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Dec 16, 2004 - 01:45 PM

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by Carmen Balber /i mur jen see/ n. An unexpected and sudden event that must be dealt with urgently.

Arnold really needs to work on his definitions. For the past year he has defined special interests as anybody that criticizes Arnold. Now he can't figure out the meaning of the word "emergency." On Friday, the Gov submitted an "emergency" regulation to change enforcement of California's mandatory meal and break rules. The regulation would severely weaken workers' legal right to a lunch hour. Who benefits when it's harder to enforce labor laws? Big hourly employers, like Arnold-backers Target ($240,000 donor to the Gov), the Gap ($197,400) and Wal-Mart ($210,000).

California law allows a governor to implement regulations on an emergency basis -- with no public hearing or input -- only when "a regulation is necessary for the immediate preservation of public peace, health and safety, or general welfare." What sudden public health threat was so urgent that Arnold was forced to call an immediate halt to lunch hours? Too many workers falling asleep at heavy machinery in after-lunch-lethargy?

Actually, Wal-Mart broke the lunch time rules and is facing a lawsuit. For Arnold, that's an emergency.

Contributors like Wal-Mart would be off the hook if the regulation takes effect. For Arnold, calling the lunch break issue an emergency avoids the unpleasantly public regulatory process where California employees might toss up their lunch if they heard that Arnold wants to toss out lunch breaks on behalf of the special interests. So he throws out the dictionary and calls it an emergency, like he did last month when he tossed out the nurse-to-patient ratios.

Can someone get Arnold that book from Merriam-Webster?

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