Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's approach to leadership is often a little too "Kindergarten Cop" -- a tough guy so buffeted by the competing bawls of interest groups, legislators and even his own diverse team of advisors that he's left paralyzed and ineffective. When it comes to the state's prison guards, though, he's starting to act a lot more like "Conan the Barbarian." To which we can only say: Great performance, governor.
The guards have been working without a contract since July 2006, and the bitter negotiations broke down completely last month. Then, at 2 a.m. on the last day of the legislative session, Sept. 12, one of the guards' legislative pawns introduced a bill guaranteeing them a generous pay raise. It was a sneaky attempt to subvert the collective-bargaining process that would have cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars this fiscal year. Fortunately, it failed.
Schwarzenegger's response last week was a sneaky move of his own, one so aggressive that it seemed he'd been reviewing his old swords-and-sandals movies for tips on how to respond to a bully. His administration invoked a never-used law allowing it to declare that the state had made its "last, best and final offer" on the guards' contract, so it could set terms without an agreement from the union.