|Office of the Chancellor / Public Affairs||
Monday, November 15, 2004
San Francisco Chronicle 11-13-04
Governor to release details of schedule
Tokyo -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in an interview today that he will make public his daily schedule, a move that open government advocates say will provide an unprecedented look at how his administration determines public policy.
The governor said he will release a complete calendar of his first year in office, including whom he met with. His comments came just days after voters approved Proposition 59, which seeks to strengthen open records laws and follows a formal request by a media law group to make his calendar public.
Schwarzenegger said the decision was in keeping with a campaign pledge he made to provide voters a clearer picture of how state government works.
"We're going to let the public see,'' Schwarzenegger said, noting he had nothing to hide. "It's not like we've been meeting with terrorists or anything. ''
Schwarzenegger discussed the move at a wide-ranging interview with California reporters on the last day of a trade mission to Japan.
Among other things, he said he would continue to oppose new taxes to balance the state budget but that he was willing to listen to Democrats. He said his past comments suggesting he would favor a part-time Legislature was something he throws "into the fire to keep it burning because it drives them nuts upstairs.''
By opening up his schedule to public view, Schwarzenegger is taking a markedly different course from many other public executives. Vice President Dick Cheney, for example, has gone to court to keep secret records detailing whom he met with to help develop President Bush's energy policies.
Former Republican California Gov. George Deukmejian won a legal battle in 1991 with the Los Angeles Times to keep his schedule out of public view. The state Supreme Court ruled that the logs were part of the "deliberative process'' and exempt from disclosure.
That court decision was one of several that led media and First Amendment groups to sponsor Prop. 59, which Schwarzenegger supported and voters recently approved. The measure puts government access into the Constitution, and lawyers believe it will make it easier for the public to request government documents.
Schwarzenegger has offered scant details of his daily schedule so far. Often, press advisories state only that he will "hold private meetings'' in Sacramento or Los Angeles.
Just a week after the Prop. 59 passed, the California First Amendment Coalition filed a public records act request asking for Schwarzenegger's schedule.
"I'm delighted that the governor seems to agree with us that Prop. 59 importantly changes the law in this area,'' said Peter Scheer, executive director of the coalition, after being informed of the governor's announcement. "I'm very much looking forward to discussing the fine points of what will be disclosed and what will be withheld for security or other permissible reasons. ''
In Tokyo, Schwarzenegger said he hoped to expand the new law to include the Legislature, which exempted itself from Prop. 59 before placing it on the Nov. 2 ballot.
Groups like the coalition argue that the public has a right to know who elected leaders meet with when making decisions, because it may be an indicator of which special interests are influencing the government.
Schwarzenegger, of course, campaigned on a promise that he would not be beholden to campaign contributors. But Schwarzenegger has raised millions of dollars from business groups and has been attacked by Democrats and consumer groups for making decisions that benefit donors.
He vetoed legislation that would have raised the minimum wage. The California Chamber of Commerce, which opposed that legislation, has raised the money to pay the governor's way on his trip to Japan.
Asked about special interest influence, Schwarzenegger said he could not be bought.
"It's a character issue,'' he said. He noted he and his family have been visiting Disneyland for free for years, and the park even opens early so he can avoid crowds, but that wouldn't mean he would do special favors for Disney Corp.
The governor will return to California this weekend facing his next big challenge, preparing a budget for the next fiscal year that must plug an expected $8 billion gap. He did not flatly reject the idea of any new taxes to fill the gap, saying he would begin to meet with Democratic legislative leaders when he returned.
Schwarzenegger also said he had given little thought to the possibility of calling a special election next year to push voters to change the way legislative districts are created.
Schwarzenegger leaves Japan with no new announcements on Japanese investment in California, and even the always optimistic governor has admitted it will be hard to track whether the trip was successful.
While the CEOs the governor met made sure to get autographs, business decisions here are not based on one individual's box-office clout or charm.
"The legitimate question is, does this (the hype) have legs? That's fair to ask,'' said John Marks, head of the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau and a member of the delegation. "But he has done his part, he has jump- started the effort, and now it's up to us to follow up and make sure it has legs.''
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