required to sign or veto hundreds of bills by a Sept. 30 deadline, Schwarzenegger sides with the GOP on most business-related legislation - rejecting, for instance, a minimum wage increase. He vetoes another effort to allow undocumented workers to apply for driver's licenses. But he often sides with Democrats on environmental and social issues, banning sales of .50-caliber rifles, allowing sales of sterile needles to drug users and creating incentives for consumers who buy fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles.
11. A former stuntwoman who found her own reputation on the line after she claimed the governor groped her during his acting days drops a defamation case against him in exchange for his assurances that he would not go after her for lawyers' fees. A year after the Los Angeles Times published several women's pre-election allegations that he had groped them in the past, Schwarzenegger appears immune to any repercussions. But he tells the Hollywood Foreign Press Association that society has changed since his early bodybuilding and acting days and that he's had to learn to reel himself in. One day before the election, Code Pink members show how they feel about the allegations during a rally at Union Square in San Francisco, above.
12. As his first year comes to a close, the governor's various endorsements help pass or defeat several nonpartisan ballot initiatives he has targeted, but don't help win more legislative seats for Republicans. He walks a fine line with two initiatives that he supports but his party opposes -one funding stem cell research, which passes, another reducing political parties' control over primary elections, which doesn't. He campaigns for Bush in the final days of the race in Ohio, a swing state where he has bodybuilding and business ties, and where he campaigned twice for Bush's father when he was president.
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