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California holds a garage sale -- with cars autographed by Schwarzenegger

In the latest attempt to raise money, the state is selling thousands of surplus items on EBay, Craigslist and in a warehouse auction.

August 26, 2009|Michael Rothfeld

SACRAMENTO — Does Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have a deal for you.

His plans to cut up the state's credit cards didn't go so well, and voters gave the thumbs-down to his bid to shackle government spending. No matter. In his latest effort to balance the budget, the governor is cleaning out the state's storage sheds and holding a garage sale on Craigslist and EBay.

Need a 2001 Ford Focus wagon with 110,059 miles and Schwarzenegger's autograph on the visor? Someone did, offering the high bid of $1,625.01 for the old state car as of Tuesday afternoon. The governor got the idea to sign the visors from one of nearly 1 million people who follow him on Twitter, and he jumped on it.

"I look forward to selling these signed cars and making some $ for California," the governor tweeted last week as he autographed the visors.

"It's an innovative idea," said the governor's spokesman, Aaron McLear. "We're always happy to listen to the people about ways in which we can run government more efficiently."

The state began selling unneeded or unclaimed items online last week and is holding a two-day auction of 6,000 more on Friday and Saturday at a Sacramento warehouse.

In the market for seven used State of California coat racks? You could snap them up at $5 each -- or buy six and get one free. A pearl ring in 10-carat gold with diamond accents drew a high bid of $46 on EBay on Tuesday. Earrings were selling for $51.

"He's auctioning Maria's earrings?" asked John Burton, the state Democratic Party chairman and former Senate leader. Hold on. . . . The jewelry didn't belong to First Lady Maria Shriver; it was confiscated or listed as unclaimed by the state police.

Strictly speaking, Schwarzenegger's signature on the visor of a state car might add $400 of value at most, according to Darren Julien, president and chief executive officer of Julien's Auctions in West Hollywood. A motorcycle or a jacket from a Schwarzenegger movie would be highly coveted, but none of those items is on sale.

"We've sold his 'Terminator' jackets for as much as $40,000," said Julien, who specializes in celebrity auctions, including an upcoming sale of some of Barbra Streisand's possessions. "It's too early right now for him to be highly collectible as a governor or as a politician. That could change in the future."

Schwarzenegger has drawn on his cinematic background for politics and government before, smashing a car to symbolize his plan to roll back vehicle license fees and twisting a fake spigot to stop a flow of "red ink" in criticism of state spending habits.

State Sen. Dean Florez (D-Shafter), a frequent critic, noted that Schwarzenegger's approval ratings are in the mid-30s, and said he was "amazed" that the governor still "resorts to these antics that are kind of reflective of a person that is larger than life."

The state regularly sells its extra property. The cars being auctioned were declared surplus in an executive order by Schwarzenegger last month to reduce the size of California's vehicle fleet. And he told state agencies to look for even more things to sell.

The state held a similar "garage sale" in 2004, Schwarzenegger's first full year in office, and sold some items on EBay then too.

On Tuesday, California unloaded a FoodSaver Original Home Packaging System for $27 on EBay (plus $15 for shipping), officials said.

"It's a seal-a-meal, if you've watched any infomercials," explained Erin Shaw, a spokeswoman for the State and Consumer Services Agency, which is overseeing the auction.

Shaw said the item came from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, but it was unclear why the prison agency had it and why it wasn't wanted anymore.

At www.dgs.ca.gov/ garagesale, prospective buyers can find a list of other things the state no longer desires, such as box cutters, binoculars, a belt buckle, a ceramic heart, a fishing pole and Sacramento Kings bobblehead dolls.

The sale may be mostly symbolic, said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. But "if this is the beginning of taking a . . . thorough review of our property management practices, it's a good thing."

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michael.rothfeld@latimes.com

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