Monday, September 26, 2005

The Governor in Irvine

Gov. Schwarzenegger was in Irvine today addressing the Orange County Forum before a bipartisan crowd of over 1,000 people.

His initial remarks were a replay of the remarks he made in support of Propositions 74, 75, 76, and 77 at the California Republican Party convention in Anaheim on September 17 with added detail on Prop. 76, the Budget Reform initiative. Both his delivery and its reception were fine, all-in-all, a workmanlike job.

Then the questions were asked.

With the teleprompter off and no filters between the crowd and the governor, any observer could readily see why Arnold Schwarzenegger is a force to be reckoned with. He breathed passion – passion for California and for the job he is determined to see through to its conclusion.

In response to the first question about education reform, the Governor quickly warmed to the topic. Speaking of government employee unions he said, “Since when was government set up to help themselves rather than the people?” He cited the fact that $300 million of yearly education funding in California is spent for government union employees to mow the lawns at schools and maintain the buildings, etc. and that this money is over and above what it would cost if such services were contracted out to open bidding. This is tax money that belongs in the classroom, he asserted.

Becoming more animated as he spoke about government unions, Gov. Schwarzenegger said that lawmakers of both parties had come to him privately and acknowledged the problems facing California and agreeing that something had to be done. But, he said, they, “…went to the union bosses to ask for permission. They said, ‘No, don’t do it, we can crush him.’” Rather than compromise, he said, the government unions are determined to spend over $100 million in false attack ads to keep their power in California.

Then, he said what most politicians think, but few dare to say, “The reason why they are pushing us to spend more is that the union bosses’ dream is to force tax increases so they can then increase their benefits.”

The Governor closed his remarks by challenging the audience, saying, “Ask yourself, are you happy with the way things are right now? If yes, then vote no on the reform initiatives.” For everyone else, the Governor urged them to action, asking them to support his efforts using the same grassroots techniques that pushed the recall over the top in 2003. Calling his reform package a “sequel” to the 2003 recall election, Gov. Schwarzenegger said, “The recall just changed the governor, but it didn’t change the system that brought us this mess.” It is now time to change the system.

The crowd rose to its feet, convinced that more work must be done to save the state.