Arnold: It’d be easier if you’d just do what I say.

Though building support for the special-election budget reform agenda was his main goal, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger touched on other topics in a Q&A session with the Bay Area Council on Thursday in San Francisco – and one of those topics is how hard it is when people disagree with him.

The governor went on a bit of a tirade against dissent, first talking smack about U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger’s 2007 order reducing the operation of pumps in the Delta to protect the endangered Delta Smelt, then about a three-federal-judge panel’s moves toward ordering the release of certain inmates to reduce California’s chronic and unconstitutional prison overcrowding, and then about Clark Kelso, the receiver empowered by a federal judge to demand $8 billion from the state to correct unconstitutional, decades-long underfunding of prison health care.

“It’s not productive for the state to have so many chefs in the kitchen,” the governor grumped. “Those are the kinds of things that make it very difficult.”

But his ire wasn’t just directed at the federal courts. Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, he said, opposes him on fiscal policy at every turn, he said: “He’s running for Congress now, so that’s good.”

And he cited state Controller John Chiang’s and state Treasurer Bill Lockyer’s opposition to his plans to cut state salaries last year. “How does a coach win a basketball game when all of the players are running off in different directions?” Schwarzenegger asked.

Maybe that’s why he’s so hot for Proposition 1A, which would give the governor new authority to unilaterally reduce some spending for state operations and capital outlay and eliminate some cost-of-living increases, all without legislative approval – shoo, you pesky compromises; begone, consensus! Also, maybe he’s forgetting that these federal judges’ job is to hold California to its obligations under federal law and the U.S. Constitution, and that the Democratic statewide elected officials he’s knocking are with this state’s majority party while he’s in the minority.

More, after the jump…

On other topics, Schwarzenegger said California’s failure to invest in its water infrastructure over the past few decades while its population has exploded has been another example of the “self-inflicted wounds” the state tends to bear. After the May 19 special election, he said, he intends to work with the Legislature on a bipartisan, long-term solution to the state’s water problem: “I think it’s going to get done … Everyone in in sync on this.”

Schwarzenegger also said he’s “really impressed” with President Barack Obama, whom he praised as a visionary who’s “extremely smart, well-informed about all the different issues.” The governor said the President has kept all his promises to California so far, from $85 billion in economic recovery benefits ($35 billion in tax benefits and $50 billion in spending) to support and praise for California’s leadership in areas such as high-speed rail and energy conservation.

All of this is a far cry from what he said just six months ago while stumping for Republican presidential nominee John McCain:

“I want to invite Mr. Obama, he needs to do something about those skinny legs. We’re going to make him do some squats and some biceps curls to beef up those scrawny little arms. If only we could put some meat on his ideas.”

And Schwarzenegger said Thursday that calling a constitutional convention to shake up how California governs itself is “a brilliant idea, … I think this is the way to go” given the fact that “the status quo is unacceptable” in Sacramento.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Yikes123

    First 5s are sitting on over $2 BILLION dollars, funds they can use over the next 5 years while they help the rest of California. It’s a total misstatement for them to say that those monies are already committed to certain programs because with one vote their commissions can direct those reserves to whatever they choose to. So, who’s to be trusted?

    Well, IMO, it’s not First 5. They are run by Commissioners who vote for budgets that direct cash to their own departments and organizations AND they are misstating facts about how 1D would affect their daily work over the 5 year span of it. Prop 1D puts the County Auditor on the Commission to stop these abuses.

    If that does not bother you then this should: the First 5 lobbyist has received $1 million of First 5 funds – about $200K of that went straight to her pension plan – IRS forms say so! Prop 1D stops her from taking any new First 5 funds!

    Vote YES on 1D !

  • StopYikes

    Hey Yikes, did you ever stop to think why First 5 is sitting on that money? It’s called good planning. Every year the tobacco tax decreases. First 5 is growing an endowment of sorts to allow it to continue to operate at a constant level.

    The fact is that Republicans have wanted to kill First 5 from the day it started. This is why First 5 has needed a lobbyist, because it is constantly under attack because it is the one California program that has been fiscally successful.

    Californians supported Prop 10 to create First 5 because the Republicans would not raise the revenue for these valuable programs. Well the people of California have said enough is enough with the GOP constant anti-tax mantra. And on May 19, they will say the same thing again by rejecting Prop 1D along with Props 1A-E.

    By the way Yikes, did you see the recent polling? Perhaps that’s why you are saying Yikes? Props 1A-E all down big.


  • Yikes123

    First 5 has $2 BILLION+ because it took 2 years+ for most of them to do their strategic plan and so they could not spend the funds coming in. It was NOT due to good planning, it was a pure and simple FLUKE! It was because they were not allowed to spend it without a plan – so please let’s not misinform people further with this notion that they planned it this way.

    First 5 funds are supposed to be used for children 0 to 5, not to pay for a lobbyist of ANY KIND!

    IMO, there needs to be an investigation into whether or not laws were broken by the First 5 Counties when paying dues to a lobbying group.

    Ms. Novick received over 40% of the total revenues of First 5 Association from 2004 – 2007. And guess who is on that Board of Directors of the First 5 Association: ALL OF THEM ARE EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS of county First 5’s. All of them approved her paycheck and benefits. All of them are legally liable for doing so.

    As to being successful – show us the beef ! ! ! !

    Why is not First 5 claiming successful program outcomes? Perhaps it’s because in Riverside it really cost about $1130 per child, not the $185 per client that’s suggested by their 07/08 evaluation report.

    In Contra Costa, according to published evaluation reports, in FY 04/05 First 5 spent nearly $14,000 for each ONE hour class in the Family Centers. It dropped to $3600 in 06/07, but by God, How is that any measure of “successful”? THAT IS WASTE!

    YIKES, just for the record, is as in, oh my bleeping gosh, how could we be trusting our tax dollars with these whackos?

    Prop 1D is only a couple points in the error range of going either way. I am doing this for my civic conscience, but thanks for bringing up these issues, you’ve given me an opportunity to flesh out some details.

    VOTE YES on 1D!