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California | INSIDE POLITICS

Davis Gets Sympathy From an Unexpected Corner

October 27, 2003|Patt Morrison | Times Staff Writer

Oh, sure, NOW he says so.

Oregon's Republican U.S. senator, Gordon Smith, extended a sympathetic hand, after the fact, to outgoing California Gov. Gray Davis.

In a speech on the Senate floor about the unfairness of blaming President Bush for a sluggish economy, Smith declared, "It is a fact of political life that politicians are given too much credit and too much blame for the natural, immutable cycles of a free-market economy.

"The latest casualty in this judgment on politicians is probably Gov. Gray Davis of California. I remember during the heydays, the bubble days, California was held up as the miracle model and Gov. Davis was hailed as a hero....

"I heard, with some pain, frankly, the other day when he acknowledged how much economic trouble they were in and that he had gotten too much credit for the good times and now was getting too much blame for the bad times.

"Guess what? Gov. Davis was right. The truth of the matter is we in public life do not control a free-market economy."

Some fiscal information that may be of interest to the incoming team is the California Piglet Book, published by Citizens Against Government Waste (www.cagw.org) in conjunction with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation.

It's a collection of waste, fraud, mismanagement, payoffs and budget abuse amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars, all in stories compiled from the state's newspapers and other publications and reports. It recommends $5.1 billion in cuts, about half of it from the Medi-Cal program.

(CAGW's late co-founder, J. Peter Grace, was investigated posthumously by the Securities and Exchange Commission for about $16 million in personal perks paid for by Grace's company, including a jet, chef, limousines, nurses and club memberships.)

Does the Public Utilities Commission know about this? The telephone number for the Los Angeles Times' Sacramento bureau changed last year, and by some serendipity, it has now been assigned to the office of ... Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger.

At City Hall, a Movie Star Turned Politician

You could practically hear the buzz from Los Angeles City Hall all over the 90012 ZIP Code last week: A movie star turned politician was in the house.

Not Arnold S., although something's in the works to give Brentwood's favorite son a Sacramento-ward send-off, as the city did for Ronald Reagan when he left for D.C. in 1981.

The cast of the White House drama "The West Wing" had hauled in flags and busts for verisimilitude, set-dressing the third floor into a stand-in for someplace in the nation's capital.

Some City Hall aides were heard to mutter that as long as it was around, perhaps the Bartlet administration could do something to resolve the transit walkout, the grocery strike and the budget hole.

To which suggestion Bradley Whitford, who plays Josh Lyman on the show, laughed: "Actors have no business in government."

State's Congressional Delegation on a Mission

Never let it be said that California's congressional delegation can't even get together to agree on what day of the week it is.

The state of the state's 21 historic but down-at-the-heels missions brought this agreement when the House passed a bill to provide $10 million to help patch them up.

"When California's congressional delegation comes together, great things can happen," trumpeted David Dreier, the San Dimas Republican who heads California's little GOP family in the House.

Carmel Democrat Sam Farr, one of the bill's main sponsors, crowed, "These missions are national treasures dating back to 1769, and by approving this legislation, Congress has reaffirmed its commitment to the preservation of our history."

The money for the California Missions Foundation would be matched over five years.

Next up at bat on this: the Senate.

Recall Web Sites Are Music to Band's Ears

The Piney Creek Weasels is a Sacramento-area string band whose crafty, computer geek banjo player registered the Web site recallschwarzenegger.com, then linked it to the Weasels' own Web site.

It turns out he's done the same for recallangelides.com for state Treasurer Phil Angelides, and the unfortunately misspelled recallbustamonte.com.

(The correctly spelled recall bustamante.com has been claimed but not yet opened for business.)

Banjo picker Andy Alexis also registered recallissa.com, but didn't follow up with a link to the Weasels' site because Vista Congressman Darrell Issa, whose car alarm millions helped to get the recall on the ballot, bailed tearfully out of the governor's race he had made possible.

"I thought of having a do-it-yourself recall petition generator," Alexis mused.

"Type in a name and print out a recall petition. Recalls aren't just for millionaires anymore!"

Points Taken

* The Green Party's Peter Miguel Camejo, the only major figure to run for governor in the 2002 regular and 2003 recall elections, was honored with the Socially Responsible Investing group's service award.

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