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Glitterati and gawkers shrug off ceremony

Former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown draws the limelight in subdued inaugural.

January 06, 2007|Scott Martelle and Robert Salladay | Times Staff Writers

SACRAMENTO — Three years ago, when the revolution was still new, thousands of people crowded the streets around the state Capitol hoping for a glimpse of Arnold Schwarzenegger and his fellow travelers -- Hollywood celebrities -- as California swore in a movie action hero as its 38th governor.

On Friday, the celebrities and the crowds were notably absent, spotlighting the difference between a movie star doing the unusual -- winning a gubernatorial recall election -- and a now-seasoned politician signing in for four more years.

Not nearly as many people care.

"It seems so long ago," said Bonnie Rose, 58, a hospital lab technician who steered her morning walk past Sacramento Memorial Auditorium hoping for a glimpse of fame. "I think he's looked at more as a governor now" than a political curiosity, she said. "He's proved himself."

With Schwarzenegger's personal party schedule limited by a broken leg, and the drama of the recall election faded into the politically distant past, the governor's second inauguration came off Friday like a small-town parade instead of an international event.

Gone were the global media and TV tabloid shows such as "Access Hollywood." No smiling Jamie Lee Curtis or Danny DeVito, Kelsey Grammer or Dennis Miller were to be found. The only returning celebrities were Rob Lowe and Tom Arnold. "I am the lieutenant governor," Arnold joked to reporters.

But even Bob Saget, who emceed a special "green" program Thursday on the Capitol lawn, had already headed back to Los Angeles and missed the inauguration and Friday night gala.

"It seems like maybe there's a little bit less energy," said Andrew Tescher, manager of Lucca, one of the governor's favorite Sacramento lunch spots. "There seemed to be a lot more energy behind the media last time. There was more hype."

There was more of everything then. About 8,000 people were invited to Schwarzenegger's first inauguration, a big-ticket event in a city unaccustomed to glitz -- or hosting international media. On Friday, not even all of the 3,000 expected guests showed up. And the list for media credentials that topped 700 three years ago barely broke 260 this time.

The program, though, was more varied and crisper, led by former Assembly Speaker, ex-San Francisco Mayor -- and legendary Democrat -- Willie Brown. Brown joked about helping make California "ungovernable" when he was speaker and said "incredible change" had come to California.

"Under Arnold Schwarzenegger's leadership, and with the incredible cooperation of leaders from both parties, a revolutionary thing has taken place," Brown said to applause. "Things are getting done."

Brown then mispronounced several names of dignitaries on the stage, turning the mayor of San Francisco -- Brown's hometown -- into "Galvin" instead of Gavin Newsom. Other dignitaries included former Govs. Gray Davis and Pete Wilson; Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; and such elected statewide officials as incoming Controller John Chiang and Secretary of State Debra Bowen -- both Democrats -- as well as departing Republican Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, whom Bowen defeated in November.

There were two prime Democratic absences: Phil Angelides, who is leaving his post as treasurer after getting trounced in the governor's race, and Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who lost the insurance commissioner race to Steve Poizner.

The governor's wife, as she did three years ago, played a prominent role in the ceremony. As dramatic New Age music played and images of California's natural wonders flashed on a jumbo video screen, Maria Shriver read a Hopi prayer. "Be good to one another and do not look outside yourself for the leader.... The time of the lonely wolf is over." At the 2003 inaugural, Shriver read a five-minute essay created from the works of poet Maya Angelou.

Shriver introduced Schwarzenegger and the usually robust governor hobbled out onto the stage on crutches, just 10 days after undergoing surgery to repair his broken femur. "Wow," the governor said moments after taking the oath, as he steadied himself behind the podium. "This feels good."

Invited guests -- mostly government figures and Schwarzenegger supporters -- had begun lining up outside the red-brick auditorium a few blocks from the Capitol before 10 a.m. A large television screen was set up on the lawn outside for the uninvited to watch the ceremony, but 50-degree air and a stiff wind made standing still uncomfortable.

About three dozen people -- nearly everyone who braved the cold -- wound up getting lucky. As Brown began the program, a Schwarzenegger aide emerged with a fistful of tickets in hopes of filling unclaimed seats.

"We were just going to watch a little on the screen," said Elijah Caron as he and fellow state worker Carlos Galindo stepped up for security screening. "Now we're going to see the show."

Times photographer Robert Durell contributed to this report.

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