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Feb 17, 2005 - 01:25 PM

Government Of, By and For Arnold

by Carmen Balber
 
Today, we note an Arnold first - the governor admits he's wrong. The Sacramento Bee reports that Arnold is withdrawing his plan to eliminate nearly 100 public protection boards that police professions and industries. We're glad the gov acknowledged that his plan was a flop. Question is -- why now?

One answer may be found in the ballot initiative that Team Arnold insider, Joel Fox, turned in early this year. The initiative, called "An Act to Protect the Governor's Power to Reorganize and Streamline the Executive Branch," would require a 2/3 vote in both houses of the legislature in order to block reorganization plans submit by the governor, like the one scrapped by the gov today. In other words, the initiative gives Arnold the power to do whatever he wants unless both parties are willing to stand in the way. Years of late budgets taught Californians that isn't going to happen.

The best argument against the "Governor's Power" initiative is the reorganization plan he withdrew today. But the reversal may be to guarantee a slam dunk next time around. If the initiative passes, the gov can dream up any scheme -- like giving all of the CalEPA's responsibilities to the Department of Corporations, or eliminating the pesky Department of Managed Care (that oversees HMOs on behalf of patients) altogether -- and it would be nearly impossible to stop. The most likely proposals, judging by what he's already suggested, would rewrite government to the benefit of his big industry donors and eliminate public accountability in state agencies.

Today's reversal could have been just a strategic move to wait until no amount of criticism could stop him. Arnold can prove otherwise by withdrawing the initiative power grab and guaranteeing that public input and oversight will be strengthened, not eliminated, in his administration.




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