** In Zogby’s Wall Street Journal Battlegrounds Poll published today, both Democratic gubernatorial candidates lead Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. State Controller Steve Westly leads Arnold by nine points. State Treasurer Phil Angelides leads Arnold by five points. The poll was conducted from March 22 to March 27.
Here are the trial heats: Steve Westly 47.1%, Arnold Schwarzenegger 37.8%. Phil Angelides 45.5%, Arnold Schwarzenegger 40.7%. One reason for the very large difference between this and other polls and the new Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll in this respect may be that PPIC doesn’t give much of an identifier to either Democratic candidate in the match-up question with Arnold. Arnold has near universal name ID, far more than either Democratic candidate. But Angelides and Westly are both described merely as “a Democrat” in the PPIC match-up questions. Of course, both are already state constitutional officers. As a result, the PPIC poll, quite valuable in many other respects, has their support levels far below the baseline vote for any Democratic gubernatorial nominee in this mostly Democratic state. In contrast, Arnold’s level of support is about the same in both the PPIC and Zogby/Wall Street Journal polls.
** Just to clarify, Mark Fabiani is now personal public relations counsel to Rob Reiner, but his partner and fellow “Master of Disaster” damage control PR expert, Chris Lehane, is not working on the project.
** Also, while the California Nurses Association was a key part of the labor coalition that shot down Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Year of Reform” special election initiative agenda and continues to work in close alliance with the Alliance for a Better California (ABC) labor coalition, the nurses union is not a formal member of ABC. The ABC unions all meet a rather expensive membership level in the Alliance.
More than two weeks after the final collapse of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s drive to place some version of his giant infrastructure bonds package on California’s June ballot, the top leaders of the state Legislature have again begun meeting to try to craft a ballot measure for the November election.
The “Big Four,” the Democratic and Republican leaders of the state Senate and Assembly, minus the governor, met for some 90 minutes yesterday afternoon in the office of Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata. “We left the governor out of it because that is what he wanted,” said an advisor to one Republican participant. “We feel we can make more progress if progress there is by having talks between the two parties and the two houses instead of the governor having everyone in individually.”
Schwarzenegger’s practice of serial negotiations with all parties had, according to legislators, left them confused about who had agreed to what and when.
Sources say that there is no imminent announcement to be made. Nevertheless, there has reportedly been progress. Perata, whose proposed infrastructure bond in the $10 billion range last year predated Schwarzenegger’s public enthusiasm for a major program, is said to want more of a pared down focus to any new package. “The basics,” says one source.
Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, just back from Washington where he took a strong advocacy role on immigration policy in the wake of his appearance at Saturday’s enormous rally in Los Angeles to promote the rights of illegal immigrants, wants education bonds in any emerging package.
There is reportedly a sense emerging among the legislative leaders that a more focused approach to a bonds package for November would include levee repair and flood management, school construction and modernization, and transportation projects. Other late emerging items in the failed package for June, such as dams and parks, would not be included. Dams are a problem for Democrats, parks are a problem for Republicans.
There is also reportedly a sense among the leaders that the concerns of Assembly Republicans, always the key to getting any deal under California’s super-majority two-thirds vote requirement, must be addressed. Their concerns include some relaxation of environmental regulations and labor law requirements. The formula to address this without going too far for the Democratic majority is not yet apparent.
So there has been some progress. Sources say that the leaders hope to have a plan together in the next week. Given that it would have to be vetted and worked through the respective party caucuses in both houses of the Legislature, that seems wise. Because not long after the budget process, always interesting in an election year, begins.
What about the governor? Sources all around, including around the former action superstar, say he will be glad to sign pretty much whatever the Legislature comes up with.
“He shined the light on infrastructure,” says one Arnold friend. “He got the public interested as you see in the PPIC (Public Policy Institute of California) poll so he deserves the credit he will get for what they come up with.”
Left unmentioned is that Arnold would love to run for re-election this fall with a popular bipartisan infrastructure bonds package on the ballot with him. Treasurer Phil Angelides, a Democratic candidate for governor positioned as the “anti-Arnold,” always wanted any bonds package on the June ballot for that reason. The other Democratic candidate, Controller Steve Westly, who worked with Arnold on the debt recovery bonds and opposed him in the special election, doesn’t seem to care.
** The respective Democratic and Republican leaders of the California State Senate and Assembly have just been meeting for the first time in days on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s protean call for a major infrastructure bond package. Having failed in the process of dealing individually and serially with the governor on his late-breaking drive to put some version of a package on California’s June ballot, the legislative leaders are at last talking among themselves to see what they can come up with for California’s November ballot. Expect nothing today. But next week? Stay tuned.
** State Controller Steve Westly, the ex-eBay honcho-turned-leading Democratic gubernatorial candidate, today announced that his office will conduct an investigation of California’s troubled prisons system. The probe will focus on the system’s malfunctioning health care system, where spending has doubled over the past half-decade. “The taxpayers have nothing to show for the billions spent on prison healthcare. Instead, we’ve seen the first federal takeover of a state agency in California history,” Westly said. “My audit will get to the bottom of this management meltdown and ensure that the people of California get a full accounting of their tax dollars.”
** State Treasurer Phil Angelides, the former state Democratic chairman and endorsed choice of most of the state’s Democratic establishment, announced another program in alliance with the state’s teachers unions, this for teacher recruitment. It is unclear how this is to be paid for:
“Restoring and expanding California’s teaching fellowship program to attract bright young people and mid-career adults to teaching.
Rolling back Arnold Schwarzenegger’s fee increases on teacher training.
Identifying the pay and incentives California needs to attract and retain talented teachers.
Restoring funding for teacher support.
Doubling the number of public school counselors to support teachers in the classroom.
Expanding homeownership assistance for teachers.”
** Governor Schwarzenegger has proclaimed tomorrow’s Cesar Chavez Day a day in advance. “As one of the century’s most remarkable civil libertarians, Cesar Estrada Chavez will always be remembered for working to safeguard and expand the rights of farm workers.”
Good for him in this charged moment in our history. Although it is amusing that he remembered Cesar’s day but forgot that little thing called Ronald Reagan Day until reminded of it here on NWN.
** Sac Bee columnist Dan Weintraub has an amusing item on Arnold appointing teachers union official Joe Nunez, the chairman of the Alliance for a Better California (ABC) — which is merely dedicating a couple hundred million dollars to his political destruction — to the state Board of Education. What next? Gale Kaufman to the Cabinet? Warren Beatty to the University of California Board of Regents?
Perhaps this is a new idea. Keep your friends close and your assassins closer.
By the end of last week, it was evident that movie director/initiative promoter Rob Reiner was in very hot political water. The California State Auditor investigation of his California Children and Families Commission, previously not scheduled, was now imminent, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office continued its review, his Proposition 82 universal preschool initiative was in trouble in the polls, his friend Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was pressured by the controversy and involvement of his associates with the commission, and Reiner, hardly a man bereft of public relations counsel, was attempting to hire several high-powered PR and lobbying pros.
I spoke with California State Auditor Elaine Howle late last week and she said her office’s investigation of the Reiner created and led agency would begin soon. About two weeks from now, as it happens. This despite the fact that the motion to expedite the investigation, to place it highest in the queue of authorized investigation, fell short at the Joint Legislative Audit Committee meeting on March 8th when Schwarzenegger running mate Tom McClintock, an expected vote, was absent.
“The audit is clearly important,” said Howle. Important enough to move ahead of an audit of University of California financial practices. Once begun in mid-April, the audit will take four months.
“I expect to finish in August,” the state auditor said. “I don’t see that as a problem.” Finishing in August will allow time for legislative hearings on the Auditor’s findings.
She described the audit as having a very expansive reach, looking through the commission’s activities from 2004 on.
Meanwhile, private polling showed Reiner’s preschool initiative in danger of failing, hovering just over 50 percent in support, a perilously low level for a complex ballot measure with major fiscal implications. Prop 82 would impose an income tax surcharge on high income Californians to fund a strictly defined statewide preschool program. This despite the fact that no advertising had been run against the initiative. Reiner himself had become highly controversial. The imminent investigation by the California State Auditor would focus attention on him — and his refusal to resign from his expired term on the commission — even further.
Reiner sought more public relations help. Although his commission already had very pricey PR help from its contracted firm, the Rogers Group, headed by Reiner family friend Ron Rogers, and he also had PR counsel from several of his longtime political operatives and the newly hired Acosta Salazar firm, Reiner thought more was needed.
He hired Mark Fabiani and Chris Lehane, known as the so-called “Masters of Disaster” for their specialty in damage control PR. Fabiani is best known for his work in the White House as special counsel to President Bill Clinton on the Whitewater scandal.
According to several sources, Reiner also tried to hire a public affairs firm known for strong connections within state government and the Legislature, California Strategies, headed by longtime Governor Pete Wilson chief of staff Bob White, who also headed up Schwarzenegger’s gubernatorial transition team. California Strategies did not take the job.
Reiner had put his friend Schwarzenegger on the spot, testing their Hollywood friendship by his refusal to finally step away from the commission, where his term had actually expired in 2004. His half-measure of taking a leave of absence had clearly and predictably failed. So over the past weekend, he spoke with the governor and made clear his intention to resign. The former action superstar agreed to replace Reiner with a Reiner associate, Hector Ramirez, chief operating officer of the highly respected Los Angeles family service organization, Para Los Ninos.
The Proposition 82 campaign was launched at an event outside Para Los Ninos. Ramirez served on the executive committee of the First 5 LA’s Preschool For All Initiative, which was, as I reported earlier, Reiner and First 5′s initial attempt to institute a publicly-funded universal preschool program and served as a model for Prop 82. After it was discovered that the Prop 10 tobacco tax money was inadequate for the task, Reiner’s thoughts turned to a new statewide initiative to fund Preschool For All at the state level. That initiative is now Prop 82.
With those ties, the appointment may prove problematic politically for Schwarzenegger. But Reiner, an enormous public lightning rod, had removed himself from the commission.
His resignation, of course, ends nothing other than the drama over his tenure with the agency he created through his Proposition 10 cigarette tax initiative of 1998. In fact, I’ve learned that the investigation may even broaden somewhat over the already expansive probe described by State Auditor Elaine Howle.
Today, I’m told, the two legislators who formally requested the probe, state Senator Dave Cox, a Sacramento area Republican, and Assembly Majority Leader Dario Frommer, a Los Angeles area Democrat, will ask Howle to go back to 2002 in some areas of commission activity. Among other things, possible promotion of a later scrapped California Teachers Association-backed initiative to institute a split roll property tax would be looked at. Reiner’s “Masters of Disaster” will earn their money.
In a Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll embargoed until just after midnight, state Controller Steve Westly has overtaken Treasurer Phil Angelides, the longtime frontrunner, in the Democratic primary for Governor of California. Westly has come from behind to lead by a single point, 23 percent to 22 percent. The poll was conducted over a week ago, from March 15 to March 22, and does not reflect the impact of more recent TV advertising.
Proposition 82, the Preschool For All initiative sponsored by movie director Rob Reiner — who yesterday resigned under fire as chairman of the California Children and Families Commission — is in very perilous territory. Upon the poll’s completion, it led by only 52 percent to 41 percent. The general rule of thumb for a complex initiative with major fiscal implications, such as Prop 82, is that it should have 60 percent or more support at this stage to have a good chance of passing. Doubt usually sets in in the late stage of such an initiative campaign, bringing its support level down. In January, the PPIC poll had Prop 82 winning, 66 percent to 31 percent.
The poll contains some good news for embattled Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. His job approval rating has gone up some. Better still, his idea for a massive infrastructure bond package is popular. And voters, who of course are quite uninformed about what actually happened, mainly blame the Legislature for its failure to make California’s June ballot, seeing all the Arnold activity, latebreaking though it was, as a plus for him. While most voters say they disagree with Arnold on the issues, some 70 percent say they like him personally. And the governor leads both Westly and Angelides in general election matchups, though Westly does better than Angelides. In both trial heats, there are fully 30 percent undecided, which indicates that voters were not pushed with partisan identifications to make a choice, redounding to the benefit of Scharzenegger in mostly Democratic California. Arnold led Phil, 41 percent to 29 percent, and Steve, 39 percent to 31 percent. This result is out of synch with other polling, though Schwarzenegger may well lead at the moment.
** As Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger continues his very small TV ad buy, leading Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Westly, the ex-eBay honcho-turned-state Controller, is shifting the mix of his buy to a new spot on education. The ad for Westly, who taught at Stanford, focuses on teacher training as a priority, keeping promises on education funding, and the state Lottery. State Treasurer Phil Angelides is also reportedly planning a shift in his advertising strategy, perhaps to a weightlifting-themed spot in which an Arnold lookalike fails at a lift, to further draw the contrast between his views and those of Schwarzenegger.
** Well, they’re at it again and, oddly enough, I didn’t get the attack memo that started this round off. Democratic gubernatorial candidates Phil Angelides and Steve Westly attacked each other again today. And the missive that started it off — an attack by Angelides on Westly’s tax amnesty/tax collection program and the controller’s honesty about it, or lack of same — never found its way to me. Strangely, I did get a couple other things from Angelides today, including his fulsome praise of the resigned-under-fire Rob Reiner. Westly replied with a blast at Angelides for the attack, and for evidently blasting Westly on Al Franken‘s radio show for allegedly praising Schwarzenegger for cutting funding for autistic children. I have unreturned calls into the Angelides campaign on this exciting stuff. As readers know, I’ve chided both campaigns for a destructive tit-for-tat, and published a Sunday column on Warren Beatty‘s hard-edged call to the campaigns to avoid negativity in the primary.
Controversial movie director/initiative promoter Rob Reiner has resigned his long expired term as chairman AND member of the California Children and Families Commission (aka First 5). Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has appointed Para Los Ninos chief operating officer Hector Ramirez to replace him. Para Los Ninos is a very well-respected nonprofit family service organization in the Los Angeles area which receives funding from First 5.
I will update today and have the full story tomorrow morning. There is a story I’ve been holding back as the lead item this week as the immigration story played out.
UPDATE: Support for Reiner’s Preschool for All initiative, Proposition 82 on California’s June ballot, has spun downwards to barely more than 50 percent in new polling, a perilously low level of support for a complex fiscally-oriented ballot measure. The controversy over Reiner’s tenure at the California Children and Families Commission — created by Reiner’s earlier 1998 initiative, Proposition 10 — was not going to go away, I can assure you. There is simply too much material there.
Reiner, whose previous half-measure around the controversy was to take a leave of absence from his chairmanship, resigned in part to remove himself as the focus of controversy. This had been suggested to him earlier when he made the decision to take a leave as chairman, but he declined the suggestion. The role was important to him, and he hoped to return to it after winning his initiative campaign in June.
Prop 10 is funded by a 50 cent a pack tax on cigarettes. Prop 82 would be funded by an income tax surcharge on high-income Californians. In both cases, Reiner’s stewardship of taxpayer money is at issue.
UPDATE: Schwarzenegger may have created another controversy for himself with the appointment of Hector Ramirez as First 5 Chairman. Ramirez is a political associate of Reiner’s. The Proposition 82 campaign was launched at an event outside Para Los Ninos.
Ramirez served on the executive committee of the First 5 LA’s Preschool For All Initiative, which was, as I reported earlier, Reiner and First 5′s initial attempt to institute a publicly-funded universal preschool program and served as a model for Prop 82. After it was discovered that the Prop 10 tobacco tax money was inadequate for the task, Reiner’s thoughts turned to a new statewide initiative to fund Preschool For All at the state level. That initiative is now Prop 82.
Ramirez is also a leading member of the National Council of La Raza (“The Race”), an advocacy organization on a variety of issues, including immigration reform, in which it is frequently opposed to Schwarzenegger’s policy. In the context of Latino politics, “La Raza” can also mean “The People.” In some circles, it has a rather poetic and mystical connotation as “La Raza Cosmica,” in which, to quote Wikipedia, “traditional concepts of race and nationality can be transcended in the name of humanity’s common destiny.”
Ramirez, according to his bio, serves as co-chair of the California Region Education Committee for the National Council of La Raza. The Packard Foundation (based on the Hewlett-Packard Co. fortune), which has worked closely with Rob Reiner on the First 5 program in general and Preschool For All in particular, is a major funder of the National Council of La Raza.
UPDATE: Mark Fabiani called a little while ago. Fabiani has very recently come on board as public relations counsel to Rob Reiner. Fabiani has extensive high-level political and PR experience. He is perhaps best known for serving as special counsel to President Bill Clinton handling the Whitewater controversy. We will be talking throughout.
For at least part of Tuesday, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) seemed to be in the cockpit of history.
After being one of the few major politicians to address Gran Marcha, Saturday’s massive demonstration in downtown Los Angeles against a draconian federal crackdown on illegal immigration – which Nunez said he had expected to draw 100,000 participants but which actually drew many times that – the speaker flew to Washington to help the push for a new immigration law. There he met with the California Congressional delegation, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and Mexican Ambassador to the United States Carlos de Icaza, and joined with Senators Ted Kennedy and John McCain to push their bill that would create a new guest worker program and allow an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S. to become legal residents.
During a round of Capitol Hill meetings and conversations Tuesday that Nunez strategist Steve Maviglio described as “very exciting” in a cell phone conversation with a notable hubbub in the background, the speaker pushed for a version of the bill. On Monday, in the wake of major demonstrations on behalf of illegal immigrants around the country, the Senate Judiciary Committee had passed a bill to the liking of Kennedy, McCain, and their allies. Feinstein, who had previously opposed it, came out for a guest worker program.
But later on Tuesday, progress stalled. Divided Republicans, who control the Senate, delayed moving the bill forward. Most Republicans on the committee had voted against the bill. They want strong border security provisions in any immigration overhaul.
And another major wrinkle emerged, that should not surprise knowledgeable political observers. The nation’s top labor leader came out against a guest worker program.
”Guest worker programs are a bad idea and harm all workers,” AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said in a statement. ”They cast workers into a perennial second-class status, and unfairly put their fates into their employers’ hands.”
Back in California, other top state leaders were stymied by the politics of illegal immigration.
State Treasurer Phil Angelides, the longtime Democratic frontrunner for governor, had declined to answer questions about his views on illegal immigration just the day before Gran Marcha. But his caution availed him not at all yesterday, when he took a pounding on San Francisco liberal KGO radio host Ronn Owens’ show. His biggest problem? Illegal immigration. The host and his callers went after the Democratic gubernatorial candidate’s previously established position that illegal immigrants living in California be able to pay the lower in-state tuition if they attend California State University or University of California campuses. Out-of-state students who are citizens have to pay much higher fees.
And Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declined to go beyond his Los Angeles Times op-ed piece yesterday on the matter, in which he called for heightened border security, a guest worker program, and temporary legal status for illegal immigrants already in the country while opposing the current push to make illegal immigration a felony offense. Some Republicans had suggested that he turn his scheduled speech to the Bay Area Council on his administration’s economic accomplishments and the unveiling of a state web site portal for businesses seeking to expand to California into an address on illegal immigration.
“He can strike while the iron is hot and be a national leader on this issue today,” said one. But the newly cautious former action superstar stuck to his script and in the end only took a question on illegal immigration in the question and answer session after his speech. There he mostly repeated phrases from his op-ed piece.
It seems clear that at this moment, even California’s top elected officials are finding it difficult to lead on this highly complex and contentious issue.
** Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke late this morning about his economic policies and the overall pretty good state of the economy on his watch and launched the California Business Portal in an address at the World Trade Club in San Francisco. I watched on a webcast nicely done by his office, which does these not infrequently. He looked and sounded good and upbeat. During the question-and-answer session, he was asked about the failure of his bid to place some version of his Big Bang Bonds infrastructure package on California’s June ballot. His response was telling.
“It was not a failure,” he said. “We came very far in only three weeks,” he said, dismissing talk that the protean proposal had been sabotaged by either Democrats or Republicans. There were “conceptual differences,” he said, that prevented the coming to fruition of a deal in such a short period of time. The distance he and legislators came together, he argued, was a real achievement. It’s an interesting way of looking at things. Not unlike running for a train leaving the station and narrowly missing getting on board. Quite an effort, to be sure, but perhaps it came up short because it was started too late.
** DAILY NEWSPAPER COVERAGE OF THAT ARNOLD TV AD BUY was interesting. Much of the coverage reflected the reality of the very intriguing emphasis on pretty footage of San Francisco by Arnold’s new George W. Bush crew. No mystery there, my hometown San Francisco is one of the world’s greatest tourist meccas …
What was lacking was much recognition of how minuscule the time buy behind this ad is. It was in the $20,000 ball park, as I’ve been reporting. More to the point, new Arnold chief political strategist Matthew Dowd admitted during yesterday’s media conference call that it was not a major buy. I posed the specific question of whether this is a demonstration buy or an attempt to move real numbers in the governor’s direction. Here is his answer: “All the early buys are done with no expectation to move numbers. The dynamic of the campaign won’t adjust until there is a choice between the governor and the Democrat.” That is quite clear cut.
** Meanwhile, the Democrats … State Treasurer Phil Angelides took a pounding this morning on San Francisco liberal KGO radio host Ronn Owens‘ show. His biggest problem? Illegal immigration. The host and his callers went after the Democratic gubernatorial candidate’s insistence that illegal immigrants living in California be able to pay the lower in-state tuition if they attend California State University or University of California campuses. Out-of-state students who are citizens have to pay much higher fees.
If one is running for governor of the not so Golden State these days, maybe it’s better to be in stealth mode, like the other Democratic candidate, state Controller Steve Westly. A couple of weeks of being out of the public eye have worked well for him. Though he did surface over the weekend with an ebullient appearance at the annual Chinese American Democratic Club dinner in San Francisco, where he laughed louder than anyone at his introduction as, among other things, the candidate who was elected state controller “after outspending his opponent by five to one and winning by one point.”
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t have answers on policy toward illegal immigration before Saturday’s massive rally in downtown Los Angeles. It remains to be seen if he has them now. But he does have a start.
In an op-ed piece for today’s Los Angeles Times, the moderate Republican who is himself California’s most famous immigrant lays out what might best be described as an approach to a policy.
“First, immigration is about our security,” Schwarzenegger writes. “The first order of business for the federal government is to secure our borders. And Washington simply must do a better job of it. We learned on 9/11 that not all those who cross our borders want to share in the American dream. A few want to replace it with a nightmare.”
In case you hadn’t gotten the message about who the governor says is responsible for ensuring what he describes as his top priority, he goes on to say that “Congress must strengthen our borders.”
So far, he has no state role in immigration security. And the particulars of the federal role are quite unclear. Should border security be heavily beefed up in the form of the Border Patrol or other security forces, as U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein has suggested? Should there be a fence or wall, as called for in other proposals, including the Sensenbrenner bill currently at issue in Congress? The governor doesn’t say.
In any event, it’s a far cry from the hurried comments in favor of the irresponsible “Minutemen” movement that landed him in hot water last year.
“Criminalizing immigrants for coming here is a slogan, not a solution,” writes the former action superstar, placing himself in opposition to the core notion of the bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. “Instead, I urge Congress to get tough on those illegal immigrants who are a danger to society,” referring to people who commit crimes while in the country illegally, urging their immediate deportation.
“Second, immigration is about our economy,” states the pro-business politician. “The freest nation in the world, and the freest economy in history, depend on a free flow of people,” a phrase which might be misinterpreted. “Immigrants are here to work and contribute. I support efforts to ensure that our businesses have the workers they need and that immigrants are treated with the respect they deserve. We should pass a common-sense temporary worker program so that every person in our nation is documented.”
Schwarzenegger thus places himself in favor of a guest worker program. Yet he leaves the particulars, its duration, its parameters, for another time.
He then comes out against a blanket amnesty program: “We can embrace the immigrant without endorsing illegal immigration.”
“Granting citizenship to people who are here illegally,” the governor says, “is not just amnesty … it’s anarchy. We are a country of immigrants, yes. But we are also a nation of laws. People who want to be citizens will want to do it the right way.” Again leaving the particulars of how a citizenship program might be structured for another time.
Schwarzenegger then comes out for what what is commonly called “mainstreaming.” With a positive spin rather than any denunciation of unassimilated enclaves.
“Finally,” he writes, “immigration is about our values. Too often the debate centers on what immigrants owe us. Too seldom do we ask what we owe them. Above all, we owe it to our country and our immigrants to share our values. We should talk about our history, our institutions and our beliefs. We should assimilate immigrants into the mainstream. We want immigrants to not just live in America but to live as Americans.”
It will be interesting to see how Arnold fleshes this out in the midst of an election year. He and his people know that his doing away with the very unpopular drivers licenses for illegal immigrants bill signed by then Governor Gray Davis was one of his most popular acts as governor in 2003 and now. They also know that a latter day version of 1994’s Proposition 187 ballot measure taking away key education and health services would likely pass this year as well, although the long-term effect for the Republican Party with Latino voters, the largest growing voting constituency, would likely be catastrophic.
But in any event, Schwarzenegger, who acknowledges voting for Prop 187 in 1994, no longer supports it, memorably declaring a year before he ran for governor — when the recall was on no one’s mind — in a 2002 appearance at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco that he “would never stand in the way of a child going to school.”
What Schwarzenegger has laid out this morning will not satisfy the very politically correct left, whose overzealous members bridle at great length at the very use of the commonly accepted term “illegal immigration.”
It certainly won’t be welcomed by advocates of a de facto open border policy. Nor will it satisfy the hardcore zealots on the other end of the spectrum, who seek to demonize illegal immigrants, to bizarrely turn the act of wanting a better life and the willingness to work for it into a serious criminal act worthy of felony sanctions. But it may, for all its incompleteness, mark a good starting point, especially for Republicans.