Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was in Oakland today for another installment of the budget-reform roadshow he has taken all over California. Mayor Ron Dellums introduced the governor at the Oakland City Hall event, and the governor proceeded to fawn over Dellums’ physique.
Yes, you read that correctly.
It seems that back in the day, when Schwarzenegger was serving on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports from 1990 to 1993 — a political career little more than a glint in the bodybuilder-cum-movie star’s eye — he would go over to Capitol Hill once a year to do a fitness event with members of Congress. Lo and behold, there was a t-shirt-clad Rep. Ron Dellums, D-Oakland, doing arm curls with 55-pound weights and bench-pressing 200 pounds; Schwarzenegger recalled wondering who the white-haired guy was pumping so much iron, discovering only later that Dellums was a longtime fitness buff.
Later in today’s program, when Dellums asked if he would take one more question from the audience, Schwarzenegger replied that he would, “and after this we go to your office and do a few curls.”
Meanwhile, a staffer insists Dellums really did show some spontaneity in asking Schwarzenegger to extend last August’s deployment of California Highway Patrol officers to quell Oakland’s street crime.
It seemed as if Dellums had caught the governor flat-footed; he made the request while introducing the governor today, before handing him the microphone. “I hate to do it in public, but…”
“Very nice move, mayor,” Schwarzenegger replied as local officials tittered. “Let me look at it this afternoon and I will have an answer for you tomorrow.”
The answer came only about 40 minutes later; as the program was winding up, Schwarzenegger said an aide had informed him the deployment could and would be extended.
The consensus among several reporters was that:
(1.) It’s not Dellums’ style to try to embarass/coerce a governor publicly, and;
(2.) The answer came awfully quick, so;
(3.) They must’ve planned it this way.
Listen for yourself, see what you think.
The governor’s office this afternoon couldn’t immediately confirm whether Dellums’ question was the first time Oakland had broached the topic with the state, or if there’d been some other, lower-level contact and cooperation on this earlier.
But Dellums spokesman Paul Rose told my colleague Kelly Rayburn a few minutes ago that it truly was all spur-of-the-moment, based on the mayor’s meeting last week with Police Chief Wayne Tucker.
“What happened was last week the chief met with the mayor and said this program is coming to an end and, basically, that the mayor should ask the governor to extend it,” Rose said. “The mayor said, `The governor will be in town Monday and I’ll ask him then.’ And that’s what happened today.”
The CHP program in Oakland began in August after a string of homicides, including the shooting death of Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey. Since Feb. 21, CHP officers working in Oakland have made 2,000 traffic stops, issued 1,800 citations and detained 98 people on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to statistics from Dellums’ office.
UPDATE @ 4:25 P.M. MONDAY: Whoops! We have a contradiction.
“No, that was not the first time someone had inquired about it,” Camille Anderson of the governor’s press office told me just now, speaking about the CHP deployment but refusing to say when or by whom the previous query had been made. “It had been inquired about before.”
UPDATE @ 5:15 P.M. MONDAY: Aaron McLear, Schwarzenegger’s press secretary, just called to clear the air.
“Every 90 days we’ve extended this thing… and ongoing ever since this program started with Oakland and CHP, they’ve had regular meetings” — a constant dialogue on how well it’s going, McLear said. “There had never been a request until today for this latest extension, but there have been extensions in the past… We probably were not taken by surprise because there is this dialogue between us, between our guys and Oakland’s police chief.”